The King James Bible
The Crowning Result of Tyndale's Sacrifice
JAMES I (1566-1625)
Elizabeth I, who had never married, left no heir. James was the son of another infamous Mary: the Catholic "Mary, Queen of Scots" (1542-1587). You can read about her in Great Controversy, pp 250-251. Although she feared John Knox, she would have liked nothing more than to strike him dead.
After his mother was imprisoned in London for sedition against her half-sister, Elizabeth, Queen of England, James came to the throne and was crowned James VI of Scotland (1567-1603).
The date was July 29, 1567, and James was rather young, only 13 months old. (Five months earlier, his father, Henry Stuart, Mary's second husband, had been killed by a bomb blast in his home.)
Twenty years later, his mother, Mary, was beheaded at the age of 44.
On the death of Elizabeth in 1603, James came to the throne of England, and was crowned James I (1603-1625).
The present writer has read historical studies, that James was a secret Catholic who, unable to openly slay Protestants, contented himself with harassing Christian minorities.
Other writers say he was a solid Protestant.
"James I came to the throne in 1603. His early life and training had made him a student of the Bible. He had even tried his hand at authorship, having written a paraphrase of the book of Revelation and translated some of the Psalms." I.M. Price, Ancestry of Our English Bible, p. 468.
It is true that James did not provide a pleasant home for the most dedicated believers in Christ. It was for this reason that the Mayflower sailed to America in 1621, just ten years after the King James Bible was published.
But, if there was any doubt, one event surely helped James choose to unite with the Protestant side! It was a cheerful little attempt by the Catholics to blow him to pieces.
Here is the story of what happened:
Two years after James ascended the English throne, on October 26, 1605, an unsigned letter was delivered to the Lord Chamberlain, Monteagle, warning him to stay away from the much-delayed opening session of Parliament on November 5.
Puzzled, he wondered what this was all about. It was planned that the King, his entire royal family, and all the members of Parliament would be in Westminster Palace that day.
Monteagle took the brief note to the Kings chief minister, Robert Cecil (first Earl of Salisbury), who woke James out of bed and showed it to him.
It so happened that four dedicated Roman Catholics (Thomas Winter, Thomas Percy, John Wright, and Guy Fawkes) led by another papist (Robert Catesby) had taken an oath to assassinate King James and everyone else in that immense building. Their pledge was sealed at a solemn communion service, served by the Jesuit priest, John Gerard.
The plan was simple enough: Blow up the building while the people were in it and, then, start an insurrection outside with arms smuggled in from Flanders. It was hoped that an open revolt would follow and all the Protestants would be slain.
But, somehow, the opening of Parliament kept being postponed. This worried the conspirators, and they counseled with two other Catholic priests.
One was Oswald Greenway, who they spoke with during confessional. The other was Henry Garnet, Provincial of the English Jesuits.
In the providence of God, it was only because of the repeated delays that they decided to warn a few pro-Catholic members of Parliament to stay away from the opening of Parliament on November 5, 1605.
Monteagle's note was one of them, sent to him by his Catholic relative, Francis Tresham.
The date of the note was October 26. The opening of Parliament was set for November 5. The government had only eight days in which to solve this mystery.
As soon as King James learned of the crisis, he immediately launched a major investigation. Day after day passed, and still no results.
Finally, on the evening of November 4, investigators were still at work. Parliament was scheduled to open the next morning, amid special ceremonies. Then, on the stroke of midnight, British security agents discovered the suspicious presence of Guy Fawkes standing outside the cellar door of Westminster Palace.
Who was this man? Why was he standing there at midnight?
Men had earlier looked through the cellar and found nothing. Now they searched it thoroughly, and discovered, hidden beneath a large pile of faggots and coal, and positioned beneath the very spot where James would be standing in only few hours, THIRTY-SIX barrels of gunpowder. When they searched Fawkes, they found in his pockets a tinder box and matches.
At 1 a.m., Fawkes was summoned to face the hurriedly awakened council in the king's bedchamber at Whitehall Palace.
Fawkes was emotionally unmoved, only expressing his regret that he had failed to blow the king and his Protestant followers all the way to the infernal place.
When the authorities went after Catesby, Percy, and Wright, they were met with gunfire, and the three fellow conspirators were slain.
This left Fawkes and three other collaborators to stand trial on January 27, 1606, and be hanged the same week in St. Paul's churchyard.
