×
Poll: 400 years later, KJV Bible still popular
David Roach, Baptist Press
May 05, 2011
5 MIN READ TIME

Poll: 400 years later, KJV Bible still popular

Poll: 400 years later, KJV Bible still popular
David Roach, Baptist Press
May 05, 2011

NASHVILLE, Tenn.

– Four hundred years after it debuted as the first widely distributed Bible for

the English-speaking world, the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible still

holds a place of distinction among Americans, according to a new survey by

LifeWay Research.

The poll, conducted to mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Version,

found that more than half of all American adults (62 percent) own a KJV Bible.

Among those who read the Bible regularly the percentage of KJV owners is even

higher. A full 82 percent of Americans who read the Bible at least once a month

own a KJV. Sixty-seven percent of American adults who own a Bible have a KJV.

Published in 1611 under the direction of England’s

King James I, the KJV has wielded significant influence over both religion and

language among English speakers, generating now-common phrases such as “fight

the good fight,” “reap the whirlwind” and “feet of clay.”

“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.”

When asked to indicate whether five specific statements had been their

experience with the KJV, many Americans responded positively to: “I have found

the language to be beautiful” (31 percent) and “I have found the language to be

easy to remember” (23 percent).

The experience of some is less complimentary, responding, “I have found the

language to be hard to understand” (27 percent) and “I have found the language

to be outdated” (16 percent).

More than a quarter of adult Americans (27 percent) indicate they have never

read the KJV for themselves. An additional 4 percent did not feel any of the

statements matched their experience and 4 percent “don’t know.”

Women are more likely than men to own a KJV, with 72 percent of women who own a

Bible having a KJV copy compared with 62 percent of men.

Age is also a significant factor related to KJV ownership. While 76 percent of

Americans 55 years and older who own a Bible have a KJV, 67 percent of those

ages 35 to 54 own a copy. For those under 35 years old, the percentage owning a

copy drops to 56 percent.

Younger Americans also have less experience reading the KJV. Thirty-five

percent of those under 35 have never read a KJV. Twenty-nine percent of those

between 35 and 54 have never read a KJV along with 19 percent 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 percent of those under 35 say they find the language “hard

to understand,” compared with 31 percent ages 35 to 54 who say the same and 28

percent 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 percent).

Owning

and reading the Bible

When all translations are included, 89 percent of American households own at

least one Bible, with the average household owning 4.1 Bibles.

Yet there is a significant gap in Bible ownership between those who read the

Scriptures regularly and those who do not. Americans who read the Bible at

least once a month own an average of 5.8 Bibles while those who read it less

than once a month own an average of 2.2.

Women own an average of 4.7 Bibles compared with 3.6 for men.

Approximately half of all adult Americans (53 percent) indicate they personally

read the Bible once a month or more. There are fewer non-Bible readers ages 55

and older than in any other age group. Eighteen percent of those age 55 and

older never read the Bible, whereas 26 percent of Americans 35 to 54 and 28

percent of those under 35 never read it.

Women are more likely than men to be Bible readers, with 60 percent of women

and 46 percent of men reading the Bible once a month or more.

“The power and inherent truth of Scripture comes from having God as its author,”

McConnell said. “One’s willingness to engage the Bible determines its effect

upon a life. Numerically, Bible ownership is similar to the percentage of

Americans who indicate they are Christian. But owning a Bible and reading it

are two different things.”

The survey was based on 1,004 telephone interviews conducted March 2-6.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is a pastor and writer in Shelbyville,

Ky.)

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical

Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new

Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank

you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or

issues with items we run, please contact [email protected]

or call 919-847-2127.)

Related stories

Until 1950s, KJV was the Bible

340 million still need Bible translated

Professor: KJV has strengths others lack

How the King James Bible was born