A Tribute to the King James Version
The King James Version of the Bible has helped form the English language. It has given context to our literature; it has inspired our music; and for centuries it was the one book a family would own and read before all others.
Wherever the British went, they took the King James Bible with them. The first English Bible printed in the New World was a King James Version and its words can be found in American place names, political speeches, and literature. It was the foundation of early education. British missionaries took the King James Version from the outback of Australia to Chief Chitambo's village in Zambia.1
Around the world people have been comforted by the words, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” and “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
They have been challenged by the words, “Judge not, that ye be not judged” and “Be strong and of a good courage . . . for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”
Millions have celebrated with the words, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
And the words of the King James Version have expressed the heart of the Christian message with a poetic beauty: “But now is Christ risen from the dead. . . . For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
The King James Version has been treasured for four hundred years. “In the story of the earth we live on, its influence cannot
be calculated,” says David Daniell. “Its words have been found to have a unique quality, of being able both to lift up a dedicated soul higher than had been thought, and to reach even below the lowest depths of human experience. . . . Sometimes the translation is wrong, or clumsy, or baffling. KJV’s readings of the base texts are in hundreds of places now superseded by greater knowledge, or just better texts. Its older English can confuse the tongue. In particulars, it is not perfect. But the great love it has received is justified by its master of the craft of the declaration of an incarnate God.”
1 David Livingstone, pioneer missionary to Africa, died in Chief Chitambo's village in 1873. Livingstone's body was carried back to London and is buried in Westminster Abbey. His heart, however, is buried in Africa.