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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

King James Bible: His and Hers

Although the King James Bible has been called the book that set the English language “on its path to become a universal language on a scale unprecedented before or since” - its original version is now ironically often characterized by translation and/or printing errors.

When a team of 47 out of 54 originally-approved translators are dealing with a collection of 80 books (39 from the Hebrew Bible, 27 from the New Testament, and 14 from the Apocrypha) that took more than 40 presumed authors (“including kings, prophets, poets, musicians, and fisherman”) over a thousand years to collectively write in three different original languages (Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek) – there are bound to be some misunderstandings.

First off - the title is not “King James Bible,” or even “King James Version,” as many affectionately call it.  Wikipedia reports that the actual title of the very first 1611 edition was “THE HOLY BIBLE, Containing the Old Testament, AND THE NEW: Newly Translated out of the Original tongues: & with the former Translations diligently compared and revised, by his Majesties special Commandment.”  (You can now see why modern folks simply say “KJV” when referring to this religious, historical and literary opus.)

And “opus” it was!  According to George Bernard Shaw (who knows a thing or two about good writing):  The translation was extraordinarily well done because to the translators what they were translating was not merely a curious collection of ancient books written by different authors in different stages of culture, but the word of God divinely revealed through His chosen and expressly inspired scribes.

Nevertheless, there have been a number of glitches along the way.  Some were due to printing errors and
rivalries – others to the intentional flexing of meanings to fit church doctrine.  One of the most famous original
glitches occurred within the Ruth 3:15 passage.  One of the 1611 editions stated that “he went into the city” –
the other stated that “she went into the city.”  These two editions are now often called the “He and She” Bibles.


Copyright November 23, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved 

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