It was learned that the conspirators had secured a nearby house and spent 16 hours a day, for nearly a year, digging a tunnel from their basement to that of the Palace. But, arriving there, they found the foundation walls were nine feet thick.
So they went to another adjacent property and managed to gain access to the basement.
To this day, Britishers celebrate "Guy Fawkes Day," as a day they slew the Catholics who wanted to kill their king.
Why was Satan so anxious to destroy the king and Parliament? There was a special reason. On January 16-18, 1604, the sovereign had decided to have a large group of scholars begin work on a new translation of the Bible.
That project was just getting started when the Gunpowder Plot was discovered on the evening of November 4, 1605.
If the plot to kill all the Protestant leaders of the nation had succeeded, Satan would have succeeded in destroying the Authorized (King James) Bible.
THE KING JAMES BIBLE
Four days after Elizabeth's death, the new king departed for London. The date was April 5, 1603.
Before arriving at his destination, he was met by a delegation of Puritan ministers who presented him with a statement of grievances against the Church of England. What came to be known as the Millenary Petition was signed by nearly a thousand English clergymen, about 10 percent of the ministers in the nation.
Considering the matter carefully, King James issued a proclamation, "touching a meeting for the hearing and for the determining; things pretended to be amiss in the church."
The conference was held on January 14, 16, and 18 of the year 1604. The meeting place was Hampton Court. The largest of the royal palaces, it contained a thousand rooms.
The black plague was killing people in London (for Europeans still did not know the cause of the bubonic plague; it was caused by the droppings of the common [Norway] rat in the foodstuffs); so Hampton Court, located 15 miles southwest of London on the north bank of the Thames River, was considered a safe distance from the plague-ridden capital. Before the year was over, over 30,000 Englishmen would die.
But James did not like the Puritans. They did not believe in having bishops rule the church, and James considered church democracy a threat to his throne.
The four Puritans who came to the gathering were excluded on the opening day. Then, on January 16, they were led in to face over
fifty high church officials (including the Archbishop of Canterbury) led by Richard Bancroft, Bishop of London.
The chairman's convictions were easily detectable from his invitation to discuss "things pretended to be amiss in the church." Although James appreciated the Puritans anti-Catholic position, he strongly disapproved of their Presbyterian form of government as a threat to his royal absolutism. On one occasion, he stated that "presbytery and monarchy agreed together as well as God and the devil." The kings best-remembered words expressing his fears of a Puritan-sponsored ouster of his politically supportive bishops was his clich, "No bishops, No king." It was for such reasons that the Mayflower sailed to America in 1621.
As the meeting progressed, subjects of lesser importance began causing even more dissension.
After having one request after another denied, the leader of the Puritan delegation, Dr. Rainolds (also spelled "Reynolds" at times) made the request that changed Bible history.
God works in mysterious ways, His purposes to perform. At the time of James coronation, an unfortunate spirit of rivalry existed between the Geneva Bible and the Bishops Bible. The Geneva Bible was, by far, the more popular of the two among the common people. But church officials preferred the Bishops Bible. The King did not like the fact that the Geneva Bible had not been prepared and printed in England. In addition, it had some Calvinistic notes in it and the King remembered how John Knox, in his homeland of Scotland, had spoken to his mother.
The King was only too aware that his prosperous subjects owed a "national debt" to the liberating doctrines of Holy Scripture. Having abandoned the Catholicism of his own mother, James had observed firsthand that, "The entrance of thy words giveth light" (Psalm 119:130).
In order to see what the Bible had accomplished for England, all James had to do was to look at what had happened to England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, when everybody had access to the Bible:
"But far greater than its effect on literature or social phrase was the effect of the Bible on the character of the people at large. Elizabeth
James did not like the fact that the Geneva Bible, which was so extremely popular with the English people, had been translated and printed in a foreign country.
He saw that he now had an excellent opportunity to provide his subjects with a Bible that would be truly English, totally translated and printed on English soil. The prestige gained from successful completion of the project could only enhance his fledgling reign. So King James ordered the translation to be made.
"That a translation be made of the whole Bible, as consonant as can be to the original Hebrew and Greek; and this to be set out and printed, without any marginal notes, and only to be used in all churches of England, in time of Divine service."Decree of King James, quoted in McClure, Translators Revised, p. 59.
Interestingly enough, every possible excuse is today made to downgrade the King James Bible. One is that James never authorized its translation. But that is not true.
