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Authorized King James Version

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King James Version
The title page to the 1611 first edition of the King James Bible by Cornelius Boel shows the Apostles Peter and Paul seated centrally 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. The rest of the Apostles stand at the top.
Full name: King James Version
Authorized Version
Abbreviation: KJV or AV
Complete Bible published: 1611, revised 1769
Textual basis: NT: High Correspondence to the Beza 1589 edition of the Textus Receptus, similar to the Byzantine text-type; some readings derived from the Vulgate. OT: Massoretic Text with Septuagint influence. Apocrypha: Septuagint with Vulgate influence.
Reading level: High School
Copyright status: (See Copyright status)

The Authorized King James Version is an English translation of the Christian Bible begun in 1604 and first published in 1611 by the Church of England. In common with most other translations of the period, the New Testament was translated from the Textus Receptus (Received Text) series of the Greek texts. The Old Testament was translated from the Masoretic Hebrew text, while the Apocrypha was translated from the Greek Septuagint (LXX).

The 1611 Bible is known as the King James Version in the United States. In the United Kingdom, it is commonly known as the Authorized Version. King James did not literally translate the Bible but it was his advance authorization that was legally necessary for the Church of England to translate, publish and distribute the Bible in England. James and the Bishop of London wrote the brief that guided the translation, such as prohibiting the marginal notes found in the Geneva Bible and ensuring the position of the Church of England was recognised on various points. While the new Bible did replace the Bishops' Bible in the Church of England, there is no extant documentation to suggest that the completed book was ever formally 'authorized'. However, from 1662, the Epistle and Gospel texts in the Book of Common Prayer were taken from this Bible; and as such were 'authorized' by Act of Parliament (Daniell 2003, p. 488).

The Authorized King James Version had a profound effect on English literature. Herman Melville and William Wordsworth were deeply influenced by it.


Protestantism embraced the principle that the Bible was the sole source of doctrine (see sola scriptura), and as such was made accessible to the population at large by being translated into the local vernacular, and printed (Daniell 2003, p. 128) . 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 (Hill 1993, p. 6) . A prince who sponsored a Bible translation would be able to establish the terms under which their people would have access to the word of God (Daniell 2003, p. 205) ; while conversely, a prince whose people were obtaining access to the word of God from imported translations, would suffer a serious loss of prestige.

Printed vernacular translations, based on the Latin Vulgate, were common in late 15th century Europe, and long pre-dated the Lutheran Reformation; but England was a special case (Daniell 2003, p. 249) . The first complete English translations had been undertaken by followers of John Wycliffe in the 14th century, and were consequently associated with the Lollards; and in 1409, further unauthorised translations were banned (Daniell 2003, p. 75) . Wycliffe himself probably did not translate the entire Bible, but copies of a complete translation ascribed to him circulated widely in manuscript throughout the 15th century (Daniell 2003, p. 77); however because of the ban, no edition was printed (Daniell 2003, p. 109) . Consequently, it was not until William Tyndale, a Protestant contemporary of Luther undertook an English translation of the New Testament in 1525 (Daniell 2003, p. 143) , that any part of the Bible was printed in English. In accordance with Protestant principles, Tyndale translated from the original Greek, rather than from the Vulgate; and in this followed Luther's German New Testament, which had been published in 1522. Over the next ten years, Tyndale revised his New Testament in the light of rapidly advancing Biblical scholarship, and embarked on a translation of the Old Testament, directly from the Hebrew (Daniell 2003, p. 152).

William Tyndale translated the New Testament into English in 1525.

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" (Bobrick 2001, p. 109) ; these renditions were at the basis of a notorious controversy between Tyndale and Sir Thomas More, who took the establishment's side. In their preface, the translators of the King James note: “we have on the one side avoided the scrupulosity of the Puritans, who leave the old Ecclesiastical words, and betake them to other, as when they put WASHING for BAPTISM, and CONGREGATION instead of CHURCH:”.(Daniell 2003, p. 792) Tyndale also added marginal notes. some of which promoted a strongly anti-Papal interpretation of certain Biblical passages - especially in the Pentateuch (Daniell 2003, p. 148) .

Despite these controversial renderings, the merits of Tyndale's work and prose style made his translation the ultimate basis for all subsequent renditions into Early Modern English, although Tyndale's own life ended in 1536 with being strangled and having his body burned at the stake by the Catholic authorities in Antwerp for his alleged heresy(Daniell 2003, p. 156). With these controversial translations lightly edited and adapted by Myles Coverdale, Tyndale's New Testament and his incomplete work on the Old Testament (see Matthew's Bible) became in 1539, the basis for the Great Bible, the first "authorized version" issued by the Church of England in the reign of King Henry VIII(Daniell 2003, p. 204); whose text was to provide the Prayer Book Epistle and Gospel readings up to 1662. However, since in the Great Bible the Old Testament books from Ezra onwards (in the standard sequence) had been translated from the Latin Vulgate, this was not a version entirely from the original languages. In 1547, Edward VI ordered that a copy of the Great Bible should be available for general reading in every parish church; accompanied by an exegetical guide to the Gospels, in the form of the translation into English of the Latin Paraphrases of Erasmus partially undertaken by his Catholic sister Princess Mary (Bruce 2002, p. 87).

When Mary I herself succeeded to the throne in 1553, she sought to return the English Church to the Catholic faith; and although she did not suppress or inhibit public reading of the Great Bible or the Paraphrases (Daniell 2003, p. 132), versions with overtly Protestant notes were once again banned (Bruce 2002, p. 88). Many English Protestants fled (Daniell 2003, p. 277), some establishing an English-speaking Protestant colony at Geneva; which, under the leadership of John Calvin had become the chief international centre of Reformed Protestantism and Latin biblical scholarship (Daniell 2003, p. 291) . Taking inspiration from the ongoing revision in Geneva of the translation of the Bible into French of Olivetan(Daniell 2003, p. 292), and with the help of Theodore Beza, these English Protestants undertook the Geneva Bible. This translation, of which the full Bible first appeared in 1560, was a revision of Tyndale's and the Great Bible on the basis of the original languages throughout; and was furnished copiously with Protestant annotations and references, translated from Latin commentators (Daniell 2003, p. 304). Many of these marginal notes were to be substantially expanded and revised towards more explicitly anti-papal exegesis in subsequent editions (Daniell 2003, p. 352). The 1599 edition in particular controversially incorporated Franciscus Junius's notations and commentary on the Book of Revelation in English translation (Daniell 2003, p. 370); whose bulk greatly exceeded that of the scriptural text.

