King James Version of the Bible



King James Version
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The title page to the 1611 first edition of the King James Bible shows the Twelve Apostles at the top. Moses and Aaron flank the central text. In the four corners sit Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, authors of the four gospels, with their symbolic animals.
Full name:King James Version
Authorized Version
Abbreviation:KJV or AV
Complete Bible published:1611
Textual Basis:Textus Receptus, 57% deviation from Nestle-Aland 27th edition (NT)
Translation type:2% paraphrase rate
Copyright status:(See Copyright status)
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
The Authorized King James Version is an English translation of the Christian Bible by the Church of England begun in 1604 and first published in 1611. In common with most other translations of the period, the New Testament was translated from the Textus Receptus (Received Text) series of the Greek texts. The Old Testament was translated from the Masoretic Hebrew text, while the Apocrypha was translated from the Greek Septuagint (LXX).

The 1611 Bible is known as the King James Version in the United States. In the United Kingdom, it is commonly known as the Authorized Version. Neither name is superior. King James did not literally translate the Bible but it was his advance authorization that was legally necessary for the Church of England to translate, publish and distribute the Bible in England. James and the Bishop of London wrote the brief that guided the translation, such as prohibiting the marginal notes found in the Geneva Bible and ensuring the position of the Church of England was recognised on various points. While the new Bible did replace the Bishops' Bible in the Church of England, there is no extant documentation to suggest that the completed book was ever formally 'authorized'. However, from 1662, the Epistle and Gospel texts in the Book of Common Prayer were taken from this Bible; and as such were 'authorized' by Act of Parliament.

The Authorized King James Version had a profound effect on English literature. Herman Melville and William Wordsworth were deeply influenced by it.

Background

Protestantism embraced the principle that the Bible was the sole source of doctrine (see sola scriptura), and as such should be made accessible to the population at large by being translated into the local vernacular, and printed. The act of Bible translation into any vernacular was a political as well as a religious statement; and remained so whether the Bible translation was a private endeavour, or sponsored by a monarch and his government. A prince who sponsored a Bible translation would be able to establish the terms under which their people would have access to the word of God; while conversely, a prince whose people were obtaining access to the word of God from imported translations, would suffer a serious loss of prestige.

Vernacular translations, based on the Latin Vulgate, were very common in late 15th century Europe, and long pre-dated Protestantism; but England was a special case. The first complete English translations had been undertaken by followers of John Wycliffe in the 14th century, and were consequently associated with the Lollard heresy, and banned in 1401. Wycliffe himself probably did not translate the entire Bible, but copies of a complete translation ascribed to him circulated widely in manuscript throughout the 15th century; however because of the ban, no edition was printed. Consquently, it was not until William Tyndale, a Protestant contemporary of Luther undertook an English translation of the New Testament in 1524, that any part of the Bible was printed in English. In accordance with Protestant principles, Tyndale translated from the original languages, rather than from the Vulgate; and in this followed Luther's complete German translation, which had been published in 1522.

Tyndale's translation was deliberately provocative in a number of ways; he rendered Greek presbuteros[1], traditionally translated as "priest", as "elder" — a literal translation that slighted the connection between the Catholic clergy and the former biblical texts; in a similar fashion he translated ekklesia[2], traditionally "church", as "congregation"; these renditions were at the basis of a notorious controversy between Tyndale and Sir Thomas More, who took the establishment's side. In the preface, the translators of the King James note: “we have on the one side avoided the scrupulosity of the Puritans, who leave the old Ecclesiastical words, and betake them to other, as when they put WASHING for BAPTISM, and CONGREGATION instead of CHURCH:”.

Despite these controversial renderings, the merits of Tyndale's work and prose style made his translation the basis for most of the subsequent renditions into Early Modern English, although Tyndale's own life ended with being strangled and having his body burned at the stake by the Roman Catholic authorities for his alleged heresy. With these controversial translations lightly edited, Tyndale's New Testament and his incomplete work on the Old Testament (see Matthew's Bible) became in 1539, the basis for the Great Bible, the first "authorized version" issued by the Church of England in the reign of King Henry VIII; whose text was to provide the Prayer Book Epistle and Gospel readings up to 1662. However, since in the Great Bible those parts of the Old Testament not translated by Tyndale had been translated from the Latin Vulgate, this was not a version entirely from the original languages.

When Mary I took the throne, she sought to re-establish Roman Catholicism as the Established Church. Some English Protestant leaders, fleeing the "fires of Smithfield" instituted by Queen Mary in co-operation with Roman Catholic policy, established an English-speaking Protestant colony at Geneva. With the help of Theodore Beza, successor to John Calvin as leader of the Reformed church there, they created the Geneva Bible. This translation, which first appeared in 1560, was a revision of Tyndale's and the Great Bible on the basis of the original languages throughout; and was furnished copiously with Protestant annotations and references. Many of these marginal notes were to be substantially expanded and revised towards more explicitly anti-papal exegisis in subsequent editions. The 1599 edition in particular controversially incorporated Franciscus Junius's notations and commentary on the Book of Revelation in English translation; whose bulk greatly exceeded that of the scriptural text.

By the time Elizabeth I took the throne, the flaws of the Great Bible were apparent. In 1568 the established church responded with the Bishops' Bible - a reworking of the Great Bible in the light of the Geneva Version (without almost all its notes or cross-references); but their version failed to displace Geneva as the most popular English Bible - not the least because the full Bible was printed in lectern editions of prodigious size and at a cost of several pounds. Accordingly, Elizabethan lay people overwhelmingly read the Bible in the Geneva Version - small editions were available at a relatively low cost. At the same time, there was a substantial clandestine importation of the rival Douay-Rheims New Testament, undertaken by exiled Roman Catholics; which claimed to be a strict translation of the Latin Vulgate, but also included strongly polemical notes of its own.

