King James’ Men

In 1604, King James of England called on some of his employees to take all of the Scriptures from books and scrolls and translate them into English, and gather them into one volume. This was the third English translation, and was really prompted by complaints from Puritans about the inaccuracies of the earlier works.

Most editions of the “King James Version” of the Bible available today are really what was offered in 1769 as the “Authorized Version,” which had undergone several revisions. The edits included changing of the spelling of words in which i’s and j’s were interchanged and u’s and v’s were interchanged, and f’s and s’s were printed uniformly instead of having different forms in different words, which was common in 1611. Also, the Apocrypha was removed, even though it was part of what was presented to King James in 1611.

A letter from the translators to King James is commonly included, and their letter to all readers of the King James Version is commonly withheld from the readers. Here are a couple of quotes from the letter from the King’s translators to all who would read their work.

“Therefore blessed be they, and most honored be their name, that break the ice, and giveth onset upon that which helpeth forward to the saving of souls. Now what can be more available thereto, than to deliver God’s book unto God’s people in a tongue which they understand? Since of an hidden treasure, and of a fountain that is sealed, there is no profit, as Ptolome Philadelph wrote to the Rabbis or masters of the Jews, as witnesseth Epiphanius: and as S. Augustine saith; A man had rather be with his dog than with a stranger (whose tongue is strange unto him).” Here, the translators blessed anyone who would translate the Bible into languages understood by its readers. They quoted Augustine as having said that a man would rather be with his dog, who could not talk, than with a man who spoke another language.

“Now to the latter we answer; that we do not deny, nay we affirm and avow, that the very meanest translation of the Bible in English, set forth by men of our profession (for we have seen none of theirs of the whole Bible as yet), containeth the word of God, nay, is the word of God.” Throughout the letter, the translators were answering specific insults and accusations made against them by various critics: the Church of Rome, Puritans, and specific individuals. Here, they shared their opinion that even the most poorly done translation of the word of God is, truly, the word of God.

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