With the recent royal wedding, England has been the focus of much world-wide attention lately. Keeping attention on England for a bit longer, today marks the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of The Bible (KJV), first out in print in 1611.
KJV allowed the general English-speaking public to have access to Scripture. It allowed congregations to follow along together as Scriptures were shared from their pulpits.
According to Amazon.com, KJV “still ranks among the top two or three best-selling translations of Scripture in the United States each month.“
The Translators spoke of its value in their “Epistle Dedicatory” (dedication) when they said, “…among all our joys, there was no one that more filled our hearts, than the blessed continuance of the preaching of God’s sacred Word among 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.”
And about those thee’s and thou’s: consider this line from Romeo and Juliet: “Romeo, Romeo, where art thou, Romeo”. There’s a certain beauty to this poetic style, isn’t there? “Romeo, where are you?” would make this more current, but it just wouldn’t be the same, would it?
There are many translations of the Bible. I use a number of them in my Scriptural study. Each sheds clearer light on the message. But I find something very appealing to the heart in the poetry of KVJ. And it is certainly not out of date, but rather, very familiar, very comforting.
Consider these statements from KVJ which are relatively well-known.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.”
(KJV Psalm 23:1,4-5)
“Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.”
(KJV Deuteronomy 4:39)
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Thou shalt not kill.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Thou shalt not steal.”
(KJV Exodus 20:3,13-15)
“Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.”
(KJV Psalm 100:3)
A colleague of mine in Michigan is part of a group of about 20 people who are reading the Bible through cover to cover together this year in honor of the 400th anniversary of KJV. She told me, “we are all learning so much about the history of the faith and belief in one universal God and His nature and relationship to our daily lives.”
KJV itself sums it all up nicely: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
(KJV 2 Timothy 3:16-17)