Scholarly debate continued to take place almost exclusively in Latin. Sermons into the 1600s were still quoting Scripture passages in Latin.[1] None of the eventual translators of the Authorized Version show any familiarity with the text of the Bishops' Bible in their sermons or writings; most often they quote scripture in the form of the Latin Vulgate, or otherwise in the Geneva Version.[1]

The Project

In May 1601, King James VI of Scotland attended the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland at St. Columba's Church in Burntisland, Fife, and proposals were put forward for a new translation of the Bible into English. Two years later, he acceded to the throne of England as King James I of England. (He is therefore sometimes known as "James the Sixth and First".)

The Authorized Version was first conceived at the Hampton Court Conference, which the new king convened in January 1604, in response to the problems posed by Puritans in the Millenary Petition. According to an eyewitness account, Dr John Rainolds "moved his majesty that there might be a new translation of the Bible, because those which were allowed in the reign of king Henry the Eighth and Edward the Sixth were corrupt and not answerable to the truth of the original."

Rainolds offered three examples of problems with existing translations: "First, Galatians iv. 25. The Greek word susoichei is not well translated as now it is, bordereth neither expressing the force of the word, nor the apostles sense, nor the situation of the place. Secondly, psalm cv. 28, ‘They were not obedient;’ the original being, ‘They were not disobedient.’ Thirdly, psalm cvi. 30, ‘Then stood up Phinees and prayed,’ the Hebrew hath, ‘executed judgment.’"

King James proposed that a new translation be commissioned to settle the controversies; he hoped a new translation would replace the Geneva Bible and its offensive notes in the popular esteem. After the Bishop of London added a qualification that no marginal notes were to be added to Rainold’s new Bible, the king cited two passages in the Geneva translation where he found the notes offensive; Exodus 1:17, where the Geneva Bible had commended the example of civil disobedience showed by the Hebrew midwives; and also II Chronicles 15:16, where the Geneva Bible had criticised King Asa for not having executed his idolatrous mother, Queen Maachah. James believed - with good reason - that the Geneva Bible notes on this latter scriptural passage had been instrumental in promoting the death of his own mother Mary Queen of Scots. King James gave the translators instructions, which were designed to discourage polemical notes, and to guarantee that the new version would conform to the ecclesiology of the Church of England.

King James' instructions included requirements that:
  1. The ordinary Bible, read in the church, commonly called the Bishops' Bible, to be followed, and as little altered as the original will permit....
  2. The old ecclesiastical words to be kept; as the word church, not to be translated congregation, &c.
  3. When any word hath divers significations, that to be kept which has been most commonly used by the most eminent fathers, being agreeable to the propriety of the place, and the analogy of the faith....
  4. No marginal notes at all to be affixed, but only for the explanation of the Hebrew or Greek words, which cannot, without some circumlocution, so briefly and fitly be expressed in the text.
  5. Such quotations of places to be marginally set down, as shall serve for the fit references of one scripture to another....
  6. These translations to be used when they agree better with the text than the Bishops' Bible, viz. Tyndale Bible, Coverdale Bible, Matthew's Bible, Great Bible, Geneva Bible. (Influence from Taverner's Bible and the New Testament of the Douai-Rheims Bible can also be detected, but the Douai Old Testament was published too late to have any effect.)


King James' instructions made it clear that he wanted the resulting translation to contain a minimum of controversial notes and apparatus, and that he wanted the episcopal structure of the Established Church, and traditional beliefs about an ordained clergy to be reflected in the new translation. His order directed the translators to revise the Bishop's Bible, comparing other named English versions. It is for this reason that the flyleaves of most printings of the King James Bible observe that the text had been "translated out of the original tongues, and with the former translations diligently compared and revised (by His Majesty's special command.)"

The Authorized Version was translated by 47 scholars (although 54 were originally contracted) working in six committees, two based in each of the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, and Westminster. Forty unbound copies of the Bishops' Bible were specially printed so that the agreed changes of each committee could be recorded in the margins. They worked on certain parts separately; then the drafts produced by each committee were compared and revised for harmony with each other. The scholars were not paid for their translation work, but were required to support themselves as best they could. Many were supported by the various colleges at Oxford and Cambridge.

Committees

First Westminster Company, translating from Genesis to 2 Kings:
:Lancelot Andrewes, John Overall, Hadrian à Saravia, Richard Clarke, John Layfield, Robert Tighe, Francis Burleigh, Geoffrey King, Richard Thomson, William Bedwell;


First Cambridge Company, translated from 1 Chronicles to the Song of Solomon:
:Edward Lively, John Richardson, Lawrence Chaderton, Francis Dillingham, Roger Andrewes, Thomas Harrison, Robert Spaulding, Andrew Bing;


First Oxford Company, translated from Isaiah to Malachi:
:John Harding, John Rainolds (or Reynolds), Thomas Holland, Richard Kilby, Miles Smith, Richard Brett, Daniel Fairclough;


Second Oxford Company, translated the Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, and the Book of Revelation:
:Thomas Ravis, George Abbot, Richard Eedes, Giles Tomson, Sir Henry Savile, John Peryn, Ralph Ravens, John Harmar;


Second Westminster Company, translated the Epistles:
:William Barlow, John Spencer, Roger Fenton, Ralph Hutchinson, William Dakins, Michael Rabbet, Thomas Sanderson;


Second Cambridge Company, translated the Apocrypha:
:John Duport, William Branthwaite, Jeremiah Radcliffe, Samuel Ward, Andrew Downes, John Bois, John Ward, John Aglionby, Leonard Hutten, Thomas Bilson, Richard Bancroft.