Consequently, soon after Elizabeth I took the throne in 1559, the flaws of the Great Bible became painfully apparent (Daniell 2003, p. 339) , as the new imported Geneva Bibles achieved wide sales. In 1568 the established church responded with the Bishops' Bible - a reworking of the Great Bible in the light of the Geneva Version (without almost all its notes or cross-references) (Daniell 2003, p. 344); but their version failed to displace Geneva as the most popular English Bible - not the least because the full Bible was printed in lectern editions of prodigious size and at a cost of several pounds (Bobrick 2001, p. 186) . Accordingly, Elizabethan lay people overwhelmingly read the Bible in the Geneva Version - small editions were available at a relatively low cost. At the same time, there was a substantial clandestine importation of the rival Douay-Rheims New Testament of 1582, undertaken by exiled Roman Catholics; which, though still derived from Tyndale, claimed to represent the text of the Latin Vulgate; and which also included strongly polemical notes of its own (Daniell 2003, p. 364) .

Scholarly debate continued to take place almost exclusively in Latin. Sermons into the 1600s were still quoting Scripture passages untranslated from the Vulgate Latin (Story 1967, p. lii). None of the eventual translators of the Authorized Version show familiarity with the text of the Bishops' Bible in their sermons or writings (Hill 1993, p. 336); most often they quote scripture in the form of the Latin Vulgate (Bobrick 2001, p. 262), or otherwise in the Geneva Version (Daniell 2003, p. 295). Over the course of the 16th Century there had been published a succession of new biblical translations from the original languages into Latin - some much more literal than the Vulgate; some incorporating medieval Rabbinic exegesis - and these had the effect of making updated specialist linguistic learning more readily accessible to scholars undertaking a new translation into the vernacular. Of especial significance - since subsequent to the Geneva and Bishops' bibles - were the Antwerp Polyglot of 1573, and the Tremellius/ Junius bible of 1590.

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 (Bobrick 2001, p. 221) . Two years later, he acceded to the throne of England as King James I of England. (He is therefore sometimes known as "James the Sixth and First".)

The Authorized Version was first conceived at the Hampton Court Conference, which the new king convened in January 1604, in response to the problems posed by Puritans in the Millenary Petition. 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 Eighth and Edward the Sixth were corrupt and not answerable to the truth of the original."

Rainolds offered three examples of problems with the versions then most commonly used in church: "First, Galatians iv. 25 (from the Bishops' Bible). 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 (from the Great Bible), ‘They were not obedient;’ the original being, ‘They were not disobedient.’ Thirdly, psalm cvi. 30 (also from the Great Bible), ‘Then stood up Phinees and prayed,’ the Hebrew hath, ‘executed judgment.’(Daniell 2003, p. 433)

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 Rainolds' new Bible, the king cited two passages in the Geneva translation where he found the notes offensive (Daniell 2003, p. 434); Exodus 1:17, where the Geneva Bible had commended the example of civil disobedience showed by the Hebrew midwives; and also II Chronicles 15:16, where the Geneva Bible had criticised King Asa for not having executed his idolatrous mother, Queen Maachah. James believed - with good reason - that the Geneva Bible notes on this latter scriptural passage had been instrumental in promoting the death of his own mother Mary Queen of Scots. 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.

King James' instructions included requirements that: (Bobrick 2001, p. 328)

  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....
  2. The names of the prophets, and the holy writers, with the other names in the text, to be retained, as near as may be, accordingly as they are vulgarly used.
  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....
  5. 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.
  6. Such quotations of places to be marginally set down, as shall serve for the fit references of one scripture to another....
  7. These translations to be used when they agree better with the text than the Bishops' Bible, viz. Tyndale Bible, Coverdale Bible, Matthew's Bible, Great Bible, Geneva Bible. (Influence from Taverner's Bible and the New Testament of the Douai-Rheims Bible can also be detected, but the Douai Old Testament was published too late to have any effect.)

King James' instructions made it clear that he wanted the resulting translation to contain a minimum of controversial notes and apparatus; 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. The instructions did not state, but James clearly implied, that the translation should accord with Anglican exegisis in support of the Divine Right of Kings. 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.)"

The Authorized Version was translated by 47 scholars (although 54 were originally approved)(Daniell 2003, p. 436) working in six committees, two based in each of the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, and Westminster. All except one - Sir Henry Savile - were ordained priests of the Church of England (Bobrick 2001, p. 223) , but the panels included scholars with Puritan sympathies, as well as High Churchmen. Forty unbound copies of the 1602 edition of the Bishops' Bible were specially printed so that the agreed changes of each committee could be recorded in the margins (Daniell 2003, p. 442). They worked on certain parts separately; then the drafts produced by each committee were compared and revised for harmony with each other (Daniell 2003, p. 444) . The scholars were not paid for directly for their translation work; instead a circular letter was sent to bishops,, encouraging them to consider the translators for appointment to well paid livings as these fell vacant(Bobrick 2001, p. 223) . Several were supported by the various colleges at Oxford and Cambridge, while others were promoted to bishoprics, deaneries and prebends through royal patronage. In overall scope and scale - and in the thorough application of procedures for checking, cross-consulting and review - this was far the most ambitious biblical translation project undertaken in Europe in the Reformation era.


(Bobrick 2001, pp. 223-244)

First Westminster Company, translating from Genesis to 2 Kings:
Lancelot Andrewes, John Overall, Hadrian à Saravia, Richard Clarke, John Layfield, Robert Tighe, Francis Burleigh, Geoffrey King, Richard Thomson, William Bedwell;
First Cambridge Company, translated from 1 Chronicles to the Song of Solomon:
Edward Lively, John Richardson, Lawrence Chaderton, Francis Dillingham, Roger Andrewes, Thomas Harrison, Robert Spaulding, Andrew Bing;
First Oxford Company, translated from Isaiah to Malachi:
John Harding, John Rainolds (or 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, Sir 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 Branthwaite, Jeremiah Radcliffe, Samuel Ward, Andrew Downes, John Bois, John Ward, John Aglionby, Leonard Hutten, Thomas Bilson, Richard Bancroft.

The Panels appear to have started work towards the end of 1604; and all had completed their sections by 1608, the Apocrypha panel finishing first (Norton 2005, p. 11) . From January 1609, a General Committee of Review met at Stationers' Hall, London to review the completed marked texts from each of the six companies. The committee included John Bois, Andrew Downes, John Harmar, and others known only by their initials, including "AL" (who may be Arthur Lake); and were paid for their attendance by the Stationers' Company. John Bois prepared a note of their deliberations (in Latin) - which has partly survived in a later transcript (Allen 1969) . Also surviving are a bound-together set of marked-up corrections to one of the forty Bishops' Bibles - covering the Old Testament and Gospels (Norton 2005, p. 20) ; and also a manuscript translation of the text of the Epistles, excepting those verses where no change was being recommended to the readings in the Bishops' Bible (Norton 2005, p. 16). Archbishop Bancroft insisted on having a final say, making fourteen changes; of which one was the term "bishoprick" at Acts 1:20 (Bobrick 2001, p. 257).

