Bible Translations - King James Bible
by Dr. Brad Black
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Bible Translations - King James Bible
First of all we need to realize that King James Version of the Bible is also a translation. I once had a women say to me when I was talking about versions of the Bible that “All I need is the King James version. If it was good enough for Jesus it is good enough for me.” I had to inform her that the Bible Jesus used was written in Hebrew and it was a lot of scrolls and the New Testament was not even written while Jesus was a live and it was written in Greek. Well, she thought I was a communist or a space alien.
I would like to explore some of the things I would have liked to have taught this lady if she would have stayed and listened. The King James Version was published in 1611 because King James wanted an English translation of the Bible. Before that the only other translation was the Vulgate which was used by the Catholic Church. King James wanted people to convert and stay Protestant and he hoped that by having a Bible that the common people could understand he could accomplish this.
I am not doing this justice, I am trying to cram into a few sentences a very big controversy and the start of what is called Protestism. I love the way my seminary church history professor put it: in those times Theology was the blood sport of the times. Let me try to explain all this. Up until 1517 there was only one church and it was the Catholic Church. On Oct 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses asking the church to debate him on what he saw as problems in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church would not debate him and through a long series of events he was made an outlaw by the Catholic Church with a price on his head. This is why non Catholic Churches are called Protestant churches, because they were in protest against the Catholic Church. The Prince of Germany of the time liked Martin Luther and arranged for Luther to be kidnapped and hid in a tower to protect him. While Martin Luther was in that tower he took copies of the Greek New Testament and Hebrew Old Testament and translated it into the German Language. Martin Luther believed the people should be able to read the Bible for themselves. This is the first widely distributed non-Vulgate Bible.
While this was going on in Germany Henry VIII was in England. At first he was against what all was going on in Germany, but later on Henry wanted to divorce Ann Bolin. The Catholic Church would not give him the divorce so he decided that England would separate from the Catholic Church. Henry set up the Anglican Church which is sometimes called the Church of England, with himself as the head of the church. Then he let himself have his divorce. When Henry died he had no male heir so Mary, the daughter of Ann Bolin was the oldest and made queen. Mary was Catholic so she wanted everyone to turn back to the Catholic Church, the common people did not want to do this so the were many uprisings and Mary put them down very violently and that is how she got the name as Bloody Mary. This goes back to what my church history teacher said. When Mary died young, she left the country to Queen Elizabeth I. Elizabeth wanted to have a peaceful Kingdom, so did not take sides in the two church debate and allowed them both to be in the country. When she passed, it was left to King James. Protestantism had greatly grown in England, especially Scotland, with the influence of a man called John Knox. King James was greatly influenced by him and others and wanted to pull more people into Protestantism. That is why he authorized the writing of the English version. I hate to inform some of you when it says in the King James Bible that it is the Authorized Version, it is not authorized by God as many say, but authorized by King James. This is how we got the King James Version of the Bible.
Bible was not written in English but the languages of the time. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and some Aramaic. The biggest portion of Aramaic is the last few chapters of Daniel where the end time prophecies can be found. Hebrew was the language of the Jews of Old Testament time and English was not around. It just makes sense that it was written in the language of the times. Aramaic is a language that came along later that is a mixture of several languages, one of which was Hebrew. Aramaic is very similar to Hebrew and became the common language of the Jews in Jesus’ time. In fact, we have Jesus using it on the cross Mark 15:33-34 “33 At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"” “Eloi, Eloi lama Sabachthani” is Aramaic.
The New Testament was written in what is called Coina Greek, which is a very common or simple Greek. It was the language of the Greek soldiers started by Alexander the Great so all the Greek soldiers could talk to one another. Therefore, in all the lands that they conquered, this from of Greek was the language of business, like English is today. So it makes sense that if you wanted to tell everybody about Jesus in that day you would put it in the Greek language.
The 1st translation of the Bible was made by Jerome and he translated it into Latin, which has been the business language until the last few centuries. One very funny thing about this translation is when Moses came down the mountain from talking with God it says that his face glowed, and he put a veil over his face to keep from frightening the people, but Jerome translated this as horns. So when Michelangelo made a statue of Moses he included horns.
The Bible was written over a two thousand year period with many different men writing it, but only one author, which is God. 2 Timothy 3:16 says:
16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
What this scripture is saying is that God inspired all Scripture. I love the word Inspiration, it means to breathe in. I like to think of a picture of God giving mouth to mouth resuscitation to the writers of the Bible. That is what I think of when I think of God giving us the Bible. Because God gave it to us it is good for doctrine for reproof and correction and for instruction.
Most Scholars believe the 1st book of the Bible written is the book of Job. The last book written is believed by most scholars to be Revelation. Job is believed to be written before Abraham and Abraham live roughly around 2000 B. C. Revelation was written in the 90’s A. D. The Old Testament was finished being written in 400 B. C. The New Testament was not started till around the 40’s A.D. Therefore, the whole New Testament was not written till after Christ’s death and took 40 to 50 years to write.
What some other people do not know is that the books we have in our Bible are the result of what is called the canonization process. Back in the 300’s A. D. The Christians were having a lot of problems with a group that was called the Gnostics. They were making books that supported their beliefs and then attributing them to apostles, confusing the people. So the church fathers of the time got together and decided what should be in the Bible. The Old Testament was easy for them; they accepted the same 39 book that the Jews had decided on a couple of centuries earlier. For the New Testament they went with the books that had been widely accepted in the early church and had good evidence that they were authentic. That is why every few years you see an ad for the lost books of the Bible. It is these books that 1700 years ago the church fathers could not put their faith in to be Holy.
I hope I have not bored you with all of this history, but most people do not know this very important information about the Bible.
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I have nothing against KJV at all, but I'm really glad you wrote this. I'm tired of people acting like KJV is the only Bible becaue it was the "origanal". I offen wonder why this is thought, though, since it's obvious Jesus nor Paul or anyone else in the Bible ever spoke English.