In January 1609, a General Committee of Review met at Stationers' Hall, London to review the completed marked texts from each of the six companies. The committee included John Bois, Andrew Downes, John Harmar, and others known only by their initials, including "AL" (who may be Arthur Lake). John Bois prepared a note of their deliberations (in Latin) - which has partly survived in a later transcript. Also surviving is a bound-together set of marked-up corrections to the Bishops' Bible text - covering the Old Testament and Gospels.

The original printing of the Authorized Version was published by Robert Barker, the King's Printer, in 1611 as a complete folio Bible (Herbert #309), and could be bought looseleaf for ten shillings (s), or bound for twelve. It was also published in the same year as a 12º New Testament (Herbert #310). Robert Barker's father, Christopher had in 1589 been granted by Elizabeth I the title of royal Printer, with the perpetual Royal Privilege (i.e. a monopoly) to print Bibles in England. Robert Barker invested very large sums in printing the new edition, and consequently ran into serious debt; such that he was compelled to sub-lease the privilege to two rival London printers, Bonham Norton and John Bill. It appears that initially, Barker printed the New Testament sheets, and Norton and Bill supplied the Old Testament and Apocrypha; but then, pursued for debt, Barker sometimes sold the New Testaments on their own, leaving Norton and Bill with unsaleable part-Bibles. These arrangements generated bitter financial disputes, which broke out into the open in 1618; resulting in decades of continual litigation, and consequent imprisonment for debt for members of all three printing dynasties; while each issued rival editions of the whole Bible. In the 1629, the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge managed successfully to assert separate and prior royal licences for bible printing, for their own university presses - and Cambridge University took the opportunity to print revised editions of the Authorised Version in 1629 and 1638, whose editors included John Bois and John Ward from the original translators. This did not, however, impede the commercial rivalries of the London printers; especially as the Barker family refused to allow any other printers access to the authoritative manuscript of the Authorized Version. In the 18th century all the surviving interests in the Royal Privilege were bought out by John Baskett of Oxford (although the fabled manuscript was never produced). The Baskett rights descended through a number of printers, until eventually bought in the 20th century by the Cambridge University Press.

Literary attributes

Translation

Like the earlier English translations such as Tyndale's and the Geneva Bible, the Authorized Version was translated primarily from Greek and Hebrew texts, with only secondary reference to the Latin Vulgate. The King James Version is a formal translation of these base sources; words implied but not actually in the original source are specially marked in most printings (either by being inside square brackets, or as italicized text). In obedience to their instructions, the translators provided no marginal interpretation of the text; but in some 8,500 places a marginal note offers an alternative English wording. Most usually the note is a more literal translation of the original, but occasionally it represents a variant reading of the source text. Modern reprintings rarely reproduce these annotated variants; nor do they include the original scriptural cross-references, in which one text is related to another.

The translators render the Tetragrammaton YHWH or the name Jehovah by the use of small capitals as Lord, or Lord
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(for Adonai YHWH, "Lord YHWH"), denoting the divine name, Jesus is referred to as Lord with a capital "L" and lower case "ord" as the example of the scripture in Psalm 110:1 "The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool".

For their Old Testament, the translators worked from editions of the Hebrew Rabbinic Bible by Daniel Bromberg (1524/5); but adjusted the text in several places to conform to the Greek LXX or Latin Vulgate - in passages to which Christian tradition had tended to attach a Christological interpretation; as, for example, the reading "they pierced my hands and my feet" in Psalm 22:16. Otherwise, however, the King James Version is closer to the Hebrew tradition than any previous translation (Daiches 1941) - especially in making use of the rabbinic commentaries, such as Kimhi, in elucidating obscure passages in the Masoretic Text; where earlier versions were more likely to adopt LXX or Vulgate readings.

For their New Testament, the translators chiefly used the 1598 and 1588/89 Greek editions of Theodore Beza; which also present Beza's Latin version of the Greek and Stephanus's edition of the Latin Vulgate; both of which versions were extensively referred to - as the translators conducted all discussions amongst themselves in Latin. F.H.A. Scrivener (1884) identifies 190 readings where the King James translators depart from Beza's Greek text, generally in maintaining the wording of the Bishop's Bible or another earlier English translation. In about half of these instances, the King James translators appear to follow the earlier 1550 Greek Textus Receptus of Stephanus. For the other half, Scrivener was usually able to find corresponding Greek readings in the editions of Erasmus, or the Complutensian Polyglot; but in several dozen readings he notes that no printed Greek text corresponds closely to the English of the King James version - which in these readings derives rather from the Vulgate. For example, at Luke 23:34, the soldiers "cast lots" (as, indeed, they had in all previous English versions), following the Latin Vulgate "sortes"; where a strict rendering of the Greek text would be, "cast a lot". The King James New Testament owes much more to the Vulgate than does the Old Testament; but still, at least 80% of the text is unaltered from Tyndale's translation.

The books of the Apocrypha were translated from the Septuagint - primarily, from the Greek Old Testament column in the Antwerp Polyglot - but with extensive reference to the counterpart Latin Vulgate text. The translators also made use of the Sixtine Septuagint of 1587, which is substantially a printing of the Old Testament text from the Codex Vaticanus; and also to the 1518 Greek Septuagint edition of Aldus Manutius. They had, however, no Greek texts for 2 Esdras, or for the Prayer of Manasses, and Scrivener (1884) speculates that they here used an unidentified Latin manuscript.

The translators appear to have otherwise made no first-hand study of ancient manuscript sources; even those which - like the Codex Bezae - would have been readily available to them. However, they made wide and eclectic use of printed editions in the original languages then available; and also to the ancient Syriac New Testament printed with an interinear Latin gloss in the Antwerp Polyglot of 1572. In addition to all previous English versions - including the Catholic Rheims New Testament; they also consulted contemporary vernacular translations into Spanish, French, Italian and German.

