Authorized King James Version

Authorized King James Version

] with the perpetual Royal Privilege to print Bibles in England. [The Royal Privilege was a virtual monopoly.] Robert Barker invested very large sums in printing the new edition, and consequently ran into serious debt, []

Two editions of the whole bible are recognized as having been produced in 1611, which may be distinguished by their rendering of Ruth 3:15; the first edition reading "he went into the city", where the second reads "she went into the city." [] They set "v" invariably for lower-case initial "u" and "v", and "u" for "u" and "v" everywhere else. They used long "ſ" for non-final "s". [Harv|Bobrick|2001| p=261] The letter "j" occurs only after "i" or as the final letter in a Roman numeral. Punctuation was relatively heavy, and differed from current practice. When space needed to be saved, the printers sometimes used "ye" for "the", (replacing the Middle English thorn with the continental "y"), set "ã" for "an" or "am" (in the style of scribe's shorthand), and set "&" for "and". On the contrary, on a few occasions, they appear to have inserted these words when they thought a line needed to be padded. Current printings remove most, but not all, of the variant spellings; the punctuation has also been changed, but still varies from current usage norms.

The first printing used a black letter typeface instead of a Roman typeface, which itself made a political and a religious statement. Like the Great Bible and the Bishops' Bible, the "Authorized Version" was "appointed to be read in churches". It was a large folio volume meant for public use, not private devotion; the weight of the type mirrored the weight of establishment authority behind it. However, smaller editions and Roman-type editions followed rapidly; e.g. quarto Roman-type editions of the Bible in 1612 (Herbert #313/314). This contrasted with the Geneva Bible, which was the first English Bible printed in a Roman typeface (although black-letter editions, particularly in folio format, were issued later).

In contrast to the "Geneva Bible" and the "Bishops' Bible", which had both been extensively illustrated, there were no illustrations at all in the 1611 edition of the "Authorized Version"; the main form of decoration being the historiated initial letters provided for books and chapters - together with the decorative title pages to the Bible itself, and to the New Testament.

The "Authorized Version" also used Roman type instead of "italics" to indicate text that had been supplied by the translators, or thought needful for English grammar but which was not present in the Greek or Hebrew. In the first printing, the device of having different type faces to show supplied words was used sparsely and inconsistently. This is perhaps the most significant difference between the original text and the current text.

The original printing contained two prefatory texts; the first was a rather fulsome "" to "the most high and mighty Prince" King James. Many British printings reproduce this, while a few cheaper or smaller American printings fail to include it.

The second, and more interesting preface was called "The Translators to the Reader", a long and learned essay that defends the undertaking of the new version. It observes that their goal was not to make a bad translation good, but a good translation better, and says that "we do not deny, nay we affirm and avow, that the very meanest translation of the Bible in English, set forth by men of our profession... containeth the word of God, nay, is the word of God". [Harv|Daniell|2003| p=775] Few editions anywhere include this text.

The first printing contained a number of other apparatus, including a table for the reading of the Psalms at matins and evensong, and a calendar, an almanac, and a table of holy days and observances. Much of this material has become obsolete with the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar by the UK and its colonies in 1752 and thus modern editions invariably omit it.

So as to make it easier to locate a particular passage, each chapter was headed by a brief precis of its contents with verse numbers. Later editors freely substituted their own chapter summaries, or omit such material entirely.

Literary attributes


Like Tyndale's translation and the Geneva Bible, the "Authorized Version" was translated primarily from Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic texts, although with secondary reference both to the Latin Vulgate, and to more recent scholarly Latin versions; while two books of the Apocrypha were translated from a Latin source. Following the example of the "Geneva Bible", words implied but not actually in the original source were distinguished by being printed in distinct type (albeit inconsistently); but otherwise the translators explicitly rejected word-for-word equivalence. [Harv|Daniell|2003| p=792] F.F Bruce gives an example from Romans Chapter 5: [Harv|Bruce|2002| p=105]

2 By whom also wee haue accesse by faith, into this grace wherein wee stand, and reioyce in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not onely so, but we glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience:

The English terms "rejoice" and "glory" stand for the same word in the Greek original. In Tyndale, "Geneva" and the "Bishops' Bibles", both instances are translated "rejoice". In the "Douay-Rheims" New Testament, both are translated "glory". Only in the "Authorized Version" does the translation vary between the two verses.

