English-speakers have had such ready access to the Bible in our language for so long that it is easy to take the Scripture’s availability for granted. It is appropriate, therefore, occasionally to pause and reflect on God’s kindness in giving us His written Word and in providing and preserving it in our language. The 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Version (KJV) of the English Bible provides such an occasion.
How we got our English Bible is a fascinating story. From Wycliffe to Tyndale to the Geneva Bible to the King James “Authorized” Bible, the effort to make God’s inscripturated Word available to the English speaking world reveals the providential ordering of men and movements. As the two major articles in this issue make plain, the King James version of the English Bible, as well as the predecessors that led up to it, have been mightily used of God to spread His truth throughout the world.
One need not acquiesce to the superstitions of the extreme forms of “King-James-Onlyism” in order to appreciate the accuracy, beauty and eloquence that were attained by the translators of the Authorized Version. It has been and continues to be a wonderful, useful English translation of Scripture. The story of its development reminds us that our Book has come to us from blood-stained hands. Furthermore, when one compares the vibrancy of Christian faith that characterized the Puritan era that gave us the KJV to that of the modern era with all of our modern translations, it becomes painfully obvious that a multitude of translations does not necessarily mean an increase in spiritual health.
So on this auspicious occasion of its 400th anniversary, let all English speaking Christians thank God for His mercy in giving us the Scriptures in our heart language. And let us likewise pray that He will raise up others who will do the hard work to make His Word known in the languages of the world’s remaining unreached people groups so that His truth will continue to spread throughout the earth.
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