The original printing of the Authorized Version was published by Robert Barker, the King's Printer, in 1611 as a complete folio Bible (Herbert #309), and could be bought looseleaf for ten shillings (s), or bound for twelve. It was also published in the same year as a 12º New Testament (Herbert #310). Robert Barker's father, Christopher had in 1589 been granted by Elizabeth I the title of royal Printer (Daniell 2003, p. 453) , with the perpetual Royal Privilege (i.e. a monopoly) to print Bibles in England. Robert Barker invested very large sums in printing the new edition, and consequently ran into serious debt (Daniell 2003, p. 451); such that he was compelled to sub-lease the privilege to two rival London printers, Bonham Norton and John Bill (Daniell 2003, p. 454). It appears that it was initially intended that each printer would print a proportion of the text, share printed sheets with the others, and split the proceeds. But bitter financial disputes broke out, as Barker accused Norton and Bill of concealing their profits; while Norton and Bill accused Barker of selling sheets properly due to them as part-bibles (e.g. as New Testaments) for ready money (Daniell 2003, p. 455) . There followed decades of continual litigation, and consequent imprisonment for debt for members of the Barker and Norton printing dynasties (Daniell 2003, p. 455); while each issued rival editions of the whole Bible. In the 1629, the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge managed successfully to assert separate and prior royal licences for bible printing, for their own university presses - and Cambridge University took the opportunity to print revised editions of the Authorized Version in 1629 (Herbert #424) and 1638 (Herbert #520), whose editors included John Bois and John Ward from the original translators. This did not, however, impede the commercial rivalries of the London printers; especially as the Barker family refused to allow any other printers access to the authoritative manuscript of the Authorized Version (Daniell 2003, p. 457) . In the 18th century all the surviving interests in the Royal Privilege were bought out by John Baskett of Oxford (although the fabled manuscript was never produced). The Baskett rights descended through a number of printers, until eventually bought in the 20th century by the Cambridge University Press.

Two editions of the whole bible are recognized as having been produced in 1611, which may be distinguished by their rendering of Ruth 3:15; the first edition reading "he went into the city", where the second (Herbert #319) reads "she went into the city" (Norton 2005, p. 62). However, bibles in all the early editions were made up using sheets originating from several printers, and consequently there is very considerable variation within any one edition. It is only in 1613 that an edition is found (Herbert #322), all of whose surviving representatives have substantially the same text (Norton 2005, p. 76) .

Literary attributes


Like Tyndale's translation and the Geneva Bible, the Authorized Version was translated primarily from Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic texts, although with secondary reference both to the Latin Vulgate, and to more recent scholarly Latin versions; while two books of the Apocrypha were translated from a Latin source. Following the example of the Geneva Bible, words implied but not actually in the original source were distinguished by being printed in distinct type (albeit inconsistently); but otherwise the translators explicitly rejected word-for-word equivalence (Daniell 2003, p. 792). F.F Bruce gives an example from Romans Chapter 5 (Bruce 2002, p. 105) :

2 By whom also wee haue accesse by faith, into this grace wherein wee stand, and reioyce in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not onely so, but we glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience:

The English terms "rejoice" and "glory" stand for the same word in the Greek original. In Tyndale, Geneva and the Bishops' Bibles, both instances are translated "rejoice". In the Rheims New Testament, both are translated "glory". Only in the Authorized version does the translation vary between the two verses.

In obedience to their instructions, the translators provided no marginal interpretation of the text; but in some 8,500 places a marginal note offers an alternative English wording (Scrivener 1884, p. 56) . The majority of these notes offer a more literal rendering of the original (introduced as "Heb", "Chal", "Gr" or "Lat"), but others indicate a variant reading of the source text (introduced by "or"). Some of the annotated variants derive from alternative editions in the original languages, or from variant forms quoted in the fathers; but more commonly they indicate a difference between the original language reading, and that in the translators' preferred recent Latin versions; Tremellius for the Old Testament, Junius for the Apocrypha, and Beza for the New Testament (Scrivener 1884, p. 43) . A few notes clarify Biblical names, units of measurement or currency. Modern reprintings rarely reproduce these annotated variants - although they are to be found in the New Cambridge Paragraph Bible. In addition, there were originally some 9,000 scriptural cross-references, in which one text was related to another. Such cross-references had long been common in Latin bibles, and most of those in the Authorized version were copied across from this Latin tradition, hence preserving their distinct Vulgate references - e.g. in the numbering of the Psalms(Scrivener 1884, p. 118) . At the head of each chapter, the translators provided a short precis of its contents, with verse numbers.

The translators render the Tetragrammaton YHWH or the name Yahweh by the use of small capitals as LORD, or Lord GOD (for Adonai YHWH, "Lord YHWH"), denoting the divine name, Jesus is referred to as Lord with a capital "L" and lower case "ord" as the example of the scripture in Psalm 110:1 "The LORD said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool".

For their Old Testament, the translators worked from editions of the Hebrew Rabbinic Bible by Daniel Bomberg (1524/5)(Scrivener 1884, p. 41) ; but adjusted the text in a few places to conform to the Greek LXX or Latin Vulgate in passages to which Christian tradition had tended to attach a Christological interpretation (Bobrick 2001, p. 271); as, for example, the reading "they pierced my hands and my feet" in Psalm 22:16. Otherwise, however, the King James Version is closer to the Hebrew tradition than any previous English translation (Daiches 1968, pp. 208) - especially in making use of the rabbinic commentaries, such as Kimhi, in elucidating obscure passages in the Masoretic Text; by contrast with earlier versions, which had been more likely to adopt LXX or Vulgate readings in such places.