In obedience to their instructions, the translators provided no marginal interpretation of the text; but in some 8,500 places a marginal note offers an alternative English wording. [Harv|Scrivener|1884| p=56] The majority of these notes offer a more literal rendering of the original (introduced as "Heb", "Chal", "Gr" or "Lat"), but others indicate a variant reading of the source text (introduced by "or"). Some of the annotated variants derive from alternative editions in the original languages, or from variant forms quoted in the fathers; but more commonly they indicate a difference between the original language reading, and that in the translators' preferred recent Latin versions; Tremellius for the Old Testament, Junius for the Apocrypha, and Beza for the New Testament. [Harv|Scrivener|1884| p=43] A few more extensive notes clarify Biblical names, units of measurement or currency; and in a very few places (e.g. Luke 17:36) record that a verse is absent from most Greek manuscripts. Modern reprintings rarely reproduce these annotated variants - although they are to be found in the New Cambridge Paragraph Bible. In addition, there were originally some 9,000 scriptural cross-references, in which one text was related to another. Such cross-references had long been common in Latin bibles, and most of those in the "Authorized Version" were copied across from this Latin tradition, hence preserving their distinct Vulgate references - e.g. in the numbering of the Psalms. [Harv|Scrivener|1884| p=118] At the head of each chapter, the translators provided a short précis of its contents, with verse numbers; these are rarely included in complete form in modern editions.

The translators render the Tetragrammaton YHWH or the name Yahweh by the use of small capitals as LORD, or Lord GOD (for "Adonai YHWH", "Lord YHWH"), denoting the divine name, Jesus is referred to as Lord with a capital "L" and lower case "ord" as the example of the scripture in Psalm 110:1 "The LORD said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool".

For their Old Testament, the translators worked from editions of the Hebrew Rabbinic Bible by Daniel Bomberg (1524/5); [Harv|Scrivener|1884| p=41] but adjusted the text in a few places to conform to the Greek LXX or Latin Vulgate in passages to which Christian tradition had tended to attach a Christological interpretation [Harv|Bobrick|2001| p=271] ; as, for example, the reading "they pierced my hands and my feet" in Psalm 22:16. Otherwise, however, the "Authorized Version" is closer to the Hebrew tradition than any previous English translation – especially in making use of the rabbinic commentaries, such as Kimhi, in elucidating obscure passages in the Masoretic Text; [Harv|Daiches|1968| pp=208] by contrast with earlier versions, which had been more likely to adopt LXX or Vulgate readings in such places.

For their New Testament, the translators chiefly used the 1598 and 1588/89 Greek editions of Theodore Beza; [Harv|Scrivener|1884| p=60] which also present Beza's Latin version of the Greek and Stephanus's edition of the Latin Vulgate; both of which versions were extensively referred to - as the translators conducted all discussions amongst themselves in Latin. F.H.A. Scrivener identifies 190 readings where the "Authorized Version" translators depart from Beza's Greek text, generally in maintaining the wording of the "Bishop's Bible" and other earlier English translations. [Harv|Scrivener|1884| pp=243-263] In about half of these instances, the "Authorized Version" translators appear to follow the earlier 1550 Greek Textus Receptus of Stephanus. For the other half, Scrivener was usually able to find corresponding Greek readings in the editions of Erasmus, or in the Complutensian Polyglot; but in several dozen readings he notes that no printed Greek text corresponds to the English of the "Authorized Version" – which in these readings derives directly from the Vulgate. [Harv|Scrivener|1884| p=262] For example, at John 10:16, the Authorized Version reads "one fold" (as did the "Bishops' Bible", and the 16th century vernacular versions produced in Geneva), following the Latin Vulgate "unum ovile"; whereas Tyndale had agreed more closely with the Greek, "one flocke" (μία ποίμνη). The "Authorized Version" New Testament owes much more to the Vulgate than does the Old Testament; but still, at least 80% of the text is unaltered from Tyndale's translation. [Harv|Daniell|2003| p=448]

