This year is the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible, the Authorised Version. There have been a number of special events to mark the anniversary including lengthy readings from it on Radio 4. The text of the King James Bible is memorable and many have commented on the impact the translation in terms of its literary excellence.
The main significance of the King James translation, however, is that it was an authorised translation of the Bible into the language of the English people. This was the culmination of a long process in which Christian men had committed their lives to ensuring that ordinary people in England would be able to read God’s Word in their own language. It was a costly struggle. Just 75 years before the King James Version was published William Tyndale was burned at the stake, at the age 42. because he had translated the Bible into English. It is estimated that 75% of the King James Old Testament and 84% of the New Testament is Tyndale’s translation.
Why have Christians committed their lives, and even died, to translate the Bible into the ordinary language of people around the world? The answer is because the Bible is no ordinary book, it is God’s Word. Christians believe that what the Bible says, God says. It is the authority for everything they believe and do. It is a guide through life and a comfort in all the circumstances of life. It reveals God and his great love in his Son, Jesus Christ. The Bible is true and is full of God’s wonderful promises. Countless people have experienced this personally.
The King James translation of Psalm 23 has brought comfort and strength to countless people.
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 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. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.“