ONLY seven per cent of Australian church-goers prefer reading the King James Version of the Bible compared to other versions, according to a survey by the Bible Society.
The survey found that contemporary versions such as the Good News Bible (35 per cent) and New International Version (28 per cent) were most popular, followed by the King James Version and New Revised Standard Version (both 7 per cent). Next were the New King James Version (5 per cent), Jerusalem Bible (4 per cent), New Living Bible (3 per cent), New American Bible, Contemporary English Version (both 2 per cent), and Amplified Bible (1 per cent).
Readership of the more popular literal translations such as the NRSV, KJV and NKJV has eroded or remained static since 1991.
The survey also found that the NIV is more popular among young adults, while the Good New Bible is favoured by older church-goers. The Good News Bible is also the most frequently read version by both women (37 per cent) and men (30 per cent).
“Readership of the more popular literal translations such as the NRSV, KJV and NKJV has eroded or remained static since 1991,” the Bible Society reported.
Meanwhile, research has found that the KJV still holds a place of distinction among Americans,
The poll, conducted by LifeWay Research to mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Version (KJV), found that more than half of all American adults (62 per cent) own a KJV Bible.
Among those who read the Bible regularly the percentage of KJV owners is even higher. Eighty-two per cent of Americans who read the Bible at least once a month own a KJV.
“Christians believe that God’s Word is truth and that truth is conveyed through language, thus translations have always been integral to the spread of Christianity,” said Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research.
“It is hard to overstate the influence of the KJV not just on language and idioms, but because it brought the Word of God to English-speaking peoples in the first widely available format.”
American women are more likely than men to own a KJV, with 72 per cent of women who own a Bible having a KJV copy compared with 62 per cent of men.
Age is also a significant factor related to KJV ownership. While 76 per cent of Americans 55 years and older who own a Bible have a KJV, 67 per cent of those aged 35 to 54 own a copy. For those aged under 35, the percentage owning a copy drops to 56 per cent.
Younger Americans also have less experience reading the KJV. Thirty-five per cent of those under 35 have never read a KJV, compared to 19 per cent of those 55 and older.
However, the lower readership among young Americans does not seem to indicate that they have more difficulty understanding the language than their older counterparts. Only 21 per cent of those under 35 say they find the language “hard to understand,” compared with 31 per cent aged 35 to 54 and 28 per cent 55 and older.
Readers of all generations find the KJV’s language beautiful. However, Americans in the South are more likely to say they “have found the language to be beautiful” (44 per cent).
When all translations are included, 89 per cent of American households own at least one Bible, with the average household owning 4.1 Bibles.