The King James Version is 400 Years Old

Kent Heaton

The year 2011 marks the 400th birthday of the King James Version Bible. Begun in 1604 the completed version was printed in 1611. James I was king of England in 1603 and at that time two translations of the Bible were in use: the Geneva Bible was the most popular and the Bishops' Bible would be found in most churches for public reading. At the suggestion of John Reynolds (a moderate Puritan scholar) King James set forth to bring about a new translation of the scriptures. The result would become known as the King James Version and in 40 years the King James Version would become more popular than the Geneva Bible.

There is no doubt to the resilience of the poetic simplicity of the KJV. It would take 250 years before the first attempt would be made for a large scale revision of the 1611 edition and others have followed. It would be very difficult to read the 1611 edition of the KJV today in our modern language. The King James Version today is the result of two updated versions of the original 1611. In 1769 a revision was made of the KJV and then again in 1982. The opponents of using any translation than the KJV must decide which version is more authorized than the other (1611? 1769? or 1982?).

While the KJV is a powerful translation of Holy Writ it must also be understood that the KJV is not the "authorized version" of the Lord. The use of the "Authorized Version" did not come about at least until as early as 1814 and does not suggest any special place in the scheme of God's revealing word to man. Before the KJV there were many translations of the Bible such as the Vulgate (405), Wyclif (1382); Erasmus' NT (1516); Tyndale (1526); Luther (1534); Coverdale (1535); Matthew (1537); Great Bible (1539); Geneva Bible (1560); Bishop's Bible (1568) and the Douay/Rheims Bible (1609-1610)

A number of translation have followed the 1611 work including the English Revised Version (1885); American Standard Version (1901); Revised Standard Version (1946); New American Standard (1964); New International Version (1973); New King James Version (1979) and the English Standard Version (2008).

It should be noted there are "translations" that are not translations and become nothing more than perverted commentaries on specific doctrines. The New World Translation, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is an example of how the Bible can be manipulated to teach the false doctrine of a specific group. "The Living Bible" (1971) is a gross rendering of Holy Scripture that becomes only a paraphrase of its author Kenneth Taylor.

The Lord has always made His word available to the common man in the common man language. English was not the language of the First Century disciples and so we should not suppose the KJV was the language of the Lord. From the days of Babel (Genesis 11) man has been diverse in speech and the revelation of God's mind to man has been as diverse through each generation. The power of the word of God is not the translation from Hebrew/Greek to English (or what ever language) but the translation of the Word (John 1) into the hearts of men who will read and obey the words (2 Timothy 3:16-17) of the message of God. By the mercy of God we can read and understand the will of God in simple words of truth (John 17:17; Ephesians 3:1-5). The word of God will endure until the Lord returns again the second time (Hebrews 9:28).