KING JAMES BIBLE CELEBRATES 400 YEARS AS WORLD’S NUMBER ONE SELLER
“The Bible commissioned by King James VI of Scotland and I of England was the centerpiece of her (England’s Queen) message recorded at the Chapel Royal in Hampton Court,” writes Tom Peterkin. “Making the broadcast from the palace built for Henry VIII was a break from tradition. The Queen's annual address is normally recorded from Buckingham Palace. The change was suggested by the Queen, because Hampton Court was where, in 1604, King James commissioned the Bible, which took seven years for translators to complete. The Queen said the King James Bible was "acknowledged as a masterpiece of English prose and the most vivid translation of the scriptures."
The Queen added: "The glorious language of this Bible has survived the turbulence of history and given many of us the most widely recognized and beautiful descriptions of the birth of Jesus Christ which we celebrate today."
The book was born in controversy and reigns to this day in controversy. But, despite all the controversy and attack it still reigns while all other English translations have fallen by the wayside.
The King James is attacked as being too hard to read. But a sampling of verses using the Fiesch-Kincaid grade level indicator test reveals that the King James ranks easier than modern translations in 23 out of 26 comparisons. It averages reading levels between 6th and 7th grade compared to most other translations which average between 8th and 9th grade levels.
The book was born in contentions when at a 1604 meeting at Hampton Court palace, when a young James VI of Scotland, newly crowned as James I of England, was trying to iron out differences between the Church of England and a dissident sect known as the Puritans. He proposed a new translation to calm the controversy.
The King James is attacked for showing some political influence. Tyndale and the board responsible for the KJV had to sign a statement saying that they would remain faithful to the doctrines of the church sponsored by King James. This meant using the word "forever" instead of "age" and "Hell" to replace "Sheol", "Gehenna", "Hades", and "Tartoo."
But the King James still reigns supreme. Some of the phrases that still resonate in the age of Twitter and Facebook are, "my brother's keeper," "salt of the earth," "give up the ghost," "scapegoats," "an eye for an eye," "casting your pearls before swine," "scarlet woman," "writing on the wall" and "the blind leading the blind."
Abraham Lincoln quoted the King James: "A house divided against itself."
The famous atheist, Richard Dawkins, praises the King James Bible: "You can't appreciate English literature unless you are to some extent steeped in the King James Bible. There are phrases that come from it — people don't realize they come from it — proverbial phrases, phrases that make echoes in people's minds," he said in a video released by the King James Bible Trust, the British organization that is one promoter of the 400th-anniversary celebrations due next year.
The Labour MP, Frank Field, who is chairman of the King James Bible Trust, says: "If you have to pick one book which shaped the English language and gave us a cultural commonwealth around the world, it's this book."