Writing at the time the project began, Bishop Bancroft wrote this to an assistant:
"I move you in his majesty's name that, agreeably to the charge and trust committed unto you, no time may be overstepped by you for the better furtherance of this holy work. You will scarcely conceive how earnest his majesty is to have this work begun!"Quoted in G.S. Paine, Men behind the King James Version, p. 11.
In the Preface to the Authorized (King James) Bible, we are told:
"Hereupon did his Majesty begin to bethink himself of the good that might ensue by a new translation, and presently after gave order for this translation which is now presented unto thee."
THE KING JAMES BIBLE
As mentioned earlier, the recommendation for a new revision had been made by Dr. John Rainolds (also written Reynolds by others in his time), president of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and a leading Puritan.
Rainolds cited as the reason for a new translation was that the official Prayer Book, based on the Great Bible and Bishops Bible, had translation errors in it. This charge was, by itself, a significant reason for a new translation. A better Prayer Book could be prepared from the new Bible.
After the January 14-18, 1604, Hampton Court conference ended, a diligent search was made for scholars "who had taken pains in their private study of the Scriptures" (G.S. Paine, pp. 12-13). The king requested the aid of "all our principal learned men within the kingdom" (op. cit., p. 13).
By July, James publicly announced his selection of 54 of the nations best scholars to work on the project. The project formally began in 1607.
The revisers were divided into six companies, each assigned to work on a specific section of the Bible. The Old Testament groups translated from the Hebrew while the New Testament groups translated from the Greek:
1 - In the Jerusalem Chamber at Westminister, ten men under the direction of Lancelot Barlow translated Genesis through 2 Kings.
2 - Also working at Westminster, William Barlow chaired a group of seven which worked on Romans through Jude.
3 - At Oxford, John Harding led seven men in their work on Isaiah through Malachi.
4 - Also at Oxford, Thomas Ravis oversaw the work of eight men working on the Gospels, Acts, and Revelation.
5 - At Cambridge, Edward Lively's group translated 1 Chronicles through Song of Solomon.
6 - Also at Cambridge, John Bois team translated the Apocrypha.
When the group work was completed, two members of each of the three companies were chosen to check over the final revision, prior to sending it to a London printing house.
In summary, The entire work was divided in this manner: The first three years (1604-1607) were occupied in finalizing and perfecting the preliminary arrangements. During this time, some of the translators carefully worked over the material they would soon be translating.
The next two to three years were occupied in the individual and cooperative labor of the six groups of revisers. The translation was completed during this time.
After this, in London nine months were devoted to working on the final revision.
THE COMPLETED BOOK
The Bible was printed by Robert Barker in a large folio edition that, in appearance, was very much like the Bishops Bible.
A flattering dedication to King James was at the front. A longer Preface was also at the front of the Bible. Unfortunately, this Preface, written by Miles Smith, one of the translators, is no longer included. But it was very worthwhile and replied to the charge of the Catholics, that no English Bible was needed.
It is only available today in a booklet published by Edgar J. Goodspeed (who himself translated an early 20th-century Bible translation), entitled, The Translators to the Reader. Miles Smiths Preface was excellent!
For the New Testament, the King James translators used the Erasmus, Stephenus, and Beza Greek Texts. Theodore Beza, a faithful Protestant had gathered additional manuscripts, which he placed in a text. But his text was essentially the same as that of Erasmus, except that it had a broader number of Majority Text manuscripts in it.
For the Old Testament, they produced a translation from the Hebrew manuscripts which far surpassed any English translation in its faithful representation of the Hebrew text, yet did it in a simplicity admirably representative of the Elizabethan age.
It has been said that the New Testament is so expressive in language and form, that it even surpasses the original Greek as literature.
When all the intellectual attainments of the scholars, their careful work, and the careful rules were established in order to produce the most careful, accurate textthe fact remains that, according to a consensus of authorities, approximately 90 percent of Tyndales words were left intact by the King James translators.
John Foxe wrote this:
Tyndale has justly been called "the father of the English Bible" (Dowley, Handbook to Christianity, p. 370).
But not everyone liked the King James Bible. A marginal note in the Catholic Rheims-Douai Bible, produced later specifically to introduce Catholic errors and take the place of the King James Bible, said this: The men who made the King James Bible "would be abhorred in the depths of hell" (quoted in McClure, Translators Revised, p. 88).
