Posted by: futurefaith | April 29, 2011

William and Kate Commemorative King James Version of the Bible

There was so much “to do” about the royal wedding today. Americans enamored with England’s Royal family (which I find interesting due to our history with English royalty) tuned in with sleepy eyes to watch the “historical” event go down. More interestingly (to me at least) was the article I read in my “Time” Magazine recognizing the 400th Anniversary of the King James Bible in the “culture” section of the publication. In the closing of the article was a passing statement to the fact that there will be a Commemorative “Royal Wedding” King James Bible printed in their honor. Surely, King James “purists” are jumping up and down elated at this fact. But in reality, the Royal couple is not associated with this translation because of some “undying” (or for some, a worth “dying” for) allegiance or conviction to a human translation of God’s Revelation. So then, the question is WHY? Why is the Royal couple connected to a 400 year old translation (depending on which of the almost dozen editions was used) for their ceremony? The answer is very interesting to me. Allow me to share a little bit of history about the King James Bible:

“The Authorized King James Version is an English translation by the Church of England of the Christian Bible begun in 1604 and completed in 1611. First printed by the King’s Printer, Robert Barker, this was the third such official translation into English; the first having been the Great Bible commissioned by the Church of England in the reign of King Henry VIII, and the second having been the Bishop’s Bible of 1568. In January 1604, King James I of England convened the Hampton Court Conference where a new English version was conceived in response to the perceived problems of the earlier translations as detected by the Puritans, a faction within the Church of England.” –

“With the death of Queen Elizabeth I, Prince James VI of Scotland became King James I of England. The Protestant clergy approached the new King in 1604 and announced their desire for a new translation to replace the Bishop’s Bible first printed in 1568. They knew that the Geneva Version had won the hearts of the people because of its excellent scholarship, accuracy, and exhaustive commentary. However, they did not want the controversial marginal notes (proclaiming the Pope an Anti-Christ, etc.) Essentially, the leaders of the church desired a Bible for the people, with scriptural references only for word clarification or cross-references.
This “translation to end all translations” (for a while at least) was the result of the combined effort of about fifty scholars. They took into consideration: The Tyndale New Testament, The Coverdale Bible, The Matthews Bible, The Great Bible, The Geneva Bible, and even the Rheims New Testament. The great revision of the Bishop’s Bible had begun. From 1605 to 1606 the scholars engaged in private research. From 1607 to 1609 the work was assembled. In 1610 the work went to press, and in 1611 the first of the huge (16 inch tall) pulpit folios known today as “The 1611 King James Bible” came off the printing press. A typographical discrepancy in Ruth 3:15 rendered a pronoun “He” instead of “She” in that verse in some printings. This caused some of the 1611 First Editions to be known by collectors as “He” Bibles, and others as “She” Bibles. Starting just one year after the huge 1611 pulpit-size King James Bibles were printed and chained to every church pulpit in England; printing then began on the earliest normal-size printings of the King James Bible. These were produced so individuals could have their own personal copy of the Bible.
The Anglican Church’s King James Bible took decades to overcome the more popular Protestant Church’s Geneva Bible. One of the greatest ironies of history, is that many Protestant Christian churches today embrace the King James Bible exclusively as the “only” legitimate English language translation… yet it is not even a Protestant translation! It was printed to compete with the Protestant Geneva Bible, by authorities who throughout most of history were hostile to Protestants.” –


“James I the King of England was the Head of the Church of England [commonly known today as the Anglican Church], a split off of the Church of Rome. Next in the chain of command was the Archbishop of Canterbury. Diocesan bishops were under the Archbishop. It was King James I who in 1604 approved the idea of a “New” English translation that would eventually bear his name.
Those who were commissioned by King James I to work on this “New Bible version” were men deemed to have special skills and learning in Hebrew and Greek. Also, they were from the established (state) church, although some had Puritan leanings. So we can see their Bible was meant to be a Church of England or Anglican version. All of them had to have the approval of the king and the Church of England hierarchy.
In the “Epistle Dedicatory” [“letter of dedication”, which was printed in the front of the 1611 KJV, and is still printed in some editions of the KJV] the translators called King James I [who was the head of the Anglican Church]”The principal mover and Author of the work”.
The 1791 edition of the KJV on its title page said that this translation was “Done by the Special Command of his Majesty King James I, of England”, and most editions printed today still bear his name gilded in gold on their leather spines and covers.
King James I had Anglican Archbishop Richard Bancroft oversee the translating of the KJV, which was published in 1611. In their preface to the King James Version, the Translators referred to Bancroft as the “chief overseer and task-master under his Majesty, to who were not only we, but also our whole Church, much bound.” Thus, Archbishop Bancroft was known for his determination to make everyone conform to the views of the State Church, the Church of England. He harassed and persecuted the Puritans and other Non-conformists, including Baptists.
It was Archbishop Bancroft that approved or made the rules for the translation of the KJV. By his establishment of the rules and overseeing of the actual translation, Bancroft had great influence on the KJV. Bancoft’s chaplain, Leonard Hutten, was one of the translators. Several other Anglican bishops such as Belson, Andrewes and Abbott [Abbott became Archbishop after Bancroft died] who were in agreement with many of Bancroft’s views and were directly under his chain of command were also translators.
The makers of the version in their day felt that the work called for some explanation and defense, and entrusted the writing of a suitable preface to Myles Smith, of Brasenose College, Oxford, afterward Bishop of Gloucester. His Preface for many years stood at the beginning of the version. In spite of his great influence and authority over the translation, the finished work of the KJV translators did not satisfy Bancroft. This proud Archbishop had to make some changes in the translation before it was even published. Paine noted that Miles Smith, final Editor of the KJV with Thomas Bilson, “protested that after he and Bilson had finished, Bishop Bancroft made fourteen more changes” (MEN BEHIND THE KJV, p. 128).” –

