FACTOID # 13: New York has America's lowest percentage of residents who are veterans.
 
 Home   Encyclopedia   Statistics   States A-Z   Flags   Maps   FAQ   About 
   
 
WHAT'S NEW
 

SEARCH ALL

FACTS & STATISTICS    Advanced view

Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:

 

 

(* = Graphable)

 

 


Encyclopedia > King James Version
This page is about the version of the Bible; for the Harvey Danger album, see King James Version (album).

History of the English Bible
Overview
Old English translations
Lindisfarne Gospels
Middle English translations
Wyclif's Bible
Early Modern English translations
Tyndale's Bible
Coverdale's Bible
Matthew's Bible
Taverner's Bible
Great Bible
Geneva Bible
Bishops' Bible
Douay-Rheims Bible
King James Version
Modern English translations
18th and 19th century
Quaker Bible
Thomson's Translation
Webster's Revision
Young's Literal Translation
Joseph Smith Translation
Julia E. Smith Parker Translation
English Revised Version
20th and 21st century
American Standard Version
Revised Standard Version
New World Translation
Jerusalem Bible
Lamsa Bible
New American Bible
New English Bible
New American Standard Bible
New International Version
Recovery Version
Ongoing translation projects
Anchor Bible Series
New English Translation
Edit this box (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/wiki.phtml?title=Template:BibleHistory&action=edit)

The King James Version (KJV) is an English translation of the Holy Bible, commissioned for the benefit of the Church of England at the behest of King James I of England. First published in 1611, it has had a profound impact not only on most English translations that have followed it, but also on English literature as a whole. The works of famous authors such as John Bunyan, John Milton, Herman Melville, John Dryden, and William Wordsworth are replete with inspiration apparently derived from the King James Version. Bibles from the English Revised Version to the New American Standard Bible, the Revised Standard Version, and the New King James Version are revisions of its text; it has deeply influenced Bibles such as the New International Version that do not claim to be revisions of its text.


Though often referred to as the Authorised Version (AV) or the Authorised Standard Version (ASV), it was never officially sanctioned by the English monarchy or the clerical hierarchy of the Church of England. It is no longer in copyright in most parts of the world but is under perpetual Crown copyright in the United Kingdom. The King James Version, despite its age, is largely comprehensible to the average reader today. It is considered to be an instrumental founding block of modern English, and remains one of the most widely-read literary works from its time.

Contents

Background

's dissatisfaction with the 's led to the creation of the King James Bible.
King James I's dissatisfaction with the Geneva Bible's puritanism led to the creation of the King James Bible.

Protestantism derived from Martin Luther the idea that the Bible was the sole source of doctrine (see sola scriptura) and as such should be translated into the local vernacular. The act of Bible translation into any vernacular was a political as well as a religious statement, and remained so whether the Bible translation was a private endeavour, or sponsored by a monarch and his government. The English translations made by John Wyclif's followers, and later by William Tyndale, were the opening salvos of the Protestant Reformation in England and Scotland.


By the time the King James Version was written, there was already a tradition going back almost a hundred years of Bible translation into English (not counting the Old English Bible translations that had been made in the Early Middle Ages, before the Roman Catholic Church started mandating the exclusive use of the Latin Vulgate). The King James Bible represents a revision of Tyndale's translation. When his New Testament appeared in 1525, Tyndale was a "Lutheran" to the extent that denominational labels had meaning in 1525, in other words, a supporter of Luther's movement to reform the whole Christian community. Tyndale's translation was deliberately provocative in a number of ways; he rendered Greek presbuteros, traditionally translated as "priest", as "elder" — a literal translation that slighted the connection between the Catholic clergy and the former biblical texts; in a similar fashion he translated ekklesia, traditionally "church", as "congregation"; these renditions were at the basis of a notorious controversy between Tyndale and Sir Thomas More, who took the establishment's side. Still, despite these controversial renderings, the merits of Tyndale's work and prose style made his translation the basis for most of the subsequent renditions into Early Modern English, even though Tyndale himself was burned at the stake for heresy. With these controversial translations lightly edited, Tyndale's New Testament and Pentateuch became the basis for the Great Bible, the first "authorized version" issued by the Church of England in the reign of King Henry VIII.


