The Holy Bible

Old and New Testament

Authorized King James Version

1611

Since the Bible was hand written in the centuries prior to the invention of Gutenberg’s Printing Press, {around 1450,} very few copies were available. Indeed, “the word of the LORD was precious in those days.” I Sam.3:1. The Latin translation {Vulgate} was the most common. John Wycliffe, {1320s – 1384,} translated the Bible into the English language prior to 1384; and Reformers such as Luther and Tyndale translated portions of the Latin Bible into the common language of the people; Luther into German and Tyndale into English. The King James Version of the Bible, also called the Authorized Version is an English translation of the Bible published in 1611 by the support of King James I of England, who was brought up as a Scottish Presbyterian. Begun in 1604 and completed in 1611, just 85 years after the Tyndale translation of the New Testament from the Greek into English appeared in 1526. It was in January of 1604, that James I convened the Hampton Court Conference, {“for hearing and for the determining things pretended to be amiss in the Church,”} and it was at this Conference that Dr. John Reynolds, President of Corpus Christi College, and a leader amongst the Puritans, presented a strong case for the need of a new translation of the Bible in English. The overall goal was to produce a better translation than any other then in existence, a translation that could be understood by common people. Strict translation guidelines to ensure translator objectivity and that only the purest translation of the Scriptures was brought into English were put into place. The Bible was divided amongst six teams of scholars, {men who were the best biblical scholars and linguists of their day,} two each were set up at Westminster, Oxford and Cambridge. The scholars were proficient in Hebrew and Greek, and used the Massoretic text of the Complutensian Polyglot {1514-1517} for the Old Testament. For the New Testament they used the Textus Receptus published by Estienne, Beza, and Stephanus from 1550 onward. In principle, they were not supposed to create a new English translation, “but make a good one better, or out of many good ones one principle good one.” Therefore they not only looked at the Greek, Hebrew, and Latin, but carefully consulted prior English translations, especially the Geneva and Tyndale; and following the example of the Geneva Bible, words implied but not actually in the original source were distinguished by being printed in distinct type, but otherwise the translators explicitly rejected word-for- word equivalence. The basic text was completed in four years. Then the translation was subjected to two additional years of further checking. To ensure the very best translation, in 1610 another team, two men from each of the original six teams, completed a final check. In contrast to the Geneva Bible and the Bishops’ Bible, which had both been extensively illustrated, there were no illustrations at all in the 1611 edition of the Authorized Version. It was first printed by Robert Barker, the King’s Printer, as a complete folio Bible, and was the third translation into English approved by the Authority of the Church of England; the first had been the Great Bible, commissioned in the reign of King Henry VIII, {1535,} and the second being the Bishops’ Bible of 1568. The complete title page reads: “THE HOLY BIBLE, containing the Old Testament, and the New. Newly Translated out of the Original tongues; and with the former Translations diligently compared and revised, by his Majesties Special Commandment. Appointed to be read in Churches. Imprinted at London by Robert Barker, Printer to the Kings Most Excellent Majesty. ANNO DOM. 1611.”