On February 5, 2020 I recommended the “Today in Christian History” daily email newsletter published by the Christianity Today Magazine. This daily email is a must-read for me every single day. Of course, this is because I am both a student and a teacher of Christian History, and love to always be learning more about the people and events that have shaped Christianity over the centuries.
So, starting today, I am going to frequently “borrow” ideas from “Today in Christian History” to write mini-posts for this site. These will not be “copy and paste” plagiarized articles, but simply posts inspired by things I read in that newsletter. I hope that these articles will inspire and educate you, my readers, as they do me.
On July 26 in 1603, King James VI, King of Scotland, became King James I, King of England. While we can read about his life and reign on Wikipedia, it is for one particular thing we most remember him today. In fact, his name is even attached to this event… authorizing the creation of a new English translation of the Bible… now called the “King James Version” of the Bible. Authorized by the King less than one year after his ascension to the English throne, it was completed and first published in 1611.
As I often do with my students, here is your reading assignment for this subject:
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_James_Version – A brief history of the so-called KJV Bible.
- There were several earlier printed English translations in use in England by the time this Bible translation took place:
- AD 1535 – William Tyndale translation – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyndale_Bible
- AD 1539 – Coverdale (or Matthew) translation called The Great Bible (because of its size)
- AD 1560 – The Geneva Bible (Puritan Reformers) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geneva_Bible
- AD 1568 – The Bishops’ Bible – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bishops%27_Bible
- For images of, and much more technical information about, the original 1611 version, go here to read: http://blackletterkingjamesbible.com/Home/Library
An interesting note about this translation – which has influenced all English translations since – is that it was not actually referred to as the King James Version or KJV Bible until around 1800, almost 200 years after its release.
In 2015, an original first edition 1611 KJV Bible was discovered stored in a cupboard of St. Giles Parish Church in Wrexham, England – https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3264271/Vicar-discovers-forgotten-edition-King-James-bible-1611-clearing-cupboard-church.html. Less than 200 known copies of the first edition are currently known to exist.
Our image is from the Wikipedia article on the King James Version Bible, and is accompanied by this description: “The opening of the Epistle to the Hebrews of the 1611 edition of the Authorized Version shows the original typeface. Marginal notes reference variant translations and cross references to other Bible passages. Each chapter is headed by a précis of contents. There are decorative initial letters for each chapter, and a decorated headpiece to each book, but no illustrations in the text.”