Historical facts about the KJV Holy Bible
THE 1611 ORIGINAL KING JAMES VERSION HISTORICAL
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The word «Bible» comes from the Greek word biblia which means papyrus rolls, volumes or books, or literally: brochures. The first Christian Greeks called the Scriptures « Ta Biblia », meaning «THE Books», the supreme books.
The word « testament » stems from the Greek word diathiki (testament, agreement) and translates into Latin as testamentum (testament, testimony). The Greek term has a broader meaning (agreement) than the Latin one, and some prefer to translate it as alliance.
Originally, the Bible was not one book, but a series of books and brochures, during the constitution of its canon. The notion of the Bible as a unique book is a rather modern one, despite the fact that it was assembled as a codex (book or compilation) during the 2nd century A.D. In the 4th century A.D., the Bible was still referred to in Latin as "Bibliotheca Divina", the Divine Library.
Origin of the King James Bible:
It is impossible to mention the King James Bible without referring to William Tyndale, an English contemporary of Luther’s, who has bequeathed an English language version of the Bible almost as historically significant as Luther's Bible. Tyndale was a brilliant polyglot scholar who was so fluent in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, English, Italian, Spanish, and French, that any of these could have been his mother tongue. His desire was for the Bible to become available to everyone in England and for all individuals to be able to understand the Scriptures as well as the clergy did.
Tyndale had met Erasmus and discovered his Greek-Latin New Testament. Fascinated by the Scripture's message, he began to translate it into English. However, faced with increasing threats in England due to his Bible translation project, he fled to Hamburg, never to return to his homeland again. His New Testament was finally printed in 1525 in Worms and strongly opposed by the Archbishop of England, who made a point of publicly burning a significant number of Tyndale's translations in front of Saint-Paul's cathedral. Tyndale was subsequently arrested and imprisoned near Brussels but, while in prison, managed to obtain the necessary texts (text in Hebrew, grammar, and dictionary) to translate the Old Testament into English. Finally in 1536, condemned by Charles-Quint, Tyndale was burned at the stake.
Tyndale's friends, who had gotten a hold of the texts he had translated while in prison, completed his work and had it printed. As it would have been way too dangerous to publish the translator's name on the cover page, this publication was referred to as Matthew's Bible, pursuant to the printer's name. The manuscripts were printed in 1538. The first edition was submitted to King Henri VIII of England who admired its beauty, and declared that all the subjects shall read this bible.
At that time, during the reform period in England, other versions of the Bible started to spread to the detriment of Tyndale’s Bible. The power of the Scriptures began to earn respect, so much so that from 1547 onward, all the sovereigns of England took oaths on the Bible upon their crowning. This first official sign of tolerance towards the Scriptures profited the publication of two other Bibles in English: Miles Coverdale's Bible (1537), translated from Latin by a friend of Tyndale’s; and The Great Bible (1539), a re-edition of the Tyndale’s version, complete with footnotes. The success of these three versions of the Bible was overshadowed by a fourth: The Geneva Bible (1560), edited by English Christians who had fled the persecutions ordered by Marie Tudor (1553-1558) and had taken refuge in the city of Calvin. This new version became widely spread in England when Queen Elizabeth I reinstated religious freedom (1558-1603).
For more than half a century, The Geneva Bible played a significant role in spreading faith, so much so that Tyndale’s version of the Bible of was almost forgotten. Yet the The Geneva Bible was particular, in that its text contained many footnotes. Many of these footnotes were written under fear of persecution, contesting on principle the idea of authority, and recommending that the people not abide to the authority of the Kings or governments, should these condemn religious freedom.
In 1603, King James VI of Scotland was crowned King of England under the name James I. His crowning constituted the beginning of the United Kingdom of Great Britain. In 1607, as he was afraid that the footnotes in The Geneva Bible might limit his authority, King James I made a historical decision: he enlisted 54 scholars, scientists and members of the clergy in London to revise the sacred text and to prepare a publication that could be sealed and approved by the King. A few years later, the King James Bible, also known as the Authorized Version, was published.
When studying the existing versions of the sacred texts, the said scholars rediscovered Tyndale’s Bible and acknowledged its greatness. It was used to make up 80% to 90% of the new text, which was first printed in 1611 under the heading Authorized Version by King James. In the beginning, its success was relative, but in time, the quality of this masterpiece became firmly established and overshadowed any other existing versions.
This version of the Bible became the preferred one for millions of individuals. The King James Bible became the most accepted translation in the English-speaking world. During 350 years, the Authorized Version was a best seller in Anglo-Saxon countries. One could even say that the Authorized Version shaped the language and the mentality of the British nation. Let us reflect for a moment on the expansion of the English language in the world, and on the number of missionaries who preached the world of God in their own languages, translated from the Authorized Version…
The translation of the Bible remains a true stake for power. England and English-speaking countries rank at the top of the list with respect to number and significance of Bible translations. The first complete Bible was edited in 1382-1384 (John Wycliff), but it is the King James (1566-1625) Version of the Holy Bible that holds first place in the English-speaking world. Books by renowned authors such as John Bunyan, John Milton, Herman Melville, John Dryden, or William Wordsworth, are filled with recollections of the King James Bible.
