King James Bible, KJV Bible, AV Bible: Many Names
The KJV Bible: The Greatest, But Not Among The First
The first English translations of the Bible were the hand-written manuscripts of John Wycliffe and his followers in the late 1300’s, well before Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press in 1455. The lineage of Protestant-produced printed English Bibles begins in the early 1500’s. The first printed English New Testaments were produced by William Tyndale in the 1520’s & 1530’s. The first complete English Bible was published by Myles Coverdale in 1535. The first English Bible translated directly from the original Hebrew & Greek was the Matthew-Tyndale Bible of 1537 and 1549. The most popular of all Protestant translations of the Bible into English was the Geneva Bible of 1560.
The Church of England, also known as The Anglican Church, originally took the same position as the Roman Catholic Church, which was to keep God’s Word trapped in the old ecclesiastical language of Latin, and to kill any Protestants who dared to print the Bible in English. However, that position changed with the advent of King Henry VIII’s “Great Bible” of 1539, as the first officially authorized English Bible of the Anglican Church. This was followed by the 1568 Bishops Bible, under the reign of Queen Elizabeth, as the second officially authorized English Bible of the Anglican Church. And finally, this was followed by the 1611 King James Bible, under the reign of King James, as the third officially authorized English Bible of the Anglican Church. More details are provided on the English Bible History Page.
It may come as a shock to those who assume the King James Bible was either the first English Bible, or at least among the first, to learn that the 1611 KJV Bible in fact came nearly a century after the several English Bible translations of the 1500’s which preceded it. Indeed the King James Bible was not even one of the first translations to be authorized by the Church that ultimately produced it, as it was in fact the third in the lineage of Anglican Church Authorized Bibles of 1539, 1568, and 1611.
The KJV Bible: Not Protestant or Catholic; Actually Anglican
Many are also surprised to learn that the 1611 King James Bible was not a Protestant Bible, but rather, it was an Anglican / Church of England Bible, though the KJV Bible is of course embraced by Protestants everywhere today. Curiously, the greatest Protestant Bible, the 1560 Geneva Bible, } is not well known today, and no longer printed except in small quantity by niche market publishers. The Geneva Bible remained the most popular English Bible until the mid-1600’s. King James was so aggravated by the competition, that by 1616, he had effectually made it illegal to print the Geneva Bible in England, (having actually threatened to enforce such a ban since 1611), ensuring that his own King James Version would reign supreme without rival.
King James: Hero or Tyrant?
King James was a highly educated and very intelligent man, but his personal life made him the most controversial person to rule over England since his relative King Henry VIII. King James publicly proclaimed in 1622 that English Kings are “rightly called gods” and as such, Kings could kill whomever they wished, marry whomever they wished, and engage in sexual relations with anyone they wished, male or female. He even declared it a crime to question King’s personal morality. More details are provided in this linked biographical sketch on King James
It was in fact, King James who motivated the founding of what became the United States of America. A group of Protestant Separatists in the early 1600’s rejected the practices of the King’s Anglican Church, and the morality of King James. They tried to establish their own Protestant churches, but King James refused to allow them religious freedom, fining and imprisoning them. Eventually these Protestant Separatists fled England on a ship called The Mayflower, becoming known as Pilgrims. In 1620 they landed on the shore of Plymouth, Massachusetts, and began to establish a community with separation of Church and State in order to avoid the tyranny from which they had fled, under King James. They brought with them their beloved English Protestant Geneva Bible, as they were obviously not fans of King James or his Bible. Curiously, as the years went by, the early American colonists drifted away from their Geneva Bible, and began to embrace the King James Bible almost exclusively.
It should be noted that the personal morality of King James should in no way reflect poorly upon the King James Version of The Bible. Indeed, King James had almost nothing to do with the actual translation of the Bible that bears his name. He merely funded it with taxpayer money, and commanded that it be printed (without illustrations or commentary) and distributed. The translation was done by 50 of the world’s top Biblical scholars and translation experts, from 1607 to 1610, and published in 1611. The resulting 1611 King James Bible translation was extremely accurate and trustworthy, as well as being majestic in its rendering of the English scriptures. No other English Bible has ever come near the popularity and influence of the King James Version.