When Mary I took the throne, she sought to re-establish Roman Catholicism as the established church. Some English Protestant leaders, fleeing the "fires of Smithfield" instituted by Queen Mary, established an English-speaking Protestant colony at Geneva. With the help of Theodore Beza, successor to John Calvin as leader of the Reformed church there, they created the Geneva Bible. This translation, which first appeared in 1560, was a revision of Tyndale's and the Great Bible, which was furnished copiously with Protestant annotations and references. By the time Elizabeth I took the throne, the flaws of the Great Bible were apparent; those parts of it not translated by Tyndale were translated from the Latin Vulgate rather than the original languages. In 1568 the established church responded with the Bishops' Bible, but their version failed to displace the Geneva version as the most popular English version.


The Project

In May 1601 King James VI of Scotland attended the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland at St. Columba's Church in Burntisland, Fife, and proposals were put forward for a new translation of the Bible into English. Two years later he acceded to the throne of England.


The King James Version was first conceived at the Hampton Court conference, which the new king called in 1604 to settle various religious grievances. According to an eyewitness account, Dr John Rainolds "moved his majesty that there might be a new translation of the Bible, because those which were allowed in the reign of king Henry the Eight and Edward the Sixt were corrupt and not answerable to the truth of the original."


Rainolds offered three examples of problems with existing translations: "First, Galatians iv. 25. The Greek word susoichei is not well translated as now it is, bordereth neither expressing the force of the word, nor the apostles sense, nor the situation of the place. Secondly, psalm cv. 28, ‘They were not obedient;’ the original being, ‘They were not disobedient.’ Thirdly, psalm cvi. 30, ‘Then stood up Phinees and prayed,’ the Hebrew hath, ‘executed judgment.’"


King James proposed that a new translation be commissioned to settle the controversies; he hoped a new translation would replace the Geneva Bible and its offensive notes in the popular esteem. After the Bishop of London added a qualification that no marginal notes were to be added to Rainold’s new Bible, the king cited two passages in the Geneva translation where he found the notes offensive. King James gave the translators instructions, which were designed to discourage polemical notes, and to guarantee that the new version would conform to the ecclesiology of the Church of England. Eventually four different editions of the King James Version were produced in 1629, 1638, 1762, and 1769. It is the 1769 edition which is most commonly cited as the King James Version (KJV).


King James's instructions included requirements that:

1) The ordinary Bible, read in the church, commonly called the Bishops' Bible, to be followed, and as little altered as the original will permit....
3) The old ecclesiastical words to be kept; as the word church, not to be translated congregation, &c.
4) When any word hath divers significations, that to be kept which has been most commonly used by the most eminent fathers, being agreeable to the propriety of the place, and the analogy of the faith....
6) No marginal notes at all to be affixed, but only for the explanation of the Hebrew or Greek words, which cannot, without some circumlocution, so briefly and fitly be expressed in the text.
7) Such quotations of places to be marginally set down, as shall serve for the fit references of one scripture to another....
13) These translations to be used when they agree better with the text than the Bishop's Bible, viz. Tyndale's, Coverdale's, Matthew's, Whitchurch, Geneva.

King James's instructions made it clear that he wanted the resulting translation to contain a minimum of controversial notes and apparati, and that he wanted the episcopal structure of the Established Church, and traditional beliefs about an ordained clergy to be reflected in the new translation. His order directed the translators to revise the Bishop's Bible, comparing other named English versions. It is for this reason that the flyleaves of most printings of the King James Bible observe that the text had been "translated out of the original tongues, and with the former translations diligently compared and revised (by His Majesty's special command.)" At least 80% of the King James New Testament is unaltered from Tyndale's translation.


