Monday, May 2, 2011

Happy Birthday King James Bible

Today is the official 400th birthday of the single most published English language text in history.  It's what has helped make the Bible the biggest selling book of all time.  Few other singular texts can boast the influence over history, culture, civilization, attitude, language, and education that this translation can claim.  As a Protestant, I never scoffed at the translation.  As a Catholic I still admire its poetry, its beauty and power.  Certainly when set in juxtaposition to recent translations that appear to follow our tech age's flushing of the spoken language down the tubes, the King James translation stands among the greatest translations of the Sacred Scriptures.  I won't even go into comparing it to the New American Bible used exclusively by America's Roman Catholic Church as the official translation.

Is it perfect?  Is it without problems?  Was it a product of its times?  Sure.  Why not.  As a Catholic, I have no fear in seeing God at work in the history of His Word, not merely in the jots and tittles of a singular written expression of it.  If it is all these things, then it probably only puts it in line with every other attempt to wrap the written word around the inscrutable mysteries of God.  And if it reflected its time as we often accuse it of doing, all I can say is that there was a beauty and grace in that time that has long since been lost from our self-congratulatory generation.

So happy birthday KJV.  And thanks for all of those who have come closer to the grace of God through your lovely and stirring pages. 

Frontispiece to the King James' Bible, 1611

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