Home Interview There is nothing magical about KJV Bible- Jeremy Taylor, President Tydale House Foundation, publishers of New Living Translation

There is nothing magical about KJV Bible- Jeremy Taylor, President Tydale House Foundation, publishers of New Living Translation

by Church Times


There is nothing magical about KJV Bible- Jeremy Taylor, President Tydale House Foundation, publishers of New Living Translation


Jeremy Taylor



Jeremy Taylor is the President and CEO of Tyndale House Foundation. He is the third president in the Foundation’s history, succeeding Mark Taylor and Dr. Kenneth Taylor who founded it.

Tyndale House Foundation is an extension of Tyndale Publishing House which publishes Living Letters, Living Bible and the New Living Translation of the Bible.

As a fiction editor at Tyndale House Publishers for twenty years, Jeremy Taylor worked with some of the industry’s top authors. He earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Wheaton College and holds an MA in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. Jeremy and his wife, Nancy, live with their five children in Wheaton, Illinois.

He was in Ghana last November at the Litt Word Africa conference where Church Times’ Gbenga Osinaike caught up with him for a chat. He tells the story of the Tyndale Publishing House and the issues surrounding Bible translation. It is quite revealing. Below are excerpts:




Why is the foundation and publishing house named after Tyndale?

The company was named after Tyndale because he was one of the first people to translate the Bible into English so that the ordinary people could understand the Bible. It used to be those who spoke Latin who could read and understand the Bible. The church leaders then did not want the ordinary people to have access to the Bible. But Tyndale would have none of that. He went ahead and translated the Bible to English. That got the church leaders infuriated. So he was burnt on the stake for daring to translate the Bible.


So what is the connection of that with Ken Taylor who founded Tyndale Publishing House?


The connection is in the desire to ensure that the Bible gets more readership. Ken Taylor took after Tyndale because he founded Tyndale House Publishers to publish Living Letters which was a new translation of scriptures which everybody could understand. The KJV which was then the popular Bible was written in old English which makes it unintelligible to some modern readers. So he translated the Bible to a more reader-friendly version.


The Living Letters and other versions from Tyndale Publishing House are written in paraphrase forms so that ordinary people could understand the Bible. Ken attempted to make the Bible appear like a newspaper, using the newspaper style so that everybody could read and understand. And he used to say if he could be like Tyndale in every way apart from being murdered that would be great.


Tell us more about Tyndale Publishers?


It was founded in 1962 to publish Living Letters. Ken Taylor began writing the New Testament version of it so that his children could understand the Bible. He had 10 children. In the 1950s, every day after dinner he used to read to his children portions of the Bible. But it was difficult for the children to understand what he was reading. They would ask questions and he would explain to them in plain English. One day, one of his daughters said to him, if his explanation is what the Bible is saying, why then is Bible not written in that simple language that everybody could understand.


So an idea came to Kent that the Bible could actually be written in a simple straightforward language. He was working in Moody Press, Chicago and he would spend his time in the train which was about 1 hour while going to work to write the translation for his children so that they could understand the Bible very well.


So when he was through with the translation he sought for a publisher. The Moody Press where he worked did not want to touch the script. They thought people will be uneasy about such translation. He began to look for other publishers and nobody wanted to accept it. Since nobody wanted it, he thought about the idea of having his own publishing house and he established Tyndale House Publishers. That was in 1962. He took a little while before people found about it. Eventually Billy Graham found the Living Letters and he loved it. And he began to give out copies of the Living Letters during his telecast when people called him. That was when the translation began to take off. Ten years later the Living Bible was published. That was in 1972 and it became the best-selling book for many years. That helped Tyndale House Publisher to grow to be the largest independent Christian publisher in the world today.


But I used to think publishers of NIV are the largest publishing house?

The NIV did not exist when the NLT was created. The NLT is a dynamic translation. It is accurate, it is readable and understandable.


Ken Taylor, like William Tyndale faced persecution so to say in trying to translate the Bible. What does this tell you?


First I won’t necessarily say Taylor not finding a publisher for his translation in time is equivalent with Tyndale being burnt to death. It is a different form of persecution. Maybe we can say Kent faced an obstacle. The result of his perseverance means to me that God blesses the efforts of people who seek to honour him. Ken Taylor wanted to honour the Lord. God honoured the desire of Ken Taylor and what he did with that success is extra ordinary. When Billy Graham accepted the Bible, he was paying 5 cents per copy. They got a lot of copies and they gave $30,000 royalty. That was way back in the 70s. That could have changed their lives. He took that money and started the foundation. The entire royalty was given to missionary foundations around the world. Incidentally he was a poor man. He could have used the money to take care of his large family. But he did not touch the money that accrued to him from the royalty.


Now the organisation has grown so much. It did eventually enable him to provide for the family. But he did not do that before he gave to the Lord. He thought this is God’s word and God’s money and it should be used for God’s work around the world. Ken Taylor died in 2005.


Tyndale was burnt on the stake for daring to translate the Bible to English. How does that make you feel?


It is an illustration of the way people could be sinful and they could twist what is intended for good and make it evil. When God gave us the Bible, he gave us His mind. And he wanted the Bible to be made available to all. But sinful people twisted that. When Tyndale pushed back the system and says this is for all not for a few, the people who were in power didn’t like that and they worked against him.