The King James Version was translated by 54 scholars (although only 51 are known) working in six committees, two based in each of Oxford University, Cambridge University, and Westminster. They worked on certain parts separately; then the drafts produced by each committee were compared and revised for harmony with each other. The scholars were not paid for their translation work, but were required to support themselves as best they could. Many were supported by the various colleges at Oxford and Cambridge.


Committees

First Westminster Company, translating from Genesis to 2 Kings:
Lancelot Andrewes, John Overall, Hadrian Saravia, Richard Clarke, John Laifield, Robert Tighe, Francis Burleigh, Geoffry King, Richard Thompson, William Bedwell
First Cambridge Company, translated from 1 Chronicles to the Song of Solomon:
Edward Lively, John Richardson, Lawrence Chaderton, Francis Dillingham, Roger Andrews, Thomas Harrison, Robert Spaulding, Andrew Bing
First Oxford Company, translated Isaiah through Malachi
John Harding, John Reynolds, Thomas Holland, Richard Kilby, Miles Smith, Richard Brett, Daniel Fairclough
Second Oxford Company, translated the Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, and the Book of Revelation:
Thomas Ravis, George Abbot, Richard Eedes, Giles Tomson, Henry Savile, John Peryn, Ralph Ravens, John Harmar
Second Westminster Company, translated the Epistles:
William Barlow, John Spencer, Roger Fenton, Ralph Hutchinson, William Dakins, Michael Rabbet, Thomas Sanderson
Second Cambridge Company, translated the Apocrypha:
John Duport, William Brainthwaite, Jeremiah Radcliffe, Samuel Ward, Andrew Downes, John Bois, John Ward, John Aglionby, Leonard Hutten, Thomas Bilson, Richard Bancroft

In January 1609 a General Committee of Review met at Stationers' Hall, London to review the completed manuscripts from the six companies. The committee included John Bois, Andrew Downes, John Harmer, and others known only by their initials, including "AL" (who may be Arthur Lake).


Some have claimed that the renowned playwright William Shakespeare was involved in the translation, pointing to Psalms 46 as proof, where, counting 46 words from the beginning, one comes upon the word "shake", and counting 46 words backwards from the end, one comes upon the word "spear". Most scholars dismiss claims of Shakespeare's involvement in translating the King James Version, and in particular reject such purported evidence as this example. Notably, the Geneva Bible and several other earlier translations contained the same coincidence, despite several of them being published before or just shortly after Shakespeare's birth. [1] (http://av1611.com/kjbp/ridiculous-kjv-bible-corrections/psalm-46-Shakespeare-in-KJV.html)


The original printing of the King James Version was published by Robert Barker in 1611 and could be bought looseleaf for 10 s, or bound for 12 s.

Enlarge
The frontispiece to the 1611 first edition of the King James Bible shows the Twelve Apostles at the top. Moses and Aaron flank the central text. In the four corners sit Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, authors of the four gospels, with their symbolic animals.

Literary attributes

Translation

Like the earlier English translations such as Tyndale's and the Geneva Bible, the King James Version was translated from Greek and Hebrew texts, bypassing the Latin Vulgate. The King James Version's Old Testament is based on the Masoretic Text while the New Testament is based on the Textus Receptus as published by Erasmus. The King James Version is a fairly literal translation of these base sources; words implied but not actually in the original source are specially marked in most printings (either by being inside square brackets, or as italicized text).


Compared to modern translations, there are some differences which are based in part on more recently discovered manuscripts, e.g. the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947, or the Nag Hammadi discoveries in 1945. Some conservative fundamentalist Protestants believe that the newer versions of the Bible are based on corrupt manuscripts and that the King James Version is truer to the original languages. This preference is partially due to the fact that many modern versions often excise or marginalize certain verses deemed by modern scholarship as later additions to the original text and thus are seen by traditionalists as tampering with the text. (See King-James-Only Movement.)