For their New Testament, the translators chiefly used the 1598 and 1588/89 Greek editions of Theodore Beza(Scrivener 1884, p. 60) ; which also present Beza's Latin version of the Greek and Stephanus's edition of the Latin Vulgate; both of which versions were extensively referred to - as the translators conducted all discussions amongst themselves in Latin. F.H.A. Scrivener identifies 190 readings where the King James translators depart from Beza's Greek text, generally in maintaining the wording of the Bishop's Bible and other earlier English translations (Scrivener 1884, pp. 243-263) . In about half of these instances, the King James translators appear to follow the earlier 1550 Greek Textus Receptus of Stephanus. For the other half, Scrivener was usually able to find corresponding Greek readings in the editions of Erasmus, or in the Complutensian Polyglot; but in several dozen readings he notes that no printed Greek text corresponds to the English of the King James version - which in these readings derives directly from the Vulgate (Scrivener 1884, p. 262). For example, at John 20:17, the risen Jesus tells Mary Magdalene "touch me not" (as, indeed, he had done in all previous English versions), following the Latin Vulgate " noli me tangere"; where an accurate rendering of the original Greek would have been, "do not cling to me". The King James New Testament owes much more to the Vulgate than does the Old Testament; but still, at least 80% of the text is unaltered from Tyndale's translation (Daniell 2003, p. 448).

Unlike the rest of the Bible, the translators of the Apocrypha identified their source texts in their marginal notes (Scrivener 1884, p. 47) . From these it can determined that the books of the Apocrypha were translated from the Septuagint - primarily, from the Greek Old Testament column in the Antwerp Polyglot - but with extensive reference to the counterpart Latin Vulgate text, and to Junius's Latin translation. The translators record references to the Sixtine Septuagint of 1587, which is substantially a printing of the Old Testament text from the Codex Vaticanus; and also to the 1518 Greek Septuagint edition of Aldus Manutius. They had, however, no Greek texts for 2 Esdras, or for the Prayer of Manasses, and Scrivener found that they here used an unidentified Latin manuscript.

The translators appear to have otherwise made no first-hand study of ancient manuscript sources; even those which - like the Codex Bezae - would have been readily available to them (Scrivener 1884, p. 59). However, they made wide and eclectic use of all printed editions in the original languages then available, including the ancient Syriac New Testament printed with an interlinear Latin gloss in the Antwerp Polyglot of 1573 (Bobrick 2001, p. 246) . In addition to all previous English versions - including the Catholic Rheims New Testament; they also consulted contemporary vernacular translations into Spanish, French, Italian and German.

Scrivener asserts that the translations undertaken by the second Westminster Company - of the Epistles; and by the second Cambridge Company - of the Apocrypha; are of notably poorer quality than those for the rest of the Old and New Testaments; both in respect of clarity of English expression, and in accurate rendering of the Greek (Scrivener 1884, p. 73) . In particular, he detects in these two companies too great a tendency to maintain the English text of the Bishops' Bible against superior renderings in the Geneva Bible (Bobrick 2001, p. 251) .


The Authorized Version has traditionally been appreciated for the quality of the prose and poetry in the translation. However, the English language has changed since the time of its publication, and the King James Version employs words and grammatical structures that may be foreign to modern readers. For example, the Authorized Version uses the second person singular pronouns, such as " thou". Some words used in the Authorized Version have changed meaning since the translation was made; for example "replenish" is used in the translation in the sense of "fill" where the modern verb means "to refill", and "even" (a word very often introduced by the translators and thus italicized) is mostly used in the sense of "namely" or "that is". Because of this, some modern readers find the Authorized Version more difficult to understand than more recent translations.

At the time William Tyndale made his Bible translation, there was no consensus 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.

A primary concern of the translators was to produce a Bible that would be appropriate, dignified and resonant in public reading. Hence, in a period of rapid linguistic change, they avoided contemporary idioms; tending instead towards forms that were already slightly archaic, like verily and it came to pass (Bobrick 2001, p. 264) . They also tended to enliven their text with stylistic variation, finding multiple English words or verbal forms, in places where the original language employed repetition.

The Authorized Version is notably more Latinate than previous English versions (Daniell 2003, p. 440) , especially the Geneva Bible. This results in part from the academic stylistic preferences of a number of the translators - several of whom admitted to being more comfortable writing in Latin than in English (Bobrick 2001, p. 229) - but was also, in part, a consequence of the royal proscription against explanatory notes. Hence, where the Geneva Bible might use a common English word - and gloss its particular application in a marginal note; the King James version tends rather to prefer a technical term, frequently in Anglicised Latin. Consequently, although the King had instructed the translators to use the Bishops' Bible as a base text, the New Testament in particular, stylistically owes much to the Catholic Rheims New Testament, whose translators had also been concerned to find English equivalents for Latin terminology (Bobrick 2001, p. 252). In addition, the translators of the New Testament books habitually quote Old Testament names in the renderings familiar from the Vulgate Latin, rather than in their Hebrew forms (e.g. Elias, Jeremias; for Elijah, Jeremiah).

The degree to which the Authorized Version takes elements from its main predecessors (each of which is itself dependent on Tyndale) can be assessed with reference to a famous passage in I Corinthians 13:

Tyndale Bible 1526.

1. Though I spake with the tonges of men and angels and yet had no love I were even as soundinge brasse: or as a tynklynge Cymball. 2 And though I coulde prophesy and vnderstode all secretes and all knowledge: yee yf I had all fayth so that I coulde move mountayns oute of ther places and yet had no love I were nothynge. 3 And though I bestowed all my gooddes to fede ye poore and though I gave my body even that I burned and yet had no love it profeteth me nothinge.

Geneva Bible 1560.

1. Though I speake with the tongues of men and Angels, and haue not loue, I am as sounding brasse, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I had the gift of prophecie, and knewe all secrets and all knowledge, yea, if I had all faith, so that I could remooue mountaines and had not loue, I were nothing. 3 And though I feede the poore with all my goods, and though I giue my body, that I be burned, and haue not loue, it profiteth me nothing.

Bishops' Bible 1568.

1. Though I speake with the tongues of men and of Angels, and haue not loue, I am [as] soundyng brasse, or [as] a tincklyng Cimball: 2 And though I coulde prophesie, and vnderstoode all secretes, and all knowledge: Yea, if I had all fayth, so that I coulde moue mountaynes out of their places, and haue not loue, I were nothyng. 3 And though I bestowe all my goodes to feede the poore, and though I geue my body that I burned, and haue not loue, it profiteth me nothyng.

Rheims New Testament 1582.

1. If I speake vvith the tonges of men and of Angels, and haue not charitie: I am become as sounding brasse, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And if I should haue prophecie, and knevv al mysteries and al knovvledge, and if I should haue al faith, so that I could remoue mountaines, and haue not charitie, I am nothing. 3 And if I should distribute al my goods to be meate for the poore, and if I should deliuer my body so that I burne, and haue not charitie, it doth profit me nothing.

Authorized Version 1611.