As soon as the King James Bible came off the press, it met opposition from some groups. Everything good is always opposed by someone. But it soon outran in popularity the Bishops Bible, which had not been reprinted since 1606.
With the Geneva Bible, it waged a running fight for a full half century. But character and merit won the contest, and the King James Bible completely took the field.
In later years, several revisions were made, which consisted solely of efforts to eliminate earlier printers errors.
The most important changes occurred in the 18th century. In 1762, Dr. Thomas Paris published a revision at Cambridge; and in 1769 Dr. Benjamin Blayney, after about four years work, brought out another at Oxford.
Blayney's revision was especially valuable for the modernization of spelling, punctuation, expression, and elimination of printers errors.
The 1769 Blayney revision is the King James Bible we use today.
Over the years, various helpful marginal notes were added. Bishop Lloyds Bible in 1701 was the first to include the Biblical chronology, worked out by Archbishop Ussher and published in 1650-1654. As you know, it placed the date for Creation at 4004 B.C., a date which we know, from the Spirit of Prophecy, cannot be far off. The present authors in-depth analysis of the date of Creation, based on a variety of scientific data, also places the creation of our world as having occurred at an extremely recent date, and recommends a working date of 4000 B.C. (See chapters 5 and 6, of Origin of the Universe, which is Vol. 1 of the 3-volume Evolution Disproved Series.)
It is extremely important that the reader understand that the King James Bible was the LAST English Bible translation based on the Majority Text! Never since 1611, has another one been made!
All modern English translations are primarily or wholly based on the Westcott-Hort / Nestle Text which, in turn, is based on a few variant manuscripts! We have discussed this earlier and will return to it later in this study. Even the so-called New King James Version, published by Thomas Nelson and Co., actually includes a fair amount of Nestle-Aland Text tossed in!
THE CRITICS COMPLAINTS
ABOUT THE KING JAMES BIBLE
In spite of the carping complaints of the critics that the King James Bible is the result of only four years effort, the truth is that, during those four years, 54 of the best scholars in England worked on the project.
But there is more: The King James Bible is not the work of a four-year project, but of an 86-year project of scrutinizing revision, beginning with William Tyndale.
In a Moody Monthly article, Leslie Keylock wrote the typical slur we find in the 20th century, about the magnificent King James Version:
A major objection is that there are so-called archaic words in the Authorized Version. Keylock wrote:
The highly regarded Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces would disagree with Keylocks contention. From the information contained on the inside jacket cover, we understand that the purpose of this work is to recommend, to the student, the most readable text of any number of literary works:
The Norton editors selected the 1611 Authorized Version as the best they could find, when they printed their "masterworks edition" of the Old and New Testaments of the Holy Bible!
Although the critics may carp, actually, the "archaic" words of the King James Bible have already been "updated" more than 100 times in as many years for an average of one modern version per year. The truth is that the King James Bible is an outstanding version for our time in history.
It is also said that the King James translators used incorrect grammar. It is true that occasionally the King James uses the grammatical structure known as anacoluthon ("a change from one grammatical construction to another within the same sentence, sometimes as a rhetorical device," such as Webster's New World Dictionary). But the fact is that while the critics declare it has wrong tenses, improper treatment of the article, "the," and a refusal to translate literally, they do it themselves in their own modern translations.
Modern revisions, such as the New American Standard Version (NASV) and others, frequently refuse to translate their own Greek articles. And they insert the English article in numerous verses without the "authoritative" go-ahead of the corresponding Greek article.
It is said that the King James Bible adds words which are not in the Greek text. That is true, but it places them in italics. In contrast, the modern versions do the same, but they do not place the added words in italics.
But there are other modernists who say that absolutely no words must ever be added, not in the Greek or Hebrew, and that the shameful King James Bible does just that.
Here is an instance when the King James does this, and notice that the added words are always placed in italic (something the modern versions do not do when they add words):
Here is what happens when a modern translator tries to take out every italicized word:
According to this, after David slew Goliath, someone else killed him a second time!
Another "error" in the King James is the fact that it does not split the book of Isaiah at the end of chapter 39, into two books.
Well, neither did the Hebrew Old Testament! And neither does Christ Himself! He attributes both halves of the book of Isaiah to the same author (Matthew 12:17 and 13:14)!
There are the critics who tell you there are thousands and thousands of errors in the King James Version.