Modern critical biblical translations differ substantially from the Authorized Version in a number of passages, primarily because they rely on source manuscripts not then accessible to (or not then highly regarded by) early 17th Century Biblical Scholarship. Some conservative fundamentalist Protestants believe that these source manuscripts should be rejected as corrupt; and that the Authorized Version is truer to the original languages. This preference is partially because many modern versions often excise or marginalize certain verses deemed by modern scholarship as later additions to the original text and thus are seen by traditionalists as tampering with the sacred text. (See King-James-Only Movement.) Those defending this view invariably also limit the scope of sacred scripture to Old and New Testaments alone - rejecting the Authorized Version in the books of the Apocrypha.

In the Old Testament, there are also many differences from modern translations that are based not on manuscript differences, but on a different translation of Ancient Hebrew vocabulary or grammar by the translators. Hebrew scholarship by non-Jews was not as developed in the early 17th century as it is now. The New Testament is largely unaffected by this as the grasp of Koine Greek was already quite firm in the West by the time the translation was made. The difference is partially caused by the fact that while there is a very large and diverse body of extra-biblical material extant in Ancient Greek, there is very little such material in Ancient Hebrew, and probably not even this little was known to the translators at the time. Additionally, Hebrew scholarship in modern times has been much improved by information gleaned from Aramaic (Syriac) and Arabic, two Semitic languages related to Ancient Hebrew, both of which have a continuous existence as living languages. Since these languages are still in use and have larger bodies of extant material than Ancient Hebrew (especially in the case of Arabic), many Hebrew words and Hebrew grammar phenomena can now be understood in a way not available at the time the Authorized Version was written.

Scrivener (1884) asserts that the translations undertaken by the second Westminster Company - of the Epistles; and by the second Cambridge Company - of the Apocrypha; are of notably poorer quality than those for the rest of the Old and New Testaments; both in respect of clarity of English expression, and in accurate rendering of the Greek. In particular, he detects in these two companies too great a tendency to maintain the English text of the Bishop's Bible against superior renderings in the Geneva Bible.

Style

The Authorized Version has traditionally been appreciated for the quality of the prose and poetry in the translation. However, the English language has changed since the time of its publication, and the King James Version employs words and grammatical structures that may be foreign to modern readers. For example, the Authorized Version uses the second person singular pronouns, such as "thou". Some words used in the Authorized Version have changed meaning since the translation was made; for example "replenish" is used in the translation in the sense of "fill" where the modern verb means "to refill", and "even" (a word very often introduced by the translators and thus italicized) is mostly used in the sense of "namely" or "that is". Because of this, some modern readers find the Authorized Version more difficult to understand than more recent translations.

At the time William Tyndale made his Bible translation, there was no consensus in Early Modern English as to whether the older pronoun his or the neologism its was the proper genitive case of the third person singular pronoun it. Tyndale dodged the difficulty by using phrases such as the blood thereof rather than choosing between his blood or its blood. By the time the King James translators wrote, usage had settled on its, but Tyndale's style was familiar and considered a part of an appropriately biblical style, and they chose to retain the old wording.

The Authorized Version is notably more Latinate than previous English versions, especially the Geneva Bible. This results in part from the academic stylistic preferences of a number of the translators - several of whom admitted to being more comfortable in Latin than in English - but was also, in part, a consequence of the royal proscription against explanatory notes. Hence, where the Geneva Bible might use a common English word - and gloss its particular application in a marginal note; the King James version tends rather to prefer a technical term, frequently in Anglicised Latin. Consequently, although the King had instructed the translators to use the Bishops' Bible as a base text, the New Testament in particular, stylistically owes much to the Catholic Rheims New Testament, whose translators had also been concerned to find English equivalents for Latin terminology.

The degree to which the Authorized Version takes elements from its main predecessors (each of which is itself dependent on Tyndale) can be assessed with reference to a famous passage in I Corinthians 13:

Geneva Bible 1560.
1. Though I speake with the tongues of men and Angels, and haue not loue, I am as sounding brasse, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I had the gift of prophecie, and knewe all secrets and all knowledge, yea, if I had all faith, so that I could remooue mountaines and had not loue, I were nothing. 3 And though I feede the poore with all my goods, and though I giue my body, that I be burned, and haue not loue, it profiteth me nothing.
Bishops' Bible 1568.
1. Though I speake with the tongues of men and of Angels, and haue not loue, I am [as] soundyng brasse, or [as] a tincklyng Cimball: 2 And though I coulde prophesie, and vnderstoode all secretes, and all knowledge: Yea, if I had all fayth, so that I coulde moue mountaynes out of their places, and haue not loue, I were nothyng. 3 And though I bestowe all my goodes to feede the poore, and though I geue my body that I burned, and haue not loue, it profiteth me nothyng.
Rheims New Testament 1582.
1. If I speake vvith the tonges of men and of Angels, and haue not charitie: I am become as sounding brasse, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And if I should haue prophecie, and knevv al mysteries and al knovvledge, and if I should haue al faith, so that I could remoue mountaines, and haue not charitie, I am nothing. 3 And if I should distribute al my goods to be meate for the poore, and if I should deliuer my body so that I burne, and haue not charitie, it doth profit me nothing.
Authorized Version 1611.
1. Though I speake with the tongues of men & of Angels, and haue not charity, I am become as sounding brasse or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I haue the gift of prophesie, and vnderstand all mysteries and all knowledge: and though I haue all faith, so that I could remooue mountaines, and haue no charitie, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestowe all my goods to feede the poore, and though I giue my body to bee burned, and haue not charitie, it profiteth me nothing.