1. Though I speake with the tongues of men & of Angels, and haue not charity, I am become as sounding brasse or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I haue the gift of prophesie, and vnderstand all mysteries and all knowledge: and though I haue all faith, so that I could remooue mountaines, and haue no charitie, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestowe all my goods to feede the poore, and though I giue my body to bee burned, and haue not charitie, it profiteth me nothing.

The use of the English word "charity" in this passage in the Authorized Version reflects the royal injunction to continue with the old "ecclesiastical" terminology; and derives from a change introduced in the 1572 edition of the Bishops' Bible. The first verse is nearly identical in all the versions, although the Authorized Version text is closest here to the Rheims New Testament; while the third verse preserves the wording of the Bishops' Bible almost unchanged. The second verse has been more thoroughly recomposed by the 1611 translators, but the vocabulary and the verbal tenses owe more to Rheims than either of the other two versions. Note too the deliberate stylistic alternation, where the same Greek expression is rendered "no charitie" in the second verse; compared to "not charitie" in the first and third verses.

As the Authorized Version was "appointed to be read in churches", and aimed at a particularly dignified and formal style, it tends to flatten stylistic differences in the source text and aims instead for a uniformly elevated and "biblical" sounding prose (Daniell 2003, p. 441). 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 and it came to pass where Geneva has now or and when.

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 Authorized Version was meant to replace the Bishops' Bible as the official version for readings in the Church of England, it was apparently (unlike the Great Bible) never specifically "Authorized", although it is commonly known as the Authorised Version in the United Kingdom. However, the King's Printer issued no further editions of the Bishops' Bible; so necessarily the Authorized Version supplanted it as the standard lectern Bible in parish church use in England. In 1618, the English delegates to the Synod of Dort presented a report of the rules adopted by the translation panels, and their methods of proceeding (Scrivener 1884, p. 264) ; and this inspired the Synod to initiate a counterpart Dutch official 'authorized version' ( Statenvertaling) for church use. In the 1662 Book Of Common Prayer, the text of the Authorized version finally supplanted that of the Great Bible in the Epistle and Gospel readings - though the Psalter nevertheless was provided in the 1539 version.

The case was different in Scotland, where the Geneva Bible had long been the standard Church Bible. It was not till 1633 that a Scots edition of the Authorized Version was printed - in conjunction with the Scots coronation in that year of Charles I (Daniell 2003, p. 458) . The inclusion of illustrations in the edition raised accusations of Popery from opponents to the religious policies of Charles, and of William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury. However, official policy favoured the Authorized Version, and this favour returned during the Commonwealth - as London printers succeeded in re-asserting their monopoly of Bible printing with support from Oliver Cromwell (Daniell 2003, p. 459) - and the "New Translation" was the only edition on the market. F.F. Bruce reports that the last recorded instance of a Scots parish continuing to use the "Old Translation" (i.e. Geneva) as being in 1674 (Bruce 2002, p. 92) .

The Authorized Version's acceptance by the general public took longer. The Geneva Bible continued to be popular, and large numbers were imported from Amsterdam, where printing continued up to 1644 in editions carrying a false London imprint (Hill 1993, p. 65) . However, few if any genuine Geneva editions appear to have been printed in London after 1616, and in 1637 Archbishop Laud prohibited their printing or importation. In the period of the English Civil War, soldiers of the New Model Army were issued a book of Geneva selections called "The Soldiers' Bible" (1643, Herbert #577). In the first half of the 17th Century the Authorized Version is most commonly referred to as "The Bible without notes"; thereby distinguishing it from the Geneva "Bible with notes". There were several further printings of the KJV in Amsterdam - one as late as 1715 (Herbert #936) - which combined the King James translation text with the Geneva marginal notes (Daniell 2003, p. 457); and one such edition was printed in London in 1649. During the Commonwealth a commission was established by Parliament to recommend a revision of the King James version with acceptably Protestant explanatory notes (Hill 1993, p. 65); but the project was abandoned when it became clear that these would be nearly double the bulk of the bible text. After the English Restoration, the Geneva Bible was held to be politically suspect, and a reminder of the repudiated Puritan era. Furthermore, as the disputes over the lucrative rights to print the Authorized Version dragged on through the 17th Century, so none of the printers involved saw any commercial advantage in marketing a rival translation. The King James Bible then became the only current version circulating among English speaking people, as familiarity and stylistic merits won it the respect of the populace.

Slowest of all was acceptance of the text by Biblical Scholars. Hugh Broughton, who was the most highly regarded English Hebraist of his time (but who had been excluded from the panel of translators, due to his utterly uncongenial temperament), issued in 1611 a total condemnation of the new version (Bobrick 2001, p. 266); criticising especially the translators' rejection of word-for-word equivalence (Bobrick 2001, p. 265) . Walton's London Polyglot of 1657 disregards the Authorized Version (and indeed the English Language) entirely (Daniell 2003, p. 510). Walton's reference text throughout is the Vulgate. The Vulgate Latin is also found as the standard text of scripture in Thomas Hobbes Leviathan of 1651 (Daniell 2003, p. 478) , indeed Hobbes gives Vulgate chapter and verse numbers (i.e. Job 41:24; not Job 41:33) for his head text. In Chapter 35: 'The Signification in Scripture of Kingdom of God' , Hobbes discusses Exodus 19:5, first in his own translation of the 'Vulgar Latin' , and then subsequently as found in the versions he terms "..the English translation made in the beginning of the reign of King James" , and "The Geneva French" (i.e. Olivetan). Hobbes advances detailed critical arguments why the Vulgate rendering is to be preferred. For most of the 17th Century the assumption remained that, while it had been of vital importance to provide the scriptures in the vernacular for ordinary people; nevertheless for those with sufficient education to do so, Biblical study was best undertaken within the international common medium of Latin. It is only in 1700, that modern diglot Bibles appear in which the Authorized Version is compared to counterpart Dutch and French Protestant vernacular Bibles (Daniell 2003, p. 489) .

In consequence of the continual disputes over printing privileges, successive printings of the Authorized Version were notably less careful than the 1611 edition had been (Norton 2005, p. 94) - compositors freely varying spelling, capitalisation and punctuation; and also, over the years, introducing about 1,500 misprints (some of which, like the omission of "not" from the commandment "Thou shalt not commit adultery" in the "Wicked Bible" (1631, Herbert #444)), became notorious. The two Cambridge editions of 1629 and 1638 attempted to restore the proper text - while introducing over 200 revisions of the original translators' work, chiefly by incorporating into the main text a more literal reading originally presented as a marginal note (Scrivener 1884, pp. 147-194). A more thoroughly corrected edition was proposed following the Restoration, in conjunction with the revised 1662 Book of Common Prayer but Parliament then decided against it.

