In 1611 after seven years of work by fifty-four scholars the King James version of The Bible was first published. Named for James VI of Scotland who became king of all Great Britain and Ireland in 1603,the monarch sought to both educate his people about The Bible and to resolve the differences between Anglicans and Puritans by calling a conference to discuss those differences. Out of this conference came a decision to create a new translation of the Bible in English.
The work of these scholars was made much easier because of William Tyndale. The decision at the conference was to use the Bishop’s Bible as the source document for the English translation. Much of the work in translation had already been done by Tyndale at the cost of his life, but the King James Bible which would emerge from his initial work was within 50 years the dominant English translation of the Bible for the next 300 years.
We all know the story of King Henry VIII splitting from the Catholic Church because Pope Clement would not annul his marriage. But before that conflict William Tyndale tried to get permission from the Catholic Church to translate the Bible into English. The church thought this vulgar and denied Tyndale’s request. But Tyndale translated the Bishop’s Bible anyway and published it in 1526. Popes back then had long memories and no sense of humor so ten years later 1536 Tyndale was arrested and killed and his dead body was burned at the stake for the crime of publishing the New Testament in English.
The King James Bible remains the best-selling English-language book of all time and has been in continuous print for 400 years. It formed our language and inspired our literature, music; and faith ever since. Larry Stone has written “The Story of the Bible: The Fascinating History of Its Writing, Translation & Effect on Civilization” (Thomas Nelson) available from Amazon or you can always just read the original.
- William Tyndale Biography (c 1492-1536) Photos of Tyndale Bibles (rodiagnusdei.wordpress.com)
- King James Bible still going strong at age 400 (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Bible’s Big Birthday Bash (foxnews.com)