Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Corwned With Glory--Chapter 5 by Dr. Thomas Holland

Chapter 5: The English Jewel
[Footnotes are in red and placed in brackets]
"The English Bible – a book which, if everything else in our language should perish,
would alone suffice to show the whole extent of its beauty and power."
-Thomas Babington Macaulay, Edinburgh Review (1828)
John Rainolds had been addressing the newly crowned king of England, James I. Various concerns among the Puritans had arisen, and now was an opportunity to present them before the king. It was cold and damp that wintry day, much like the coldness that faced this English Church of the Reformation. Elizabeth, the beloved queen, had died and the thick-tongued Scotsman now ruled in her stead. Dr. Rainolds was well aware of the concerns that had risen within the Church and the nation. What would this new king do?

Within the contents of his address, Rainolds raised a proposal: "May your Majesty be pleased to direct that the Bible be now translated, such versions as are extant not answering to the original." With lisping tongue the king answered, stirring the desires of all those who wished to see a new translation that would standardize the word of God among the English-speaking world. "I profess, I could never yet see a Bible well translated in English, but I think that of Geneva is the worst." [Gustavus S. Paine, The Men Behind the King James Version (1959; reprint, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1982), 1.]
With these few fateful words, the greatest English translation the world has ever known was born. The place was Hampton Court. The day was Monday, January 16, 1604. By July 22 of the same year, Bishop Richard Bancroft had been notified by the king to appoint certain learned men, numbering fifty-four, for the purpose of newly translating the Scriptures.

What they produced John Livingston Lowes called "the noblest monument of English prose." For us, it simply became the Bible. Sadly, of late it has fallen under attack. Not only from skeptics who doubt God’s word, but from various theologians and biblical scholars. Many have used faulty forensic reasoning in order to discredit this lovely version. It is, therefore, essential for us to understand the history of the Authorized Version in order to refute the contentions of such individuals, for in disparaging this Bible, they (wittingly or not) imperil the work and word of God among the English-speaking peoples.

James I of England (1566-1625)
Some erroneously believe that the King James Version was the translation of King James I of England (VI of Scotland). Others attempt to discredit the KJV because of the king himself. However, neither of these is a substantive objection to the KJV. James did not translate the Bible, and his character has little to do with the translation that bears his name. He was the King of England in 1611 when the KJV was completed, and it was under his authority that the translators began their endeavor.

James was born in Scotland and was the only son of Mary Queen of Scots. His famous mother was a strict Roman Catholic; however, James was raised a staunch Protestant. He had a love for sports as well as for scholarship. British author Caroline Bingham writes of James that at "seventeen he was a remarkable youth who had already achieved an intellectual and political maturity; already he was recognizable as the canny and learned King who never achieved wisdom, who committed follies but was not a fool." [Caroline Bingham, The Making of a King (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1969), 40.] Nevertheless, King Henry IV of France referred to James as the "wisest fool in Christendom." [Lady Antonia Fraser, King James VI of Scotland: I of England (New York: Alfred A. Knoph, Inc., 1974), 9.] The New Testament reminds us that God is capable of using the foolish to astound the wise of this world (1 Corinthians 1:25-29).

The Translation
On that cold January day when Dr. Rainolds suggested to the king that the English Bible be revised, James reacted with delight and instructed Bishop Bancroft to appoint fifty-four scholars for the purpose of translating the word of God. The actual number of translators who worked on the KJV remains a mystery since some died before the work was completed. Nevertheless, the majority of the translator’s names have survived (see Appendix A). These men were divided into three groups located at Westminster, Oxford, and Cambridge. Each group was divided into two sections; one worked on the Old Testament, the other on the New Testament. Only the group at Cambridge had an additional team working on the Apocrypha.