Publishing of the Authorized Version in England continued to be restricted to printers holding the Royal Privilege, but from around 1720 other printers increasingly issued rival editions. These were legally distinguished from the official printings, sometimes by the addition on each page of a brief section of commentary; or otherwise by adding illustrations and other educational material, and marketing the resulting book as a "Family Bible".

Hence, by the first half of the 18th Century, the Authorized version was effectively unchallenged as the sole English translation in current use in Protestant churches (Daniell 2003, p. 488)  ; and was so dominant that the Roman Catholic church in England issued in 1752 a revision of the 1610 Douay-Rheims Bible by Richard Challoner that was, in actuality, very much closer to the AV than to the original (Daniell 2003, p. 515) . However, general standards of spelling, punctuation, typesetting, capitalisation and grammar had changed radically in the 100 years since the first edition of the King James Bible was produced; and all printers in the market were introducing continual piecemeal changes to their bible texts, to bring them into line with current practice - and with public expectations of standardised spelling and grammatical construction (Norton 2005, p. 99). .

The Standard text of 1769

By the mid 18th century the wide variation in the various modernised printed texts of the Authorised Version, combined with the notorious accumulation of misprints, had reached the proportion of a scandal; and the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge both sought to produce an updated standard text. First of the two was the Cambridge edition of 1762 (Herbert #1142), edited by F.S. Parris (Norton 2005, p. 106) ; but this was effectively superseded by the 1769 Oxford edition, edited by Benjamin Blayney (Herbert #1196), which became the Oxford standard text, and is the text which is reproduced almost unchanged in current printings (Norton 2005, p. 113) . Parris and Blayney sought consistently to remove those elements of the 1611 and successive subsequent editions, that they believed were due to the vagaries of printers; while incorporating most of the revised readings of the Cambridge editions of 1629 and 1638, and each also introducing a few improved readings of their own. They undertook the mammoth task of standardising the wide variation in punctuation and spelling of the original, making many thousands of minor changes to the text; although some of these updatings do alter the ostensible sense - as when the original text of Genesis 2:21 "in stead" (in that place) was updated to read "instead" (as an alternative). In addition, Blayney and Parris thoroughly revised and greatly extended the italicisation of "supplied" words not found in the original languagues by cross-checking against the presumed source texts. Unfortunately, Blayney assumed that the translators of the 1611 New Testament had worked from the 1550 Stephanus edition of the Textus Receptus, rather than from the later editions of Beza; and accordingly the current standard text mistakenly "corrects" around a dozen readings where Beza and Stephanus differ (Scrivener 1884, p. 242) . Like the 1611 edition, the 1769 Oxford edition included the Apocrypha; although Blayney consistently removed marginal cross-references to the Books of the Apocrypha, wherever these had been provided by the original translators. Altogether, Blayney's 1769 text differed from the 1611 text in around 24,000 places (Norton 2005, p. 120) ; but since that date, only six further changes have been introduced to the standard text - although 30 of Blayney's proposed changes have subsequently been reverted (Norton 2005, p. 115) . The Oxford University Press paperback edition of the "Authorized King James Version" provides the current standard text; and also includes the prefatory section "The Translators to the Reader".

The 1769 text of the first three verses from I Corinthians 13 is given below.

1. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

In these three verses, there are eleven changes of spelling, nine changes of typesetting, three changes of punctuation, and one variant text - where "not charity" is substituted for "no charity" in verse two, in the erroneous belief that the original reading was a misprint.

For a period, Cambridge continued to issue Bibles using the Parris text, but the market demand for absolute standardisation was now such that they eventually fell into line. Since the beginning of the 19th Century, almost all printings of the Authorized Version have derived from the 1769 Oxford text - generally without Blayney's variant notes and cross references, and commonly excluding the Apocrypha (Norton 2005, p. 125). The single exception to this being the 1873 Cambridge Paragraph Bible, thoroughly revised, modernised and re-edited by F.H. Scrivener, who for the first time, consistently identified the source texts underlying the 1611 translation and its marginal notes (Daniell 2003, p. 691) . Scrivener, however - as Blayney had done - did adopt revised readings where he considered the judgement of the 1611 translators had been faulty (Norton 2005, p. 122). In 2005, Cambridge University Press released its New Cambridge Paragraph Bible with Apocrypha, edited by David Norton, which modernized Scrivener's spelling again to present-day standards, and introduced quotation marks; while restoring the 1611 text, so far as possible, to the wording intended by its translators, especially in the light of the rediscovery of some of their working documents (Norton 2005, p. 131). This text has been issued in paperback by Penguin books.

Criticism, Revision and Defence

From 1769, the text of the Authorized Version remained unchanged - and since, due to advances in printing technology, it could now be produced in very large editions for mass sale; it established complete dominance in public and and ecclesiastical use amongst English-speaking Protestants. Academic debate over the next hundred years, however, increasingly reflected concerns about the AV translation shared by some scholars (Daniell 2003, p. 685):

  • that subsequent study in oriental languages suggested a need to revise the translation of the Hebrew bible - both in terms of specific vocabulary, and also in distinguishing descriptive terms from proper names,
  • that the AV was unsatisfactory in translating the same Greek words and phrases into different English, especially where parallel passages are found in the synoptic gospels,
  • that, in the light of subsequent ancient manuscript discoveries, the New Testament translation base of the Greek Textus Receptus could no longer be considered to be the best representation of the original text.

British scholars maintaining these perspectives supported the production of a revised translation - the English Revised Version of 1881-1895 - which tried to meet the concerns above, while retaining as much as possible of the wording and general literary style of the Authorized Version (Daniell 2003, p. 686). Within the New Testament Company, Frederick Henry Ambrose Scrivener tended to defend the readings of the Textus Receptus, while Fenton John Anthony Hort argued for a textual base derived largely from the Codex Vaticanus; the majority generally siding with Hort. Although the edition sold in vast quantities, both in Britain and the United States (Daniell 2003, p. 698), it entirely failed to replace the Authorized version in non-scholarly use; primarily because the translators' attempt to achieve word-for-word consistency - what would later be termed formal equivalence - resulted too often in unreadable pseudo-Jacobean verbal formulations (Daniell 2003, p. 694), replete with freshly archaic terms like howbeit, behooved and haply.

