Friday, December 21, 2007

The original KJV

Most American Christians know that the King James bible was the first officially authorized translation of the Bible into English — as authorized by King James (and thus called the “Authorized Version” in England).

The King James was first released in 1611. It followed the earlier (unauthorized) translations by John Wycliffe and followers in the 14th century, and Tyndale’s Luther-inspired translation of the New Testament in 1524.

The King James Version was read in most churches until the late 20th century. In the past two decades has become popular as a computer text (first on PCs, now on the Internet) because unlike the NIV and RSV, its copyright has long since expired and is now in the public domain.

This oft-read KJV is thought of as the version Authorized by James, but the reality is that modern Americans have been using the 1769 edition. If the 1769 seems archaic, the 1611 (in Middle English) would be incomprehensible.

For those who want to understand the history of the 1611 edition and all the changes up to 1769, New Zealand Bible scholar David Norton has published A Textual History of the King James Bible. It is the definitive treatment of the text of the KJV, rather than earlier books that focused on biographies of its editors.

Norton has also re-edited and re-released the 1611 edition (under the cryptic name ) (but with modern spelling) for those who want to study from the earlier edition. Cambridge University Press has a dedicated website that explains more about the project.

Thanks to Rev. Peter Toon for summarizing the differences between the 1611 and 1789 editions, and the importance of the original.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

I really enjoy this version. Its my "standard" Bible now, at least until the full Orthodox Study Bible comes out in Feb/March