Next week, the King James Version of the Bible celebrates its 400th anniversary, as it was first published on May 2, 1611.
It is an amazing accomplishment that a translation of the Bible has endured 400 years.
Many people are unaware that at the time the King James Version was published, some people didn’t want to accept that “new” translation of the Bible into English. Puritans preferred the Geneva Bible (1560), while Anglican clergy preferred the Bishops Bible (1568). Anglicans tended to accept the KJV after it was published, but it was took about 30 years for Puritans to give up the Geneva Bible for the KJV. Today, there are many popular new translations of the Bible, but the King James Version is still the most widely recognized translation in English.
Many expressions came into the English language from the KJV, such as “fell flat on his face” (Numbers 22:31), “escaped by the skin of my teeth,” (Job 19:20), “God forbid” (Romans 3:4), and “the powers that be” (Romans 13:1).
Children often misunderstand the English of the KJV, creating humorous situations. I’ve heard many children misquote John 3:16, saying, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only forgotten son...” (The word is “begotten,” meaning “to be the father of.”) I’ve also known a few kids who were afraid of Jesus, not wanting to suffer, because Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me” (Mark 10:14). (“Suffer” in 1611 meant “allow.”) And Sunday School class drawings of “swaddling clothes” (Luke 2:7) can get pretty interesting.
Nevertheless, many a child who was “suffered” to read it, as found in the Bible the “peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
Behold, thou hast served us well, King James Version of the Bible. Verily, verily, we saith unto thee, happy anniversary!
(Copyright 2011 by Bob Rogers. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more “Holy Humor” at www.holyhumor.blogspot.com.)