The King James Bible Today vs The 1611 King James Bible
Think you are using the 1611 King James Bible? Think again.
You may already have one or more “King James Version” Bibles in your home, and they probably all say “1611” in the front… however the shocking truth is, that is not even close to being an accurate claim. In spite of your King James Bible having the Dedication to King James preface, and the To The Christian Reader preface, and the Title Page that grandiosely proclaims it to be “Translated Out Of The Original Tongues: And With The Former Translations Diligently Compared And Revised By His Majesty’s Special Command and Appointed To Be Read In Churches” with the date “1611” boldly displayed; that is not actually what you have. Indeed, all of that prefatory content is unfortunately just a deceptive marketing ploy maintained by modern Bible publishers in what is essentially a conspiracy to maintain their profitable myth that the King James Version they publish today is essentially the same as the King James Bible of 1611… just re-typeset into a modern typeface. That is not even close to being true.
First and foremost, almost 100% of King James Bibles (and all other English Bibles) printed throughout the 1600’s, 1700’s, and most of the 1800’s, up until around 1885, contained 80 Books, not 66 Books. The 14 Books that were removed from English Bibles (including all the King James Bibles) around 1885 are called the Apocrypha, or Deuterocanonical, or Inter-Testamental Books. These Books were written mostly around 400 B.C. to 200 B.C., so they are Old Testament Era Jewish material. The Apocrypha Books are absolutely not “Roman Catholic” as is often believed in error, (because the Roman Catholics did not remove most of these ancient Jewish Books from their Bibles). In fact, King James set forth a decree in 1611, that if anyone printed his Bible without The Apocrypha Books, he would fine them one year of their wages and imprison them for one year. The Apocrypha was, by law and royal decree, part of every King James Version Bible printed from 1611 until close to three centuries after 1611.
The Apocrypha includes important history about what happened during the “Inter-Testamental Period”, after the Old Testament, and before the coming of Christ in the New Testament. We also find uniquely specific prophecy. As an example, in the Apocryphal Book of Second Esdras, Chapter 7, Verses 28+29, we find in the 1611 King James Bible, “For my son Jesus shall be revealed with those that be with him, and they that remain shall rejoice within 400 years. After these years shall my son Christ die, and all men that have life.” Bear in mind that the names “Jesus” and “Christ” appear nowhere in any Old Testament Book, (though The Messiah is spoken of, with many prophecies concerning His coming, but not providing a time estimate). Also, no prediction of exactly when Jesus Christ would appear are found anywhere in the Old Testament, but this Apocrypha reference states “within 400 years”. That’s impressive, isn’t it? Most of the Great Protestant Reformers and Preachers from the 1500’s through the 1800’s, including the great and beloved Baptist preacher of the late 1800’s, Charles Spurgeon, preached from The Apocrypha.
But the unwarranted and illegal removal of The 14 Apocrypha Books in 1885 was only the most recent change to the 1611 King James Bible. There were also a multitude of changes to the Old Testament and New Testament scriptures. Between the first revision of around 1615 and the last revision of 1769, (notwithstanding the aforementioned 1885 removal of 14 Books), more than 400 wording changes, and close to 40,000 changes in spelling, italics, and punctuation were made to the Old & New Testament scripture of the King James Version. Here are just 3 of the more than 400 examples of wording changes:
Numbers 6: 14
KJV Bibles of 1611 unto the 1770’s: one lamb without blemish
KJV Bibles of the 1770’s unto Today: one ram without blemish
Ezekiel 24: 7
KJV Bibles of 1611 unto the 1770’s: poured it upon the ground
KJV Bibles of the 1770’s unto Today: poured it not upon the ground
John 15: 20
KJV Bibles of 1611 unto the 1770’s: The servant is not greater than the Lord.
KJV Bibles of the 1770’s unto Today: The servant is not greater than his lord.
It is shocking to realize this, but the “King James Version” Bible you may have been using all your life… if it was printed within the past 250 years… is NOT the 1611 King James Bible. It has in fact been subjected to a multitude of revisions. If you do not own a photographic reproduction of the original 1611 then you have no point of reference to see these changes.
Timeline of 1611 King James Bible Revisions
1611 – The original King James Bible is printed in London.