The translators were great scholars. Many laid the foundation for linguistic studies that followed. They spent most of their time in the pursuit of learning and development of their knowledge of biblical languages. Some, while waxing eloquent in Latin or Greek, fared poorly with their native English. Gustavus S. Paine noted that the king’s translators were not superb writers doing scholarly work, but were superb scholars doing superb writing. [Ibid., vii.] Judged by their other extant works, which are commonplace in style, the writing of what would become the Authorized Version should have been far beyond their abilities. Yet, they were able to reach beyond themselves. Paine makes the following assessment:

"Though we may challenge the idea of word-by-word inspiration, we surely must conclude that these were men able, in their profound moods, to transcend their human limits. In their own words, they spake as no other men spake because they were filled with the Holy Ghost. Or, in the clumsier language of our time, they so adjusted themselves to each other and to the work as to achieve a unique coordination and balance, functioning thereafter as an organic entity – no mere mechanism equal to the sum of its parts, but a whole greater than all of them." [Ibid., 173.]

The translation went through a series of committees, all consisting of various groupings of the translators themselves. Upon finishing the assigned portion given to him, a translator would meet with the first committee and read the work he translated. Those within the committee followed the reading from various sources, such as the original languages, early English translations, and foreign translations including German, French, Italian, and Spanish. If there were no differences of opinion concerning the translation, the reader pressed on. If there were differences, the committee would reach a consensus before proceeding. The findings were then presented to the other two companies for their committees to review in like fashion. If these committees differed at any given point, the differences were compounded and presented to a third committee consisting of twelve members. This committee (known as the General Meeting) reviewed what the previous committees had produced and agreed upon the finished translation before presenting the work to two final editors, Bishop Thomas Bilson and Dr. Miles Smith.

True Rewards
Some writers have asserted that the translators "may have harbored less than perfect motivations" for their efforts, such as seeking royal favor and advancement, or being "far too enamored with the idea of royalty." It has also been charged that the English Crown paid for the translation. [James R. White, The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust the Modern Translations? (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1995) 70-71, 88 (note 61).] None of these accusations are worth serious consideration. There is no hint that any of the translators sought to be on the translational committee to gain favor with the king or promotion. There is some evidence that William Barlow, one of the translators, was a man who was soundly supportive of the British Crown and a man whom King James greatly approved. [Paine, 43.] But many Englishmen of that day held similarly exalted notions of royalty, including James I himself who objected to the Geneva Bible precisely because its marginal notes did not accord with his notions of the obedience due to kings. [Marvin W. Anderson, "The Geneva (Tonson/Junius) New Testament Among Other English Bibles of the Period," in Gerald T. Sheppard, ed., The Geneva Bible: The Annotated New Testament, 1602 Edition. (New York: Pilgrim Press, 1989), 6.]

As for the matter of who paid for the KJV, the historical truth is that payment did not come from the Crown but from the Church, and Church funds were very limited. Funds were raised and received for the purpose of sustaining the translators during their work on the translation, but they were not given financial reward. [John R. Dore, Old Bibles: An Account of the Early Versions of the English Bible, 2nd ed. (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1888), 325.] It is true that several of the translators did advance within the Church after the translation was complete, but this was due to their ability. Their greatest reward was in the fruit of their labor, the KJV itself. The translators wrote:

"But amongst all our joys, there was no one that more filled our hearts than the blessed continuance of the preaching of God’s sacred Word amongst us; which is that inestimable treasure which excelleth all the riches of the earth; because the fruit thereof extendeth itself, not only to the time spent in this transitory world, but directeth and disposeth men unto that eternal happiness which is above in heaven."

The Cum Privilegio
Another common myth concerning the KJV is that it was under the sole printing authority of the Crown. This is known as the Cum Privilegio (i.e., with privilege). Some have thought this made it impossible for anyone else to publish the KJV for the first hundred years of its existence. [White, 244.] Such a claim is erroneous.

It is true the KJV was under the Cum Privilegio, and that the royal printer was Robert Barker; it is also true that others printed the KJV long before 1711. Royal historian John Dore noted:
"In the year 1642, a folio edition of King James’s Version was printed at Amsterdam by "Joost Broersz, dwelling in the Pijlsteegh, in the Druckerije" . . . The notes of the King James’s Bible are omitted, and the arguments and annotations of the "Breeches" Bible are inserted in their place." [Dore, 345.]

Dr. Jack Lewis also notes that the KJV was printed in Geneva, without the Crown’s approval, during its first one hundred years. Various editions of the KJV were published outside of England in 1642, 1672, 1683, 1708, and in England itself in 1649. [Jack P. Lewis, The English Bible From KJV to NIV (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1982), 29.]

