The King James Version (KJV) of the Bible was published in 1611. Not satisfied with the Bible of that era, King James recognized the need for an accurate translation of the original Old Testament writings which were in Hebrew and also for the New Testament which was in Greek. The original KJV was hand written before the printing press was invented so not many copies were in circulation.
Because of all the infighting between the church – the Puritans and the Conformists – King James came up with a plan to satisfy everyone and everyone got on board with the plan. The history of the King James Version of the Bible began with the planning and the appointment of 54 learned men and a number of other competent scholars so the new translation may receive all due diligence for its completion. The 54 translators were from Westminster, Cambridge, or Oxford and were broken into 6 individual groups.
King James’ instructions to the translators were specific and articulate. A complete copy of the instructions is posted on sites on the internet but this writer is penning only some highlights of what is considered to be the most crucial points of these instructions. A complete copy of King James’ instructions to the 54 learned translators can be viewed on line by Google searching or by visiting: http://www.kjvonly.org/other/kj_instructs.htm
Of the 14 specific instructions given by King James to the learned translators this writer will paraphrase some of the key instructions:
- Instruction number 8, said that each translator was to take the same chapters and translate them. After translating and amending them the translators were to meet and compare their translations and to agree on their final draft.
- Instruction number 9, said after any particular group finished and agreed on any book – that group was to send their translated work to the other groups to be seriously scrutinized.
- Instruction number 12, directed the Bishop to command all clergy who were skillful in Hebrew and Greek to assist the learned translators by sending their particular observations to the groups for consideration.
- Instruction number 13, ordered the directors in each group to be the deans of Westminster and Chester, and the king’s professors in Hebrew and Greek in the two universities.
When the translations were completed the finished work of each university sent a copy to London. Two translators from each of the universities, Westminster, Cambridge, and Oxford, accompanied the copies sent to London – where the 6 learned translators gave it a final revision.
Many consider the King James Version of the Bible to be both eloquent and elegant. King James gave specific instructions to insure the highest quality of the completed work. Although the eloquence of the KJV is apparent to any reasonably minded person – it is also an elegant work – but elegance is not a requirement for a translation to be faithful to the inspiration of God.
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