1615 – The first revisions are seen in London KJV printings.
1629 – Cambridge University begins printing the KJV, with sweeping revisions.
1638 – Cambridge University prints the “Corrected” KJV with widespread changes, and this highly updated version becomes the universally accepted and universally printed KJV Bible for 124 years. There are no noteworthy protests regarding the revisions.
1675 – Oxford University begins printing the KJV Bible: essentially still the 1638 edition.
1762 – Cambridge University, guided by Dr. F.S. Paris, issues a massively changed KJV text with hundreds of wording changes, and tens of thousands of spelling changes to reflect the new modern English word spelling uniformity mandated by the widely accepted 1755 Johnson’s English Dictionary. A group of “1611 Loyalists” burns the Cambridge Warehouse down in protest, destroying all but several copies.
1769 – Oxford University, guided by Dr. Benjamin Blayney, takes a surviving copy of Cambridge’s 1762 revised and modernized KJV text, and adds more changes, resulting now in a total of 400 wording changes, and tens of thousands of changes to spelling, punctuation, and italics. A group of “1611 Loyalists” (Proto-Ruckmanites?) burns the Oxford Warehouse down in protest, destroying all but several copies.
Every King James Version Bible printed from the late 1770’s until today… for the past more than 250 years… is the 1769 revision, of the 1762 revision, of the 1638 revision, of the 1629 revision, of the 1615 revision, of the 1611.
With just one other caveat…
1885 – The 14 Apocrypha Books were removed from all King James Bibles.
So, as you can see, even though your King James Bible may say “1611” in the front, and have lots of prefatory historical references to King James, all of that is for show. The fallacy keeps the masses happy, keeps the major publishers selling lots of so-called “1611” King James Bibles … perhaps it even prevents warehouses from being burned down. But it is not true.
The Complex Printing Of The First Edition 1611 King James Bible
All of the First Edition King James Bibles that were printed in the year 1611 were printed under the license of King James, in London, supervised by Robert Barker. All were huge pulpit folio size (around 17 inches tall), with no smaller size printings done in 1611. All had 59 lines of text to their two-column pages. All had the exact same layout of verse-to-page parameters: for example, in every 1611 printing, the fourth leaf (the fourth two-sided page) of Romans contains precisely Romans 6: 1 through Romans 8: 8.
However, the 1611 King James Bible was printed on an estimated 25 different printing presses in London in 1611. Some were royal presses, but most were independently owned presses used under exercise of royal imminent domain by decree of the King, in order to get the printing done as soon as possible. No one press printed more than just a few Books of the Bible, as assigned by the supervisors (such as Barker and his staff). It is extremely important to also understand that no one press had an exclusive on the Books they were assigned, so multiple print shops were tasking with printing Genesis, for example. You may have had 5 or more different printing shops all assigned to do only Genesis through Deuteronomy, and the next 5 different printing shops may have been assigned to do Matthew through Acts, etc. (Note: these are hypothetical examples of assignment for illustration purposes… we do not know exactly which presses printed which Books of the Bible, because those records were all lost in the Great Fire that nearly destroyed London in 1666).
When all the pieced-out assignments were gathered back at the Royal Print Shop, they were assembled in almost countless variations of provenance… so the different types of printing errors were extremely numerous, and more importantly they were dissimilar. Dr. Francis Fry, the greatest Bible collector of the 1800’s, notes in his 1865 Book on the history of the 1611 KJV Bible printing, “I have personally examined more than 100 copies of the 1611 first printing of the King James Bible, and I have not been able to find any two copies that are exactly identical in their wording.” This is because the estimated two dozen different print shops, doing only assigned portions for subsequent collation, (no one of them having an exclusive on their assigned portions), results mathematically in several hundred different possible variations of textual idiosyncrasies and variations… different combinations and permutations of collations of complete Bible text blocks to bind.
