The Thee's and Thou's
Dr. Walter D. Huyck Jr. D.Min.
Recently I was asked,
the KJV is the most accurate version. I had a person ask this question: If thee
and thou are more accurate, what do they do in Bibles translated into other
languages? I couldn’t answer that question. Maybe you could help me. Thanks.
This is a
curious point of contention. I have
never viewed the words “Thee” and “Thou” nor the “eths” at the end of words as
points of concern. Thee and Thou
simple mean you or your as the context demands.
These two words, and the endings on various words, were merely words or
constructs used when the KJ Bible was translated.
The KJ Bible was translated in 1611 and amended (or Americanized) in
1725. Hence the language of the
text is what I call Old English. I
simply teach people to understand Thee and Thou as you and your respectively.
issue in the KJ Bible is that the translation is written at a 12th grade reading
level while more modern translations are written at an 8th Grade
reading level or less. Most high
school graduates in America
today (especially products of public schools) read at far less than an 8th
grade reading level. Hence, reading
the KJ Bible will greatly enhance your reading ability.
issues that surround the various translations of the Bible, when dealing with
the accuracy of translation have nothing to do with the Thee’s and Thou’s.
Instead the issues are far more important.
1. The Literal Word For
Word Translation of the Text
– There are only a few translations that are reliable when it comes to a Word
for Word Translation of the Biblical text.
The most recognized are likely the New American Standard Translation (NASB), and the King
James Bible (KJB). The Translators
of these two Bibles sought to translate, as much as possible, through a word
for word translational process. This
means that they tried to translate one word for one word.
Of course this is difficult when translating from one language to
another. Since many words just do not have an exact translation from Greek
to English. However, there is no
other method of translation the does not impose the ideas of the translator
on the text and potentially (likely) remove the original authors (God’s)
intent from the text. Difficult
words and phrases are often noted in literal translations so that one can
study to show themselves approved (2 Tim 2.15).
Clearly, the KJ Bible takes literal translation to a far greater extreme than
the NASB translators did. In the
KJB you find Italicized words laced throughout the text.
These words were added by the translators to make the sentences
grammatical in English. They are
italicized to help you identify every word that was added to the text.
This is incredibly important if you are seeking a truly accurate literal
Words Matter? Does every word
matter? Jesus said,
18 For verily I say unto you,
Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the
law, till all be fulfilled.
essence Jesus said that not one dot on an “i" or one cross on a “t” would not
pass from God’s Word. Jesus said
every mark on the page matters. I
wrote a document on this issue some time ago that can be found at:
Every Christian should read and study a literal translation of the Bible;
otherwise they are reading some translators opinion of the Bible, rather than
the Word’s of God. For instance the
New International Version is a Dynamic Equivalency.
This means that the translators sought to translate the Bible phrase for
phrase rather than word for word.
Does this matter? It matters
because the Milk in meat of the Word are only contained in the Word’s of God not
in some translators opinion concerning the Word of God.
Any man’s opinion may contain either the milk of the Word, or the meat of
the Word, or neither. In essence,
when any man’s opinion enters into the Word of God then the result
will always be a commentary
but it will never be God’s Word.
You need God’s Word.
2. The Manuscript Utilized
In The Translation of the Text
– This issue has been largely underestimated in Biblical Studies, but is
incredibly important. The biggest
difference between the NASB and the KJB is this manuscript issue.
The NASB uses the Nestle-Aland Manuscript (NA) which is the
manuscript used in most contemporary Seminaries today, the KJB uses the
Textus Receptus (TR) which is used in most Fundamental KJB seminaries today.
What is the difference? Those of us
who hold to the KJB believe that God has perfectly preserved His Bible
throughout time so that the copies of the Greek Bible that have passed on to us
through the hands of the Church of our Lord is the perfectly preserved Word of
God. We believe that God, in His
supernatural power and sovereignty has protected His Word and will for all
eternity. After all, this is what
Jesus said God would do for us in Matt 5.18 and is reiterated in numerous other
Bible passages. This preserved Word
of God has been accurately compiled by diligent men of God into what we call the
Textus Recetus and is supported by
over 59 complete copies of the Greek Bible still available to us today.
The KJB is currently the only Literal Translation that is diligently
translated from this text by
translators who believe in the supernatural preservation of the Biblical
Those who hold to the NASB and many other modern translations hold to the idea
that human hands and minds have translated the Bible and that human corruption
has inevitably found its way into the Bible.
They generally do not believe that God has perfectly preserved His
written Word. Hence they use the NA
manuscript because they say it is based on the three oldest manuscripts (some
might say six or seven old manuscripts) that are closer to the time frame of the
original penning of the biblical text.
The problem here is that these oldest manuscripts mysteriously appeared
after the early 1600’s. This is
evident because the proponents of this text will argue that the KJB translators
did not have these best manuscripts when they translated the Bible.
Hence, their argument demonstrates that the Church has not always had
these manuscripts available to them.
Secondly, these manuscripts are not all complete manuscripts, and these
manuscripts often do not
agree in their content.
one must ask, will I trust 59 Greek manuscripts that almost always say the same
thing and have always been available to our Lord’s Church, or will I trust a few
manuscripts that were not available to the KJB translators and often do not
agree with each other. This is the
difference between the KJB and the NASB.
What difference will this decision make?
Here are a few examples (there are many, many more)
5:44 44 But I say unto
you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate
you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
5:44 44 "But I say to
you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you
KJB 1 John
5:7-8 7 For there are
three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and
these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness in
earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.
NASB 1 John
5:7-8 7 For there are
three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the
three are in agreement.
There are many differences between these translations which are evidences of the
differences between these two manuscripts.
Again Jesus said not a jot or a tittle would pass form God’s Word.
So has God kept His Word of hasn’t He?
I know that He has so I use the KJB.
The Translation Of
Bibles In Other Languages
– The “Thee’s” and “Thou’s” should have
no impact at all on
Bibles translated into other languages.
Why? Because it would be a
grave error to translate from English into any other language.
Bibles must be
translated from Greek and Hebrew into other languages.
To translate from a translation into another language will increase
the potential for errors
must only be made from the original languages into any other language using
a manuscript that is truly the Word of God.
Many of the doctrinal errors that have afflicted the Church of our
Lord throughout the ages have been the result of translations based on other
translations. Hence, any anomalies
that might be distinct to the English language as translated from the
original languages of the Bible would not impact translations into other
that this answer has gotten a bit long.
I just felt a more complete answer should be given.
I hope it helps.