King James Version vs. Contemporary English Version

How does the King James (KJV) Bible translation compare to the Contemporary English Version? I have always been told to stay with the KJV but want to understand the Bible better.
— Lesa M. Holmes, by e-mail

The King James Version (KJV) is a very accurate translation of the Bible that was done by an eminent team of scholars 400 years ago (AD 1611) in England. It is what we call a word-for-word translation from the original Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament. The Contemporary English Version (CEV) was completed in 1995. It is also a direct translation from Hebrew and Greek; however, the CEV is more a phrase-by-phrase rather than a word-for-word translation.

Many words in every language change meaning over time. For example, 400 years ago “prevent” meant “to go before; to go in front of.” That is not how today's reader would understand “prevent.” Since language does change with time, having a more recent translation can be helpful. Additionally, some ancient Hebrew and Greek words simply do not have an equivalent in English, so a phrase-by-phrase translation approach can bring clarity to a passage containing such words.

You may find that having two or more translations to compare will aid you in your study of God's Word.

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