Monday, 2 May 2011

King James Bible Anniversary

Today marks the 400th anniversary of the publication of the Authorised or 'King James' translation of the Holy Bible. Under the heading 'Video' in the right-hand column you can view an interesting documentary on the translation process, 'When God Spoke English'. The AV has shaped the English language over the subsequent centuries, leaving its indelible imprint upon even the language we speak today, with many of its felicitous phrases becoming proverbial. Even Richard Dawkins, no friend of Christianity, could say of the AV "not to know the King James Bible is to be, in some small way, a barbarian".

For instance, today, the following seems an appropriate verse to quote, Matthew 26:52b:

"...all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword."

Other proverbial phrases derived from the AV include "my brother's keeper," "salt of the earth," "give up the ghost," "scapegoats," "an eye for an eye," "casting your pearls before swine," "scarlet woman," "writing on the wall", "the blind leading the blind" and "a house divided against itself."

But most importantly, the AV served to bring the Gospel to the people of the day in their own language, it was a Bible "understanded of the people":

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.

5 comments:

Stephen K said...

Pastor Mark, did you see the programme on Compass last night: "When God spoke English: The Making of the King James Bible"? An excellent and fascinating programme.

Mediaeval said...

Many in my corner of the country, including myself, prefer the KJV. Its combination of accuracy and beauty is not matched by any modern translation. At least two of my children (born in the 1990's) prefer it as well. We keep the AV modern and relevant and make it our own simply by using it.

Pr Mark Henderson said...

Stephen,
Yes! I too enjoyed it. It was a bit slow at the start, but got much better as he went on.

Mediaeval,
Welcome to the old manse!
It doesn't surprise me that your children, having grown up with the KJV, appreciate it so much. Unfortunately, declining educational standards have probably rendered the elevated prose of the KJV out of reach of the average young person today. Hence the need for those 'modern' translations (and we must remember that the New Testament was written in everyday Greek, not literary Greek, for the most part). Thus, although having grown up with only a KJV in the house, which I still read both for insight and pleasure, I do use other versions as well because they are what the people I serve read. In terms of accuracy, though, the KJV compares favourably with modern translations; in terms of beauty, of course, it far surpasses them.

Matthew said...

Thanks you for your article Pastor, I found your site when I was looking for something else and just enjoyed your article. Thanks again

Pr Mark Henderson said...

You're welcome, Matthew.