In the Old Testament, there are also a large number of differences from modern translations that are based not on manuscript differences, but on a different translation of Ancient Hebrew vocabulary or grammar by the translators. Hebrew scholarship by non-Jews was not as developed in the early 17th century as it is now, and it is unclear how well the translators grasped the language (for example, the Greek word "Pascha", a transliteration of the Hebrew word "Passover", was translated as "Easter", instead of the correct "Passover" in Acts 12:4). The New Testament is largely unaffected by this as the grasp of Ancient Greek was already quite firm in the West by the time the translation was made. The difference is partially caused by the fact that while there is a very large and diverse body of extra-biblical material extant in Ancient Greek, there is very little such material in Ancient Hebrew, and probably not even this little was known to the translators at the time. Additionally, Hebrew scholarship in modern times has been much improved by information gleaned from Aramaic (Syrian) and Arabic, two Semitic languages related to Ancient Hebrew, both of which have a continuous existence as living languages. Since these languages are still in use and have larger bodies of extant material than Ancient Hebrew (especially in the case of Arabic), many Hebrew words and Hebrew grammar phenomena can now be understood in a way not available at the time the King James Version was written.


Style

The King James Version has traditionally been appreciated for the quality of the prose and poetry in the translation. However, the English language has changed somewhat since the time of publication and the translators of the Bible used a version of English that is viewed by some as somewhat anachronistic and archaic today. For example, the King James Version makes liberal use of old second person singular pronouns, such as "thou". In addition, some words used in the King James Version have changed meaning in the time after the translation was made; for example "to let" is used in the translation in the sense of "to hinder" rather than the modern meaning "to allow to happen", and "even" (a word very often introduced by the translators and thus italicized) is mostly used in the sense of "namely" or "that is". Due to this, some modern readers may find the KJV more difficult to read than more recent translations (for the same reason that some find Shakespeare more difficult to read than more recent authors), and this is one justification put forth by advocators of modern translations. On the other hand, KJV supporters believe that most differences are small enough for modern readers to overcome with time and occasional reference to modern translations for some of the more confusing passages.


One odd aspect of the King James Version's style was originally due to grammatical uncertainty. At the time William Tyndale made his Bible translation, there was uncertainty in Early Modern English as to whether the older pronoun his or the neologism its was the proper genitive case of the third person singular pronoun it. Tyndale dodged the difficulty by using phrases such as the blood thereof rather than choosing between his blood or its blood. By the time the King James translators wrote, usage had settled on its, but Tyndale's style was familiar and considered a part of an appropriately Biblical style, and they chose to retain the old wording.


One study cited by KJV supporters compared translations using the Flesch-Kincaid grade-level formula, finding that the King James Version is at an American fifth-grader's (11-year old student's) level of reading, while the New International Version, the most popular modern translation, is rated at the eighth-grader's (14-year old student's) reading level. One example given of easier wording in the King James Version is in Ephesians 4, where the King James Version uses the word "joint", whilst the New International Version uses the phrase "supporting ligament". Some KJV supporters claim that this more complicated wording exists to prevent possible infringment on the KJV's Crown Copyright within the UK, but such copyright concerns are dubious, since both are very similar to the public domain works from which they were derived.


In addition, because the King James Version was "appointed to be read in churches", and aimed at a particularly lofty style, it tends to flatten stylistic differences in the source text and aims instead for a uniformly elevated and "biblical" sounding prose. This is not always an improvement. For example, here is the Geneva Bible's rendition of Genesis 38:27-30:

Now, when the time was come that she should be deliuered, beholde, there were twinnes in her wombe. And when she was in trauell, the one put out his hand: and the midwife tooke and bound a red threde about his hand, saying, This is come out first. But when he plucked his hand backe againe, loe, his brother came out, and the midwife said, How hast thou broken the breach vpon thee? and his name was called Pharez. And afterward came out his brother that had the red threde about his hande, and his name was called Zarah.

