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Download and Study the King James Bible - The Most Printed and Widely Read Book in the World




The King James Bible: A Brief Introduction


The King James Bible: A Brief Introduction




The King James Bible, also known as the Authorized Version or the KJV, is an English translation of the Christian Bible that was published in 1611 under the sponsorship of King James I of England. It is one of the most influential and widely read books in English literature and culture, having a profound impact on language, religion, art, music, politics, and society. In this article, we will explore its history, features, benefits, and comparison with other translations.


History




The commissioning of the KJV




The commissioning of the KJV took place in 1604 at the Hampton Court Conference, where King James I met with representatives of different factions within the Church of England. The king wanted to produce a new translation of the Bible that would unify his subjects under a common faith and authority. He also wanted to counteract the popularity of the Geneva Bible, a Protestant version that contained marginal notes that challenged his divine right to rule.




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The king appointed 54 scholars from Oxford, Cambridge, Westminster, and other places to work on the translation. They were divided into six companies, each assigned a portion of the Bible to translate. They used various sources for their work, including previous English translations such as Tyndale's, Coverdale's, Matthew's, Taverner's, Great Bible's, Bishops' Bible's (which was chosen as their base text), Geneva Bible's; as well as original Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Latin manuscripts; and other versions such as Septuagint's (Greek Old Testament), Vulgate's (Latin Bible), Syriac's (Aramaic New Testament), etc. They followed certain rules for their translation, such as rendering word for word as much as possible, using ecclesiastical words instead of common ones, keeping old terms They followed certain rules for their translation, such as rendering word for word as much as possible, using ecclesiastical words instead of common ones, keeping old terms and phrases, and consulting with other translators when in doubt. They also added some explanatory notes, cross-references, and alternative readings in the margins, but avoided any doctrinal or political commentary.


The publication and reception of the KJV




The publication of the KJV was completed in 1611 by Robert Barker, the king's printer. The first edition contained the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Apocrypha (a collection of books that were not accepted as canonical by some churches). It also included a dedication to King James I, a preface by the translators, a table of contents, a calendar, an almanac, a genealogy of Jesus, maps, and illustrations. The KJV was printed in a large folio format, with two columns of text on each page. It had about 1,200 pages and weighed about 15 pounds. It cost about 3, which was equivalent to a year's wage for a skilled worker.


The reception of the KJV was mixed and varied among different groups and regions. Some people welcomed it as a faithful and elegant translation that honored the king and the church. Others criticized it as a flawed and biased translation that corrupted the original texts and favored the Anglican establishment. Some preferred to use other translations such as the Geneva Bible or the Douay-Rheims Bible (a Catholic version). Some even tried to revise or improve the KJV by correcting errors or updating language. The KJV also faced some challenges and controversies over time, such as printing errors, unauthorized editions, textual variants, political disputes, and religious conflicts.


Features




The language and style of the KJV




The language and style of the KJV are among its most distinctive and admired features. The KJV used Early Modern English, which was the form of English spoken and written in the 16th and 17th centuries. It had some differences from modern English in terms of spelling, grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and punctuation. For example, it used "thou", "thee", "thy", and "thine" for singular pronouns; "ye", "you", "your", and "yours" for plural pronouns; "-eth" or "-th" for third person singular verbs; "-est" for second person singular verbs; "hath" for "has"; "saith" for "says"; etc. It also used archaic or obsolete words such as "behold", "verily", "wist", "froward", etc.


The style of the KJV followed the principle of formal equivalence, which means that it tried to preserve the form and structure of the original languages as much as possible. It used literal or word-for-word translation whenever possible, and only resorted to dynamic or sense-for-sense translation when necessary. It also maintained the poetic and rhetorical devices of the original texts, such as parallelism, repetition, alliteration, metaphor, simile, etc. It also aimed to achieve a majestic and poetic tone that matched the dignity and beauty of the subject matter. It used various literary techniques such as inversion, ellipsis, anaphora, antithesis, etc. to create rhythm, emphasis, contrast, etc.


The KJV had a profound influence on English literature and culture. It introduced or popularized many words and phrases that are still used today, such as "scapegoat", "long-suffering", "the apple of his eye", "a man after his own heart", "the salt of the earth", "a law unto themselves", etc. It also inspired many writers and artists who quoted from or alluded to it in their works, such as Shakespeare The KJV had a profound influence on English literature and culture. It introduced or popularized many words and phrases that are still used today, such as "scapegoat", "long-suffering", "the apple of his eye", "a man after his own heart", "the salt of the earth", "a law unto themselves", etc. It also inspired many writers and artists who quoted from or alluded to it in their works, such as Shakespeare, Milton, Bunyan, Blake, Dickens, Eliot, Lewis, Tolkien, etc. It also shaped the language and identity of many English-speaking countries and regions, such as the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc.


The textual basis and accuracy of the KJV




The textual basis and accuracy of the KJV are another important aspect to consider when evaluating its quality and reliability. The KJV was based on the best available manuscripts and editions at the time of its translation, but they were not necessarily the oldest or the most accurate ones. The translators used different sources for different parts of the Bible, as follows:


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  • The Old Testament was mainly translated from the Masoretic Text, which is a Hebrew text that was compiled and standardized by Jewish scholars between the 7th and 10th centuries AD. The translators also consulted other sources, such as the Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible that was made between the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC), the Vulgate (a Latin translation of the Bible that was made by Jerome in the 4th and 5th centuries AD), and other ancient versions in Syriac, Aramaic, Arabic, etc.



  • The New Testament was mainly translated from the Textus Receptus, which is a Greek text that was compiled and edited by Erasmus in the 16th century AD. The Textus Receptus was based on a few late medieval manuscripts that belonged to the Byzantine text-type, which is one of several families of manuscripts that differ in some details and readings. The translators also consulted other sources, such as earlier Greek manuscripts that belonged to other text-types (such as Alexandrian, Western, Caesarean, etc.), the Vulgate, and other ancient versions in Syriac, Coptic, Latin, etc.



The Apocrypha was mainly translated from the Septuagint, which included some books that were not found in the Hebrew Bible. These books


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