The King James Bible as Literary Milestone

This month marks the 400th anniversary of the publication of the Authorized Version of the Bible, commonly called the King James Version. Being criticized today as outdated in both common language and scholarship (both of which are based in truth), it is easy to forget what an enormous impact the King James Bible and the tradition of translations in the century before, all based on the original translation work of William Tyndale, had on the English language that we speak to this very day. Only the works of William Shakespeare hold the slightest candle to the King James Bible as a primary hammer in shaping the early, molten Modern English language.

I, myself, have only in very recent years come to a greater appreciation of the King James Bible. Fortunately, the 400th anniversary celebration has given us quite a selection of resources on this most important of translations and the force it has played in both literature and theology.

St. Helen’s Church Bishopsgate has provided this remarkable short introduction to the King James Bible:

A Short History of the KJV from St Helen’s Church on Vimeo.

Three websites have emerged as great resources for learning about the King James.

The King James Bible Trust is a British-based website featuring a completely readable facsimile of a 1611 King James Bible, a YouTube program of people (some notable) reading favorite passages from the King James, and numerous resources for churches, communities, and schools about the King James.

KJV400 is the site organized largely by Thomas Nelson Publishers, currently the leading publisher of KJV bibles in the world. It has several significant features, including a complete, readable facsimile of a 1611 edition.  It also features an impressive four-part documentary on the history of the King James Bible which goes into a bit more depth than the St. Helen’s Bishopgate video, if one has the time.

Finally, for an Australian contribution, ABC Religion & Ethics has put together an impressive page of articles, videos, and audio regarding the KJV, including scholars, both religious and literary, worldwide.

There are a few other notable resources, too. To see an example just how many phrases the King James Bible introduced into the English language, see The Kings English and this page from The Phrase Finder. However, if you would like a more immediate, and more fun, demonstration, watch the below video:

Lastly, a terrific documentary has been released to video, KJB: The Book That Changed the World from Lionsgate Films and hosted by the insurmountable John Rhys-Davies. Here is the trailer: