Late one night after a hard 3-day ride, messengers told Jim Stuart that his distant cousin Bess had died. Bess had run her affairs by the motto “Always the same,” but when Jim took over, he was ready for change.
Jim was a brilliant scholar, linguist, poet, dramatist, and outdoorsman. This is the story of a change Jim orchestrated – one of the most influential and enduring changes ever, and one that bears his name. It’s a story of murder, intrigue, burning at the stake, scholarship, and courage. It’s the story of the King James Bible.
This year marks the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible, the most influential version of the Bible (KJV) ever published.
Israeli diplomat and author Michael J. Pragai said of the KJV,
“The milestone in the story of Britain’s involvement with the Holy Land was the translation of the Bible into English. As a result of this translation, the entire web of English history, Church, tradition, and law was infused with the Biblical tradition of the Hebrew nation. For the span of some three centuries the Bible became the single most powerful influence in English culture.”
The King James Bible was the dominant expression of God’s Word for the English-speaking world for most of four centuries. This runaway all-time best-seller has been in print for 400 years without a break.
The impact of the King James Bible on English language and western culture is beyond estimation. It’s the only book that has over 1 billion copies in print.
American journalist and scholar H. L. Mencken (1880-1956) lauded the KJV as “probably the most beautiful piece of writing in all the literature of the world.”
English speakers today use over 1,000 sayings like
”thorn in the flesh,”
“eye for an eye,”
“wolf in sheep’s clothing,”
“writing on the wall” or
“the truth shall make you free,”
often with little awareness that they are quoting from the KJV. This is far more than from any other source including Shakespeare.
Playwright and skeptic George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) is the only person to have won both a Nobel prize and an Oscar. He wrote admiringly of the KJV translators,
“They carried out their work with boundless reverence and care, and achieved a beautifully artistic result. They made a translation so magnificent that to this day the common human Britisher or citizen of the United States accepts and worships it as a single book by a single author, the book being the Book of Books and the author being God.”
In a lecture at the University of California Berkeley in March 1911 on the 300th anniversary of the KJB, former President Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) said,
“The great debt of the English-speaking peoples everywhere is to the translation of the Bible…as it was put forth in English three centuries ago. No other book of any kind ever written in English–perhaps no other book ever written in any other tongue–has ever so affected the whole life of a people as this Authorized Version of the Scriptures [KJV] has affected the life of the English-speaking peoples.”
The influence of the King James Bible on English culture, language, life, and morals is truly without equal. Despite its flaws, it’s been a huge blessing from Yahweh, as it continues to clearly proclaim salvation truth to condemned souls.
Soli Deo Gloria.
This is the second installment in the Story of the King James Bible series celebrating its 400th Anniversary.
Read the prequel:
1. King James Bible – The King with videos
Read the sequels:
3. King James Bible – Influence
4. King James Bible – John Wycliffe
5. King James Bible – Royal Ceremony
6. King James Bible – William Tyndale
7. King James Bible – Bible Wars
8. King James Bible – King & Bible
©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith” (Jude 1:3)
Thursday November 10, 2011 A.D.
Read my November 2011 newspaper column:
Marco Polo’s Dragons.
The sum of Thy word is truth, and every one of Thy righteous ordinances is everlasting. (Psalms 119:160)