Dore points to Scotland as printing the KJV in 1628. [Dore, 338-339.] He also notes that the KJV was printed in England without the Cum Privilegio. A special dispensation was granted to the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford so that they could print Bibles without the Cum Privilegio.
"Although the Universities always claimed the right to print the Bible, Cambridge had not exercised that right since the year 1589; but in 1628 a duodecimo Testament was published at Cambridge, by the printers to the University, and the following year Thomas and John Buck issued the first Cambridge Bible . . . The University of Oxford did not begin to print Bibles until the year 1675, when the first was issued in quarto size; the spelling was revised by Dr. John Fell, Dean of Oxford." [Ibid., 339, 346.]
Once again, the evidence shows this assault is unwarranted.

The Apocrypha
Another objection to the KJV concerns the Apocrypha. The KJV translators did not consider the Apocrypha inspired Scripture. They placed it between the Testaments, indicating that they regarded it valuable only as historical record and for edification, not for doctrine. The same is true of other early English versions. For example, on the opening page of the Apocrypha in the Geneva Bible we read:
"These books that follow in order after the prophets unto the New Testament are called Apocrypha – that is, books which were not received by a common consent to be read and expounded publicly in the Church, neither yet served to prove any point of Christian religion, save inasmuch as they had the consent of the other Scriptures called canonical to confirm the same, or rather whereon they were grounded; but as books preceding from godly men, [which] were received to be read for the advancement and furtherance of the knowledge of the history, and for the instruction of godly manners: which books declare that at all times God had an especial care of his Church, and left them not utterly destitute of teachers and means to confirm them in the hope of the promised Messiah; and also witness that those calamities that God sent to his Church were according to his providence, who had both so threatened by his Prophets, and so brought it to pass for the destruction of their enemies, and for the trial of his children."

Likewise, the translators of the KJV did not give the Apocrypha the respect they had given the Holy Scriptures. Their relative disregard for these books is not expressed in an explicit disclaimer, as in the Geneva Bible, but can be seen in the way they are presented in the first edition of 1611. In addition to placing the Apocrypha between the Testaments (rather than interspersing them with the canon as was Roman Catholic practice), the translators did not mention the Apocrypha at all on the title page, which simply reads, "The Holy Bible, Conteyning the Old Testament, and the New." The listing on the table of contents page refers to them only as "The Bookes called Apocrypha" and segregates them, as in the text, from the Old and New Testaments. Additionally, both the Old and New Testaments have elaborate engravings placed before each Testament; the Apocrypha does not. The running heads that adorn the tops of the pages in the canon with summaries of the contents (e.g., in Genesis, "The creation of man;" "The first Sabbath;" "Marriage instituted") are replaced in the Apocrypha by generic running heads that read only "Apocrypha" throughout and do not summarize. Further, the translators of the KJV did not malign the canonical books of the Bible the way they did the Apocrypha. At 1 Esdras 5:5 the margin states, "This place is corrupt," an allusion found nowhere in either of the Testaments. The additional chapters to the Book of Esther are entitled "The rest of the Chapters of the Booke of Esther, which are found neither in the Hebrew, nor in the Calde."

Revisions And Printing Errors
Another popular argument used to oppose the KJV is to ask which edition of the KJV is being used, implying that the KJV has been substantially changed. If extreme changes in the text have occurred, there would be justification for additional revisions. The truth, however, is that the text has not really been changed. The revisions of the KJV dealt with the correction of early printing errors or the modernization of the text as it regards spelling and punctuation. The verses have remained the same.
There have been four major revisions of the KJV. They took place in 1629, 1638, 1762, and 1769. The 1762 revision was the work of Dr. F. S. Paris of the University at Cambridge. The work of this revision laid the foundation for most modern editions of the text. He greatly enhanced the use of italics (which in the KJV denote supplied words not in the original languages) and modernized most of the spelling. His edition also added several marginal references. The 1769 edition came from Oxford, and was the work of Dr. Benjamin Blayney. In this edition, several additional revisions were made in correcting earlier printing errors, spelling, and expanding marginal and introductory notes. This edition has become the standard by which modern texts are printed.

An example of differences in spelling may be seen in this comparison of Galatians 1:1-5 from a 1612 edition of the KJV and a current one. Note, however, that the text remains the same.

