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Saturday, 13 October 2012

A History of the Authorized King James Version of Bible

The King James Version of Bible 

How and why we got one of the great pieces of religious literature and writing the world has ever seen the King James Version of Bible (JKV)King James VI seen in the painting was both the ruler of the Scotland, England and Ireland. King James was King of Scotland as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603 until his death. The kingdoms of England and Scotland were individual sovereign states, with their own parliaments, judiciary, and laws, though both were ruled by James.

King James was Presbyterian as Scotland had a fully Presbyterian system. There were issues between King James and the Church of England at first as well as the puritans and other English nonconformists faiths of the time. What better way to get all your Christian groups together but to create one authorized Bible in English so everyone could read and understand it apart from the Roman Catholics. This Bible was going to the official Bible for the whole of United Kingdom and its Christian faiths as at this point there was not a single reliable English version in the world. 

Before the King James Version!


The followers of John Wycliffe undertook the first complete English translations of the Christian scriptures in the 15th century which were banned in 1409 due to their association with the Lollards. The Wycliffe Bible pre-dated the printing press but was circulated very widely in manuscript form. As the text translated in the various versions of the Wycliffe Bible was the Latin Vulgate, and as it contained no heterodox readings, there was in practice no way by which the ecclesiastical authorities could distinguish the banned version; consequently many Catholic commentators of the 15th and 16th centuries (e.g. Thomas More) took these manuscript English Bibles to represent an anonymous earlier orthodox translation.

Tyndale The Father of the English Bible

In 1525, William Tyndale, an English contemporary of Martin Luther, undertook a translation of the New Testament.Tyndale's translation was the first printed Bible in English. Over the next ten years, Tyndale revised his New Testament in the light of rapidly advancing biblical scholarship, and embarked on a translation of the Old Testament. Despite some controversial translation choices, the merits of Tyndale's work and prose style made his translation the ultimate basis for all subsequent renditions into Early Modern English.Tyndale wrote other books e.g. The Parable of the Wicked Mammon and The Obedience of a Christian Man. The theme of the first book is justification by faith alone. It was heavily dependent upon Luther, in fact in some places it was merely a translation of Luther. But it was original enough to show that Tyndale was not just parroting Luther, though he was more “Lutheran” than most of the succeeding reformers. The second book argues that Christians always have the duty of obedience to civil authority, except where loyalty to God is concerned.

Coverdale & Mary I

All of  these translations were  lightly edited and adapted by Myles Coverdale.  In 1539.Tyndale's New Testament and his incomplete work on the Old Testament became the basis for the Great Bible. This was the first "authorized version" issued by the Church of England during the reign of King Henry VIII. When Mary I succeeded to the throne in 1553, she returned  to the Roman Catholic faith and many English religious reformers fled the country, some establishing an English-speaking colony at Geneva. Under the leadership of John Calvin, Geneva became the chief international centre of Reformed Protestantism and Latin biblical scholarship.These English expatriates undertook a translation that became known as the Geneva Bible. This translation, dated to 1560, was a revision of Tyndale's Bible and the Great Bible on the basis of the original languages

Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I took the throne in 1558, the flaws of both the Great Bible and the Geneva Bible(namely, that the Geneva Bible did not "conform to and reflect the structure of the Church of England and its beliefs about an ordained clergy) became painfully apparent. In 1568, the Church of England responded with the Bishops' Bible, a revision of the Great Bible in the light of the Geneva version. While officially approved, this new version failed to displace the Geneva translation as the most popular English Bible of the age – in part because the full Bible was only 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 of 1582, undertaken by exiled Roman Catholics. This translation, though still derived from Tyndale, claimed to represent the text of the Latin Vulgate.

King James VI and I

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, at which proposals were put forward for a new translation of the Bible into English. Two years later, he ascended to the throne of England as King James I of England. King James I had a excellent education and had already translated the Psalms into English and was working on the New Testament. King James himself could have translated the whole Bible but he did not have the time to do so,  with so many religious clashes what better way to keep the Christian sects  busy as well as the religious scholars and poets for a long time, than get  47 scholars to translate the bible into English. Kings James I said that they had to use the words in the new translation and no marginal notes:-
  • Priest instead of Elder 
  • King instead of Tyrant 
  • Church instead of Congregation. 
King James approved each Bible book personally before approving the whole Old Testament and New Testament collections together and then the whole work. The 47 scholars were split into 6 committees as outlined below. 

Translation 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, Thomas Holland, Richard Kilby, Miles Smith, Richard Brett, Daniel Fairclough, William Thorne;
  • 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, John Aglionby, Leonard Hutten;
  • Second Westminster Company, translated the Epistles:
William Barlow, John Spenser, 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, Robert Ward, Thomas Bilson, Richard Bancroft.
King James gave the translators instructions intended to guarantee that the new version would conform and reflect the Church of England. In common with most other translations of the period, the New Testament was translated from Greek, the Old Testament was translated from Hebrew text, while the Apocrypha were translated from the Greek and Latin.  By the first half of the 18th century, the Authorized Version was effectively unchallenged as the English translation used in Anglican and Protestant churches. Over the course of the 18th century, the Authorized Version supplanted the Latin Vulgate as the standard version of scripture for English speaking scholars. Today, the most used edition of the King James Bible, and often identified as plainly the King James Bible or King James Version, especially in the United States.


It is beyond sad that today people aren't reading the Bible at all and that all that the people mention above and the people that aren't died so we could read the Bible in English. 
We remember the WW1 and WW2 who gave use the freedom to live in a free country with democracy  but we don't remember the people who fought and died so we could read the word of God in any language . 

"If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that

driveth the plough shall know more of the Scripture than 

thou.” Tyndale.

Will Tyndales statement have all been for nothing? 
As today no reads the JKV even the clergy aren't reading it. 
 Can we today be guide by the holy spirit?