These are reckless statements and not true. They refer to the lithographical (printers) errors which have been corrected, since the first edition in 1611, and the many orthographical (spelling and punctuation) updates which have been made since then. With every character set by hand, a multitude of typographical mistakes could be made. (The lead type was also set in place backward, so it would print correctly on paper.) Each new edition of the King James Bible corrected some of these while introducing others. Sometimes words were inverted. Other times, a plural was written as a singular or vice versa.
Another type of "printing mistakes" consisted of nothing more than changes in type styles.
In the original 1611 edition, the Gothic "v" looked like a Roman "u" while the Gothic "u" looked like a Roman "v." The Gothic "j" resembled the Roman "i." The lower-case "s" looked like an "f." Such "changes" account for a significant percentage of the "tens of thousands" of changes and errors in the King James Bible.
By the way, there was no uniform spelling when the King James was first printed. Spelling did not begin to be standardized until the 18th century, and the King James was not standardized until the last half of that century. "Darke" was changed to "dark," and "rann" to "ran." So, over the centuries, a lot of changes had to be made. We are thankful they were.
Most historians do not date the beginning of modern English until the 1500s. Frankly, it was the King James which helped set our basic English in concrete. But the spelling and punctuation still kept changing down to our own time.
Corrected editions of the King James appeared in 1629, 1638, 1644, 1676, 1680, 1701, 1762, 1769, 1806, 1813, 1850, and 1852; this, of course, changed typographical errors.
Dr. Frederick Scrivener, in one of his books defending the King James Version, prepared a list of corrections. In his Appendix A (list of wrong readings of the Bible of 1611, amended in later editions) of his informative work, The Authorized Edition of the English Bible (1611), Its Subsequent Reprints and Modern Representatives, Scrivener cataloged but a fraction of the "tens of thousands of errors" that modernists claim are in the King James. Instead, the actual number of "errors" are in the hundreds, not in the thousands. And even this figure is misleading, when you consider that many of the instances were repetitious in nature. (Six such changes involve the corrected spelling of "Nathanael" from the 1611s Nathaneel in John 1:45-49 and 21:2).
Here is a sample list of the type of alterations which were made in the King James Bible down through the years. The samples give the first textual correction on consecutive left-hand pages of Scriveners book. First, the 1611 reading is given. It is then followed by the present reading and the date when the change was made:
Such alterations are purely of a correctional nature. There are no doctrinal errors here!
It is clear that the true text of the A.V. 1611 remained unaffected throughout these corrective stages. This was confirmed in a special report to the Board of Managers of the American Bible Society in 1852. The official findings of this committee of seven, chaired by Dr. James W. McLane, were as follows:
According to the critics, another "problem" with the King James is the fact that it had the Apocrypha in it.
Why was the Apocrypha included in this Bible? It has been suggested that the translators believed the Apocrypha were inspired books. That is not true. They did not want it in the King James Bible, but the king asked that it be included.
So, instead of scattering the Apocryphal books all through the Old Testament (as you will find if you look in a Rheims-Douaior any other Roman Catholic Bible), they placed all the Apocryphal books by themselves between the Testaments.
The King James translators were not confused over this matter. They listed seven reasons why the apocryphal books were to be categorically rejected as part of the Inspired canon.
Later in this book, when we discuss the modern translations, we will discuss the Apocrypha, its history and problems, in some detail.
EFFECTS OF THE KING JAMES BIBLE
One of the great results of the King James Version was not only that it became the Bible of England but it also became the Bible of America! Think of all the great evangelistic work which has been done, using that book! How many evangelists do you find today who are winning souls with the modern versions? For some reason, by the time they turn to the modern versions, so many frequently stop trying to labor as earnestly for the lost.
It was only 27 years after the King James Bible was printed that Roger Williams founded "Providence." His Rhode Island settlement, founded in 1638, became the first government in history based on total religious freedom.
We originally intended to include many quotation here, showing the importance of the Authorized (King James) Bible down through the centuries. But we instead placed them in the Introduction at the front of this book.
Three agencies were employed in an effort to destroy the Reformation, its followers, and its Bibles:
The decisions of the Council of Trent
The production of Catholic Bibles with their various mistranslations and errors
And that brings us to the Counter Reformation.
Last eve I paused beside the blacksmiths door
"How many anvils have you had," said I,
And so I thought, the anvil of Gods Word