But then they believed they were doing God’s will?


I don’t believe they were doing God’s will. Unfortunately there were people who felt they were doing God’s will.


English was regarded as the language of the poor and the dregs of the society then. The persecutors of Tyndale felt he should not have translated the Bible to the language of the low class people and thereby desecrate the Bible. The Bible was too holy to be translated to English. How will you react to this?


No. I think that was just an excuse. Jesus spoke Aramaic when he was alive and it was the language of the common people. The children of Israel were chosen not because of their wealth or language but because God wanted to use them to showcase his glory to the world. The Lord chose Abraham because he had a plan to use the Jewish people to be a blessing to the whole world. I don’t think their impression about the English language was in tandem with the action they took.


There are people who believe only the KJV is the authorised Bible and that all other translations don’t add up. How will you react to this?

The people who say the only Authorized Version is KJV are saying that out of lack of understanding. And I’m being careful about my use of words so that I will not be accused of rubbishing the KJV. But the truth is that the KJV is not inspired scripture. That language of the KJV is not the original language of the Bible. There are people who think God inspired the KJV the way he inspired the original authors of the Bible. I disagree with that. The KJV was created by a group of scholars at the command of the king of England. There is no doubt that the KJV is a cultural milestone. The creation of the KJV deserves to be celebrated because it was translated at a time when there was no other version like it. It is beautiful, it is poetic and a great work.


The care with which the translators work is beautiful. But since the KJV was created, additional manuscripts have been discovered which necessitated an update of the initial translations. The new manuscripts were not available to those who translated the KJV at the first instance. That is why we can’t say the KJV is the all in all when it comes to Bible translation.


You said KJV is not inspired. How exactly do you mean?


When Bible says all scripture was inspired by God it means God worked on the minds of human writers for people to understand the mind of God. That is the inspiration. God speaking through the original authors is the inspiration. But the translation itself was not inspired. That is a human effort to translate the inspired word. Modern translation is also an attempt to take the original inspired word so that people can understand the original intention of the word.


People are being carried away by KJV. And this is justifiably so because there are too many versions of the Bible. Does this not bother you?


If that is true it bothers me. But I don’t actually think there are very many versions of the Bible that differs from the original text that change the meaning of the text. There are a few examples you can point to and make the argument that one is more accurate than the other. But in most instances different translations are saying the same thing in different ways. There are certain exceptions to that though. By and large people who translate the Bible in many instances are doing it with pure motive. Just as God inspired the original authors to write down his words, I believe God works in the heart of those who desire to honour the Lord by translating the Bible to readable versions, such that the meaning of the text is preserved. People, especially Muslims say the Bible is not reliable because of different translations. But archaeological digs have shown that the testimonies of the Bible are reliable and accurate. Scholars have tracked events through history and have found out that the Bible is accurate. The KJV is a wonderful cultural document but there is nothing magical, special about the KJV. But there is something special about the word of God irrespective of the language it is being translated to. The most important thing is the truth that is passed through the generation. There are people in the world who are craving to have the word in their own words.


There are Bible translation like the Homosexual Bible, the Feminine Bible and all kinds of Bible that are tailored towards a particular belief system. What is your reading of this?


Jeremy Taylor

Those kinds of Bible are examples of rather than allowing the Bible to speak for itself, the translators start with an agenda. If you start with a motive to pursue a school of thought rather than starting with scripture you will start with something problematic. If you start with an agenda you will end up with something radically different. The translations you mentioned are way off.


But what about Bible’s like the leadership Bible and some others that have study notes?


Now, we can’t equate Bible versions that have altered the text to versions that give notes to help understand the text of the Bible. They are two different things. Concerning Bible like the leadership Bible which I am not too familiar with, we see a team of people who are trying to communicate God’s word in a way that helps to understand life from leadership perspective. In this case, there are footnotes and explanations along the scriptures. The footnotes and explanation are the authors own understanding and interpretation. They are not meant to interfere with the original scriptures. This is different from altering the scriptures to impose one’s own worldview like the homosexual Bible that you mentioned. When Life application study Bible was created for instance it was intended to give hints on what the Bible is saying and how to apply it to our daily lives. The scripture itself has not changed. What changed is the tone or perspective of the note. When you approach scripture translation with an agenda you run into problem. Then you will be changing the word of the Bible to what you have preconceived.


There are people who believe we have to understand the culture of the Bible days to be able to appreciate the Bible. Do you think that is necessary? What are the things people should look out for when they study the Bible?


The Bible is quite clear that the word of God is powerful irrespective of the environment it finds itself. There are people who have been blessed who don’t have cultural experience of the context in which the Bible was written. They read it and their lives are transformed. God’s word is powerful and changes lives. But I think if you have a cultural experience of the context it has an extreme value. You will learn about the original audience and that could be great. But that is not central to understanding the Bible. It only broadens one’s perspective. What we always say is that that the Bible is timeless. It is the word of God. And it echoes through the century. When you understand the culture it will give you a better understanding. But the beauty of the scriptures is that it transcends cultures and language. When we read other authors even those who lived years after the Bible had been canonized they are archaic and not relevant again to modern world. But the Bible is different because it is living. It changes our lives and helps us to understand the mind of God. It is the most reliable way God communicates to us today. It is what it is. It is powerful all by itself.


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