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Celebrating the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible

July 22, 2011  
Filed under Articles

A very brief HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH BIBLE

The first English Bibles were hand-written by John Wycliffe and the Lollards in the 1380s.

Johann Guttenberg began printing Bibles in Latin during the 1450s

From 1497 to1519, Oxford professor John Colet began translating the Greek texts into English for his students, and later read them to parishioners at St Paul’s Cathedral in London. This was so well received that the Cathedral was filled to capacity.

Erasmus published a Latin – Greek parallel New Testament, with a fresh translation of the Latin in 1516, which demonstrated how corrupt the Latin translations had become.

William Tyndale had to flee England in 1524 over his attempts to produce an English Bible. During his exile, Wycliffe translated and published dozens of New Testaments that were smuggled into England. However, he was betrayed by a friend, caught and burned at the stake in 1536. His last words being a prayer: “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.”

That prayer was answered in 1539 when Archbishop Cranmer commissioned a student of Tyndale, Myles Coverdale, to produce the Great Bible, which was authorized and funded by by the same King, Henry VIII who had Tyndale executed, just three years earlier. The Coverdale Bible was the first English Bible authorized for public use.

The Geneva Bible was published in 1560, and it incorporated some 90% of Tyndale’s Bible, and was the first to incorporate numbered verses. The Geneva Bible was quite popular by the time the King James Bible was commissioned and influenced it considerably. It has been noted that about 80% of Tyndale’s translation eventually made its way into the King James Version.

Upon the death of Elizabeth I (1603), James VI of Scotland became James I of England. King James commissioned 50 scholars to produce a new Authorized Bible. Their research lasted from 1605-1606; the Bible was carefully assembled over the following two years, and went to press in 1610.

The 17th Century in England saw the production of the King James Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, and the plays of William Shakespeare.

In 1789, the Church of England spread to the United States, and eventually all around the world. It is known world-wide as the Anglican Communion, with approximately 80 million members. Hence, “St. James’ Anglican Cathedral.”

Daisy Hay writing a review for the Guardian/Daily Observer on Gordon Campbell’s 2010 commemorative work,“Bible: The Story of the King James Version” noted the following humorous anecdotes:

Matthew Pilkington who did not like the Authorized Bible, published “Remarks upon several passages of scripture.” 1759.

For example –

Ezekiel 13:18 – King James Version

And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe to the women that sew pillows to all armholes, and make kerchiefs upon the head of every stature to hunt souls! Will ye hunt the souls of my people, and will ye save the souls alive that come unto you?

Compared to –

Ezekiel 13:18 – New International Version

and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the women who sew magic charms on all their wrists and make veils of various lengths for their heads in order to ensnare people. Will you ensnare the lives of my people but preserve your own?

Gordon Campbell also noted that drunken typesetters printed “Parable of the Vineyard” as “Parable of the Vinegar.”

Reference: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/oct/17/bible-king-james-version-gordon-campbell-review

Click here to read more about the King James Bible.

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