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Wednesday, 25 May 2011


WE have an article planned on the King James Bible in this its 400th year.

HERE is some background to the process by which it came into existence.

HERE is what is said to be a list of the translators, although it omits John Bois.

And HERE is an article which is really worth reading on how devout and scholarly these men were.

Link about the GENEVA BIBLE

More background on the PURITAN ELEMENT in the translators

Unencumbered by the telephone, email, television and all the rest of our modern distractions, these men could give themselves totally to prayer and study.  Some were infuriatingly brilliant.  There is a church in Carshalton, Surrey dedicated to the chairman of the first company of translators, Bishop Lancelot Andrewes.

From my third link above, I see that Dr Andrewes was fluent in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac, Arabic and at least fifteen other languages.  While a young student at Cambridge, he learned a new language each year during Easter break. He was also reputed to have spent an average of five hours each day in prayer.

John Bois became chairman of the company which translated the Psalms, amongst other scriptures.  According to my third link again, Bois 'read through the Hebrew Bible by age five, and by age six was writing Hebrew legibly. He was often found studying Greek at the Cambridge library from four a.m. until 8 p.m. (sixteen hours a day!)'.

These were the greatest scholars of their age, possibly of any age.  But their modesty was astounding.  They considered themselves “poor instruments to make God's holy truth to be yet more and more known unto the people.”  They did not paraphrase like modern translators do, they tried to make a literal translation, and when they had to suggest fill-in words, they put them in italics so the reader would know these words were not actual scripture. 

Occasionally, in my humble opinion, they got things wrong, mistranslating 'makarios' as 'happy' instead of blessed in Jas 5:11, and worst of all, rendering 'pascha' into 'Easter' instead of 'Passover' at Acts 12:4.  But those are the only ones I can think of offhand, and who am I to quibble.  At least we get no politically-correct nonsense like changing 'Lord of hosts' into 'Lord of the heavenly armies' like the New Living Translation does.  (The word 'heavenly' is nowhere in the Hebrew).

Truly the translators of the KJV were amazing, challenging, gifted, humble and possibly irritating men who produced the classic English-language Bible of all time.  I'll look forward to the study which we are preparing for the next Christian Voice newsletter.


  1. All well and good, but what you fail to mention is that all the translators were Anglicans (all but one was a clergyman). King James wanted a Bible that would counter the increasing influence of the Puritans (who were congregationalists) and gave the translators specific instructions that their Bible must reflect the Church of England's episcopal polity. Hardly a recipe for an accurate and unbiased translation!

    As far as your comment on "Lord of Hosts" is concerned, it's universally accepted that "hosts" refers to the "heavenly host", an army of angels. I believe the hebrew word for "hosts" can also be translated "armies". The NLT's rendering is therefore completely correct from a theological perspective, and it is an accurate statement of the meaning of the original. What's the problem with that?

    And also, it is a matter of fact that our understanding of the original languages has increased significantly over the last 400 years. Yes, the KJV is a good translation that has had a profound impact on the world, but it reflects the scholarship of its time and is written in outdated english. There are much better options available now.

  2. I have just read an excellent book on the subject of the Authorised Version Bible, "The Jewel in the King's Crown" by David Allen who is a deputation speaker for the Trintiarian Bible Society. It is available from Tentmaker Books.