Unlike the rest of the Bible, the translators of the Apocrypha identified their source texts in their marginal notes. [Harv|Scrivener|1884| p=47] From these it can determined that the books of the Apocrypha were translated from the Septuagint – primarily, from the Greek Old Testament column in the "Antwerp Polyglot" – but with extensive reference to the counterpart Latin Vulgate text, and to Junius's Latin translation. The translators record references to the Sixtine Septuagint of 1587, which is substantially a printing of the Old Testament text from the Codex Vaticanus; and also to the 1518 Greek Septuagint edition of Aldus Manutius. They had, however, no Greek texts for 2 Esdras, or for the Prayer of Manasses, and Scrivener found that they here used an unidentified Latin manuscript.

The translators appear to have otherwise made no first-hand study of ancient manuscript sources, even those which – like the Codex Bezae – would have been readily available to them. [Harv|Scrivener|1884| p=59] In addition to all previous English versions - including the" Douay-Rheims Bible", they also consulted contemporary vernacular translations in Spanish, French, Italian and German. They also made wide and eclectic use of all printed editions in the original languages then available, including the ancient Syriac New Testament printed with an interlinear Latin gloss in the Antwerp Polyglot of 1573. [Harv|Bobrick|2001| p=246] .

Style and criticism

A primary concern of the translators was to produce a Bible that would be appropriate, dignified and resonant in public reading. Hence, in a period of rapid linguistic change, they avoided contemporary idioms; tending instead towards forms that were already slightly archaic, like "verily" and "it came to pass". [Harv|Bobrick|2001| p=264] They also tended to enliven their text with stylistic variation, finding multiple English words or verbal forms, in places where the original language employed repetition.

The "Authorized Version" is notably more Latinate than previous English versions, [Harv|Daniell|2003| p=440] especially the Geneva Bible. This results in part from the academic stylistic preferences of a number of the translators – several of whom admitted to being more comfortable writing in Latin than in English – but was also, in part, a consequence of the royal proscription against explanatory notes. [Harv|Bobrick|2001| p=229] Hence, where the Geneva Bible might use a common English word - and gloss its particular application in a marginal note; the "Authorized Version" tends rather to prefer a technical term, frequently in Anglicised Latin. Consequently, although the King had instructed the translators to use the Bishops' Bible as a base text, the New Testament in particular, stylistically owes much to the Catholic Rheims New Testament, whose translators had also been concerned to find English equivalents for Latin terminology. [Harv|Bobrick|2001| p=252] In addition, the translators of the New Testament books habitually quote Old Testament names in the renderings familiar from the Vulgate Latin, rather than in their Hebrew forms (e.g. Elias, Jeremias; for Elijah, Jeremiah).

While the "Authorized Version" remains among the most widely sold, modern critical New Testament translations differ substantially from the "Authorized Version" in a number of passages, primarily because they rely on source manuscripts not then accessible to (or not then highly regarded by) early 17th Century Biblical Scholarship. [Harv|Daniell|2003| p=5] In the Old Testament, there are also many differences from modern translations that are based not on manuscript differences, but on a different understanding of Ancient Hebrew vocabulary or grammar by the translators. For example, in modern translations it is clear that Job 28 1-11 is referring throughout to mining operations, which is not at all apparent from the text of the "Authorized Version". [Harv|Bruce|2002| p=145] Some suggest that its value lies in its poetic language at the cost of accuracy in translation, while other scholars firmly disagree with these claims. For example, New Testament scholar Bart D. Ehrman has written:

