Saturday, January 13, 2007

The King James Version

This week’s Wordless Wednesday seen here is an image of King James I, the man whose name was given to a version of the Bible.

The men who worked on the translation for the original King James version of the Bible were very dedicated to their task. In the preface they left the following note to their readers:

“Translation it is that openeth the window, to let in the light; that breaketh the shell, that we may eat the kernel; that putteth aside the curtain, that we may look into the most Holy place; that removeth the cover of the well, that we may come by the water, even as Jacob rolled away the stone from the mouth of the well, by which means the flocks of Laban were watered.”

King James, for whom the translation was named, authorized the work these translators undertook. The KJV is named for King James, however, his only major role in the translation process is he repealed a law that would have meant death for the translators once they began their work. King James also set parameters for the translation process.

Wikipedia gives King James’ instructions regarding the translation:

1. The ordinary Bible, read in church, commonly called the Bishop’s Bible, to be followed, and as little altered as the original will permit…
2. The old ecclesiastical words to be kept, as the word church, not to be translated congregation….
3. When any word hath divers significations, that to be kept which has been most commonly used by the most eminent fathers, being agreeable to the propriety of the place, and the analogy of the faith…
4. No marginal notes at all to be affixed, but only for the explanation of the Hebrew or Greek words, which cannot, without some circumlocution, so briefly and fitly be expressed in the text
5. Such quotations of places to be marginally set down, as shall serve for the fit references of one scripture to another
6. These translations to be used when they agree better with the text than the Bishop’s Bible, viz. Tyndale’s, Coverdale’s, Matthew Bible, Whitechurch, Geneva.

King James never formally recognized the completed version. Contrary to what some believe the KJV was not the first English Bible translation and was never the only version of the Bible used after its initial publication.

The process of translating the Bible into English meant many more people could have access to the word of God. The main benefit, however, is that common people would no longer have to depend on the clergy to tell them what they Bible said. The enduring result of the KJV is the changes to English culture and language it sparked.

Wikipedia advises:

"In May 1601, King James VI of Scotland attended the General Asssembly of the Church of Scotland at St. Columbia’s church in Burntisland, Fife, and proposals were put forward for a new translation of the Bible into English. Two years later, he acceded to the throne of England as King James I of England. He’s therefore sometimes known as “James the Sixth and First.”

Later many Puritans petitioned the King for a new translation arguing that many of the previous versions used during the reign of King Henry the Eighth and Edward the Sixth had many inconsistencies and errors.

King James mainly wanted a new version because he had high objections to the Geneva Bible. He was highly offended at some of the marginal notes placed within the pages. He felt that some of the notes actually encouraged disobedience to monarchs. After several editions the one presented in 1769 is the edition most commonly cited as the King James Version.

Perhaps one of the reasons why people enjoy hearing it read so much is because it was designed to be read aloud in church. The translators were very careful regarding punctuation and rhythm with this purpose in mind.

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