We would be remiss if we failed to note with thankfulness that this is the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, much loved and used by Christians all over the world. It has stood the test of time; who can measure the influence this version of the Bible has had on the world? Anniversaries are part of our lives, whether it be in families, cities, or nations. Events that have made an impact upon nations are noted, observed, and celebrated with much pomp and splendor. We should, as well, especially, mark this one!
The importance of this anniversary is seen even in the secular media which normally does not allow space for anything of a religious nature. Articles have been written in the press, heard on the radio, and even presented on television. They have mentioned how this version of the Bible has been woven into, and influenced the English language, with various phrases used in daily conversation. For example, “the salt of the earth,” “wheels within wheels,” “an eye for an eye,” “the straight and narrow.” Many more could be added to this list.
This version of the Bible was by a royal decree and 47 academics sat down and began the work of producing this translation in 1604. They drew heavily on William Tyndale’s version, whose object was that it would be accessible to “the boy that driveth the plough.” They also used Miles Coverdale’s version. It was the work of a learned team of men laboring under royal mandate. Their purpose, they wrote, was not to make a new translation of the Bible but “to make a good one better, or out of many good ones, one principal good one.” What was published 400 years ago was indeed one principal good one: the King James Version of the Bible.
How true their statement is when after 400 years we see the many different versions of the Bible in print today; yet few of them can compare with this version for its style. These men did not have the access to manuscripts that are available today but with what they had they produced a translation that is easy to read, with words easy to understand. New versions may have a use for reference and comparative purposes, but for use in private or public readings, the KJV it is without equal for its beauty. Could we say it is the gold standard of translations?
William Tyndale was persecuted, along with others, and burned at the stake to give us the Bible we have in our hands today. May we acknowledge this anniversary and reflect and treasure this book and the untold blessing it has brought to millions the world over, for 400 years.