It is perhaps easiest to visualize the complexity this way… let’s assign each of the approximately two dozen London print shops contracted in 1611 to print assigned portions of the King James Bible with a letter of the alphabet to identify their shop: A to Z. Now, let’s imagine all those various portions printed and gathered back at the royal warehouse for collation (ordering and assembling of the pages) and binding in complete 1611 King James Bibles. One of the finished and bound Bibles might be a gathering of page portions in the following order, Genesis to Revelation, from the following print shops responsible for that particular example’s pages: C-M-L-A-R-H-M-Z-P-F-C-T And the next one might be identified as: A-R-Z-A-Q-J-E-O-W-X-G-Y. It is easier to understand now why, when Dr. Fry examined over 100 copies of the 1611 KJV First Edition, all printed in exactly 1611, he could not find any two that were identical.
Each complete Bible had different collections of typographical discrepancies with very minor errors and deviations. Little word alterations like “He” vs. “She” or “of” vs “if” or “heals” vs. “healeth”. None of those errors were substantive wording issues that appreciably changed the meaning of anything theologically. Printing a 750-page Bible in 1611, with dozens of contracted printers, made it practically impossible to produce complete Bibles with zero minor typographical errors.
For reasons that seem to be wrapped up in tradition more than logic or reason, many collectors focus on whether a given copy of the 1611 King James Bible says “he went into the citie”, or “she went into the citie” at Ruth 3: 15, going as far as to label such Bibles “He Variant” or “She Variant”. Ultimately, this is a meaningless distinction, and one among countless distinctions anyway. However, because it has been noted that the so-called “He Variants” tend to have two dated “1611” title pages, and the “She Variants” tend to have one dated 1611 Title Page, (more details about this are below), the “He Variants” are more highly prized among collectors. Some even think, in error, that the “He Variants” were printed earlier, as “He” is an error, and “She” is correct, so they reason that the error must precede the correction. That is of course a fallacy of logic, as both were printed simultaneously in different print shops. In fact, this is not even true 100% of the time, as there are known examples of “She Variants” with two dated “1611” title pages, including one of the 1611 King James Bibles in the Gene Scott Rare Bible Collection in Los Angeles, California.
It should also be noted that the beginning of each chapter of each Book of the Bible had its own decorative “drop-letter” (a larger letter, typically with a floral or otherwise ornate design). These were random, left up to the individual print shop director to select whatever design they wished (mostly within a large set of pre-approved designs). So one copy of the First Edition 1611 King James Bible might have a rose growing out of the first letter of Chapter 24 of Matthew, while another might have a tulip growing out of that letter, and another might have a bird sitting by the letter, and another might just have some fancy scrolling lines accenting the letter. Sometimes a printer even went a bit rouge and selected ornamented drop letters that were not approved. For example, some original 1611 First Edition King James Bibles show on the first page of Ephesians, which starts at Ephesians 1: 1 with a large “P” for Paul… a bare-breasted woman swinging from the top of the large “P”!
Any 1600’s Era printing of the King James Version Bible that is about 17 inches tall, with 59 lines of two-column text, is one that was printed in exactly 1611. Period. Whatever textual distinctions it may have do not effect this in any way. However, not all the copies that were printed in 1611, were bound and issued in 1611, and so not all the copies printed in 1611 bear “1611” dated title pages… much to the chagrin and irritation of rare book dealers and collectors for the past four centuries.
The Confusing Issuance of The 1611 King James Bible
In the end it was realized that all these printers had in fact printed far more copies of the 1611 King James Bible than were needed to fulfill the King’s decree that one be placed on every church pulpit and every college or seminary lectern in England with several extras to present as royal gifts. There were actually thousands of extra copies printed… way more than were needed in 1611. So, they took the number of text blocks (unbound complete Bibles) they needed… which as we have already established were not exactly identical to each other… and bound them and issued them out the door of the Royal Warehouse in 1611.
However, many of the text blocks remained unbound for several years, and were later bound with subsequently dated title pages indicating their actual year of BINDING and ISSUANCE … and NOT their year of printing, which was of course “1611” in all cases. Oh, the confusion this has caused among dealers and collectors over the proceeding centuries! This happened in five recognized stages of issuance, (as additional copies were requested over the coming decades), which we will now list.
