First, the constant use of the term “false friends.”[i] It is used in 9 of the 10 examples. Using “false friend” seems to be an attempt to express the idea that folks may generally think the KJV word will mean something else than it actually means. Curiously, in a quiz about word meanings the compiler of the quiz uses “false friend” incorrectly! A false friend is a word in one language that looks or sounds similar one in another language that is wrongly assumed to have the same meaning.[ii] While this may have been unintended, such usage supports the tired old saw that King James English is a foreign language!
Second, five times the compiler uses the expression “Today it means…” (in the other five questions he or she uses something similar, though perhaps not quite as dogmatically). But it is not true that these words don’t mean the same today – and you usually don’t even have to look in an unabridged dictionary to discover that![iii] Most words have a range of meaning. As far as I know every one of the words in the quiz still carry that 1611 meaning today.[iv] Just because some – even a majority of folks – are unaware of the range of meaning of a word doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have that meaning.
Third, some of the choices given seem almost a “set-up” so that the person taking the quiz will be confused about the answer. The answers for “What does halt mean in 1 Kgs 18:21” are: pause, limp, stop, and vacillate. All four of the answers supplied fall within the current range of meaning of the English word “halt.” While the Hebrew word pacach means limp, it also has a range of meanings.[v] Further, “to limp between two opinions” surely must have the connotation of to pause, hesitate, waver, yes, even vacillate. This makes me wonder whether the design of the quiz is to make those who read the King James Bible doubt their comprehension of what they are reading.[vi]
So, that is why I dubbed it an “anti-KJV quiz.” Then why did I post it and recommend people take it? I guess to some extent it was a “set-up” for this post! But, more importantly, I think it is worthwhile for any reader of the King James Version (and non-readers as well) to take this test, or something similar, to gauge how much one is actually comprehending when reading the Bible. It is not just exclusive King James readers who have this problem – we read over words assuming that we know what they mean. Part of studying the Bible is studying words to understand their meaning. If we think we know that apt means “inclined” we will never search to learn that it just might mean “able” instead!
[i] From the French faux ami.
[ii] For example, agenda in French does not mean the same thing as agenda in English.
[iii] The “unabridged” Random House Dictionary of the English Language contained 315,000 entries when it was published in 1966.
[iv] For example, one of the current meanings of “want” at Dictionary.com is “to have need” – which is what the compiler implies it doesn’t mean today.
[vi] Another purpose of the quiz is a “come on” advertising Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible by Mark Ward. It is a book designed to move folks away from the King James Bible. “In Authorized Mark L. Ward, Jr. shows what exclusive readers of the KJV are missing as they read God’s word.”