Standard text of 1769

By the mid-18th Century the wide variation in the various modernized printed texts of the "Authorized Version", combined with the notorious accumulation of misprints, had reached the proportion of a scandal; and the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge both sought to produce an updated standard text. First of the two was the Cambridge edition of 1762 (Herbert #1142), edited by F.S. Parris [Harv|Norton|2005| p=106] ; but this was effectively superseded by the 1769 Oxford edition, edited by Benjamin Blayney (Herbert #1196), which became the Oxford standard text, and is the text which is reproduced almost unchanged in most current printings [Harv|Norton|2005| p=113] . Parris and Blayney sought consistently to remove those elements of the 1611 and successive subsequent editions, that they believed were due to the vagaries of printers; while incorporating most of the revised readings of the Cambridge editions of 1629 and 1638, and each also introducing a few improved readings of their own. They undertook the mammoth task of standardizing the wide variation in punctuation and spelling of the original, making many thousands of minor changes to the text; although some of these updates do alter the ostensible sense - as when the original text of Genesis 2:21 "in stead" (in that place) was updated to read "instead" (as an alternative). In addition, Blayney and Parris thoroughly revised and greatly extended the italicization of "supplied" words not found in the original languages by cross-checking against the presumed source texts. Unfortunately, Blayney assumed that the translators of the 1611 New Testament had worked from the 1550 Stephanus edition of the Textus Receptus, rather than from the later editions of Beza; and accordingly the current standard text mistakenly "corrects" around a dozen readings where Beza and Stephanus differ [Harv|Scrivener|1884| p=242] . Like the 1611 edition, the 1769 Oxford edition included the Apocrypha; although Blayney consistently removed marginal cross-references to the Books of the Apocrypha, wherever these had been provided by the original translators. Altogether, Blayney's 1769 text differed from the 1611 text in around 24,000 places [Harv|Norton|2005| p=120] ; but since that date, only six further changes have been introduced to the standard text - although 30 of Blayney's proposed changes have subsequently been reverted [Harv|Norton|2005| p=115] . The Oxford University Press paperback edition of the "Authorized King James Version" provides the current standard text; and also includes the prefatory section "The Translators to the Reader". [Harv|Prickett|Carroll|2008|]

The 1769 text of the first three verses from "I Corinthians 13" is given below.

1. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become "as" sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have "the gift of" prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed "the poor", and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

In these three verses, there are eleven changes of spelling, nine changes of typesetting, three changes of punctuation, and one variant text - where "not charity" is substituted for "no charity" in verse two, in the erroneous belief that the original reading was a misprint.

For a period, Cambridge continued to issue Bibles using the Parris text, but the market demand for absolute standardisation was now such that they eventually fell into line. Since the beginning of the 19th Century, almost all printings of the "Authorized Version" have derived from the 1769 Oxford text - generally without Blayney's variant notes and cross references, and commonly excluding the Apocrypha [Harv|Norton|2005| p=125] . One exception to this was a scrupulous original-spelling, page-for-page, and line-for-line reprint of the 1611 edition (including all chapter headings, marginalia, and original italicization, but with Roman type substituted for the black letter of the original), published by Oxford in 1833. ["The Holy Bible, an Exact Reprint Page for Page of the Authorized Version Published in the Year MDCXI". Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1833 (reprinted as "The Holy Bible, 1611 Edition" by Thomas Nelson in 1982 and Hendrickson in 2003). According to J.R. Dore, "Old Bibles: An Account of the Early Versions of the English Bible" (2nd edition, Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1888), p. 363, the edition "so far as it goes, represents the edition of 1611 so completely that it may be consulted with as much confidence as an original. The spelling, punctuation, italics, capitals, and distribution into lines and pages are all followed with the most scrupulous care. It is, however, printed in Roman instead of black letter type."] Another important exception to this was the 1873 Cambridge Paragraph Bible, thoroughly revised, modernised and re-edited by F. H. Scrivener, who for the first time, consistently identified the source texts underlying the 1611 translation and its marginal notes [Harv|Daniell|2003| p=691] . Scrivener, however - as Blayney had done - did adopt revised readings where he considered the judgement of the 1611 translators had been faulty [Harv|Norton|2005| p=122] . In 2005, Cambridge University Press released its New Cambridge Paragraph Bible with Apocrypha, edited by David Norton, which modernized Scrivener's spelling again to present-day standards, and introduced quotation marks; while restoring the 1611 text, so far as possible, to the wording intended by its translators, especially in the light of the rediscovery of some of their working documents [Harv|Norton|2005| p=131] . This text has been issued in paperback by Penguin books. [Harv|Norton|2006|]

