Sunday, July 3, 2011

The King James Bible — 400 Years Old This Year

Bentham King James Bible (1762)

"When [The King James Bible] appeared, moreover, it was already familiar, in the sense that it borrowed freely from William Tyndale’s great translation of a century before. Deliberately, and with commendable modesty, the members of King James’s translation committees said they did not seek 'to make a new translation, nor yet to make of a bad one a good one, but to make a good one better'. [...]
     In both his time [William Tyndale's] and theirs this was a modern translation, the living language of streets, docks, workshops, fields. Ancient Israel and Jacobean England went easily together. The original writers of the books of the Old Testament knew about pruning trees, putting on armour, drawing water, the readying of horses for battle and the laying of stones for a wall; and in the King James all these activities are still evidently familiar, the jargon easy, and the language light. “Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward”, runs the wonderful phrase in Job 5: 7, and we are at a blacksmith’s door in an English village, watching hammer strike anvil, or kicking a rolling log on our own cottage hearth." — More Intelligent Life

First page of the Gospel of Saint John,
from the 1526 Peter Schoeffer printing of William
Tyndale's English translation of the Bible
Wikipedia Commons

"[Tyndale] was tried on a charge of heresy in 1536 and condemned to death, despite Thomas Cromwell's intercession on his behalf. Tyndale 'was strangled to death while tied at the stake, and then his dead body was burned'. Tyndale's final words, spoken 'at the stake with a fervent zeal, and a loud voice, were reported as "Lord! Open the King of England's eyes."' [...] Within four years, at the same king's behest, four English translations of the Bible were published in England [...] All were based on Tyndale's work." — Wikipedia

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