When I asked C's freshman religion teacher which Bible to read, he said that while the King James edition was the one I should read, the Jerusalem Bible was the one I could read.
He was right.
Why is the King James version so difficult? I'm sure Katharine can tell us, and I hope she will.
For now, my sense is that the problems come down to unfamiliar grammar combined with unfamiliar idiom:
There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.I don't know what this passage means.
Genesis 6, Verse 4
First of all, I don't know what the word giants means in this context. Were the giants the sons of God?
I'm not sure. I don't know how the words and also after that connect the subject of the first independent clause to the subject of the second independent clause: how do the words and also after that relate giants to sons?
Next question: if the sons of God are the giants, are the giants half-God, half-man? (That can't be right, can it? This is the Bible, not The Odyssey.)
The expression came in unto the daughters is unfamiliar, but I can figure it out from context.
As to grammar, the pronouns are an obstacle and have been in virtually every passage I've read:
...when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown...They refers to the daughters of men; them refers to the sons of God; the same refers to the children; and which also refers to the children. I think. If this passage appeared on the SAT, it would be wrong on grounds that the pronoun antecedents are unclear.
In Abraham Lincoln's day, I gather, children were taught to read using the King James Bible, so presumably the pronoun antecedents were clear enough to readers back then. But the King James has different grammatical rules than the ones we're used to, and that's the problem.
If you don't know grammar, you can read the words, but you can't read the text.