1612 Edition:
1. Paul an Apostle not of men, neither by man, but by Iesus Christ, and God the Father, who reised him from the dead, 2. And all the brethren which are with me, vnto the Churches of Galatia: 3. Grace be to you and peace, from God the Father, and from our Lord Iesus Christ; 4. Who gaue himself for our sins, that he might deliuer vs from this present euil world, according to the will of God, & our Father. 5. To whom be glory for euer and euer, Amen.

Current Editions:

1. Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) 2. And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: 3. Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, 4. Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: 5. To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Other revisions sought to correct printing errors. Sometimes the printer omitted a word or words were printed twice. These were corrected in order to produce the text as the translators gave it. The 1632 edition, for example, left out the word "not" in the Commandment "Thou shalt not commit adultery," thus earning it the nickname The Wicked Bible. Even today with computerized checking of the text, printing errors can occur. This does not invalidate the preserved word of God or prove the KJV is corrupt. After all, one finds these same errors of transmission within the host of existing Greek manuscripts. Yet, it does not nullify the doctrine of preservation for the original reading still can be found despite copyists’ mistakes. It does mean that sometimes printers have made mistakes and the four major revisions of the KJV have sought to correct such errors.

"Printers have persecuted me without cause" (Psalm 119:161). Or so it reads in a 1702 edition of the KJV. One of the great misconceptions about the Authorized Version concerns the diverse errors printers have made throughout its history. Some have concluded that to correct its printing mistakes is to change the text. This, however, is not the case. Others have thought so highly of the King’s Bible as to think that the printers were free from error. This, also, is not so. Printers have made quite a few errors in editions of the Authorized Version.

The first edition of the KJV is often called the "He Bible" because of the printing error that occurred at Ruth 3:15. Here, the first edition read "he went into the city" instead of "she went into the city." The corrected edition is sometimes referred to as the "She Bible." The number of printing errors in the first few decades of editions caused William Kilburne to write a treatise in 1659 entitled, Dangerous Errors in Several Late Printed Bibles to the Great Scandal and Corruption of Sound and True Religion.
Other misprints in the 1611 edition included Exodus 38:11 where "hoopes" was used for "hooks" and Leviticus 13:56, "the plaine be" for "the plague be." In Ezra 3:5 the printer repeated the word "offered" twice. The running head over the fourth chapter of Micah reads "Joel" instead of its proper name of Micah. "He" is used instead of "ye" in Ezekel 6:8. In Ezekiel 24:7, the text was to read, "She poured it not upon the ground"; however, the Royal Printer left out the word "not." In 1 Esdras 4 the running head reads "Anocrynha" instead of "Apocrypha," and several of these headings misnumber chapters immediately afterwards in 2 Esdras.

Between the printing conditions and the style of print, it can be easily understood why such errors occurred. Below are listed five passages where printing errors occurred in the 1611 edition. Even when we make adjustment for the differences in orthography and calligraphy it takes careful reading to locate these printing mistakes.

Genesis 10:15-18
And Canaan begat Sidon his firstborn, and Heth, And the Jebusite, and the Emorite, and the Girgasite, And the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite, And the Arvadite, and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite: and afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad.

Exodus 14:10
And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the LORD.

Leviticus 17:14
For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.

Jeremiah 22:3
Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiler out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place.

Matthew 16:25
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his his life for my sake shall find it.

Other editions contained similar errata. In 1653 one edition read, "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall inherit the kingdom of God" in 1 Corinthians 6:9. An 1801 edition misreads Jude 16 as, "There are murderers, complainers, walking after their own lusts." The word "murmurers" should have been used. "Discharge" is used instead of "charge" in an 1806 KJV printing at 1 Timothy 5:21, and "wife" was changed to "life" at Luke 14:26 in an 1810 edition.

Even though errors occur occasionally in print, they are detected and corrected in later editions. For example, notice how this 1638 edition changes the text of Acts 6:3, yet it is now corrected to read as the 1611 edition read.

1611 edition:
Wherefore brethren, looke ye out among you seuen men of honest report, full of the holy Ghost, and wisedome, whom we may appoint ouer this businesse.