Here, by contrast, is the same passage in the 1611 King James:

And it came to passe in the time of her trauaile, that beholde, twinnes were in her wombe. And it came to passe when she trauailed, that the one put out his hand, and the midwife tooke and bound vpon his hand a skarlet threed, saying, This came out first. And it came to passe as he drewe back his hand, that behold, his brother came out: and she said, How hast thou broken foorth? this breach bee vpon thee: Therefore his name was called Pharez. And afterward came out his brother that had the skarlet threed vpon his hand, and his name was called Zarah.

Both passages owe a great deal to Tyndale's earlier rendition of this text. But the King James text repeats as it came to pass where Geneva has now or and when. As a result, the Genevan text seems livelier than the King James text in this passage.


Some modern readers are startled by some of the words used by the King James translators, such as piss (1 Samuel 25:22 (http://www.biblegateway.com/cgi-bin/bible?passage=1+Sam+25%3A22&x=20&y=11&NIV_version=yes&KJV_version=yes&language=english) and 34), teats (Ezekiel 23:3 (http://www.biblegateway.com/cgi-bin/bible?language=english&version=NIV%3BKJV%3B&passage=Ezekiel+23%3A3&x=0&y=0)), menstruous woman (Lamentations 1:17 (http://www.biblegateway.com/cgi-bin/bible?passage=Lam+1%3A17&x=0&y=0&NIV_version=yes&KJV_version=yes&language=english)), or paps (Revelation 1:13 (http://www.biblegateway.com/cgi-bin/bible?passage=Rev+1%3A13&x=0&y=0&NIV_version=yes&KJV_version=yes&language=english)). This frankness accurately conveys the sense of the original languages without euphemism, unlike some more recent renditions such as the New International Version.


Here are some brief samples of text that demonstrate the King James Version's literary style:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. (John 1:1-5)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some [say that thou art] John the Baptist: some Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto them, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed [it] unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:13-18)

Subsequent history

While the King James Version was meant to replace the Bishops' Bible as the official version of the Church of England, it apparently was never specifically approved to do so. It nevertheless began to replace earlier editions in the Church of England.


Its acceptance by the general public took longer. The Geneva Bible continued to be quite popular, and continued to be reprinted well into the period of the English Civil War, in which soldiers of the New Model Army were issued Genevan New Testaments called "The Soldiers' Bible". One early printing of the King James Bible combines the King James translation text with the Genevan marginal notes. After the English Restoration, however, the Geneva Bible was held to be politically suspect, and a reminder of the repudiated Puritan era. The King James Bible then became the only current version circulated among English speaking people as familiarity and stylistic merits won it the respect of the populace.


Current printings of the King James Bible differ from the original in several ways.

Enlarge
The opening of the Epistle to the Hebrews of the 1611 edition of the King James Bible shows the original typeface. Marginal notes reference variant translations and cross references to other Bible passages.

Difference in the contents

The original printing of the King James Version included the "Apocrypha", so named in the text. This section includes the "deuterocanonical books" accepted as canonical by Roman Catholicism, but no longer considered Scripture under the Thirty-Nine Articles, the doctrinal confession of the Church of England. This section also includes other non-canonical texts from the Septuagint. This includes the Prayer of Manasseh; the First Book of Esdras, accepted as canon by Eastern Orthodox Christianity but not by Roman Catholics or Protestants; and the apocalyptic Second Book of Esdras, accepted by no denomination as canon. These texts are printed separately, between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament. The Septuagint's emendations to the Book of Esther and the Book of Daniel are included here, rather than added to the texts of those books. From approximately 1769, many editions have omitted this section, and the most common contemporary editions rarely include them.


The original printing also included a number of variant readings and alternative translations of some passages; most current printings omit these. (One American edition that does still print these notes is the Cornerstone UltraThin Reference Bible, published by Broadman and Holman.) The original printing also included some marginal references to indicate where one passage of Scripture quoted or directly related to another. Most current printings omit these.


Prefatory material

The original printing contained two prefatory texts; the first was a rather fulsome Epistle Dedicatory (http://www.ccel.org/bible/kjv/preface/epistle.htm) to "the most high and mighty Prince" King James. Many British printings reproduce this, while a few cheaper or smaller American printings fail to include it.