The First Edition, First Issue, of the 1611 King James Bible
- Was printed in 1611
- Was bound and issued out the door in 1611
- The Old Testament Title Page is dated 1611
- The New Testament Title Page is dated 1611
The First Edition, Second Issue, of the 1611 King James Bible
- Was printed in 1611
- Was bound and issued out the door in 1613
- The Old Testament Title Page is dated 1613
- The New Testament Title Page is dated 1611
Note: they attempted to confirm the 1611 printing date by dating one Title Page 1611, while acknowledging the 1613 binding date by dating the other Title Page 1613.
Note also: there was a separate unrelated printing of the King James Pulpit Folio Bible done in 1613, but that printing, often called the “True Second Edition Folio”, has 72 lines of text to the page, not 59 lines as all 1611 printings show, so they are easy to tell apart.
The First Edition, Third Issue, of the 1611 King James Bible
- Was printed in 1611
- Was bound and issued out the door in 1617
- The Old Testament Title Page is dated 1617
- The New Testament Title Page is dated 1617
Note: from the third issue forward, they just gave up trying to communicate the 1611 printing date on either Title Page. The idea that this would cause confusion among antique Bible collectors centuries latter was surely not among their concerns.
The First Edition, Fourth Issue, of the 1611 King James Bible
- Was printed in 1611
- Was bound and issued out the door in 1634
- The Old Testament Title Page is dated 1634
- The New Testament Title Page is dated 1634
The First Edition, Fourth Issue, of the 1611 King James Bible
- Was printed in 1611
- Was bound and issued out the door in 1639-1640
- The Old Testament Title Page is dated 1640
- The New Testament Title Page is dated 1639
Note: the odd dating of the later year first, just as the Second Issue of 1613-1611
The Burden of Proof & The Great Fire
The explanation provided here is the one accepted by the vast majority of King James Bible collectors today. It is logical, and despite its complexity, it is far more reasonable than the seemingly absurd counter-theory that the royal printers re-set the printing presses five times from 1611 to 1640, bizarrely holding themselves to the excruciatingly exacting standard of maintaining identical verse-to-page layout parameters, for no apparent reason, (and did so flawlessly every time), and with no historical documentation of such a decree to do such a thing, … again executing all this repeatedly on five separate occasions across three decades of printing.
In 2021, we confirmed this commonly accepted belief that all five issues were printed in 1611, with the more than 3,500 antique Bible collectors and enthusiasts on our email newsletter list. Not one person responded indicating they believed otherwise. Many responded confirming their acceptance of this common sense understanding of the 1611 printing of all five issues.
Ultimately, definitive proof of any ancient printing protocols may be impossible because the detailed records documenting exactly how all books were printed in London were mostly lost in the Great Fire which swept through London in 1666. The fire was so widespread, history records that it destroyed 13,200 homes, (the majority of all residences in London), and 87 churches, including Saint Paul’s Cathedral, which had stood since the Middle Ages. Some historians have observed that the fire may have been a blessing in disguise, as relatively few people actually died despite the fire’s massive devastation, and the fire consumed all of the rat-infested slum areas which were thought to have caused the Great Bubonic Plague of London which killed close to 100,000 people, just a year earlier in 1665. It was, perhaps, a cleansing fire.
Why The Ancient King James Version Remains Popular
There are three primary reasons why the Authorized King James Bible remains so highly favored among Christians, even into the 21st century.
First, is the simple fact that many born in or prior to the 1970’s grew up reading exclusively the KJV Bible. This is because the wave of popular modern English Bibles (such as the NIV & NASB) were not published until the early 1970’s, and so the KJV had few rivals in American culture before that time. For these older individuals, there remains a strong sentimental attachment to the King James Bible’s regal and poetic rendering of the scriptures. This may remind the reader of childhood, simpler times, church, family values, and other associated treasured memories. Admittedly this is not a theological reason, but it nevertheless carries a tremendous amount of emotional weight for those who “grew up KJV”.
Second, is the legacy effect stemming from the fact that a vast number of people have memorized many Bible passages in their younger years using the King James Version, and so all the scripture they committed to memory only “sounds right” when rendered in the King James Version. Take for example, John 3: 16, which in the King James Version tells us that God “gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish”. When that is rendered in modern English such as, “gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish”, it just does not hit the ear as familiarly and comfortably for those who memorized it differently. The majority of those who feel this way will personally prefer the King James Version for their own use, but most do not take offense at all other translations, nor do most of them advocate that other people should also use the KJV exclusively.
