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Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible

ISBN: 9781683590552
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The Legacy of the King James Bible

The King James Version has shaped the church, our worship, and our mother tongue for over 400 years. But what should we do with it today?

The KJV beautifully rendered the Scriptures into the language of turn-of-the-seventeenth-century England. Even today the King James is the most widely read Bible in the United States. The rich cadence of its Elizabethan English is recognized even by non-Christians. But English has changed a great deal over the last 400 years—and in subtle ways that very few modern readers will recognize. In Authorized Mark Ward shows what exclusive readers of the KJV are missing as they read God’s word.

In their introduction to the King James Bible, the translators tell us that Christians must “heare CHRIST speaking unto them in their mother tongue.” In Authorized Mark Ward builds a case for the KJV translators’ view that English Bible translations should be readable by what they called “the very vulgar”—and what we would call “the man on the street.”


Praise for Authorized

This lightly written and frequently amusing book gently hides the competent scholarship that underlies it. For those who are convinced of the superiority of the KJV, whether for stylistic, cultural, pedagogical, theological, or traditional reasons, this is the book to read. Mercifully, Dr. Ward does not pummel his readers or sneer at those who take another position. Patiently, chapter by chapter, example by example, he makes his case—all of his work geared toward fostering more and better Bible reading. Highly recommended.

—D. A. Carson, research professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Mark Ward’s Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible is a cogent, concise, clear, and helpful book on the subject of Bible translations. It is full of information about how language changes and doesn’t change, and full of wisdom about how Christians should respond to these processes. The book is useful both for beginning Bible students and for linguists.

—John Frame, professor of systematic theology and philosophy emeritus, Reformed Theological Seminary

Authorized is a little book that packs a punch. It deals with a common issue in a helpful, humorous, and respectful way. It is worthy of any Christian’s time.

—Tim Challies, author, blogger

Just because you know all of the words in an old sentence of English doesn’t mean you know what they meant when they were written. Mark Ward shows us, with a light but authoritative touch, that if we want the Bible to speak to us the way it did to those alive when it was written, we must adjust the vocabulary with meanings only scholars can make out—a revelation of a new kind.

—John McWhorter, associate professor of linguistics, Columbia University; host of the Slate podcast Lexicon Valley

Top Highlights

“The biggest problem in understanding the KJV comes from ‘false friends,’9 words that are still in common use but have changed meaning in ways that modern readers are highly unlikely to recognize.” (Page 31)


“English speakers are looking for the wrong thing when we look for best. We need to look instead for useful. Does that sound too pragmatic? Let me clarify. We need to ask: Which English Bible translations are useful for preaching? Which are useful for evangelism? Which are useful for reading through in a year? Which are conducive to close study? How about for reading to kids? For memorization?” (Page 127)

“when you quote the KJV, you don’t have to tell people you’re quoting the Bible. They just know” (Page 10)


You read the book...

...now watch the new movie based on Authorized. Mark Ward builds a case that our Bibles should be readable by what we would call “the man on the street.” He shows what exclusive readers of the KJV are missing as they read God’s Word. Watch the movie with a free trial to Faithlife TV Plus.



  • Introduction
  • What We Lose as the Church Stops Using the KJV
  • The Man in the Hotel and the Emperor of English Bibles
  • Dead Words and “False Friends”
  • What is the Reading Level of the KJV?
  • The Value of the Vernacular
  • Ten Objections to Reading Vernacular Bible Translations
  • Which Bible Translation is Best?

Product Details

  • Title: Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible
  • Author: Mark Ward
  • Publisher: Lexham Press
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Pages: 168
  • Format: Logos Digital, Paperback
  • Trim Size: 5x8
  • ISBN: 9781683590552
Mark Ward

Mark Ward received his PhD in New Testament Interpretation from Bob Jones University in 2012; he now serves the church as a Logos Pro. He is the author of multiple high school Bible textbooks, including The Story of the Old Testament and Biblical Worldview: Creation, Fall, Redemption. He has written for publications such as Modern Reformation, Answers Research Journal, and FrontLine—as well as supplying dozens of articles on Bible study and exegesis for Faithlife blogs. He has also written introductions to the Bible and to both testaments that are being used in Bible translation projects around the world via Bibles International.