The second, and more interesting preface was called The Translators to the Reader (http://www.ccel.org/bible/kjv/preface/pref1.htm), a long and learned essay that defends the undertaking of the new version. It observes that their goal was not to make a bad translation good, but a good translation better, and says 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... containeth the word of God, nay, is the word of God". Few editions anywhere include this text.


The first printing contained a number of other apparatus, including a table for the reading of the Psalms at matins and vespers, and a calendar, an almanac, and a table of holy days and observances. Much of this material has become obsolete with the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar by the UK and its colonies in 1752 and thus modern editions invariably omit it.


Typeface, spelling, and format

The original printing was made before English spelling was standardised. They wrote "v" invariably for lower-case initial "u" and "v", and "u" for "u" and "v" everywhere else. They used long "ſ" for non-final "s". The letter "j" occurs only after "i" or as the final letter in a Roman numeral. Punctuation was used differently. The printers sometimes used ye for the, (replacing the Middle English thorn with the continental y) and wrote for an or am (in the style of scribe's shorthand) and so forth when space needed to be saved. Current printings remove most, but not all, of the variant spellings; the punctuation has also been changed, but still varies from current usage norms.


The first printing used a black letter typeface instead of a Roman typeface. This contrasted with the Geneva Bible, which was the first English Bible printed in a Roman typeface. It also used Roman type instead of italics to indicate text that had been supplied by the translators, or thought needful for English grammar but which was not present in the Greek or Hebrew. The first printing used the device of using different type faces to show supplied words sparsely and inconsistently. This is perhaps the most significant difference between the original text and the current text.


Even the typeface made a political and a religious statement. Like the Great Bible and the Bishop's Bible, the King James Bible was "appointed to be read in churches". It was a large folio volume meant for public use, not private devotion; the weight of the type mirrored the weight of establishment authority behind it. The Geneva Bible was always printed in Roman type, usually of the Garamond family; it was meant to be user-friendly for personal and private use. A folio Roman typeface edition of the King James Bible followed in 1614.


The current text

Current printings of the King James Bible are typically based on an edition published at Oxford University in 1769, rather than on the 1611 text. The Oxford edition applied the device of supplying italics for absent words much more thoroughly, corrected a number of minor errors in punctuation, and made the spelling consistent and updated.

Enlarge
The University of Cambridge is one of the very few organisations which directly hold the right to print the King James Bible, and continues to exercise this right even today; many King James Bibles such as this one hail from the printing presses of either Cambridge or Oxford University, the only other university accorded this privilege.

Copyright status

In Great Britain, the AV is subject to a perpetual Crown Copyright held by the British government. This is because the printing of the KJV was originally covered by Letters Patent which means that to this day it comes under the Crown prerogative section of copyright law in the United Kingdom. It was protected by this means due to its status there as an official document of the established Church of England. The British government licenses all printings of the text in Great Britain, typically by designating one printer as the authorised publisher; other printers must obtain a sublicence from that one.


The universities of Oxford and Cambridge also possess the right to print editions of the Bible, and many English printings are issued or licensed by the university presses. Annotated study Bibles escape the monopoly by being labelled as "Bible commentaries", and can also use the text.


The Letters Patent apply in Scotland, where the Scottish Bible Board licenses all uses of the AV text. In Wales, all uses of the KJV text are licensed though Cambridge. Elsewhere in the world, the text of the King James Version has long since become a part of the public domain.


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints publishes an approved edition of the Authorised Version in English that includes cross references to the Book of Mormon and other LDS scripture.