Third, is a deeply held belief among many English speaking Christians, (especially those located in the more rural “Bible Belt” areas of the central United States), that all the modern English translations of the Bible are somehow apostate, heretical, inaccurate, and liberal… with many going as far as to believe that all English Bibles produced after the KJV Bible are conspiratorial works of Satan, without exception. These individuals do insist that others should only use the KJV Bible.
The “KJV Only” Movement
Those who hold the surprisingly common position of rejecting all Bible translations except the Authorized King James Version are called “KJV Only” or “KJVO” or “KJV Loyalists”… or in the most extreme cases, they may rise to the level of being “Ruckmanites”. They will not read any translation except the KJV, and they will not attend any church or Bible study or fellowship that quotes scripture from any translation but the KJV. While there are more KJV-Only practitioners in the USA who identify as “Baptist” than any other denomination; the majority of Baptists are not KJV-Only, and the largest Baptists denomination, the Southern Baptist Churches, rejects the stance of hard-core KJV-Only groups.
To help differentiate themselves as KJV-Only and avoid confusion (and often to avoid unwanted confrontation with unwitting church visitors who are not comfortable with a KJV-Only stance); many KJV-Only churches will boldly state on their church’s roadside sign, directly under the name of their church, “KJV ONLY”, and also disclaim this prominently in all their church’s printed literature, social media, and website. This is a stern warning to all “Non-KJV-Only” people to think carefully and be advised of this before visiting. However this practice is also helpful to those who are already KJV-Only, assisting them in finding a congregation of like-minded believers.
The technical reasons typically given for this most extreme position tend to involve arguments about the original source texts of Hebrew and Greek used by translators. The King James Only faction favors the Byzantine tradition’s so-called “textus receptus” (“received text”), and distrusts the Alexandrian texts (on which most 20th & 21st centuries English Bibles rely).
“Ruckmanites” are the most extreme KJV-only faction, but we want to emphasize up front that the vast majority of “KJV-Only” people do NOT go as far as to identify as Ruckmanites, before we take a closer look at this faction’s beliefs and founder.
The Ruckmanites take their KJV-Only stance much further than simply rejecting all English translations except the KJV. They actually believing that the King James Version is superior to the original Greek and Hebrew from which it was primarily originally translated. While that may seem impossible on the surface, it should be understood that they believe the 1611 King James Bible represents a “new revelation” or “advanced revelation” from God, improving and perfectly codifying His Word for eternity in the Divinely chosen superior English language at a finite point in time in 1611 AD. Ironically, the underlying source text argument (Byzantine vs. Alexandrian) is rendered effectually irrelevant for them, because the KJV translation itself is considered to be directly Divinely inspired word-for-word, with God’s Word settled for eternity only in the ancient English of the original KJV.
They even believe that translations of the Bible into other languages for non-English speakers (such as Spanish, French, German, Russian, Chinese, etc) must be made from the King James English as the original source translation text, and not from the original Greek and Hebrew! The founder of this extreme minority faction within the KJVO movement, Peter Ruckman, went as far as to warn that every person who does not speak or read English, is headed to eternal damnation if they do not either learn English and read the KJV Bible, or get a Bible in their own language that was translated directly from the English KJV. This makes it nearly impossible for anyone who is not an English speaker to be saved from eternal damnation, because their are no widely published Bibles in other languages that were oddly translated from the English King James translation as their source text, rather than being translated from the original Biblical languages as common sense would seem to dictate. This merciless stance is less unexpected when one considers that Peter Ruckman also publicly stated in a video interview in 1993 that the only thing keeping him from joining the Ku Klux Klan was their hatred of Jews, commenting that he “agreed with everything else they say” regarding the Divinely ordained supremacy of the White race, etc.
While many Christians, including most KJV-Only Christians, recoil from such beliefs as being racist or illogical or absurd; it should again be emphasized and understood that only a very small fraction of people who exclusively use the King James Version go as far as to adhere to such an extreme stance of elevating the English KJV above the original and far more ancient Biblical languages or Greek and Hebrew from which the KJV was translated. That being said, it is also important to understand that there are millions of American Christians whose membership is in KJV-Only churches of one variety or another, so the broader movement itself is not an obscure or small faction. KJV-Only represents a substantial percentage of Christianity in America. Hard-core Ruckmanism does not.