The use of the English word "charity" in this passage in the Authorized Version reflects the royal injunction to continue with the old "ecclesiastical" terminology; and derives from a change made in the second (1572) edition of the Bishops' Bible. The first verse is nearly identical in all the versions, although the Authorized Version text is closest here to the Rheims New Testament; while the third verse preserves the wording of the Bishops' Bible almost unchanged. The second verse has been more thoroughly recomposed by the 1611 translators, but the vocabulary and the verbal tenses owe more to Rheims than either of the other two versions.

As the Authorized Version was "appointed to be read in churches", and aimed at a particularly dignified and formal style, it tends to flatten stylistic differences in the source text and aims instead for a uniformly elevated and "biblical" sounding prose. For example, here is the Geneva Bible's rendition of Genesis 38:27-30:

Now, when the time was come that she should be deliuered, beholde, there were twinnes in her wombe. And when she was in trauell, the one put out his hand: and the midwife tooke and bound a red threde about his hand, saying, This is come out first. But when he plucked his hand backe againe, loe, his brother came out, and the midwife said, How hast thou broken the breach vpon thee? and his name was called Pharez. And afterward came out his brother that had the red threde about his hande, and his name was called Zarah.


Here, by contrast, is the same passage in the 1611 King James:

And it came to passe in the time of her trauaile, that beholde, twinnes were in her wombe. And it came to passe when she trauailed, that the one put out his hand, and the midwife tooke and bound vpon his hand a skarlet threed, saying, This came out first. And it came to passe as he drewe back his hand, that behold, his brother came out: and she said, How hast thou broken foorth? this breach bee vpon thee: Therefore his name was called Pharez. And afterward came out his brother that had the skarlet threed vpon his hand, and his name was called Zarah.


Both passages owe a great deal to Tyndale's earlier rendition of this text. But the King James text repeats and it came to pass where Geneva has now or and when.

Here are some brief samples of text that demonstrate the King James Version's literary style:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.

All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. (John 1:1-5)


For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)


When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some [say that thou art] John the Baptist: some Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto them, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed [it] unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:13-18)

Criticism

Main article: Bible version debate
Some scholars working with Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew versions regard the Authorized Version as an inferior English translation of the Bible. For example, New Testament scholar Bart D. Ehrman has written:

The Authorized Version is filled with places in which the translators rendered a Greek text derived ultimately from Erasmus's edition, which was based on a single twelfth-century manuscript that is one of the worst of the manuscripts that we now have available to us![2]


Some suggest that its value lies in its poetic language at the cost of accuracy in translation, whilst other scholars would firmly disagree with these claims. Some of today's exegetes (Walter Brueggemann, Marcus Borg, Warren Carter, James L. Crenshaw, Robert W. Funk, John Dominic Crossan, and N.T. Wright) do not endorse the KJV for Masters or Doctoral-level exegetical work .

Subsequent history

While the Authorized Version was meant to replace the Bishops' Bible as the official version for readings in the Church of England, it was apparently (like the Bishops' Bible) never specifically "Authorized", although it is commonly known as the Authorized Version in the United Kingdom. However, the King's Printer issued no further editions of the Bishops' Bible; so necessarily the Authorized Version supplanted it as the standard lectionary Bible in parish church use in England. In the 1662 Book Of Common Prayer, the text of the Authorized version finally supplanted that of the Great Bible in the Epistle and Gospel readings - though the Psalter nevertheless was provided in the 1539 version.

The Authorized Version's acceptance by the general public took longer. The Geneva Bible continued to be quite popular, and was reprinted at least up to 1644; in the period of the English Civil War, soldiers of the New Model Army were issued a book of selections called "The Soldiers' Bible" (1643, Herbert #577). In the first half of the 17th Century the Authorized Version is most commonly referred to as "The Bible without notes"; thereby distinguishing it from the Geneva "Bible with notes", and several printings of the KJV - one as late as 1715 (Herbert #936) - combined the King James translation text with the Geneva marginal notes. After the English Restoration, however, the Geneva Bible was held to be politically suspect, and a reminder of the repudiated Puritan era. Furthermore, as the disputes over the lucrative rights to print the Authorized Version continued, so none of the printers involved saw any commercial advantage in marketing a rival translation. The King James Bible then became the only current version circulated among English speaking people, as familiarity and stylistic merits won it the respect of the populace.

Slowest of all was acceptance of the text by Biblical Scholars. Walton's London Polyglot of 1657 disregards the Authorized Version (and indeed the English Language) entirely. Walton's reference text throughout is the Vulgate. The Vulgate Latin is also found as the standard text of scripture in Thomas Hobbes Leviathan of 1689; and in Hobbes's argument it is assumed that this is the form in which the Bible would be most familiar to his particular readership. For most of the 17th Century the assumption remained that, while it had been of vital importance to provide the scriptures in the vernacular for ordinary people; nevertheless for those with sufficient education to do so, Biblical study was best undertaken within the international common medium of Latin. It is only in 1700, that modern diglot Bibles appear in which the Authorized Version is compared to counterpart Dutch and French Protestant vernacular Bibles.

In consequence of the continual disputes over printing privileges, successive printings of the Authorized Version were notably less careful that the 1611 edition had been - compositors freely varying spelling, capitalisation and punctuation; and also, over the years, introducing about 1,500 misprints (some of which, like the omission of "not" from the commandment "Thou shalt not commit adultery" in the "Wicked Bible" of 1631), became notorious. The two Cambridge editions of 1629 and 1638 attempted to restore the proper text - while introducing a few revisons of the original translators' work, chiefly in the direction of more literal phrasing. A more thoroughly corrected edition was proposed following the Restoration, in conjunction with the revised 1662 Book of Common Prayer but Parliament then decided against it.

Publishing of the Authorized Version in England continued to be restricted to printers holding the Royal Privilege, but from around 1720 competing printers increasingly issued rival editions. These were sometimes legally distinguished from the official printings by the addition on each page of a brief section of commentary; or otherwise by adding illustrations and other educational material, and marketing the resulting book as a "Family Bible".