From 1769, the text of the "Authorized Version" remained unchanged - and since, due to advances in printing technology, it could now be produced in very large editions for mass sale, it established complete dominance in public and ecclesiastical use in the English-speaking Protestant world. Academic debate over the next hundred years, however, increasingly reflected concerns about the "Authorized Version" shared by some scholars that: (a) that subsequent study in oriental languages suggested a need to revise the translation of the Hebrew bible - both in terms of specific vocabulary, and also in distinguishing descriptive terms from proper names; (b) that the "Authorized Version" was unsatisfactory in translating the same Greek words and phrases into different English, especially where parallel passages are found in the synoptic gospels; and, (c) in the light of subsequent ancient manuscript discoveries, the New Testament translation base of the Greek Textus Receptus could no longer be considered to be the best representation of the original text [Harv|Daniell|2003| p=685]

The "Authorized Version" maintained its effective dominance throughout the first half of the 20th Century. New translations in the second half of the 20th Century appeared, which displaced its 250 years of dominance (roughly 1700 to 1950) [ Harv|Daniell|2003| p=764] Some groups do exist - sometimes termed the King-James-Only Movement - that mistrust all changes to the "Authorized Version". [Harv|Daniell|2003| p=765]

ee also

*21st Century King James Version
*Bible errata
*List of books of the Authorized King James Version
*Pocket Canons
*New King James Version
*King-James-Only Movement

*Modern editions of the KJV text which provide aids for modern readers to understand the text:
**Defined King James Bible
**Dynamic and formal equivalence
**The King James Study Bible
**The Subject Bible



*Citation |last= Allen|first=Ward |authorlink= |title= Translating for King James; being a true copy of the only notes made by a translator of King James’s Bible, the Authorized Version, as the Final Committee of Review revised the translation of Romans through Revelation at Stationers’ Hall in London in 1610-1611. Taken by John Bois ... these notes were for three centuries lost, and only now are come to light, through a copy made by the hand of William Fulman. Here translated and edited by Ward Allen. |year= 1969 |publisher= Vanderbilt University Press |location=Nashville |isbn=0826511368
*Citation | last =Anonymous (a) | first = | year =2008 | title = King James Version (Stats & History) | publisher =Zondervan
url =
accessdate =2008-04-16