1638 edition:
Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom ye may appoint over this business.
Current edition:

Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

An example of a printing error found in some current editions is located in Jeremiah 34:16. Here there is a difference in two editions, the one from Cambridge and the one from Oxford.
Cambridge edition:

But ye turned and polluted my name, and caused every man his servant, and every man his handmaid, whom ye had set at liberty at their pleasure, to return, and brought them into subjection, to be unto you for servants and for handmaids.
Oxford edition:

But ye turned and polluted my name, and caused every man his servant, and every man his handmaid, whom he had set at liberty at their pleasure, to return, and brought them into subjection, to be unto you for servants and for handmaids.

Is the correct reading "whom ye" or "whom he"? After all, both appear in various editions of the King James Version, depending on if they follow the Cambridge edition or the Oxford edition. This problem has nothing to do with preservation or the effectiveness of the KJV as a translation. It has to do with the correction of a printing error still in existence. The original edition of 1611 reads "whome yee had set at libertie at their pleasure." According to John R. Dore, "The University of Oxford did not begin to print Bibles until the year 1675, when the first was issued in quarto size; the spelling was revised by Dr. John Fell, Dean of Oxford." [Dore, 346.] Cambridge, agreeing with the edition of 1611, first began printing KJV Bibles in 1629 by Thomas and John Buck. Although one cannot prove that this error is the fault of Dr. John Fell in his 1675 Oxford edition, we can state that considerable time had passed before the error was introduced, and that the error was limited to the editions published by Oxford or those based on the Oxford edition. This has nothing to do with the issue of biblical preservation, for the correct reading is found in the original edition, the Cambridge edition, and current editions based on either the original 1611 or Cambridge editions.

It must be asserted that the text of the KJV has come to us unaltered. What has changed is the correction of printing errors, changes in punctuation and italics, and changes in orthography and calligraphy. This was verified by the American Bible Society in a report published in 1852 (after the fourth major revision of the KJV took place) entitled Committee on Versions to the Board of Managers. An additional report was issued in 1858 by the American Bible Society titled, Report of the Committee on Versions to the Board of Managers of the American Bible Society. Apart from the changes just listed, the reports stated that the "English Bible as left by the translators has come down to us unaltered in respect to its text." [Committee on Versions to the Board of Managers, 1852 ed., 7.] John R. Dore, also attests to this. In a study published by the Royal Printers in 1888, Dore stated, "That pearl of great price, the English Bible of 1611, remained so long without alteration, that many of us had forgotten that it was only one of a series of versions." [Dore, iii.]

The Influence And Durability Of The Authorized Version
King James may not have been a great king; he may not have even been a good king. He did something, though, that no other monarch has ever done. He gave us the word of God in such a fashion that it has lasted for four hundred years. In fact, it has affected our very language, culture and history. Many of the common expressions we use have their roots in the Authorized Version. Here are a few examples:

Phrase Reference
The fat of the land Genesis 45:18
The skin of my teeth Job 19:20
At their wit’s end Psalm 107:27
A soft answer Proverbs 15:1
A thorn in the flesh 2 Corinthians 12:7
Labour of love 1 Thessalonians 1:3; Hebrews 6:10
The root of all evil 1 Timothy 6:10
Clear as crystal Revelation 21:11; 22:1

Apart from Shakespeare’s collected writings, no other body of work has had such influence on English literature. Unlike Shakespeare, who utilized the vast richness of English phraseology, the Authorized Version limited its vocabulary to a mere eight thousand words. Even with such economy of word choice, it has become a valued part of our language and culture. In his book The Bible: Designed to be Read as Living Literature, Ernest Sutherland Bates has correctly noted that the King James Version has secured a place for itself in literature along with Shakespeare, Homer, and Dante. [Ernest Sutherland Bates, The Bible: Designed to be Read as Living Literature (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1936), 1236.] However, unlike these great works, it is the only one produced by a committee, and the only translation of Scripture that can make such a claim. Literary scholars have seen its influence on Milton, Pope, Byron, Keats, Tennyson, Shaw, Whitman, Dickinson, and Twain, to name only a few. The classic Christian masterpiece Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan made use of this translation above all other early English versions that could have been used. Its rhythm and cadence speaks as no other English version ever has. Without question, the Authorized Version has influenced countless multitudes with its glorious presentation of the truth.

