KJV 400 YEARS AND COUNTING
I started gathering material for this subject on December 21, 2010, the first day of winter for the 2010-2011 season. Also, there was an eclipse of the moon that night, the first time in over 400 years that the winter solstice and the lunar eclipse happened on the same day. That got me to thinking. Another major event began almost 400 years ago. It may be one that many take for granted, and some totally ignore, but I think it is an event surely worth our remembrance and meditation. The Bible we know as the King James Version was translated in 1611 A.D.. No doubt many had predicted it would be long gone by now, and many hoped that it would. Of course, many in this world wish that all Bibles, in every language, and every version would be destroyed. But, the Bible (and not just the King James Version) is the “anvil that has broken many hammers.”(1) As far as this sturdy old survivor that is often called The Authorized Version of 1611 is concerned, it was not the first English translation, but it has become the most durable, and is still a bestseller.
But the first hand-written English Bible manuscripts were produced in the 1380's AD by John Wycliffe, an Oxford professor, scholar, and theologian. Wycliffe, (also spelled “Wycliff” & “Wyclif”), was well-known throughout Europe for his opposition to the teaching of the organized Church, which he believed to be contrary to the Bible. With the help of his followers, called the Lollards, and his assistant, Purvey, and many other faithful scribes, Wycliffe produced dozens of English language manuscript copies of the scriptures. They were translated out of the Latin Vulgate, which was the only source text available to Wycliffe. The Pope was so infuriated by his teachings and his translation of the Bible into English, that 44 years after Wycliffe had died, he ordered the bones to be dug-up, crushed, and scattered in the river! (2)
Later, William Tyndale translated the New Testament using the Greek manuscripts from the 1516 Greek text of Erasmus, which Tyndale obtained from Martin Luther in Germany. He then completed the NT in Cologne, and Worms, Germany, and copies were smuggled into England. Later he was found out by Sir Thomas More, the Catholic leader in England, who opposed any translation in English. The bishops and priests of the Roman Catholic church used only the Latin Vulgate Bible, and this kept the common people unable to read it for themselves. (3)
The best selling English Bible is now said to be the New International Version. But there are far more King James Bibles in existence, and it still sells very well. The NIV is only about thirty years old, and they are already revising it! The KJV is 400 years old, and the last official update, or revision was in 1769, some 242 years ago. The one we use now is basically that one. Likely, if you owned an original KJV, you could not easily read it. So many words have had a spelling updating, as well as the script, which originally was in old Gothic style. This was a fancy style originated in Germany. It was replaced in just a few years by our more familiar Roman type.
Some of you, as many in our time, will say “I have trouble understanding that old English with the ‘thees and thous’ and ‘whithersoevers’. There are a lot of other words that we don’t use today in it as well. I’ll admit that. But as for me, I have read it for 60 years. I got my first Bible in Sunday School when I was eight years old. I still have that worn Bible. I now have at least a dozen more KJVs. For my main reading and preaching Bible, I don’t expect to change from the KJV at this late date. I use various study aids, including some other English translations, such as Amplified Bible, New King James Version and English Standard Version for research and comparison. I may quote rarely from Amplified, or another if I think it adds to understanding of what I am writing. I like many of the study notes in The Reformation Study Bible which Dr. R.C. Sproul spearheaded. (The version I have is NKJV). Also there are some good resources in the ESV Study Bible. Since I won a copy that retails for $250 in a contest at Logos, I opened it and like to use it in that way. But for me, difficult words or not, the KJV is my Bible! There are many tools available to study the KJV Bible which aid in understanding.
Two important things: First I am not a follower of Peter Ruckman, or any of those who hold the view that you can use the KJV to correct the Greek and Hebrew. The KJV is a translation! Obviously, I am not the only one who thinks it is an outstanding one, since it has lasted as a bestseller for 400 years. Second I am not telling you that you must use the KJV. I recommend it, but if you a person a lot younger than me, you just may feel you can’t handle it. I would suggest that you try it first before rejecting it outright. You’ll learn the odd words faster than you think you will. If you do get a modern Bible, please don’t get a paraphrase. You need as literal a translation as possible. You might try a parallel Bible of KJV and Amplified. This could aid your understanding a lot. Also, download the free program, E-Sword on your computer. You get the KJV right up front with a Strong’s Concordance. You can add other versions to compare. That’s my suggestion to you. But regardless of your preference for your translation, please read the Bible. And I am sure you can see how valuable a contribution the KJV has made to the church, our history, and our culture. Celebrate it with me! I plan to say much more this year on the King James Version. Remember this, the Bible does not contain the word of God. The Bible is the word of God! See the final article on these pages for what the Bible itself contains. Possibly it will pleasantly surprise you. May God bless you. Cw.