*Citation |last= Bobrick|first=Benson |authorlink= |title=Wide as the waters: the story of the English Bible and the revolution it inspired |publisher=Simon & Schuster |location=New York |year=2001 |isbn= 0684847477
*Citation | last=Bruce | first=Frederick Fyvie |authorlink=Frederick Fyvie Bruce |title=History of the Bible in English |publisher=Lutterworth Press |location=Cambridge |year=2002 |isbn=0718890329
*Citation | last=Cloud | first=David | year=2006 | title=Isn't the King James Bible too Antiquated and Difficult to Understand? | publisher=Way of Life Literature | url= | accessdate=2008-08-22
*Citation | last=Daiches | first=David |authorlink=David Daiches |title=The King James Version of the English Bible: An Account of the Development and Sources of the English Bible of 1611 With Special Reference to the Hebrew Tradition |publisher=Archon Books |location=Hamden, Conn |year=1968 |pages= |isbn=0208004939 |oclc= |doi=
*Citation |last=Daniell |first=David |authorlink= |title=The Bible in English: its history and influence |publisher=Yale University Press |location=New Haven, Conn |year=2003 |isbn=0300099304
*Citation | last=Ehrman | first=Bart D. |authorlink= Bart D. Ehrman |title=Misquoting Jesus: the story behind who changed the Bible and why |publisher=HarperSanFrancisco |location=San Francisco |year=2005 |isbn=0060738170
*Citation |last=Hill |first = Christopher |authorlink= John Edward Christopher Hill |title=The English Bible and the seventeenth-century revolution |publisher=Allen Lane |location=London |year=1993 |isbn=0713990783
*citation |last=Keay |first = Julia |authorlink= |title=Alexander the Corrector: the tormented genius who unwrote the Bible |publisher=Harper Perennial |location=London |year=2005 |isbn=0007131968
*Citation | last = Merriam-Webster | year = 2008 | title = Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary | url =
*Citation | last =Metzeger | first =Bruce M. (ed) | coauthors = , Michael D. Coogan (ed) | title = The Oxford Companion to the Bible | publisher = Oxford University Press| date = 1993 | location = Oxford, UK| pages = | isbn = 0-19-504645-5
*Citation |last=Norton |first=David |authorlink=David Norton |title = A Textual History of the King James Bible |year=2005 |publisher=Cambridge University Press |location=Cambridge |language= |isbn=0521771005
*Citation |editor-last =Norton| editor-first = David | editor-link =David Norton |title=The Bible (Penguin Classics)
publisher=Penguin Classics|year=2006|isbn=0-14-144151-8

*Citation | last = OED | year = 1989 | title = Oxford English Dictionary | edition = 2 | publisher = Oxford University Press | url =
*Citation| editor-last =Prickett | editor-first = Stephen | editor-link = | editor2-last =Carroll | editor2-first = Robert P.
editor2-link =|title=The Bible: Authorized King James Version (Oxford World's Classics) |publisher=Oxford University Press, USA|year=2008|isbn=0-19-953594-9

*Citation |last=Scrivener |first=Frederick Henry Ambrose |authorlink= Frederick Henry Ambrose Scrivener |title= The Authorized Edition of the English Bible, 1611, its subsequent reprints and modern representatives |year= 1884 |publisher= Cambridge University Press |location= Cambridge
*Citation |last= Story|first=G.M. |title= Lancelot Andrewes Sermons |year= 1967 |publisher= Oxford University Press |location=Oxford
*Citation |last= Walleshinsky|first=David |title = The People's Almanac |year= 1975 |publisher= Doubleday & Company Inc.

Further reading

Chronological order of publication (oldest first)
*cite book |author=McGrath, Alister E. |title=In the beginning: the story of the King James Bible and how it changed a nation, a language and a culture |publisher=Anchor Books, a Division of Random House, Inc |location=New York |year=2002 |isbn=0385722168
*"US" edition:cite book |author=Nicolson, Adam |title=God's secretaries: the making of the King James Bible |publisher=HarperCollins |location=London |year=2003 |pages= |isbn=0-06-018516-3
*"UK" edition:cite book |author=Nicolson, Adam |title=Power and Glory: Jacobean England and the Making of the King James Bible |publisher= HarperCollins |location=London |year=2003 |isbn=0007108931

External links

* On-Line database of the 1611 text with Apocrypha. Also accesses the Geneva Bible, Bishops' Bible and other Reformation-era versions.
* On-line image of a page (beginning of St John's gospel) with a written description by the British Library.
*. On-line facsimile (page images) of the 1611 printing of the King James Bible.
*cite web |url= |title=The King James Dictionary|accessdate=2007-10-25 |accessmonthday= |accessdaymonth= |accessyear= |author= |last= |first= |authorlink= |coauthors= |date=|year= |month= |format= |work= | |pages= |language= |doi= |archiveurl= |archivedate= |quote= Online Dictionary of Words from the King James Bible
* [ The King James Bible Translators Preface 1611]

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