Part-way through the process, American scholars were invited to participate in the exercise (Daniell 2003, p. 696)- meeting in New York - but, by the time their contibutions had been collected, the English Companies had completed much of their work, and only a few of the Americans' suggested alternatives were adopted in the main text; most being put into an appendix. The American committee members resolved to produce their own version, as soon as their agreement with the British allowed. However - although the incidence of neo-archaicisms was reduced (Daniell 2003, p. 737) - the American Standard Version of 1901 proved no more successful than the English Revised Version in achieving popular acceptance (Daniell 2003, p. 738). The King James Version maintained its effective dominance throughout the first half of the 20th Century.

In 1952, American scholars undertook a third attempt at major revision, the Revised Standard Version (Daniell 2003, p. 739). This version drew back from the attempt at consistent word-for-word translation; and also aimed to remove archaic vocabulary and grammatical forms (while retaining the pronouns thee , thy and thou for God) (Daniell 2003, p. 743). In addition, the RSV translators moved away from the KJV textual base for the Old Testament; though to a lesser extent than the English Revised Version had already done for the New Testament. Old Testament passages where the English text had formerly been conformed to a traditional Christological or Messianic exegesis (e.g. in capitalisation of pronouns, or choice of vocabulary), were now rendered on the basis of the Hebrew alone(Bruce 2002, p. 188). At the same time, the translators followed the textual theory that, although the Masoretic Text was generally to be preferred, there were nevertheless some passages where LXX and other ancient versions might transmit a closer rendition of the sense of the original Hebrew (Bruce 2002, p. 192). Thirteen readings in Isaiah, took account of Hebrew texts very recently discovered in the Dead Sea Scrolls(Bruce 2002, p. 193).

The Revised Standard Version was much more successful than the Revised Version or American Standard Version had been, in displacing the Authorized version in private reading and church use (Daniell 2003, p. 741). However the changes made in the RSV to the textual base of the Old and New Testaments were highly controversial; and the consequence was a flood of rival new translations in the second half of the 20th Century (Daniell 2003, p. 764), some - like the New American Standard Bible - attempting to retain the strict principles of formal equivalence. Others, like the New King James Version, seeking to produce an updated translation that nevertheless maintained the Reformation principle of finding the sole textual base for the Bible in the Masoretic Text and the Textus Receptus. Some groups - sometimes termed the King-James-Only Movement - continue to mistrust all changes to the King James Version (Daniell 2003, p. 765); and this version, though nearly 400 years old, remains amongst the most widely sold. While all of the above versions recogniseably descend within the linguistic tradition of Tyndale and the Authorized Version; there are also many popular late 20th century translations, like the Jerusalem Bible (Daniell 2003, p. 752) or the Good News Translation (Daniell 2003, p. 758) that seek to render the Bible entirely into modern English.

Modern critical New Testament translations differ substantially from the Authorized Version in a number of passages, primarily because they rely on source manuscripts not then accessible to (or not then highly regarded by) early 17th Century Biblical Scholarship (Daniell 2003, p. 5). Some conservative fundamentalist Protestants believe that these ancient source manuscripts should be rejected as corrupt; and that the Authorized Version is truer to the original text. This preference is partially because modern versions often excise or marginalize certain verses deemed by modern scholarship as later additions to the original, and thus are seen by traditionalists as detracting from sacred scripture. Those defending this view invariably also limit the scope of sacred scripture to Old and New Testaments alone - rejecting the Authorized Version in the books of the Apocrypha.

In the Old Testament, there are also many differences from modern translations that are based not on manuscript differences, but on a different understanding of Ancient Hebrew vocabulary or grammar by the translators. The New Testament is largely unaffected by this as the grasp of Koine 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 Greek, there is very little such material in Biblical Hebrew, and not even this little was known to scholars at that time. Additionally, Hebrew scholarship in modern times has been much improved by information gleaned from Aramaic ( Syriac) and Arabic, two Semitic languages related to 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 Biblical 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 Authorized Version was written. For example, in modern translations it is clear that Job 28 1-11 is referring throughout to the operation of an ore mine, which is not at all apparent from the text of the Authorized Version. (Bruce 2002, p. 145)

Some scholars working with Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew versions regard the Authorized Version as an inferior English translation of the Bible. For example, New Testament scholar Bart D. Ehrman has written:

The Authorized Version is filled with places in which the translators rendered a Greek text derived ultimately from Erasmus's edition, which was based on a single twelfth-century manuscript that is one of the worst of the manuscripts that we now have available to us (Ehrman 2005, p. 209).

Some suggest that its value lies in its poetic language at the cost of accuracy in translation, whilst other scholars would firmly disagree with these claims. Some of today's exegetes ( Walter Brueggemann, Marcus Borg, Warren Carter, James L. Crenshaw, Robert W. Funk, John Dominic Crossan, and N.T. Wright) do not endorse the KJV for Masters or Doctoral-level exegetical work .

Differences in current printings

Current printings of the Authorized Version differ from the original in several ways.

The opening of the Epistle to the Hebrews of the 1611 edition of the Authorized Version shows the original typeface. Marginal notes reference variant translations and cross references to other Bible passages. Each chapter is headed by a precis of contents. There are decorative initial letters for each Chapter, and a decorated headpiece to each Biblical Book; but no illustrations.


16th Century Protestant Bibles invariably included the books of the Apocrypha (Daniell 2003, p. 187) - generally in a separate section between the Old and New Testaments; and there is evidence that these were widely read as popular literature, especially in Puritan circles (Hill 1993, p. 338) . By the mid 17th Century, however, Puritan divines were increasingly uneasy at the intermingling of biblical scripture with popular culture in general - and with the Apocrypha in particular; and were also inclined to reject books who owed their inclusion in the biblical canon to ecclesiastical authority. From 1630, volumes of the Geneva Bible were occasionally bound with the pages of the Apocrypha section excluded. After the Restoration in 1660, Dissenters tended to discourage the reading of the Apocrypha, both in public services and in private devotion.

The Church of England in the Thirty-Nine Articles had specified the Apocrypha within holy Scripture. Article VI Of the Sufficiency of the holy Scriptures for salvation asserts: {{cquote|And other Books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine The Authorized Version included the Apocrypha; all the books and sections of books present in the Latin Vulgate's Old Testament — the translation of Jerome (Hierome) — but missing in the Hebrew. Indeed, the Book of Common Prayer specfies lectionary readings from the Apocrypha to be read in Morning and Evening Prayer in October.

The standardisation of the text of the Authorised Version after 1769 - together with the technological development of Stereotype printing, made it possible for the first time to produce Bibles in large print-runs at very low unit prices. For commercial publishers, editions of the Authorized Version without the apocrypha would reduce costs, while having increased market appeal to non-Anglican Protestant readers (Daniell 2003, p. 600). With the rise of the Bible societies, from approximately 1827, many editions have omitted the whole section of Apocryphal books; and the most common contemporary editions are available in versions both with and without them (Daniell 2003, p. 622).

