Today marks the 400th Anniversary of the publication of the King James Version of the Bible. This is the most popular English version of the Bible. In fact until the mid-20th Century, it was pretty much the only version of the English Bible available. With the advent of the printing press, literate people were able to read the Bible for themselves – in their own language – and not be dependent on someone else to tell them what the Bible said.
God has greatly used the KJV in the life of the English-speaking church. In fact, The King James Bible was the version used by the Puritans, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, John and Charles Wesley, and Charles Spurgeon. Missionaries like William Carey, Hudson Taylor, and David Livingstone found their calling as they read from it. As people came to faith in Christ, they read the King James Bible to grow in their faith. Even secular writers were also influenced by the KJV.
Copyright protection has long expired and since it is in the “public domain,” many groups like the Gideons use it to avoid paying licensing fees for Bibles they distribute for free to students and hotels. The only cost for publication is, well, publication.
Since I discussed some of the issues of the King James Bible for modern-day readers in an earlier blog, I won’t repeat myself here. But I do want to say thank-you to the translators of the King James Version for the foundation they laid. As the KJV translators stated in their preface, new translations will be required for each new generation so God’s Word can be read in the common language of the people.
Also, join me in thanking God for preserving His Word, and for making it available to us in our common language. If you do not currently have a plan for reading your Bible, check out the one we’re using in our church.
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart
(Hebrews 4:12 KJV)