Another Verse in the KJV That Can Be Easily Misunderstood

by Sep 16, 2011KJV, Linguistics5 comments

A few years ago I turned on the TV (don’t ask why; I had no excuse) and flipped over to the Church Channel. There I beheld a white, 40-something charismatic preacher jumping around the stage before a wildly clapping and shouting audience. He read the following verse out of the KJV, and it was projected on the television screen in front of him:

And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. (John 2:3 KJV)

The preacher was tired, he said, of the kind of preaching that promised that God would supply only your needs. That only goes halfway. This verse shows, he said, that God delights to give us what we want, not just what we need.

Prosperity theology played a strong role in this man’s statement, but this post is about the KJV. And it’s your turn to supply an explanation, dear reader: what is it about the KJV that led this particular speaker of contemporary English astray?

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  1. Jonathan Watson

    I’m going to go with answer: Lack of familiarity with the meaning of ὑστερήσαντος which is translated here as “wanted.” This verse is in fact listed as a second example in BDAG under the definition, “to be in short supply, fail, give out, lack.”

    Of course, you didn’t have to go to the Greek for that. Just be familiar with the old use of the term “want.” “For want of a nail the shoe was lost. For want of the shoe the horse….” etc. etc.

  2. Christopher

    When do you start your series on “verses in the NASB that can be easily misunderstood.” What about the ESV? (Oooh.)

    No, you’re right. There probably aren’t any.

  3. Mark L Ward Jr

    Mark Strauss listed off a number of verses in the ESV that could be easily misunderstood in this article. I think that he gave insufficient weight to the role of context in a number of them. For example, “There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.” I personally doubt that many people got genuinely tripped up there thinking that the Bible was talking about dancing. People know they’re reading an ancient document, so they subtly shift their expectations for which of a word’s components of meaning or senses might be foregrounded.

    I guess I don’t care to deny that this same thing can and does happen in the ESV and NASB. But why invite problems unnecessarily by using a translation which we know will cause them?

  4. Christopher

    I suspected my teasing may illicit a serious response. I am a KJV user (emphasis on user) and find too many friends a bit defensive about criticism of their favorite, new translation.

    All translations deserve scrutiny. Some more than others, certainly.

  5. Mark L Ward Jr

    I don’t think many of my blog readers still use the KJV (I did a survey once, but that was a few years ago). I’d love to hear what led you to choose that course, Chris.

    Or do you just mean you use it among others? I certainly do that myself.