The King James Version ( KJV ) of the Bible clocked 400 years on May 2nd , 2011.
Also known as the Authorised Version , this version of the Holy Bible has endured through centuries of history in both its origin , it's survival and its development to its present day status as the most popular version of the Holy Bible in the English-speaking world.
Britain has hosted and will host more than 70 different events in order to mark the occasion.
The first is an exhibition at St. John’s College in Cambridge comprising many different events, e.g. seminars and concerts.
The British Royal Mail has also launched a special commemoration stamp and the British Broadcasting Corporation has produced an hour long documentary.
In America, the Dunham Bible Museum (Houston) will be the first to commemorate the fact that the King James Bible is 400 years old in 2011.
The King James Bible Trust has a list of all the celebrations and commemorations that will be taking place around the world.
The History of the KJV
The King James Bible was published in 1611 in England, the result of a rift between the Catholic Church and the Church of England. That makes it 400 years old in 2011.
King James gave strict instructions that the bible was to conform to the Church of England’s doctrine.
Shakespeare was very much alive when it was being written and that is the reason that the King James Version seems to be using Shakespearean English. That is the way English was spoken during that time.
In 1604, King James I convened the Hampton Court conference and a decision was made to provide an entirely new translation from the original scriptural languages, to take advantage of yet more available manuscripts and increased scholarship over the years. The work started properly in 1607 and the first draft was available in 1609, to be redrafted the following year and finally completed for publication in 1611 – an incredible achievement really!
It was a work that effectively had been in development in various guises for nearly 100 years, building upon previous work and research. No further revision was made to it for an amazing 270 years although it was realised that there were translation errors, so some amendments were introduced in the 1700s.
A full revision, known as the Revised Version, was published in 1881. Since that time many, different versions have come into being. A number of them can be seen as milestones in the further development of the English Bible, each having their own nuances or slant depending on the objectives and make-up of their project groups. Many are in use in some form and will continue to be revised themselves as language develops, research emerges etc.
The KJV Today
Despite its archaic language the KJV remains a firm favourite with Christians all over the world and although sales have fallen since the influx of more modern versions in the last 20 or 30 years, like the popular New International Version, it is still one of the most popular and widely respected English translations available today.
Sometimes the KJV is difficult to read because of the language, but in 1982 the New King James Bible was published with the aim of updating the vocabulary and grammar to reflect modern language whilst attempting to retain the classic style and literary beauty of the original 1611 version.
The New English Bible and Revised Standard Bibles (and subsequent revisions) are good examples, and of course the New King James Version itself.
As well as selling an estimated 1bn copies since 1611, the KJB went straight into our literary bloodstream like a lifesaving drug.
Whenever we put words into someone's mouth, or see the writing on the wall, or go from strength to strength, or eat, drink and be merry, or fight the good fight, or bemoan the signs of the times, or find a fly in the ointment, or use words such as "long-suffering", "scapegoat" and "peacemaker" we are unconsciously quoting the KJB.
The history of the KJV would not be complete if mention is not made of heroic efforts of men like William Tyndale and others who paid the supreme price and were matyred for their insistence that the Bible be translated from Latin to English .
The Church opposed Tyndale's work due to the Church's reluctance to "open up"the contents of the Bible to all and sundry!
William Tyndale (ca. 1495-1536) was the greatest of all English biblical scholars. His translation of the Bible into English formed the major part of the Authorized Version, or King James Bible.
William Tyndale was born in Gloucestershire and mostly educated at Oxford, where he earned a master of arts degree in 1515. He became a priest and, doubtless influenced among other things by the work of John Colet and Erasmus at Cambridge some years earlier, decided to produce an English translation of the Bible. He found support from a rich London cloth merchant.
Within months, however, he became convinced he must leave London if he was to succeed; and, accordingly, with the financial support of the merchant, he left England in 1524, never again to return.
After short sojourns in Hamburg, and, possibly, Wittenberg, Tyndale settled down at Cologne in 1525. He quickly began the printing of his New Testament, but only a few sheets had been finished when the city fathers got wind of it and stopped it. The work was resumed at Worms, and by April 1526 an octavo edition was being sold in London. In November all available copies were burned at St. Paul's Cross.
In 1528 Tyndale published the Parable of the Wicked Mammon, dealing with Luther's teaching concerning justification by faith, and the Obedience of a Christian Man, which replaced papal authority by royal authority and was heartily approved by King Henry VIII.
However, in the Practice of Prelates in 1530, Tyndale not only attacked Cardinal Wolsey but opposed the annulment of Henry VIII's marriage with Catherine of Aragon. Meanwhile Bishop Tunstall of London had invited Sir Thomas More to reply to Tyndale's books, and a lively controversy took place.
Tyndale's Lutheran-inspired Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount was much admired; and possibly The Supper of the Lord, which appeared in 1533, was also his. Meanwhile throughout these years his work on the Old Testament had been proceeding. In 1530 he published his translation of the Pentateuch. As his New Testament had been pirated for various unsatisfactory editions, he published a revision in 1534, with a third, revised edition in 1535. In 1535, however, he was seized by the local government authorities in Antwerp, where he was living, for being a propagator of heresy.
After months of imprisonment and many theological disputations he was condemned in August 1536 for persistence in heresy, and in October he was strangled to death and his body publicly cremated.
Future events to celeberate this KJV anniversary in the UK will be as follows :
1. Bristol Bible Exhibition 2011 from Monday 11th July to Saturday 16th July 2011 , in The Council House, College Green, Bristol, BS1 5TR .
Open Daily: 10 am to 6 pm
Late Opening: Thursday until 8 pm
Saturday: 10 am to 1 pm
Schools and groups can book onto a free guided tour by
phoning 07708 611186 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
2.Discover the History of the Bible,which will feature:
Guided Exhibition Tours, Oldest Bible competition, Puppet Shows, Public viewing of "KJB - The Book that Changed the World", Lunchtime and Evening Seminars, Face Painting, Musical Performances, Public Readings from the King James Version...
... and Saturday 16th July at 7.30 pm in the Bristol City Council Chambers, Council House, College Green, Bristol, BS1 5TR you are invited to a theatrical performance of "The Commission" - a musical play about William Tyndale.