Protestant Bible: A Journey Through Centuries - THE ENGLISH KING JAMES VERSION

This image depicts the frontispiece of an original 1611 version of the King James Bible.  It is owned by the Library of Congress.  Image online, courtesy Library of Congres:  The Holy Bible, Conteyning the Old Testament, and the New. London: Robert Barker, 1611.


After Henry VIII and his two daughters (Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth I) died, James VI of Scotland (son of Mary Queen of Scots) also became James I of Great Britain. The King was to play a pivotal role in the Bible's journey to the 21st century.

Not long after James became king, scholars discussed the need for a new English translation of the Bible. Reformers, fleeing to Switzerland during the reign of Queen Mary, had published a Bible in English (the Geneva Bible). The Geneva Bible (the version used by Shakespeare and America's "pilgrim fathers") existed in many different editions. King James referred to it as "the worst."

By 1604, James I convened the Hampton Court Conference. The King and the conference attendees agreed to commission a new translation. Using Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, collectively known as the Textus Receptus, scholars called this new translation the King James Version (KJV) in honor of the king who had authorized it.

Actually, two KJV versions were issued in 1611: the original "He" and a corrected "She" (in which Ruth 3:15 was changed to read, "and she went into the city"). Follow these links to the first edition chapters of Matthew 12:22-50 and II Thessalonians, Chapter 1.

As a preface to the King James Version, the translators included a note to readers. Although the preface is usually not included in today's copies, you can follow this link to read what the translators said in the first edition.

So influential was this translation in the English-speaking world that, according to the BBC, "it changed the way we speak."

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jul 01, 2002

Updated Last Revision: Jul 12, 2019

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