Saturday, December 02, 2006

History and Merit of the KJV Bible

"lovinmomhood" asked the following question in the Q&A board at Phatmass:
Wasn't the KJV Bible written based on interpretation of the Standard Bible? I thought it was and yet so many say it is the one and only true Bible? ( according to some who are trying to show me my way to God and they are so NOT Catholic)
I'm unfamilar with the "Standard Bible." The 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica says that the KJV, or "Authorized Version" as it was formally so called, was "a revision The of the Bishops' Bible, begun in 1604, and published Authorized in 1611" (here). The Encarta Encyclopedia says it is "a new revision of the English Bible" (here). The Christian Cyclopedia says that "The version is essentially a revision of the Bishops' Bible of 1572" (here). The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia tells us that "On the title-page as issued in 1611 the version is described as 'newly translated out of the original tongues' and as 'appointed to be read in churches,' two statements not easy to reconcile with the actual facts. The first rule for the revisers' guidance provided that the work was to consist in a revision of the Bishops' Bible: it was not said that it was to be a new translation" (here).

From all this, we can easily discern that it was a revision of the Bishops' Bible. It was not a new translation of the original languages, and it was certainly not the first English translation of the Bible. The links provided make this abundantly clear (see also this and this).

However, people still claim that it is the "best" English translation of the Bible that we have. Personally, I don't agree. I give it credit for the amazing impact it had and continues to have on the English-speaking world, but I hardly venerate it to the same degree that many fundamentalist Christians do. Some even go so far as to say that it is an "inspired translation" and the only Bible that Christians should use. In order to refute this "KJV-onlyism," it is helpful to point out the many errors found in it, especially in the original 1611 version. Here are two links that are helpful in that regard:
Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

The KJV was origianly begun as a revision of the Bishop's Bible. But it was a completely [sp] new translation from the original languages. An intersting book (if you are a history nerd) on the creation of the KJV is titled "God's Secretaries." King James was trying to make his kingdom unified under one Church (of England) one Bible (the Authorized Version) and one Book of Common Prayer. A fun fact for the KJV-Only crowed is that along with the Old and New Testaments the scholars also made a translation of the Deuterocannonical/Apochryphal books which were included in most copies up until the middle of the 19th century.

Bryan at THEOdyssey

phatcatholic said...

The KJV was origianly begun as a revision of the Bishop's Bible. But it was a completely [sp] new translation from the original languages.

Aren't these two statements mutually exclusive? How can the KJV be both a revision of a previous translation and a completely new translation of the original languages?


A fun fact for the KJV-Only crowed is that along with the Old and New Testaments the scholars also made a translation of the Deuterocannonical/Apochryphal books which were included in most copies up until the middle of the 19th century.

Haha, yea, you're right. Of course, they will just say in response that the deutero/apocryphal books were included not because they were inspired Scripture, but because they are good for devotional reading or as helpful accounts of history.

Thanks for the comment ;)

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Tim said...

Great site!
His blessings this day.

Anonymous said...

I meant that originaly it was only going to be a revision, but as it went along they found so much was going to be different that they just went ahead and retranslated the whole thing.

Bryan

Anonymous said...

And for the second comment, they could be refuted by the fact that the Anglican/Episcopalian church which is who the Authorized version was authorized for still use it in the manner that the Romanc Catholic church uses the Apocrypha.

Bryan Again

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