Sunday, 9 January 2011

King James Version

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This year sees the four hundredth anniversary of the publication of the translation of the bible authorised by King James VI & I.  This has become known to most as the 'Authorised Version and to the Americans as the 'King James Version,' as they like the historical side to it. It is interesting to note that this programme, made by non Christians, uses the term 'King James Version.' The BBC is responsible for several programmes mostly concerned with the historic reasons for the translation and the 'poetic' language used therein. None in these programmes appear concerned with the God who breathed it at any time!


1611 saw the 'Union of the Crowns,' when James the Sixth of Scotland also became James the First of England. (Always known by the racist English as James I !) One of his problems concerned the religious strife since the reformation. Different Kings and Queens had gone from Catholic to Protestant and back again, usually without becoming 'Christian' in the process, and this caused much suffering and needless strife throughout Europe. This was amended in England by Elizabeth when she attempted a policy of 'tolerance.' However this met some opposition from Puritans (this term covered many 'types' of Puritan) and the other 'protestants' of various types. Their religion often meant less than the politics of the day and this created many difficulties for the King when he arrived. However in Scotland the highly competent James had already dealt with the Calvinist leftovers and his theological and academic knowledge was considerable. During the many discussions with the clergy concerning the nations future the idea of a new translation arose. James was not keen on the 'Geneva' bible used by many at the time as one phrase appeared to doubt the 'Divine right of Kings!' This helped encourage his desire for a new translation.


This was undertaken by the very best scholars of the day, working alone and in groups, each dedicated to a specific potion of scripture, then checked by others and rechecked and edited later by the 'top dogs' at St Paul's leading eventually to the 'Authorised' bible. When completed all previous versions were banned from use in churches throughout the land. Thus removing any wrong influence from previous versions, although this version took much from them. This was indeed a 'poetic' version of scripture with lines that were easy to read, and who's phrasing aided listening at the time. In the late 18th century the words were 'modernised' and the book was revised again in the 19th century. The words have indeed penetrated to all corners of the world, although the 'British Empire' helped here!


Many people know vaguely about a flood, Noah's ark, Jesus and Paul the apostle. Most know little else beyond this today. One reason is the media's use of the 'Authorised version' when quoting scripture which tends to give the impression the bible is for the past and not for today, most Christians of course have used more readable modern versions for thirty years or more. Society also is no longer forcibly 'nominally church going' so bible knowledge is dying. The majority of people born in the last forty years confronted with the quaint, but attractive, language of this version are put off as it is impossible for them to understand. This is a shame as the reason such books were translated was to bring the 'Word of God' to each individual, as opposed to the Roman Catholic manner of keeping it within the church of Rome. In the years following the publication the majority of the population were better educated by hearing this book than many today after ten years of schooling! Many learned to read, discovered they were important to God in spite of their place in society and as a side issue the language of the nation was altered for ever as this book represented what today we call 'Queens English.'


The BBC programme The King James Bible contains a variety of artists reading portions of this book. Like other programmes in this series there are some explanations along with each programme again concerned mostly with the poetry of the words, the 'literary style' rather than the content thereoff. Still, Jesus speaks through this book to many, as he did to me, and he has never let me down in spite of my self centred life. Maybe he will speak even yet through these readings. They can be heard for seven days although I am not sure if this can only be heard in the UK. The bible is a book, actually a collection of books, that tell us about our relationship with God himself. Actually it is about his desire and longing for his relationship with us, 'we love because he first loved us,' and while used and abused by many it still changes lives for the better!


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3 comments:

FishHawk said...

The King James 1611 Authorized Version is indeed a wonderful translation, but those who want to believe that it is the only one to be trusted should keep in mind that the texts used to compile it were copies of earlier copies of even earlier copies (we could go on for a while with this) of the original manuscripts. Subsequently, how can they be so sure that only the venerable KJV should be read if all things are as they naturally see them? Yes, they could always consult our Heavenly Father on this directly, but that is not a viable option to most of them.

leazwell said...

I know individuals too that insist it is the only version to read but how can you say that where in Job mythical Greek terms were substituted in God's speech. Please. God would not have used those names nor would Job have known them.

Adullamite said...

Aye indeed people like the book for wrong reasons all to often.