Sample Pages from Authorized


21 ratings

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  1. David Green

    David Green


    This is a great book. I got mine last year and finally made it here to write a review. Mark Ward has done a fantastic job tackling a very controversial subject. The whole book is good, but the chapter on dead words and "false friends" is worth its weight in gold. So, grab this book, get the audio book too, and follow Mark Ward on YouTube. You will be glad you did! Five stars, but only because I couldn't give ten!
  2. Paul Gibson

    Paul Gibson


    Mark Ward's book Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible is about the usefulness—no, need—for Christians to have multiple translations of the Bible. No translation of the Bible can perfectly communicate what the authors intended, but using different translations can bring us closer to the message. Ward starts the book by explaining how valuable the King James Version has been to the development of the English language. He mentions how the KJV is deeply rooted in our culture, sometimes in ways we don't even realize (and some things we think are from the Bible but aren't). Throughout the book he keeps coming back to the theme of how much we would lose if everyone stopped using the KJV. However, Authorized shows that languages change, and the English that was used 400 years ago no longer clearly communicates the Bible to modern English readers. For example, some words are no longer used in normal conversation, so people reading them would know they have to look them up (if they care to know what they're reading). More concerning are words for which the meanings have changed. Sometimes the modern meaning sort of makes sense in the context, so we don't even realize there may be a different meaning. If we misunderstand the words, we misunderstand the message. The thesis of the book is that using multiple translations of the Bible help us understand it. Different translations have their strengths and weaknesses because there are legitimate differences of opinion on how some passages should be understood and translated. The choices the King James Version translators made in the early 1600's may have been excellent choices for the citizens of England at that time, but some of them are confusing for modern English readers. Using different versions of the Bible increases the probability that we will understand the message the authors were trying to communicate.
  3. Kody Easter

    Kody Easter


    Great book! Non-emotional, logical arguments exposing issues with using the KJV as a primary translation. Sprinkled with humor, this was a great read. As a guy raised in the KJV-only camp who snuck out in college, this is a great resource to help in discussion with those who are still in the "cult." Highly recommend!
  4. Gregory Sterner

    Gregory Sterner


    Chris Pinto has a great series on the KJV but also includes Tyndale through Geneva Bibles. Of course there is political intrigue. Check out "Lamp in the Dark" and "Tares Among the Wheat".
  5. Matt DeVore

    Matt DeVore


  6. Terry Nolan Purtell
    Fantastic! I love the way he treats opposing viewpoints with respect and kindness. The author has given the church an example of how to discuss a sensitive issue without attacking and without cutting off those who disagree. I listened to the audio book. I think that's the most effective presentation I've ever heard or read on this subject.
  7. Thomas



    True with wescott and hort being the backbone of all other translations I'll stick with the one I've understood since I was a child. I don't need a devil worshipper to have translated the bible for me of the least of all codex's really I just can't believe this is still so promoted with the background other translations carry. The history is out there for all to plainly see that is those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.
  8. Robert



    Spectacular delivery of the message. I enjoy his presentation.
  9. Neil Evans

    Neil Evans


    Great book that is well-written with Mark's usual sense of humour and graciousness. First part on benefits of KJB shows fascinating insight, while second part demonstrates importance of readable English - though I found this part argued a little too strongly. Perhaps a follow-up to the first part would be benefits of continuing to read KJB for better "access" to literature from around that period (and well up to 1900s) - for example, Mark's insights nudged me to access OED while reading Robert Hawker's commentary! (Thanks Mark - those false friends seem to be everywhere.) The second part perhaps seemed a bit strong for a British-English speaker, but the message is nevertheless an essential one. Pendantic/Nerdy point: please double check the dates for the reign of Queen Elizabeth I! (She didn't reign for her entire life.) Well worth a read.
  10. revtimbrown



    As a pastor, educator and church starter I have used and still use multiple Bible translations to get the gospel message across to listeners from varying cultural and ethnic backgrounds. While I appreciate your scholarly study of this KJV vs. other Bible versions as utilized in different congregations and settings, I do not see any references to use of the KJV or other Bible translations in the African American or other ethnic churches or cultures. I see the generalizations but more information would be welcomed on how churches adopted their use of a particular translation.


Print list price: $14.99
Save $5.00 (33%)