Sunday, 11 September 2011


Before discussing ‘The Authorized version of the Bible’ let us know about the Bible and its development till the Authorized Version.

* What is the Bible:-

      * The Bible, known as the word of God, is the sacred book of the Christians. It is divided into two parts- the Old Testament and the New Testament. Each of these Testaments is sub-divided into a number of Books. The Old Testament consists of thirty-nine (39) books and the New Testament twenty-seven (27) making is all sixty-six (66) in the whole Bible.

* The chief books of the Old Testament are known as the – Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings. They are narratives. They describe creation and the primeval history of the world and then present the history of the Hebrew race.

* The New Testament consists of four Gospels- The Gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John, and describes the life and teaching of Jesus Christ.

* Originally the Old Testament was written in Hebrew language and the New Testament in Greek. With the rise of the Christian Communities in the western provinces of the Roman Empire, the Bible was translated into Latin. The most p[popular translation is known as Vulgate by St. Jerome. It became the official scripture of the Roman Catholic Church.

* The development of the English Version of the Bible.

a)            About eighth century Bede translated a portion of the Gospel of St. John into Old English prose. The work was immensely continued during the Old English period as in the prose of Aelfric (about 1000).

b)            During the Anglo Norman period, due to the influence of French and Latin, English translation did not flourish; but efforts were made, especially in the Psalms and the Pauline epistles.

c)       In 1380 Wycliffe’s translation of the New Testament was made in order to help his poor priests, “faithfully to scatter the seeds of God’s word”. He added simplicity and straight forwardness to English prose. Wycliffe’s model was the Latin Vulgate.

d)            In 1384 and 1388 under Wycliffe’s influence two complete version of the Bible come to us. The second version is often ascribed to John Purvey, the Lollard leader. The two versions are simple and unpretentious rendering, the second is more finished than the first.

e)            William Tyndle made his translation in 1526. He translated the Bible straight from the Hebrew and the Greek originals. He did much to give the Bible its modern shape. His translation may be described as a truly noble work, faithful and scholarly, though couched in simple and faithful language.
f)             Miles Coverdale translated the Bible in 1535. His is the first complete English Bible to be printed. He, though lacked the scholarship of Tyndle he had an exquisite taste for phrase and rhyme, and many of the most beautiful expressions are of his workmanship.

g)            In 1537 appeared the finely printed version of ‘Thomas Matthew’ under the name John Rogers.

h)            Under the command of Henry VIII, a commission of translators executed the first Authorized Version in 1539. It was based on ‘Matthew’s Bible’.

i) In 1560 another notable translation came known as Geneva Bible or better popular as ‘Breeches Bible’.

j)            In 1568 issued the ‘Bishop’s Bible’. It was translated by a committee of bishops and learned men.


It is also called as ‘King James’s Bile’. It was sanctioned by James-I who took a great interest in its progress. He called a Conference at Hampton Court Palace in 1604 to discuss certain religions matter. It was agreed that a good translation of the Bible was the need of the time as the prevailing versions of the Bible did not satisfy everyone.

In 1607 forty-seven (47) scholars, including ablest Professorial and Episcopal talent, were appointed of the task. The editors worked in six groups (two at Westminster, two at Oxford and two at Cambridge), each receiving a certain portion of the Biblical text for translation; each group revised the work of its fellow translators. The task began in 1607 was completed in 1611.

It has tremendous influence on English thought and English literature. Its unique philosophy and thought provoking ideas have ever lasting effect on their thinking and speaking. In addition to this, it has all species of literary forms e.g. history, Parable, dream-allegory, legend, biography, fable and proverbs etc.

The Authorized Version of the Bible has various notable characteristics-

First, it is an entire literature became it is the outcome of a process of evolution, over which the finest intellects of the time has exercised a controlling influence.

Secondly, in spite of the diversity of its sources it has a remarkable uniformity or treatment and spirit.

Thirdly, the new version gives the flavour of archaic words, which was felt in Jacobean times.

Fourthly, it is in the words of Huxley “the Magna Charta of the poor and the oppressed”. The elevation and nobility of Biblical diction, assisted by its slightly archaic tinge, have a tendency to keep all English style above meanness and triviality.

Finally, we note the narrative and lyrical style of the new version. The new version includes the narrative portions which are in great bulk. They are of great literary interest and value. Whereas the Old Testament narrative which came under the influence of the Greek is more scholarly and liberal in tone the new version has the lyrical portions which are perhaps the most important as literature. “Their poetry like that of the Old English was rhythmic; it went by irregularly distributed beats or accents. The English translators to a large extent preserved the Jewish rhythms, adding the music, the cadence, the soar and the swing or ecstatic English prose.

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