University of Cambridge

Discovering the King James Bible

We all know that Bible study is an important part of the Christian faith, but in these turbulent and busy days it can be challenging to find the time for proper Bible study. One method that many have found to be helpful in this regard is to utilize the audio Bible for this purpose. The King James audio Bible has become one of the several well-loved versions of the audio Bible available. It has become clear that audio Bible study has never been easier, because you can listen to a CD containing the audio Bible or you can listen to an audio Bible mp3 version that will fit on a tiny mp3 player, so you can take your Bible study with you wherever you go. The King James version of the Bible that we have come to know and love has a fascinating history.

The King James version of the Bible uses the Hebrew texts as the basis for its Old Testament translation, and the Greek texts for the New Testament translations. It does also refer in a secondary sense to the Latin Vulgate text as well. The translation work took place in England between 1603 and 1611, and the text was translated by 47 scholars from the respected Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, as well as Westminster, working in different committees, which were assigned with translating certain portions of the Bible. The Apocrypha was included in this translation; some groups accept these books as part of scripture, while others do not.

King James himself started his political life as King James the Sixth of Scotland. His mother was the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots and his aunt was Queen Elizabeth the First. James became the King of England in 1603 and was known as King James the First. Before King James came to power in England, there were many competing versions of the Bible, most with footnotes favoring certain political or ecclesiastical positions of the authors.

In light of this situation, it was decided by King James that there should be a new English translation of the Bible that would settle all the controversies surrounding the many other versions, and this new version should follow the doctrine as put forth by the Church of England. He wanted a version where there was a minimum of marginal notes, except for the few needed to help better explain the meaning of certain Hebrew and Greek terms in words that English readers could understand. King James asked them to revise what was known as the Bishop’s Bible, and to compare this version to several of the other competing versions to come up with the translation that best fit the King’s parameters. The translation was completed in 1611, and hit the printing presses that year as well. Intense rivalries developed among the printers chosen to print the Bible; the rights for printing this version of the Bible were eventually purchased in the 1900s by the Cambridge University Press.

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