Current printings of the Authorized Version differ from the original in several ways.

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The opening of the Epistle to the Hebrews of the 1611 edition of the Authorized Version shows the original typeface. Marginal notes reference variant translations and cross references to other Bible passages.

Apocrypha

See also:
The Church of England in its doctrinal statement called the Thirty-Nine Articles includes the Apocrypha as an acceptable part of Scripture. Article VI Of the Sufficiency of the holy Scriptures for salvation, found in the Book of Common Prayer, asserts:
Insert the text of the quote here, without quotation marks.
The Authorized Version included the Apocrypha; all the books and sections of books present in the Latin Vulgate's Old Testament — the translation of Jerome (Hierome) — but missing in the Hebrew. Indeed, the Book of Common Prayer specfies lectionary readings from the Apocrypha to be read in Morning and Evening Prayer in October. The Apocrypha was printed in its own section of the Authorized Version coming between the end of the Old and the beginning of the New Testament.

With the rise of the Bible societies, from approximately 1827, many editions have omitted the whole section of Apocryphal books; and the most common contemporary editions are available in versions both with and without them.[3]

Printing variants

The original printing also included a number of variant readings and alternative translations of some passages; most current printings omit these. The original printing also included some marginal references to indicate where one passage of Scripture quoted or directly related to another. Most current printings omit these.

Prefatory material

The original printing contained two prefatory texts; the first was a rather fulsome to "the most high and mighty Prince" King James. Many British printings reproduce this, while a few cheaper or smaller American printings fail to include it.

The second, and more interesting preface was called The Translators to the Reader, a long and learned essay that defends the undertaking of the new version. It observes that their goal was not to make a bad translation good, but a good translation better, and says that "we do not deny, nay we affirm and avow, that the very meanest translation of the Bible in English, set forth by men of our profession... containeth the word of God, nay, is the word of God". Few editions anywhere include this text.

The first printing contained a number of other apparatus, including a table for the reading of the Psalms at matins and evensong, and a calendar, an almanac, and a table of holy days and observances. Much of this material has become obsolete with the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar by the UK and its colonies in 1752 and thus modern editions invariably omit it.

Typeface, spelling, and format

The original printing was made before English spelling was standardised; and when printers, as a matter of course, expanded and contracted the spelling of the same words in different places, so as to achieve an even column of text. They set "v" invariably for lower-case initial "u" and "v", and "u" for "u" and "v" everywhere else. They used long "ſ" for non-final "s". The letter "j" occurs only after "i" or as the final letter in a Roman numeral. Punctuation was relatively heavy, and differed from current practice. When space needed to be saved, the printers sometimes used ye for the, (replacing the Middle English thorn with the continental y), set ã for an or am (in the style of scribe's shorthand), and set "&" for "and". Contrariwise, on a few occasions, they appear to have inserted these words when they thought a line needed to be padded. Current printings remove most, but not all, of the variant spellings; the punctuation has also been changed, but still varies from current usage norms.

The first printing used a black letter typeface instead of a Roman typeface, which itself made a political and a religious statement. Like the Great Bible and the Bishops' Bible, the Authorized Version was "appointed to be read in churches". It was a large folio volume meant for public use, not private devotion; the weight of the type mirrored the weight of establishment authority behind it. However, smaller editions and Roman-type editions followed rapidly; e.g. quarto Roman-type editions of the Bible in 1612 (Herbert #313/314). This contrasted with the Geneva Bible, which was the first English Bible printed in a Roman typeface (although black-letter editions, particularly in folio format, were issued later).

The Authorized Version also used Roman type instead of italics to indicate text that had been supplied by the translators, or thought needful for English grammar but which was not present in the Greek or Hebrew. In the first printing, the device of having different type faces to show supplied words was used sparsely and inconsistently. This is perhaps the most significant difference between the original text and the current text.

The current text

Current printings of the Authorized Version are typically based on an edition published at the University of Oxford in 1769, edited by Benjamin Blayney, who sought consistently to remove those elements of the 1611 and successive subsequent editions, that were due to the vagaries of printers. Apart from supplemental material, differences between the texts are chiefly limited to the correction of apparent errors and verbal adjustments in printing, and the updating and standardisation of punctuation and spelling; although some of these updatings do alter the ostensible sense - as when the original text of Genesis 2:21 "in stead" (in that place) was updated to read "instead" (as an alternative). In addition, Blayney thoroughly revised and greatly extended the italicisation of "supplied" words not found in the original languagues by cross-checking against the presumed source texts. Unfortunately, he assumed that the translators of the 1611 New Testament had worked from the 1550 Stephanus edition of the Textus Receptus, rather than from the later editions of Beza; and accordingly the current standard text mistakenly "corrects" several dozen readings where Beza and Stephanus differ (Scrivener 1884). Like the 1611 edition, the 1769 Oxford edition included the Apocrypha; although Blayney consistently removed marginal cross-references to the Books of the Apocrypha, wherever these had been provided by the original translators. Altogether, Blayney's 1769 text differed from the 1611 text in around 100,000 places; but since that date, only six further changes have been introduced to the standard text - although 30 of Blayney's proposed changes have subsequently been reverted.

In 2005, Cambridge University Press released its New Cambridge Paragraph Bible with Apocrypha, edited by David Norton, which modernized the spelling again to present-day standards and introduced quotation marks; while restoring the 1611 text, so far as possible, to the text as intended by its translators.
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The universities of Cambridge and Oxford hold the exclusive right to print the Authorized Version in England, and continue to exercise this right today.

Copyright status

In most of the world the Authorized Version has passed out of copyright and is freely reproduced. This is not the case in the United Kingdom.