The KJV is not only a literary masterpiece; its representation of the original languages is phenomenal. It is not enough for a proper translation to correctly transmit the words from one language into another; it also must carry the sense of the original. Without question the Authorized Version has successfully accomplished this extremely difficult task. Professor Gerald Hammond of the University of Manchester, England, has correctly noted that the KJV translators "have taken care to reproduce the syntactic details of the originals." [Gerald Hammond, "English Translations Of The Bible," The Literary Guide To The Bible, eds. Robert Alter and Frank Kermode, (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1987), 656.] He further notes that "At its best, which means often, the Authorized Version has the kind of transparency which makes it possible for the reader to see the original clearly. It lacks the narrow interpretative bias of modern versions, and is the stronger for it." [Ibid., 664.] Textual and literary scholar Roland Mushat Frye agrees and writes that the KJV "makes possible translations of Hebrew poetry which are characterized at once by beauty of English form and essential faithfulness to the original." [Roland Mushat Frye, "The Bible in English," The Bible in its Literary Milieu, eds. John Maier and Vincent Tollers, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), 255.] Therefore, the KJV is not only outstanding English, it is outstanding as a representative of biblical languages.

The King James Version has also affected our culture. With the expansion of the British Empire, the English language and culture spread throughout the world, taking with it the English Bible of 1611. In the New World the Authorized Version soon replaced the beloved Geneva Bible, and as early as 1637 it was the preferred translation throughout the Massachusetts Bay Colony. [Nathan O. Hatch and Mark A. Noll, eds., The Bible in America: Essays in Cultural History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), 27-33.] Often the only book carried by pioneers during the western expansion was the King James Version. Likewise, it sometimes served as the sole source in teaching both settler and slave how to read. Historians Will and Ariel Durant credited it for diminishing the anti-Semitism that had run rampant throughout England prior to its translation. They write, "The spread of the Bible, accelerated by the King James Version, modified anti-Semitism by giving England a closer acquaintance with the Old Testament." [Will and Ariel Durant, The Age Of Louis XIV (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1963), 461.] They may be correct, for the message of the gospel reminds us that "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). Certainly, the Authorized Version serves as a polished jewel in the crown of English language and culture.

For the past four centuries the Authorized Version has served as the standard English Bible, reaching across denominational lines to reign in the hearts of the English-speaking people. Even with the plethora of modern versions, the King James remains as the defining emblem of the English Bible. Although the New International Version has replaced the King James Version as the best selling translation among Christian booksellers for the past several years, the King James has remained in a strong second place among these booksellers while seemingly taking a much stronger lead as the version of choice. A 1995 poll concerning Bible translations showed that nearly all Americans own at least one version of the Bible, and that approximately two-thirds of those surveyed claim the Authorized Version as their main translation. [As cited by Jennifer Lowe, "Buy the Book," Dayton Daily News (Dayton Ohio, Sept. 16, 1995), 7C.] Additionally, in 1997 the Barna Research Group established that the King James Version is more likely to be read than the New International Version by a ratio of five to one. [Barna Research Group, Ltd. ( 1997.] Other polling through the Internet has established the King James as the most likely favored English translation. [Goshen Net ( has provided an online Bible poll that establishes the KJV as the preferred translation. As of July 18, 2000 over ten thousand Internet users were asked to vote for their favorite English version. Their polling data showed the KJV at 49%, the NIV at 24%, the NKJV at 14%, the NASV at 5%, the ASV at 2% and the RSV and NRSV both at 1%. The category marked "Other" received 4%.] The King James Version has maintained its place as a top selling version, it remains the most reproduced translation for the purpose of evangelism, and is the translation of choice in American households.

For years some have thought that the popularity of the King James Version would soon come to an end. Perhaps a day will come when a new translation of God’s word will win the hearts of all English-speaking people as the Authorized Version has done. There may come a day, perhaps, when we will look back at a modern version and see that it has played a major role in the development of our language and literature with the same impact that the version of 1611 has provided for us. Perhaps a day will arise when this new translation will affect our history and our very culture even as the King James Bible has done in the past four hundred years. There very well may come such a day . . . perhaps . . . but not today.

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