400th ANNIVERSARY OF THE KING JAMES BIBLE
The King James Version of the Bible, celebrating its 400th anniversary in May, 2011, is the most influential book in the history of the English language—and the most frequently quoted. It is the source of some of our most common phrases, with its wording and imagery used in everyday speech and writing to such a degree that we often don't realize we're quoting the King James Version Bible!
The translation and publication of the KJV, first published on May 5, 1611, was the watershed event of the reign of King James I of England, in an era which was also a golden age of English literature. The KJV translators were contemporaries of some of the greatest English prose stylists and poets of all time.
Called "the noblest monument of English prose" and "the most beautiful piece of writing in all the literature of the world," the KJV's precise translation and poetic phrasing won wide acceptance, quickly eclipsing previous English-language versions to become "the people's Bible." It has inspired virtually every great English-language writer since the seventeenth century. Its impact can be seen in the writings of John Milton, Herman Melville, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and in the Gettysburg Address. (4)
A QUOTE FROM THE BRITISH TIMES
"Forget modern British novelists and TV tie-ins, the Bible is the best-selling book every year. If sales of the Bible were included in best-seller lists, it would be a rare week when anything else would achieve a look in. It is wonderful, weird ... that in this godless age... this one book should go on selling, every month."
"When we get asked these questions about bestselling books, we always have to remind our patrons that their question is basically unanswerable. No one really knows which books have sold the most copies in history, because we simply don't have records that cover all of history! As such, any answer that we find is essentially just a "best guess" that is based upon estimates made by historians and other experts."
"Probably the most often cited estimates come from a book titled The Top 10 of Everything by Russell Ash. The following listing come from The Top 10 of Everything, 1997 (DK Pub., 1996, pp 112-113.)"
The Top 10 Bestselling Books of All Time (according to IPL):
1. The Bible
"No one really knows how many copies of the Bible have been printed, sold, or distributed. The Bible Society's attempt to calculate the number printed between 1816 and 1975 produced the figure of 2,458,000,000. A more recent survey, for the years up to 1992, put it closer to 6,000,000,000 in more than 2,000 languages and dialects. Whatever the precise figure, the Bible is by far the bestselling book of all time." (5)
WHAT THE BIBLE CONTAINS (ORIGINAL AUTHOR UNKNOWN)
"The Bible contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword, and the Christian's charter. Here Paradise is restored, Heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good the design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened at the judgment, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labor, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents." (6)
(1) It is said that those words regarding the anvil and many hammers, were first uttered by Theodore Beza to the king of Navarre regarding the Huguenots who were murdered in Vassy, France in 1562, in the following words: “It is the peculiarity of the Church of God to endure blows, not to give them; but yet you will be pleased to remember, that it is an anvil on which many a hammer has been broken.” [1853 G. De felice Hist. Protestants of France I. II. v. 156 (tr. Beza to King of Navarre, 1562)] (But over the centuries, it has been quoted as talking about the durability of God’s written word.)
(2) English Bible History; www.greatsite.com
(3) The place where he translated the New Testament, is thought to have been Wittenberg, under the aid of Martin Luther. The printing of this English New Testament in quarto was begun at Cologne in the summer of 1525, and completed at Worms, and that there was likewise printed an octavo edition, both before the end of that year. William Tyndale’s Biblical translations appeared in the following order: New Testament, 1525-26; Pentateuch, 1530; Jonah, 1531.
His literary activity during that interval was extraordinary. When he left England, his knowledge of Hebrew, if he had any, was of the most rudimentary nature; and yet he mastered that difficult tongue so as to produce from the original an admirable translation of the entire Pentateuch, the Books of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, First and Second Samuel, First and Second Kings, First Chronicles, contained in Matthew's Bible of 1537, and of the Book of Jonah, so excellent, indeed, that his work is not only the basis of those portions of the Authorized King James Version of 1611, but constitutes nine-tenths of that translation, and very largely that of the English Revised Version of 1885
(4 ) email from The KJV Store; December 31, 2010
(5) From British Times , London; 1996.
6) Found online at Facebook; The Bible--God’s Holy Word; Bret Lee, editor.
Published by Charles Woodruff- email: firstname.lastname@example.org