In the United Kingdom, the rights to the Authorized Version are held by the British Crown. The rights fall outside the scope of copyright as defined in statute law. Instead they fall under the purview of the Royal Prerogative and as such they are perpetual in subsistence. Publishers are licensed to reproduce the Authorized Version under letters patent. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the letters patent are held by the Queen's Printer, and in Scotland by the Scottish Bible Board. The office of Queen's Printer has been associated with the right to reproduce the Bible for many years, with the earliest known reference coming in 1577. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the Queen's Printer is Cambridge University Press (CUP). CUP inherited the right of being Queen's Printer when they took over the firm of Eyre & Spottiswoode in the late 20th century. Eyre & Spottiswoode had been Queen's Printer since 1901.

Other letters patent of similar antiquity grant Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press the right to produce the Authorized Version independently of the Queen's Printer. In Scotland the Authorized Version is published by Collins under license from the Scottish Bible Board, but in recent years the publisher Canongate were allowed to produce a series of individual books of the Bible under the series title "The Pocket Canons".

The terms of the letters patent prohibit those other than the holders, or those authorized by the holders from printing, publishing or importing the Authorized Version into the United Kingdom. The protection that the Authorized Version, and also the Book of Common Prayer, enjoy is the last remnant of the time when the Crown held a monopoly over all printing and publishing in the United Kingdom.

This protection should not be confused with Crown copyright, or copyright in works of the United Kingdom's government; that is part of modern UK copyright law. Like other copyrights, Crown copyright is time-limited and potentially enforceable worldwide. The non-copyright Royal Prerogative is perpetual, but applies only to the UK; though many other Royal Prerogatives also apply to the other Commonwealth realms, this one does not.

It is common misconception that the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office holds letters patent for being Queen's Printer. The Controller of HMSO holds a separate set of letters patent which cover the office Queen's Printer of Acts of Parliament. The Scotland Act 1998 defines the position of Queen's Printer for Scotland as also being held by the Queen's Printer of Acts of Parliament. The position of Government Printer for Northern Ireland is also held by the Controller of HMSO.

Literary influence

The Authorized Version has proved to have been an influence on writers and poets, whether in their literary style, or matters of content such as the images they depicted, until the advent of modernism. Although influenced by the Bible in general, they likely could not have helped being influenced by the style of writing the Authorized Version used, prevalent as it was during their time. John Hayes Gardiner of Harvard University once stated that "in all study of English literature, if there be any one axiom which may be accepted without question, it is that the ultimate standard of English prose style is set by the King James Version of the Bible". Compton's Encyclopedia once said that the Authorized Version "…has been a model of writing for generations of English-speaking people." [3]

A general effect of the Authorized Version was to influence writers in their model of writing; beforehand, authors generally wrote as scholars addressing an audience of other scholars, as few ordinary peasants were literate at the time. The Authorized Version, as it was meant for dissemination among the ordinary man and to be read by preachers to their congregations, could not afford the luxury of using such a technique. The simpler, more direct style used by the translators of the Authorized Version so influenced authors that their prose began to address the reader as if he or she was an ordinary person instead of a scholar, thus helping create the idea of the general reader.

19th century preacher Charles Spurgeon once declared of author John Bunyan, "Read anything of his, and you will see that it is almost like reading the Bible itself." Bunyan's allegorical novel, The Pilgrim's Progress, was a cornerstone of early Protestant literature; frequently, it would be the second piece of literature translated into the vernacular by missionaries, the first being the Authorized Version itself — though it is noteworthy that The Pilgrim's Progress mostly quoted from the Geneva Bible. According to Thomas Macaulay, "he knew no language but the English as it was spoken by the common people; he had studied no great model of composition, with the exception of our noble translation of the Bible. But of that his knowledge was such that he might have been called a living concordance".

John Milton, author of the blank verse epic poem Paradise Lost, was heavily influenced by the Authorized Version, beginning his day with a reading from that version of the Bible; in his later life, he would then spend an hour meditating in silence. Milton, who cast two Psalms into meter at the age of 15 while an undergraduate at Cambridge, filled his works with images obviously taken from the Bible. The poem Lycidas, for example, depicted the Apostle Peter and the keys he was given by Jesus according to a literal reading of the Bible:

Last came and last did go
The pilot of the Galilean lake;
Two massy keys he bore of metals twain,
(The golden opes, the iron shuts amain).


The allusions made to the Bible by John Dryden were inescapable for those who had studied it well; as an example, in the poem Mac Flecknoe, he wrote:

Sinking, he left his drugget robe behind,
Borne upward by a subterranean wind,
The mantle fell to the young prophet's part,
With double portion of his father's art.


Several more famous writers and poets have taken inspiration from the Authorized Version. William Wordsworth's poems such as Intimations of Immortality and Ode to Duty contained obvious references to the Bible. Poet George Byron even composed poems which required prior understanding of the Bible before one could fully comprehend them, such as Jephtha's Daughter and The Song of Saul Before his Last Battle. John Keats described "the sad heart of Ruth, / when, sick for home, She stood in tears amid the alien corn." The poetry of William Blake was also greatly influenced by the language and imagery of the Authorized Version, a famous example being The Lamb from his Songs of Innocence.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, an American poet, once wrote "There are times when the grasshopper is a burden, and thirsty with the heat of labor the spirit longs for the waters of Shiloah, that go softly", a clear reference to the Authorized Version, both in its content and in its style. Herman Melville, too, could not avoid being influenced by the Authorized Version; his book Moby Dick is clearly related to the Bible, with characters going by names such as Ishmael and Ahab. Walt Whitman was deeply influenced by the King James Version, and especially by the biblical poetry of the prophets and psalms. Whitman wrote in Leaves of Grass:

I sit and look out upon all the sorrows of the world, and upon all oppression and shame;
I hear secret convulsive sobs from young men, at anguish with themselves, remorseful after deeds done;
I see, in low life, the mother misused by her children, dying, neglected, gaunt, desperate...


