Happy 400th K.J.V.
Many of you may know that this is the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. What a remarkable and beloved translation this has been and will yet continue to be. And what a remarkable chain of historical events preceded bringing God’s Word into the English language. Did you know that heroic and fearless martyrs actually gave their lives for this cause? Here’s a timeline I found of the people, places and events that led up to and include the publication of this great English Bible.
• 130 B.C. – The Hebrew language stops being used by the masses. By this time The Old Testament is translated into the scholarly language of the day, Greek. This translation is called “The Septuagint.” This is the Bible most read in the 1st century. Note: Jesus read and quoted the Hebrew Bible, as is evident from his references to Scripture, which would have been the Old Testament, of course. Also note: Jesus and his disciples spoke Aramaic.
• 90s A.D. – The last book of the New Testament, Revelation, is completed by John on the island of Patmos. Both the Old and New Testaments are now complete.
• 100-382 A.D. – The Gospel spreads like wild fire throughout the known world. These people all need the Bible. Hand-written copies of the NT in Greek are produced all over the world to try to keep up with all the new followers of Christ. Over 20,000 of these copies exist to this day.
• 250 A.D. – The “canon” of the Old Testament is generally agreed upon with the 39 present books.
• 393 and 397 A.D. – The “canon” of the New Testament is affirmed with the 27 present books by the Councils of Hippo and Carthage.
• 382-1500 A.D. – The known world eventually stops using the Greek language in favor of Latin. Jerome translates the entire Bible into Latin. It is known as “The Vulgate.”
• 1384 A.D. – John Wycliffe and his followers produce the first complete Bible in English. Wycliffe dies of a stroke the same year his Bible is completed. Associates of Wycliffe, after his death, finish his translation. The Church at the time said only the priests can rightly interpret the Bible so it was illegal to have the Bible in a language other than Latin. Many of Wycliffe’s associates are burned at the stake with their English translations tied around their necks.
• 1408 – A law is passed in England banning the translation of the Bible into English.
• 1428 – 44 years after Wycliffe dies, his bones are exhumed and burned for having translated the Bible into English.
• 1440 – Johannes Gutenberg invents the printing press. It is no longer necessary to make hand-written copies of the Bible.
• Oct. 31, 1517 – Martin Luther challenges the church hierarchy of his day, like Wycliffe, by nailing his 95 theses to the church doors in Wittenberg, Germany. This act sparks the Protestant Reformation. Part of the reformation passion is allowing people to read the Bible in their own language. Martin Luther translates the Bible into German for his country.
• 1525 – William Tyndale completes a translation of the New Testament into English. He flees England to complete his translation in the more friendly protestant land of Germany. This is the first English translation of the New Testament produced from the original Greek.
• 1536 – Tyndale is burned at the stake for translating the Bible into English. His dying words are, “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes!” Tyndale’s translation was so good 90 percent of it would reappear in the King James Version (the King of England’s Version).
• 1560 – The Geneva Bible becomes the first English Bible where the entire Bible (not just the New Testament) is translated from the original Greek and Hebrew. It is also the first translation done by a committee of people.
• 1604 – King James VI summons the religious leaders of England together to settle on a common English translation that can be used by both clergy and the masses. Forty-seven men stationed at Oxford, Cambridge and Westminster Abbey worked on the translation from original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. The translators, additionally, relied heavily on the Tyndale and Geneva Bibles. Nearly 90 percent of Tyndale’s New Testament translation was used in the King James Version.
• 1611 (400 years ago) – The King James Version, known in England as the Authorized Version, is published for the first time. The purpose of the translators was not to make an entirely new translation of the Bible but, “to make a good one better, or out of many good ones, one principal good one.”
What a blessing this Bible has been for so many of us for so long. I enjoy and appreciate our “new translations,” but I will always be thankful to God for the beauty and majesty of “The Great K.J.V.”
Kollmeyer is Pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church on Hwy. 314 between Lowe’s and The Pavilion in Fayetteville. Currently the church is sponsoring a “Pumpkin Patch,” with all proceeds going to mission trips for flood, hurricane, and tornado relief. Please come by! www.princeofpeacefayette.com