By his Maiesties speciall commandement

JP: Everyone should have a King James version (in my own opinion). It may not be your favorite or primary version, but it is spectacular. I love the KJV in the Psalms.

There will be hosannas and great rejoicing for the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible


The Authorised Version of the Bible, known also in America as the King James Version, is arguably one of the greatest works ever published in this country. And a committee has just been set up to ensure that its quatercentenary in 2011 is celebrated with rejoicing, gusto and a host of national commemorations.

Few know who most of the translators were, apart from Bishop Lancelot Andrews, the convener of the group and general editor. In 1604 the newly crowned King assembled a group of scholars at Hampton Court to discuss the controversies that had arisen, especially among the Puritan faction of the Church of England, over earlier translations of the Bible. They decided that a completely new translation was needed, and the King authorised the 47 scholars, all members of the Church, to begin work.

Learned in Greek and Hebrew, steeped in the rhythms of the language of Shakespeare (still then writing plays), they took seven years to complete all the books of the Old Testament (from the Masoretic Hebrew), the New Testament (from Greek) and the Apocrypha (from Greek and, in part, from Latin).

The Bible was intended to replace the Bishops’ Bible as the official version for readings in the Church of England. The King’s Printer was authorised to issue copies, and it swiftly became the standard lectern Bible in parish use. It was authorised by Act of Parliament and by the first half of the 18th century was the sole version in current use in Protestant churches, supplanting the Latin Vulgate as the standard version of scripture for English-speaking scholars.

The translators were under strict instructions. They were forbidden to add marginal notes. They were ordered to ensure that the translation conformed to Church of England doctrine and reflected traditional usage. For a King newly arrived from Scotland, himself no mean scholar, the work was to be his way of impressing on his new subjects his authority and his piety. When first published in 1611 by Robert Barker, the King’s Printer, the complete folio Bible was sold for ten shillings looseleaf and twelve shillings bound.

Four hundred years later the 2011 Trust, under the patronage of the Prince of Wales, is again to assemble scholars across the country to celebrate the achievement. There will be conferences and concerts, lectures and readings, seminars and ecumenical gatherings. Cathedrals will be invited to stage events marking the publication. The universities of Oxford, Cambridge and London will offer lectures in translation and academic analyses of the text. Schools will be invited to set up projects to interest young people in the Bible’s literary, cultural and religious legacy

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