The language of Emily Dickinson was informed by the Bible. Mark Twain used the book of Genesis as the basis for From Adam's Diary and From Eve's Diary. The Rise of Silas Lapham by William Dean Howells uses the image of Jacob wrestling with the angel as an important metaphor. Many poems by T. S. Eliot employ images drawn from the Bible. Ernest Hemingway titled his first novel The Sun Also Rises, after a quote from Ecclesiastes, and Flannery O'Connor drew on the gospels for the title and theme of The Violent Bear it Away. The title of Robert A. Heinlein's seminal science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land is a direct quote from : "And she [Zippo'rah] bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land." The title of John Steinbeck's East of Eden comes from the Authorized Version of Genesis 4:16.

Martin Luther King used in his 'I have a dream' speech:

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

See also

References

1. ^ Hill, Christopher [1993] (1995). The English Bible and the Seventeenth-Century Revolution. Penguin. ISBN 0140159908. 
2. ^ Ehrman, Bart (2005). Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. HarperSanFrancisco. ISBN 0-06-073817-0. , 209.
3. ^ Daniell, David (2003). The Bible in English: Its History and Influence. Yale University Press, 962. ISBN 0-300-09930-4. 

Further reading

Chronological order of publication (oldest first)
  • Scrivener, Frederick Henry Ambrose (1884). The Authorized Edition of the English Bible, 1611, its subsequent reprints and modern representatives. Cambridge University Press, 312. 
  • Bobrick, Benson (2001). The Making of The English Bible. Simon & Schuster, 388. ISBN 0-297-60772-3. 
  • Daniell, David (2003). The Bible in English: Its History and Influence. Yale University Press, 962. ISBN 0-300-09930-4. 
  • US edition:Nicolson, Adam (2003). God's Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible, 304. ISBN 0-06-018516-3. 
  • UK edition:Nicolson, Adam (2003). Power and Glory: Jacobean England and the Making of the King James Bible, 288. ISBN 0-00-710893-1. 

External links

The King James Version is a translation of the Bible published in 1611.

King James Version may also refer to:
  • Revised Version, a late 19th century revision of the King James Version
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Textus Receptus (Latin: "received text") is the name subsequently given to the succession of printed Greek texts of the New Testament which constituted the translation base for the original German Luther Bible, for the translation of the New Testament into English by William
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English}}} 
Writing system: Latin (English variant) 
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Official language of: 53 countries
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The Bible is
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The Church of England is the officially established Christian church[1] in England, and is the "mother" of the worldwide Anglican Communion, the oldest among its nearly 40 independent national churches.
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New Testament (Greek: Καινή Διαθήκη, Kainē Diathēkē) is the name given to the final portion of the Christian Bible, written after the Old Testament.
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Textus Receptus (Latin: "received text") is the name subsequently given to the succession of printed Greek texts of the New Testament which constituted the translation base for the original German Luther Bible, for the translation of the New Testament into English by William
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Koine Greek (kini) (Κοινὴ Ἑλληνική, "common Greek", or
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Old Testament (sometimes abbreviated OT) is the first section of the two-part Christian Biblical canon, which includes the books of the Hebrew Bible as well as several Deuterocanonical books. Its exact contents differ in the various Christian denominations.
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The Masoretic Text (MT) is the Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible (Tanakh). It defines not just the books of the Jewish canon, but also the precise letter-text of the biblical books in Judaism, as well as their vocalization and accentuation for both public reading and private
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The biblical apocrypha includes texts written in the Jewish and Christian religious traditions that either:
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Septuagint (IPA: /ˈsɛptuədʒɪnt/), or simply "LXX", is the name commonly given in the West to the Koine Greek version of the Old Testament, translated in stages between the 3rd and 1st centuries
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Motto
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"God and my right"
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James VI and I (19 June 1566 – 27 March 1625) was King of Scots as James VI, and King of England and King of Ireland as James I.

He ruled in Scotland as James VI from 24 July 1567, when he was only one year old, succeeding his mother Mary, Queen of Scots.
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Bishop of London

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Diocese London
Founded 4th century, but current establishment from 604
Cathedral St Paul's Cathedral
Present bishop Richard Chartres
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Geneva Bible

Full name: Geneva Bible

NT published: 1557

Complete Bible published: 1560

Textual Basis: Textus Receptus

Religious Affiliation: Protestant

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
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Bishops' Bible was an English translation of the Bible produced under the authority of the established Church of England in 1568. It was substantially revised in 1572, and this revised edition was to be prescribed as the base text for the Authorized King James Version of 1611.
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An epistle (Greek επιστολη, epistolē, "letter") is a writing directed or sent to a person or group of persons, usually a letter and a very formal, often didactic and elegant one.
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Gospel, from the Old English god-spell "good tidings" is a calque of Greek ευαγγέλιον (
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The Book of Common Prayer is the common title of a number of prayer books of the Church of England and used throughout the Anglican Communion.
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The term English literature refers to literature written in the English language, including literature composed in English by writers not necessarily from England; Joseph Conrad was Polish, Robert Burns was Scottish, James Joyce was Irish, Dylan Thomas was Welsh, Edgar Allan Poe
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Herman Melville

Photograph of Herman Melville
Born: July 1 1819(1819--)
New York City, New York, United States
Died: September 28 1891 (aged 72)
New York City, New York
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William Wordsworth

Born: March 7 1770(1770--)
Cockermouth, England
Died: March 23 1850 (aged 80)
Ambleside, England
Occupation: Poet
Literary movement: Romanticism
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