top of page

The Christmas Story: How Well Do You Know It? (1 of 10) - Rev. Gary Byers

Video from Associates for Biblical Research

"Rev. Gary Byers of the Associates for Biblical Research discusses the historical events surrounding the Birth of Christ. Part One includes an introduction to the relevant Biblical texts." from video introduction

Christmas Story in Luke: 5 Words You’re Probably Missing

Every Christmas Eve growing up, my father read the Christmas story from Luke 2 in the King James Version.

And every Christmas Eve, I thought I understood it. I largely did. But I now see little things I was missing—through no fault of my own, nor of the KJV translators, but simply because of the inevitable process of language change. The KJV is 400 years old, after all. I now see these little things because I focused hard on them while writing my book, Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible.

Here are five things you might not have noticed you were missing in the Christmas story in Luke 2 in the King James Version.

1. ‘That all the world should be taxed’

The very first sentence of the Christmas story in Luke 2 contains a fairly good example of a word that no longer means what it used to mean: “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.”

It’s a tiny bit unclear what the KJV translators were doing with this word “taxed.” They were excessively smart men, and they had to know that the Greek word they were translating here (ἀπογράφω, apographo) referred to census registration and not to the levying of taxes.

By choosing the word “taxed” they were following Tyndale (1526) and the Bishop’s Bible (1568) before them—the KJV is a revision of the latter. And I don’t think any of them made a mistake. It’s possible they chose what we now call a “functional translation”: they thought the point of the census was for taxes, so they translated according. It’s also possible they were using a sense of the word that is no longer available to us. The authoritative and exhaustive Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the only dictionary that traces the full history of English rather than merely describing its current state, gives weight to that second possibility. Look at sense 8 for the verb “tax”.." from the article: Christmas Story in Luke: 5 Words You’re Probably Missing


5 views0 comments
bottom of page