History Of The King James Bible
An in depth study of the history of the King James Bible not only reveals the monarchy's desire to make the Holy Scriptures accessible to the common man, but also to strengthen the Episcopal structure of the Church of England. The sentiments of King James I are apparent in the following statement written by translators: "There are infinite arguments of this right Christian and religious affection in Your Majesty; but none is more forcible to declare it to others than the vehement and perpetuated desire of accomplishing and publishing of this work, which now with all humility we present unto Your Majesty. For when Your Highness had once out of deep judgment apprehended how convenient it was, that out of the Original Sacred Tongues, together with comparing of the labours, both in our own, and other foreign Languages, of many worthy men who went before us, there should be one more exact Translation of the holy Scriptures into the English Tongue; Your Majesty did never desist to urge and to excite those to whom it was commended, that the work might be hastened, and that the business might be expedited in so decent a manner, as a matter of such importance might justly require."
Since man first began to put ink to paper, many great books have been written; but none can compare to the Word of God. The history of the King James Bible records the efforts of godly men dedicated to making the inspired Word of God accessible to common English-speaking people. King James I sought "to deliver God's book unto Gods' people in a tongue which they could understand."
Heretofore, scriptural manuscripts had only been available to the Church of England, British royals, and wealthy aristocrats. Unlike great books penned by mortal man, the Holy Scriptures are composed of words breathed by the Spirit of God into the hearts of men who wrote the scriptures as the Spirit gave utterance. The Word of God has the ability to penetrate the deepest, darkest heart and shed the living light of Jesus Christ into the crevices of a man's conscious to bring deliverance, peace, renewed hope, and eternal salvation. No other book, no other manuscript, no other word has the power to ignite the soul and empower the human spirit to be transformed into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. "For the word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12)."
While many Christians believe that the Authorized King James version is the oldest published English translation from original Hebrew and Greek texts, the history of the Bible proves that this is not the case. The Latin Vulgate was the first written Translation, but it was accessible only to those who could read and understand Latin. The history of the Bible also references the Wulfila Bible, translated in German by a missionary in the 4th century as a witnessing tool to the Scandinavian Goths. The Goths invaded the Roman Empire during the early formation of the New Testament Christian church. It was not until 1409 that John Wycliffe succeeded in translating the scriptures of the Latin text into English. Since the printing press had not been invented in the 15th century, Wycliffe's English translation was actually used in manuscript form, undoubtedly painstakingly copied by monks or scribes. The Wycliffe manuscript would have been rare and inaccessible to commoners. Nearly 120 years later, the history of the Bible credits William Tyndale with translating the New Testament into English, followed by the Old Testament ten years later. Tyndale set the standard for all subsequent early modern English translations, including Myles Coverdale's 1539 edition. Tyndale's work culminated in the first authorized version accepted and disseminated by the Church of England, called the Great Bible.
In 1604, King James I, newly ascended to the throne of England, determined to issue a more complete text free of discrepancies raised by the Puritans, a sect within the Church of England. The history of the King James Bible states that nearly 50 scholars were commissioned by the King to produce a new English version, which supplanted the Great Bible, the Bishop's Bible, and all other previous translations. A narrative from these scholars appears in the first paragraph of this article. Referred to as the "Authorized Version" in Great Britain, the King James Bible was published in 1611. One major requirement of the new text was an adherence to the Episcopal structure of the Church of England, including its mandates for ordained clergy. In complying with the King's demands, fifteenth century scholars set the standard for church structure from then until this present day. Like its predecessors, the New Testament is an English translation of the Textus Receptus series of Greek scriptures. The Old Testament was translated from the Masoretic Hebrew text.
Nearly 400 years after the history of the King James Bible traces its inception and adaptation by the Church of England; clergymen, royalty, and people from all walks of life still treasure the work wrought by learned scholars to deliver the inspired Word of God to the common man. While the history of the Bible references numerous English translations before the Authorized King James, modern times have produced several additional texts. The New International Version (NIV) in 1978, The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) in 1990, The Good News Bible in 1976, The Living Bible in 1971, and The Message in 2002. However, no other translation has captivated Christians and non-Christians to the degree of the Authorized King James. The translation's longevity and enduring inspiration have endeared it to millions over the four decades of its existence.