1st publication of The new King James bible
The 2nd of May 1611 AD
It is telling that when the King James Bible, seven years in the preparation, was finally ready for publication in 1611, that much of the text was derived, via the Geneva Bible, from William Tyndale ’s 1525 version. Tyndale had been burned at the stake in 1536 for his temerity in spreading the word, James I had gathered the greatest religious scholars and linguists together in his great project to do the same thing less than a century later.
Elizabeth I had considered a similar effort at the end of her reign, and James, encouraged by Protestant clerics, took the idea up in the year after he succeeded her. Some 54 scholars were chosen, though it is thought fewer in fact actually engaged in the work, spread over three centres: Westminster , Cambridge , and Oxford . They worked from Greek and Hebrew sources, as well as existing English translations which they endeavoured to incorporate if accurate.
Whether you are a believer or not, the King James Bible is a wonderful example of the use of words, much of it showing the powerful poetry of those fired by belief. Enormous care was taken in the preparation, including a full nine months at Stationers’ Hall revising and checking every word.
The King’s printer, Robert Barker, produced the finished article, set in black type in a volume 16 inches high. Within a year every pulpit in the country had its version, chained to the pulpit for security given the value of such a book.
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