The King James Version competed for a while with the Geneva Bible (1560). With time, it became the most widely known version and for two and a half centuries, there were no other authorized translation of the Bible in English. Yet, the King James Version was discovered to be lacking in exactitude. In the middle of the 19th century, the development of biblical studies and the discovery of many older manuscripts than the ones on which the King James Version was based, proved that the deficiencies were serious and numerous. Consequently, the English version needed to be revised. This task was undertaken In 1870 by the Church of England. The revised English version of the Bible was published in 1881-1885, and the subsequent Standard American Bible, a variant preferred by American bible scholars, was published in 1901. »
«The New testament version of the King James Bible was based on Greek texts which had been inadvertently gathered together, and which included numerous mistakes from manuscript texts cumulated over 14 centuries. It was essentially based on the New Testament written in Greek and edited by Beza, in 1589, which itself was based on Erasmus’ text published in 1516-1535, based on medieval manuscripts.
The oldest and the best of the eight manuscripts which Erasmus consulted, was from the l0th century. It was also the one he used the least, because it differed the most from the other more commonly accepted texts. On the other hand, Beza had access to two highly valuable manuscripts, dating from the 5th and 6th century, but which he hardly used because they differed from Erasmus’ text».
«The Standard American Bible was copyright protected to preserve it from any unauthorized modifications. In 1928, editor’s rights were acquired by the International Council of Religious Studies and have since thus been under the authority of the American and Canadian churches, which were related to the Council through their own councils for education and publications. The Council put a committee of theologians in charge of the Standard American Bible text to determine whether it needed to be thoroughly revised... Two years later, a decision was made: The 1901 version would need to be thoroughly reexamined to be as similar to Tyndale’s version (essentially, the King James Version) as possible. In 1937, the Council approved its revision ». « The Revised Standard American version of the Bible is now an authorized revised version of the Standard American one published in 1901, which itself is a revision of the King James Bible of 1611... »
Although referred to as the King James Bible, the latter had a limited role in its actual translation, apart from having lifted the death penalty previously threatening those who would attempt to translate the sacred text, and from having established a number of reasonable rules (to ban partisan erudition, footnotes, and so on) to effectively realize an acceptable translation.
The Bible in English and Timeline of Bible Translation History:
1’400 BC: The first written Word of God: The Ten Commandments delivered to Moses.
500 BC: Completion of all original Hebrew manuscripts which make up the 39 books of the Old Testament.
200 BC: Completion of the Septuagint Greek manuscripts which contain the 39 Old Testament Books AND 14 Apocrypha books.
1st Century AD: Completion of all original Greek manuscripts which make up the 27 Books of the New Testament.
315 AD: Athenasius, the Bishop of Alexandria, identifies the 27 books of the New Testament which are today recognized as the canon of scripture.
382 AD: Jerome's Latin Vulgate manuscripts produced which contain all 80 Books (39 Old Test. + 14 Apocrypha + 27 New Test).
500 AD: Scriptures have been translated into over 500 Languages.
600 AD: Latin was the only language allowed for the Scriptures.
735 AD: Bede The Venerable translates the Gospel by John from the Vulgate, just before dying.
995 AD: Anglo-Saxon (Early Roots of English Language) Translations of The New Testament produced.
Between 1380-1393 AD: First translation of the Bible in English by John Wycliffe, and completed by John Purvey.
1384 AD: Wycliffe is the First Person to Produce a (Hand-Written) manuscript copy of the complete Bible; all 80 Books.
1455 AD: Gutenberg invents the printing press; books can now be mass-produced instead of individually handwritten. The first book ever printed is Gutenberg's Bible in Latin (1456).
1516 AD: Erasmus Produces a Greek/Latin parallel New Testament.
1522 AD: Martin Luther's German New Testament.
1525 AD: The first English version of the New Testament is published by William Tyndale who had established a printing workshop in Germany, out of reach of the English authorities’ opposition. (Later on, in 1536, Tyndale was judged as a heretic and burned at the stake, but many copies of his translated Bible had already been secretly brought to England).
1535 AD: Miles Coverdale’s Bible, translated from Latin by one of Tyndales’ friends.
1537 AD: Matthew’s Bible, Tyndale complete translation of the Bible bearing the printer’s name.
1539 AD: Attempted translations by Taverner
1539 AD: The Great Bible, new edition of Tyndale’s version, completed with footnotes. Scriptures were gaining respect, and from 1547 onwards, Kings were taking oaths on the Bible.
1560 AD: The Geneva Bible (published by English immigrants in Switzerland).
1568 AD: Under the reign of Elizabeth I, and by the Archbishop Parker’s hand, England receives the Episcopalian Bible.
1609 AD: The Douay Old Testament is added to the Rheims New Testament (of 1582) making it the first complete English catholic Bible; translated from the Latin Vulgate (80 books).
1610 AD: The complete version of the Rheims/Douay (1582-1609) Bible is published, and until recently, it was the authorized Bible for the English-speaking Roman Catholics.
1611 AD: King James I is crowned king of England, and authorizes a new translation called the King James Bible « Authorized Version ». It is 90% based on Tyndale’s translation and will be the dominant Bible for Protestants for more than 300 years. It is still widely used today.
At the end of the XIVth century, Wiclef translated the Holy Scriptures, which were later printed in London in 1757 and in 1810.
In 1845, Thorpe published an English version of the Bible based on the Itala.
Examples of Books accepted or not by churches:
The Books hereinafter include all the other books of the Hebraic Bible and deuteron canonic Books, in disparate order according to the confessions, and herein by alphabetic order:
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