King James Version

King James Version
The title page's central text is: "THE HOLY BIBLE, Conteyning the Old Testament, AND THE NEW: Newly Translated out of the Original tongues: & with the former Translations diligently compared and revised, by his Majesties speciall Comandement. Appointed to be read in Churches. Imprinted at London by Robert Barker, Printer to the Kings most Excellent Majestie. ANNO DOM. 1611 ." At bottom is: "C. Boel fecit in Richmont.".
The title page to the 1611 first edition of the Authorized Version of the Bible by Cornelis Boel shows the Apostles Peter and Paul seated centrally above the central text, which is flanked by Moses and Aaron. In the four corners sit Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, authors of the four gospels, with their symbolic animals. The rest of the Apostles (with Judas facing away) stand around Peter and Paul. At the very top is the Tetragrammaton "יְהֹוָה" written with Hebrew diacritics.
AbbreviationKJV, KJB, or AV
Complete Bible
published
1611
Online asKing James Version at Wikisource
Textual basisOT: Masoretic Text, some LXX and Vulgate influence.
NT: Textus Receptus, similar to the Byzantine text-type; some readings derived from the Vulgate.
Apocrypha: Greek Septuagint and Latin Vulgate.
CopyrightPublic domain due to age, publication restrictions in the United Kingdom
(See Copyright status)
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
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.

The King James Version (KJV), also known as the King James Bible (KJB) or simply the Authorized Version (AV), is an English translation of the Christian Bible for the Church of England, begun in 1604 and completed/published in 1611.[a] The books of the King James Version include the 39 books of the Old Testament, an intertestamental section containing 14 books of the Apocrypha, and the 27 books of the New Testament.

It was first printed by Robert Barker, the King's Printer, and was the third translation into English approved by the English Church authorities: The first had been the Great Bible, commissioned in the reign of King Henry VIII (1535), and the second had been the Bishops' Bible, commissioned in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1568).[2] In Europe, the first generation of Calvinists had produced the Geneva Bible of 1560[3] from the originalHebrew and Greek Scriptures, which was influential in the writing of the Authorized King James Version. In January 1604, King James I convened the Hampton Court Conference, where a new English version was conceived in response to the problems of the earlier translations perceived by the Puritans,[4] a faction of the Church of England.[5] The translation is noted for its "majesty of style", and has been described as one of the most important books in English culture[6] and a driving force in the shaping of the English-speaking world.[7]

James gave the translators instructions intended to ensure that the new version would conform to the ecclesiology of, and reflect the episcopal structure of, the Church of England and its belief in an ordained clergy.[8] The translation was done by 47 scholars, all of whom were members of the Church of England.[9] In common with most other translations of the period, the New Testament was translated from Greek, the Old Testament from Hebrew and Aramaic, and the Apocrypha from Greek and Latin. In the Book of Common Prayer (1662), the text of the Authorized Version replaced the text of the Great Bible for Epistle and Gospel readings (but not for the Psalter, which substantially retained Coverdale's Great Bible version), and as such was authorised by Act of Parliament.[10]

By the first half of the 18th century, the Authorized Version had become effectively unchallenged as the English translation used in Anglican and English Protestant churches, except for the Psalms and some short passages in the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England. Over the course of the 18th century, the Authorized Version supplanted the Latin Vulgate as the standard version of scripture for English-speaking scholars. With the development of stereotype printing at the beginning of the 19th century, this version of the Bible became the most widely printed book in history, almost all such printings presenting the standard text of 1769 extensively re-edited by Benjamin Blayney at Oxford, and nearly always omitting the books of the Apocrypha. Today the unqualified title "King James Version" usually indicates this Oxford standard text.

The KJV of 1611 used the 25-letter English alphabet with no letter J, thus it was the King Iames Bible with "Iesus Chriſt". It was the first revision 1629 Cambridge King James Authorized Bible that first used the modern 26 letters and "Jesus Christ".[11]

Name

1612 First KJV bible in quarto size

The title of the first edition of the translation, in Early Modern English, was "THE HOLY BIBLE, Conteyning the Old Teſtament, AND THE NEW: Newly Tranſlated out of the Originall tongues: & with the former Tranſlations diligently compared and reuiſed, by his Maiesties ſpeciall Comandement". The title page carries the words "Appointed to be read in Churches",[12] and F. F. Bruce suggests it was "probably authorised by order in council" but no record of the authorisation survives "because the Privy Council registers from 1600 to 1613 were destroyed by fire in January 1618/19".[13]

For many years it was common not to give the translation any specific name. In his Leviathan of 1651, Thomas Hobbes referred to it as the English Translation made in the beginning of the Reign of King James.[14] A 1761 "Brief Account of the various Translations of the Bible into English" refers to the 1611 version merely as a new, compleat, and more accurate Translation, despite referring to the Great Bible by its name, and despite using the name "Rhemish Testament" for the Douay-Rheims Bible version.[15] Similarly, a "History of England", whose fifth edition was published in 1775, writes merely that [a] new translation of the Bible, viz., that now in Use, was begun in 1607, and published in 1611.[16]

King James's Bible is used as the name for the 1611 translation (on a par with the "Genevan Bible" or the "Rhemish Testament") in Charles Butler's Horae Biblicae (first published 1797).[17] Other works from the early 19th century confirm the widespread use of this name on both sides of the Atlantic: it is found both in a "Historical sketch of the English translations of the Bible" published in Massachusetts in 1815,[18] and in an English publication from 1818, which explicitly states that the 1611 version is "generally known by the name of King James's Bible".[19] This name was also found as King James' Bible (without the final "s"): for example in a book review from 1811.[20] The phrase "King James's Bible" is used as far back as 1715, although in this case it is not clear whether this is a name or merely a description.[21]

The use of Authorized Version or Authorised Version, capitalized and used as a name, is found as early as 1814.[22] For some time before this, descriptive phrases such as "our present, and only publicly authorised version" (1783),[23] "our Authorised version" (1792),[24] and "the authorized version" (1801, uncapitalized)[25] are found. The Oxford English Dictionary records a usage in 1824.[26] In Britain, the 1611 translation is generally known as the "Authorised Version" today.

As early as 1814, we find King James' version, evidently a descriptive phrase, being used.[27] "The King James Version" is found, unequivocally used as a name, in a letter from 1855.[28] The next year King James Bible, with no possessive, appears as a name in a Scottish source.[29] In the United States, the "1611 translation" (actually editions following the standard text of 1769, see below) is generally known as the King James Version today.

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