Image Source: Wiki.
Caption for the above image: Frontispiece to the King James' Bible, 1611, shows the Twelve Apostles at the top. Moses and Aaron flank the central text. In the four corners sit Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, authors of the four gospels, with their symbolic animals. At the top, over the holy spirit in a form of a dove, is the Tetragrammaton "יהוה" ("YHWH").
This year marks the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the English Bible, which you can read online here. Translated from Hebrew, Greek and Latin at the behest of King James I of England and VI of Scotland, the KJV Authorised version was a landmark of the English Reformation. The King commissioned it in response to the 1603 Millenary Petition, signed by 1,000 Puritan ministers. A 1655 history stated that the text of the petition ran as follows:
This English translation of the Bible thus reflected a desire to diminish certain Catholic rituals, beliefs and practices in the English Church. The KJV became the standard Bible in the English-speaking world by the 18th century, supplanting the Latin Vulgate Bible. You can see scans of the original 1611 edition, page by page, here. The King James Bible Trust has been putting up chapters of the KJV up on Youtube, here, read by various people who are active in British public life.Most gracious and dread sovereign, Seeing it has pleased the Divine majesty, to the great comfort of all good Christians, to advance your highness, according to your just title, to the peaceable government of this Church and Commonwealth of England, we, the ministers of the gospel in this land, neither as factious men affecting a popular parity in the Church, nor as schismatics aiming at the dissolution of the State ecclesiastical, but as the faithful servants of Christ and loyal subjects to your majesty, desiring and longing for the redress of divers abuses of the Church, could do no less in our obedience to God, service to your majesty, love to His Church, than acquaint your princely majesty with our particular griefs; for as your princely pen writeth, 'the king, as a good physician, must first know what peccant humours his patient naturally is most subject unto, before he can begin his cure;' and although divers of us that sue for reformation have formerly, in respect of the times, subscribed to the book--some upon protestation, some upon exposition given them, some with condition rather than the Church should have been deprived of their labour and ministry--yet now we, to the number of more than a thousand of your majesty's subjects and ministers, all groaning as under a common burden of human rites and ceremonies, do with one joint consent humble ourselves at your majesty's feet, to be eased and relieved in this behalf. Our humble suit, then, unto your majesty is that these offences following, some may be removed, some amended, some qualified:
I. In the Church service: that the cross in baptism, interrogatories ministered to infants, confirmation, as superfluous, may be taken away; baptism not to be ministered by women, and so explained; the cap and surplice not urged; that examination may go before the communion; that it be ministered with a sermon; that divers terms of priests, and absolution, and some other used, with the ring in marriage, and other such like in the book, may be corrected; the longsomeness of service abridged, Church songs and music moderated to better edification; that the Lord's Day be not profaned; the rest upon holy days not so strictly urged; that there may be a uniformity of doctrine prescribed; no Roman Catholic opinion to be any more taught or defended; no ministers charged to teach their people to bow at the name of Jesus; that the canonical Scriptures only be read in the Church.
II. Concerning Church ministers: that none hereafter be admitted into the ministry but able and sufficient men, and those to preach diligently and especially upon the Lord's day; that such as be already entered and cannot preach, may either be removed, and some charitable course taken with them for their relief, or else be forced, according to the value of their livings, to maintain preachers; that non-residency be not permitted; that King Edward's statute for the lawfulness of ministers' marriages be revived; that ministers be not urged to subscribe, but according to the law, to the Articles of Religion, and the king's supremacy only.
III. For Church livings and maintenance: that bishops leave their commendams, some holding parsonages, some prebends, some vicarages, with their bishoprics; that double-beneficed men be not suffered to hold some two, some three benefices with cure, and some two, three, or four dignities besides; that impropriations annexed to bishoprics and colleges be demised only to the preachers incumbents, for the old rent; that the impropriations of laymen's fees be charged, with a sixth or seventh part of their worth, to the maintenance of the preaching minister.
IV. For Church discipline: that the discipline and excommunication may be administered according to Christ's own institution, or, at the least, that enormities may be redressed, as namely, that excommunication come not forth under the name of lay persons, chancellors, officials, &c.; that men be not excommunicated for trifles and twelve-penny matters; that none be excommunicated without consent of his pastor; that the officers be not suffered to extort unreasonable fees; that none having jurisdiction or registers' places, put out the same to farm; that divers Roman Catholic canons (as for restraint of marriage at certain times) be reversed; that the longsomeness of suits in ecclesiastical courts (which hang sometimes two, three, four, five, six, or seven years) may be restrained; that the oath Ex Officio, whereby men are forced to accuse themselves, be more sparingly used; that licences for marriages without banns asked, be more cautiously granted:
These, with such other abuses yet remaining and practised in the Church of England, we are able to show not to be agreeable to the Scriptures, if it shall please your highness further to hear us, or more at large by writing to be informed, or by conference among the learned to be resolved; and yet we doubt not but that, without any further process, your majesty (of whose Christian judgment we have received so good a taste already) is able of yourself to judge of the equity of this cause. God, we trust, has appointed your highness our physician to heal these diseases; and we say with Mordecai to Esther, 'Who knoweth whether you are come to the kingdom for such a time?' Thus your majesty shall do that which we are persuaded shall be acceptable to God, honourable to your majesty in all succeeding ages, profitable to His Church, which shall be thereby increased, comfortable to your ministers, which shall be no more suspended, silenced, disgraced, imprisoned for men's traditions, and prejudicial to none but to those that seek their own quiet, credit and profit in the world.
Thus, with all dutiful submission, referring ourselves to your majesty's pleasure for your gracious answer, as God shall direct you, we most humbly recommend your highness to the Divine majesty, whom we beseech, for Christ His sake, to dispose your royal heart to do herein what shall be to His glory, the good of His Church, and your endless comfort.Your majesty's most humble subjects, the ministers of the Gospel that desire not a disorderly innovation, but a due and godly reformation.
You can see the Youtube version of KJV Genesis Chapter One, from the Old Testament, below; it is read by John Morgan in the gallery of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral's Lady Chapel. Also included is Prince Charles, reading John, Chapter 14, from the New Testament, in the Royal Chapel of Clarence House. Finally, since this is a Millennial blog, I'd be remiss to not include the first chapter from the Book of Revelation of St. John the Divine, read by actor Timothy West; the actress Prunella Scales is sitting with him because she read another section, which you can see here.
Researchers, historians and theologians around the world have been marking this anniversary all through this year. From the Humanities research information service, H-Net:
Other events commemorating the anniversary include plays and readings in Britain, exhibitions at Oxford and Cambridge and other parts of the UK. In the US, Zondervan released The Holy Bible: 1611 King James Version 400th Anniversary Edition, which is a hardbound replica of the original Authorized version, here.In the spring and fall semesters of 2011, Liberty University ... host[ed] a series of events commemorating the 400th anniversary of the King James Version (1611) of the Bible. As part of that commemoration the university ... host[ed] an interdisciplinary academic conference September 30-October 1, 2011. ... Possible topic suggestions include but are not limited to• The creation of the King James Bible
• The history of the printing and dissemination of the King James Bible
• King James Bible and Protestantism
• Immediate and later reception of the King James Bible
• Political use of the King James Bible
• Cultural influence of the King James Bible
• King James Bible as Literature
• Influence of the King James Bible on Literature
• The influence of the King James Bible on other translations of the Bible
• King James Bible and Textual Criticism
• The King James Bible and the formation of American Culture"