400th Anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible
February 22, 2011 1 Comment
The world’s best-selling book of all time, the King James Version of the Bible, is 400 years old this year. Introduced in 1611, this elegant English translation has a storied history, and an influence on Western culture beyond that of any person or object.
Today, a friend and colleague of mine gave a brief presentation on the history and influence of the KJV to the faculty at my university. Dr. Clinton Arnold is a New Testament scholar with numerous books to his credit. For a beautiful book that surveys the history of the English Bible, I recommend his neatly organized and amply illustrated book How We Got Our Bible.
If you want to read up on the King James Bible, I recommend two books:
- Leland Ryken, The Legacy of the King James Bible: Celebrating 400 Years of the Most Influential English Translation.
- Alister McGrath, In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How it Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture
The general topic matters for two basic reasons:
- Some uninformed critics think that the existence of diverse English translations counts against the divine origin of the original manuscripts of the Bible.
- Many, believers and nonbelievers, are not familiar with the history of the “canon” of the Bible. They do not know how the various books of the Bible, written by many individuals over a period of centuries, came to be regarded together as the written word of God.
Whether or not you use the King James Version, whether or not you read the Bible, I encourage you to commemorate this anniversary of the KJV with a little study of the history of the Bible. Here are some sources for that purpose:
- Robert McCrum, How the English Bible shaped the English language (The Observer)
- Bible Gateway: online King James Version of the Bible
- The British Library entry on the King James Bible
- King James Bible Trust