HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH 1611 HOLY BIBLE

 

 

The Holy Bible of 1611 (AV/KJV) was originally entitled as follows: “The Holy Bible, Conteyning the Old Testament and the New; Newly Translated out of the Originall tongues, with the former Translations diligently compared and revised, by His Majesties speciall commandement.  Appointment to be read in Churches.  Imprinted at London by Robert Barker, printer to the Kings most Excellent Majestie, Anno Dom. 1611. (Old English spellings unchanged)

 

The story of King James and the King James Bible goes something like this: When King James was going to London to receive his English crown, he was presented with a petition of grievances by the clergy of Puritan convictions which later resulted in the King calling for a conference to determine things amiss in the church.  This conference, later known as the Hampton Court Conference, began on January 14, 1604 and was concluded two days later on January 16. In this conference Dr. John Reynolds, the leader of the Puritan party and president of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, made a motion that a new translation of the Bible be undertaken. The majority present were against the motion however it appealed to the king and was so ordered.

 

In order to undertake this translation, fifty four of the greatest biblical scholars in Great Britain were divided into six groups, three to work on a translation of the Old Testament and three to work on the New Testament.  Two groups for the Old and New Testaments met at Oxford, two at Cambridge and two at Westminster.

 

H. Wheeler Robinson summarizes the varied learning of the group as follows: “The Oxford was headed by Dr. John Hardinge, Regius Professor of Hebrew and included Dr. John Reynolds the originator of the project, ‘whose memory and reading were near to a miracle’; Dr. Miles Smith, who had Hebrew at his fingers’ ends; Dr. Richard Brett, ‘skilled and versed to a criticism in the Latin, Greek, Chaldee, Arabic, ant Ethiopic tongues’; Sir Henry Saville, editor of the works of Chrysostom; and Dr. John Harmer, Professor of Greek, ‘a most noted Latinist, Grecian, and divine.’ The Cambridge committee was at first led by Edward Lively, Regius Professor of Hebrew who died in 1605 before the work was really begun, and included Dr. Lawrence Chaderton, fa­miliar with the Greek and Hebrew tongues and the numerous writings of Rabbis’; Thomas Harrison, ‘noted for his exquisite skill in Hebrew and Greek Idioms’; Dr. Robert Spalding, successor to Lively as Professor Hebrew; and Andrew Downes, ‘one composed of Greek and industry’; and John Bois, ‘a precious Greek and Hebrew scholar.’ The Westminster group was headed by Lancelot Andrews, Dean of Westminster, afterwards Bishop of Chichester, of Ely, and finally Winchester, ‘who might have been interpreter general at Babel’ … and included the Hebraist Hadrian Saravia; and William Bedwell, the greatest living Arabic Scholar.”

 

Their work began in 1607 and was completed in 1610. The initial printing was released in 1611 however it was early 1613 before most of the over 300 original typeset and printing errors were corrected. As spellings changed over the years in the English language, the Bible was also appropriately updated to include the newer word spellings. In 1701, chronological dates were introduced into the margins and in the 1760’s some thirty thousand references to parallel verses were also included in the margins. It was commonly called “THE HOLY BIBLE” until after Westcott and Hort introduced a new Greek Text based on Alexandrian manuscript ancestry in 1881 and so this Bible then became known as the Authorized Version (AV) or King James Version (KJV).  (Source: The Open Bible Expanded Edition – Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1985; H. Wheeler Robinson)

 

 

Way Truth Life Ministry 7-4-2003 www.wtlministry.org