Sunday, September 04, 2016

Bible reading ease, random thoughts

NIrV versus NIrV promotional material
NIrV promotional material: “God has always spoken so people would know what he meant.”

Luke 9:45 But they didn’t understand what this meant. That was because it was hidden from them.
John 12:40 The Lord has blinded their eyes. He has closed their minds.
2 Peter 3:16 Paul writes the same way in all his letters. He speaks about what I have just told you. His letters include some things that are hard to understand.
1 Corinthians 2:14 The person without the Spirit doesn’t accept the things that come from the Spirit of God. These things are foolish to them. They can’t understand them. In fact, such things can’t be understood without the Spirit’s help.

Tacit admission by Biblica
Promoting the NIV, Biblica states, “The New International Version of the Bible is one of the most popular translations in history, and the official Bible translation of many churches around the world.” Promotive the NIrV, they write, “We made the NIrV even easier to read and understand. We used the words of the NIV when we could. Sometimes we used shorter words. We explained words that might be hard to understand. We made the sentences shorter.” This admits, indirectly, that the NIV is too hard to understand.

Waste of time argument
Some King James Bible defenders wade into the “ease of reading” fray with trying to prove the KJV is easier to read than the NIV or some other modern English translation. One claim I’ve often seen is that the KJV is written on a fifth grade level, as a whole.

In The Language of the King James Bible, Gail Riplinger writes:
“Readability statistics generated from Grammatik and Word for Windows show why the KJV is 5th grade reading level, while the NKJV and NASB are 6th grade, and the NIV is 8th grade reading level! The KJV averages:
  • less syllables per word
  • less letters per word
  • less words per sentence
  • smaller percentage of long words
  • greater percentage of short words than the NKJV, NIV, NASB and NRSV

According to readability statistics generated by Pro-Scribe, the KJV is easier to read than USA Today, People Magazine and most children’s books.” (Riplinger, page 159)

Riplinger answers “Why is the KJV easier to read? The KJV uses one or two syllable words while new versions substitute complex multi-syllable words and phrases” (p. 196) and attributes easy understanding to the King James Bible because of “simple sentence structure.” (p. 204)

In my opinion such comparisons are, to a large degree, pointless. Some parts of the readability tests are deceptive. For example, the words “besom” and “awful” will probably get the same score – but the average reader likely understands “awful” while having to look up “besom” in the dictionary.

Those discouraged by the difficulty they judge to exist in the KJV will not be convinced by readability comparisons. They know what they think and feel. They may perceive the purveyors of such “easy reading” conclusions weird or eccentric at best and as false witnesses or delusional thinkers at worst.

Take the simple and scriptural approach. Who says the Bible is supposed to be easy? Read. Study. Pray. Read. Do some more study. Pray. The Bible is a spiritual book that is spiritually discerned.

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