King James Version

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The King James Version (KJV), also known as the Authorized Version (AV), is the English translation of the Christian Bible initiated under the order of King James I of England (James VI of Scotland) and first published in 1611 (for which reason it is sometimes referred to by the abbreviation "AV 1611"). The translation was intended to be read aloud and is widely credited to be a significant and influential work of world literature. [1] The King James Bible has been heavily revised over time and available in several editions, with the 1769 version being widely used today.

The New Testament portion relied on the Greek Textus Receptus (literally, "received text") as published by Erasmus beginning in 1516, while the Old Testament was translated from the Hebrew Masoretic Text as published in 1524–5. The KJV originally included the Apocrypha, as well, although beginning in the 19th century, most printed versions have omitted these.

Unauthorised translations, such as Wycliffe's Bible and the Tyndale Bible, predate the KJV and other authorised translations. Although his contribution was uncredited, William Tyndale was highly influential in the KJV translation: 84% New Testament and 75.8% Old Testament of the King James Bible is from the Tyndale Bible. [2] The KJV was the third officially sanctioned translation of the Bible into English, after the Great Bible produced under King Henry VIII (first printed in 1539) and the Bishop's Bible of 1568.

Political motivation

The motivation for James I of England (a.k.a. James VI of Scotland) to allow a new translation was largely political. The unity of the Church of England was threatened by puritans, who wanted further reformation of the church including abolition of the bishops in favour of a church lead by elders. The king direct that the translation was to support the institutional church, lead by bishops. Words like "church" were preferred over "congregation". [3] The king directly influenced the translators by producing a list of rules. [4]

The popular Geneva Bible featured a Calvinist commentary, some of which was objectionable to the king. For instance, the commentary for Exodus 1:19 Bible-icon.png stated that civil disobedience to a king could be lawful. Therefore, the King James version was to have no commentary but did include translation notes. [5]

The translation also focused on a general audience and allow for oral reading of the text to assist its general adoption.

King James only

Many Christian organizations believe that the King James version is the only English-language translation authorized by God. Many have gone to great lengths to discredit other translations, publishing books and web sites devoted to exposing all of the "mistakes" in other versions. The translators, historians and Biblical scholars in all camps have launched attacks and provided apologetic defenses for the competing positions.

The net result of this "bible bickering" is a wealth of information which clearly casts doubt on all versions and demonstrates that all claims of authority are religious opinions that cannot be supported by empirical evidence.


  1. [1]
  2. Tadmor, Naomi (2010), The Social Universe of the English Bible: Scripture, Society, and Culture in Early Modern England, Cambridge UP, p. 16, ISBN 978-0-521-76971-6, citing Nielson, John; Skousen, Royal (1998), "How Much of the King James Bible is William Tyndale's? An Estimation Based on Sampling", Reformation 3: 49–74.
  3. [2]
  4. [3]
  5. [4]
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