Happy 400th birthday, King James Bible

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
–John 1:1

And then along came King James VI&I wanting a new English translation of the Word. He set up a committee to do something about it, as one does. And 400 years ago today the fruit of their efforts was published. And yea, it was good. It was so good that it proved that you really can make great art by committee.

It wasn’t the best translation, even then, if all you are concerned about is accuracy of translation. There are much better modern translations if what you’re after is faithfulness to the original texts. But the joy and the power of the Authorized Version is that it was created to be read aloud, with pleasure in the listening. The committee created a work of literature, one of the greatest works of literature in the English language. The language has changed in the last 400 years, and there are updated versions of the Authorized version. But the committee’s choice of words to express the Word lives on still; not merely because it was the book of the dominant religion of the language, but because that committee knew how to write, and write well.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s