Literary influence

The King James Version has proved to have been an influence on writers and poets, whether in their literary style, or matters of content such as the images they depicted, until the advent of modernism. Although influenced by the Bible in general, they likely could not have helped being influenced by the style of writing the King James Version used, prevalent as it was during their time. John Hayes Gardiner of Harvard University once stated that "in all study of English literature, if there be any one axiom which may be accepted without question, it is that the ultimate standard of English prose style is set by the King James version of the Bible". Compton's Encyclopedia once said that the King James Version "…has been a model of writing for generations of English-speaking people." [2] (http://www.holybible.com/resources/famous_quotes.htm)


A general effect of the King James Version was to influence writers in their model of writing; beforehand, authors generally wrote as scholars addressing an audience of other scholars, as few ordinary peasants were literate at the time. The King James Version, as it was meant for dissemination among the ordinary man and to be read by preachers to their congregations, could not afford the luxury of using such a technique. The simpler, more direct style used by the translators of the King James Version so influenced authors that their prose began to address the reader as if he or she was an ordinary person instead of a scholar, thus helping create the idea of the general reader.


19th century preacher Charles Spurgeon once declared of author John Bunyan, "Read anything of his, and you will see that it is almost like reading the Bible itself." Bunyan's allegorical novel, The Pilgrim's Progress, was a cornerstone of early Protestant literature; frequently, it would be the second piece of literature translated into the vernacular by missionaries, the first being the King James Version itself — though it is noteworthy that The Pilgrim's Progress mostly quoted from the Geneva Bible. According to Thomas Macaulay, "he knew no language but the English as it was spoken by the common people; he had studied no great model of composition, with the exception of our noble translation of the Bible. But of that his knowledge was such that he might have been called a living concordance".


John Milton, author of the blank verse epic poem Paradise Lost, was heavily influenced by the King James Version, beginning his day with a reading from that version of the Bible; in his later life, he would then spend an hour meditating in silence. Milton, who cast two Psalms into meter at the age of 15 while an undergraduate in Cambridge University, filled his works with images obviously taken from the Bible. The poem Lycidas, for example, depicted the Apostle Peter and the keys he was given by Jesus according to a literal reading of the Bible:

Last came and last did go
The pilot of the Galilean lake;
Two massy keys he bore of metals twain,
(The golden opes, the iron shuts amain).

The allusions made to the Bible by John Dryden were inescapable for those who had studied it well; as an example, in the poem Mac Flecknoe, he wrote:

Sinking, he left his drugget robe behind,
Borne upward by a subterranean wind,
The mantle fell to the young prophet's part,
With double portion of his father's art.

Several more famous writers and poets have taken inspiration from the King James Version. William Wordsworth's poems such as Intimations of Immortality and Ode to Duty contained obvious references to the Bible. Poet George Byron even composed poems which required prior understanding of the Bible before one could fully comprehend them, such as Jephtha's Daughter and The Song of Saul Before his Last Battle. John Keats described "the sad heart of Ruth, / when, sick for home, She stood in tears amid the alien corn."


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, an American poet, once wrote "There are times when the grasshopper is a burden, and thirsty with the heat of labor the spirit longs for the waters of Shiloah, that go softly", a clear reference to the King James Version, both in its content and in its style. Herman Melville, too, could not avoid being influenced by the King James Version; his book Moby Dick is clearly related to the Bible, with characters going by names such as Ishmael and Ahab. Walt


  Results from FactBites:
 
BibleGateway.com - Version information: King James Version (974 words)
In 1604, King James I of England authorized that a new translation of the Bible into English be started.
The Authorized Version, or King James Version, quickly became the standard for English-speaking Protestants.
The KJV is public domain in the United States.
The Holy Bible: King James Version. Bartleby.com (113 words)
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
The culmination of English translations of the Bible, the Bartleby.com publication of the American Bible Society’s King James Version features full-text searchability, content-based tables of contents and a quick verse finder.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

COMMENTARY     


Share your thoughts, questions and commentary here
Your name
Your comments

Want to know more?
Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:

 


Press Releases |  Feeds | Contact
The Wikipedia article included on this page is licensed under the GFDL.
Images may be subject to relevant owners' copyright.
All other elements are (c) copyright NationMaster.com 2003-5. All Rights Reserved.
Usage implies agreement with terms, 1022, m