While these articles are not necessarily “approved” historical accounts, it does go to show that the KJV is by and large the work of a watered down version of the Catholic Church, and that it (the Anglican Church) was instrumental in and the driving force behind the translation of the KJV. Even this Anglican KJV site is eager to make the Anglican influence of the translation known. The royal family being Anglican (the head of the Church) surely would use the translation the Royal family “ancient” brought into print. Certainly God has used it, and His word has been preserved in it (as it is in every work of man that seeks to accurately express the words of the original languages in English or other spoken languages of the world). And yes, He blessed many peoples and nations through the years by it. BUT we cannot forget that it as a translation is merely the result of a human work. The translation is not perfect, it is not infallible. Only the originals given too and written by the prophets, scribes, and apostles can make such a claim. The reality concerning the origin of the KJV was brought home again to me as I read the magazine article and watched the ceremony (reruns) today. May we not worship the commendable, pious results of man’s efforts, but worship the Christ and the righteousness of His Words that drives men to undertake such works in the first place. God promised to preserve His Word but he did not tell us how and where. The King James Bible is beautiful, sound, persevering, and English! Love it. Thank God for it. But understand its limitations. It’s a human transcribing of Divine Words, and it’s Anglican.



  1. It clearly wasn’t the KJV/AV – I understand it was the NRSV, several words differ quite strikingly from the KJV

  2. Wendyann: You are correct. In my continued investigation I found that the KJV was NOT used in the quoting of the Scripture. I found that William and Kate were presented a commemorative Wedding Bible which was a KJV. Thank you for that.

  3. “As for its continuing importance among English royals, the Commemorative Prince William and Kate Middleton Royal Wedding Bible is also a King James.” – Time Magazine (May 9th, 2011, Culture, Books, pg. 56)

  4. I updated the the title and info. to match the facts uncovered. But it does not change the point of the post.

  5. Billions of people the world over will have heard the Romans passage so exquisitely read by James Middleton. If NRSV it was as near to the KJV in its cadences and rhythms as makes no difference, and points to the fact that the KJV was designed to be read in public to a public of whom few could read. The NRSV and the RSV before it remove many archaisms, but not the numinous language of worship for which the KJV was intended.

  6. Billions of people the world over will have heard the Romans passage so exquisitely read by James Middleton. If NRSV it was as near to the KJV in its cadences and rhythms as makes no difference, and points to the fact that the KJV was designed to be read in public to a public of whom few could read. The NRSV and the RSV before it remove many archaisms, but not the numinous language of worship for which the KJV was intended.

  7. Are archaisms really a problem and do the NRSV and RSV really move away from them? All I hear is a dilution of the gravity of many texts. Using the reading from the wedding service as an example, in which way does “Do not lag in zeal” (NSRV) better than “Not slothful in business” (KJV) or ” Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all” (NSRV) better than “Recompense no man evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all” (KJV)? Why make these changes? It removes the poetry and always seems to tell you more anout the translators’ minds that enlighten what the scripture says. Thank goodness we don’t treat Shakespeare in this way. The KJV is an amazing document. We should all use it and if, as in Shakespeare, there is lack of understanding, undertake some study. Then the poetry of the KJV can resonate in our hearts. Look at the shambles these things have brought aboput over the Lord’s Prayer now. There is no longer a unified version that all English speakers know. Every time you say it with others you have to ask which version is to be used. Ludicrous.

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