Prefatory material

The original printing contained two prefatory texts; the first was a rather fulsome Epistle Dedicatory 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] (Daniell 2003, p. 775), 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 evensong, 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.

So as to make it easier to locate a particular passage, each chapter was headed by a brief precis of its contents with verse numbers. Later editors freely substituted their own chapter summaries, or omit such material entirely.

Typeface, spelling, and format

The original printing was made before English spelling was standardised; and when printers, as a matter of course, expanded and contracted the spelling of the same words in different places, so as to achieve an even column of text (Norton 2005, p. 46) . They set "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" (Bobrick 2001, p. 261) . The letter "j" occurs only after "i" or as the final letter in a Roman numeral. Punctuation was relatively heavy, and differed from current practice. When space needed to be saved, the printers sometimes used ye for the, (replacing the Middle English thorn with the continental y), set ã for an or am (in the style of scribe's shorthand), and set "&" for "and". On the contrary, on a few occasions, they appear to have inserted these words when they thought a line needed to be padded. 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, which itself made a political and a religious statement. Like the Great Bible and the Bishops' Bible, the Authorized Version 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. However, smaller editions and Roman-type editions followed rapidly; e.g. quarto Roman-type editions of the Bible in 1612 (Herbert #313/314). This contrasted with the Geneva Bible, which was the first English Bible printed in a Roman typeface (although black-letter editions, particularly in folio format, were issued later).

In contrast to the Geneva Bible and the Bishops' Bible, which had both been extensively illustrated, there were no illustrations at all in the 1611 edition of the Authorized version; the main form of decoration being the historiated initial letters provided for books and chapters - together with the decorative title pages to the Bible itself, and to the New Testament.

The Authorized Version 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. In the first printing, the device of having different type faces to show supplied words was used sparsely and inconsistently. This is perhaps the most significant difference between the original text and the current text.

The universities of Cambridge and Oxford hold the exclusive right to print the Authorized Version in England, and continue to exercise this right today.

Copyright status

In most of the world the Authorized Version has passed out of copyright and is freely reproduced. This is not the case in the United Kingdom.

In the United Kingdom, the rights to the Authorized Version are held by the British Crown. The rights fall outside the scope of copyright as defined in statute law. Instead they fall under the purview of the Royal Prerogative and as such they are perpetual in subsistence. Publishers are licensed to reproduce the Authorized Version under letters patent. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the letters patent are held by the Queen's Printer, and in Scotland by the Scottish Bible Board. The office of Queen's Printer has been associated with the right to reproduce the Bible for many years, with the earliest known reference coming in 1577. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the Queen's Printer is Cambridge University Press (CUP). CUP inherited the right of being Queen's Printer when they took over the firm of Eyre & Spottiswoode in the late 20th century. Eyre & Spottiswoode had been Queen's Printer since 1901.

Other letters patent of similar antiquity grant Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press the right to produce the Authorized Version independently of the Queen's Printer. In Scotland the Authorized Version is published by Collins under license from the Scottish Bible Board, but in recent years the publisher Canongate were allowed to produce a series of individual books of the Bible under the series title "The Pocket Canons".

The terms of the letters patent prohibit those other than the holders, or those authorized by the holders from printing, publishing or importing the Authorized Version into the United Kingdom. The protection that the Authorized Version, and also the Book of Common Prayer, enjoy is the last remnant of the time when the Crown held a monopoly over all printing and publishing in the United Kingdom.

This protection should not be confused with Crown copyright, or copyright in works of the United Kingdom's government; that is part of modern UK copyright law. Like other copyrights, Crown copyright is time-limited and potentially enforceable worldwide. The non-copyright Royal Prerogative is perpetual, but applies only to the UK; though many other Royal Prerogatives also apply to the other Commonwealth realms, this one does not.

It is a common misconception that the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office (HMSO) holds letters patent for being Queen's Printer. The Controller of HMSO holds a separate set of letters patent which cover the office Queen's Printer of Acts of Parliament. The Scotland Act 1998 defines the position of Queen's Printer for Scotland as also being held by the Queen's Printer of Acts of Parliament. The position of Government Printer for Northern Ireland is also held by the Controller of HMSO.

Literary influence

The Authorized 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 Authorized 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 Authorized Version "…has been a model of writing for generations of English-speaking people."

A general effect of the Authorized 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 Authorized 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 taken over by the translators of the Authorized Version from Tyndale 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 (Daniell 2003, p. 136) .

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 Authorized 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 Authorized 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 at Cambridge, 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.

The cultural influence of the Authorized Version developed in a radically new direction in the mid 18th century; when, in 1741, George Frideric Handel set the oratorio Messiah to a liberetto compiled from biblical texts by Charles Jennens. This work demonstrated the impact and range of the text of the Authorized Version when sung; and was instrumental in the development of a popular culture of amateur non-liturgical religious choral music - often setting biblical texts - that remains active to the present day.

Several more famous writers and poets have taken inspiration from the Authorized 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." The poetry of William Blake was also greatly influenced by the language and imagery of the Authorized Version, a famous example being The Lamb from his Songs of Innocence.

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 Authorized Version, both in its content and in its style. Herman Melville, too, could not avoid being influenced by the Authorized Version; his book Moby Dick is clearly related to the Bible, with characters going by names such as Ishmael and Ahab. Walt Whitman was deeply influenced by the King James Version, and especially by the biblical poetry of the prophets and psalms. Whitman wrote in Leaves of Grass:

I sit and look out upon all the sorrows of the world, and upon all oppression and shame;
I hear secret convulsive sobs from young men, at anguish with themselves, remorseful after deeds done;
I see, in low life, the mother misused by her children, dying, neglected, gaunt, desperate...

The language of Emily Dickinson was informed by the Bible. Mark Twain used the Book of Genesis as the basis for From Adam's Diary and From Eve's Diary. The Rise of Silas Lapham by William Dean Howells uses the image of Jacob wrestling with the angel as an important metaphor. Many poems by T. S. Eliot employ images drawn from the Bible. Ernest Hemingway titled his first novel The Sun Also Rises, after a quote from Ecclesiastes, and Flannery O'Connor drew on the gospels for the title and theme of The Violent Bear It Away. The title of Robert A. Heinlein's seminal science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land is a direct quote from Exodus 2:22: "And she [Zippo'rah] bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land." The title of John Steinbeck's East of Eden comes from the Authorized Version of Genesis 4:16.

Martin Luther King used Isaiah 40:4 in his ' I have a dream' speech:

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

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