The KJV Bible & Antiquarian Stylized Prayer Language
The ongoing influence of the English King James Version Bible on Christian Culture today in the 21st Century is so deep and profound, even among those who do not exclusively use the KJV, it truly places the KJV Bible in a class by itself, far above all other works in the English language. As undeniable proof of this, we need look no further than the modern day prevalence of Antiquarian Stylized Prayer Language (ASPL). You almost certainly know what that is, even if you do not immediately recognize the term.
Many people have developed a powerful correlation in their minds between the style and sound of the older “Shakespearean” or “Elizabethan” English of the 1600’s, and the sense and feeling this conveys of divinity, authority, originality, holiness, righteousness, and sacredness. This perceived relationship which presumes an archaic form of English is the ideal method of communicating religious matters, is so embedded in many traditionalist churches, and in many older Christians, that it actually transcends the scriptures and overflows into spoken prayer.
It is not uncommon in some churches to hear pastors pray in a very highly stylized manner that imitates 1600’s era English, (often inaccurately and excessively), rather than the normal English they otherwise use. For example: “Lord doth we beseech Thee in Thy mercy. Lookest Thou upon us in our iniquity for Thou knowest our very souls. We implore Thy forgiveness to aswage our guilt, and condemn us not, that we mayest approach thine glorious countenance.” That is not a scripture reference. That is an example of ASPL – Antiquarian Stylized Prayer Language, which is heard in thousands of English speaking churches today… even many who use Bibles other the King James Version. And it is not just pastors and worship leaders who do this. Many American Christians, when they pray over a meal at home, begin with something like, “We thank Thee oh Lord for Thy bountiful blessings…” or something similar to that. Indeed, in our increasingly liberal and apostate world, where it has become common to hear people asked “what are your preferred pronouns?”… for many, the answer may not be “He / His” or “She Hers” or ‘They / Them”… but rather, “Thou / Thine”.
Seriously though… can you name one other book that has so deeply influenced people, that well over 400 years after its publication, its linguistic style inspires people to want to imitate its sound, even when they are not quoting from it, and not talking directly about it? Only the English King James Bible can make this claim. The KJV Bible’s style is so adored and revered that millions of people today aspire to “sound like it” in prayer. It is difficult to overstate how deeply rooted the 1611 King James Bible continues to be in our culture, over 410 years later.
The 1611 King James Version Bible: Summary of 9 Key Points
– 1.) The King James Bible, in its many forms, is the best-selling, most beloved, most influential book ever produced.
– 2.) The King James Version is not among the earliest of English Bible translations, but it is certainly the greatest English Bible of antiquity.
– 3.) Despite being an Anglican Bible, the KJV is widely embraced by Protestants for centuries.
– 4.) While King James was a very immoral man, he was not a translator of the Bible which bears his name. The KJV Bible was translated by the world’s top scholars and remains a highly accurate and beautiful translation of the scriptures, into the English of the early 1600’s.
– 5.) The King James Bible has been through many textual revisions since 1611, including 1615, 1629, 1638, 1762, 1769, and the removal of 14 Books in 1885.
– 6.)The printing of the King James Bible in 1611 was complex, involving many print shops, each assigned to print only a portion of the Bible, and with no shop having an exclusive on printing its assigned portion, resulting in enumerable discrepancies from copy to copy.
-7.) The binding and issuance of the King James Bible was also complex and confusing, with thousands of copies that were printed in 1611 not being released until 1613, 1617, 1634, and 1640, and bearing dated title pages counterintuitively reflecting their year of binding and issuance rather than the original year of 1611 in which the pages were physically printed.
-8.) The King James Version remains enormously popular today because many people grew up reading the KJV exclusively, and many memorized scripture from the KJV, and there remains a large group of “KJV Only” practitioners whose stances range widely from strongly preferring the KJV to vehemently condemning all who use anything other than the KJV.
-9.) The ongoing prevalence of “antiquarian stylized prayer language”, inspired by the King James Version of the Bible, is clear evidence of the profound and lasting cultural impact of the KJV throughout the world today.