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|Steven J. White is a second generation Canadian, with his lineage from London, England. Born in 1956, he graduated from London Baptist Seminary (London, ON) in 1981, has started two churches and continues to pastor in Surrey, BC. Trained in English, French, Greek, Latin, Hebrew and American Sign Language, Pastor White brings a fresh, dynamic insight to many of the words found in the King James Bible.|
Excerpt from White's Dictionary of the King James Language:
Who was King James?
(A.D. 1566 – 1625)
On June 19 in A.D. 1566, Mary, Queen of Scots, gave birth to a son…his name was James. On July 29, in the year A.D. 1567, upon the abdication of his mother (who by then was in prison), young James Charles Stuart became King James the VI of Scotland at 13 months of age. He was raised by relatives in Scotland and, religiously, had a Presbyterian influence. On February 8, in the year A.D. 1587, at 20 years of age, his mother Mary was beheaded for plotting against her cousin, Queen Elisabeth of England. (NOI. Mary, Queen of Scots is not to be confused with ‘Mary Tudor’, the zealous Catholic who reigned briefly on England’s throne. Mary Tudor became known as ‘Bloody Mary’ for the hundreds of Christian martyrs slain in her zealous attempt to bring England back under the Roman Church. Mary Tudor died in November A.D. 1558.)
On November 23, 1589, at 23 years of age, James married 15 year-old Anne of Denmark, who bore him 3 sons:
1. Henry (February 19, 1594 – November 6, 1612),
2. Charles (November 19, 1600 – January 30, 1649), who succeeded James in A.D. 1625,
3. Robert (January 18, 1602 – May 27, 1602);
and 4 daughters:
1. Elizabeth (August 19, 1596 – February 13, 1662),
2. Margaret (December 24, 1598 – March 1600),
3. Mary (April 8, 1605 – September 16 1607),
4. Sophia (June 22, 1606 – June 23, 1606);
and one ‘still-born’ son (in May 1603). (Anne later died on March 4, 1619 at 44 years of age.)
Although he struggled with physical infirmities throughout his life, James seems to have been keenly interested in God and the Bible. As well as being a serious scholar, he was also fluent in Greek, French and Latin, though he himself did not translate a single word of the Bible, nor originate the idea of a new translation, let alone one with his name on it.
Queen Elisabeth of England, after a 45-year reign, lay on her deathbed and named James as her successor, because she had no children of her own. So, on March 24 in the year of our Lord 1603, James VI of Scotland (at 36 years of age) also became King James I of England, hence the titles King James VI & I. At this point, James had become the first King of what he called ‘Great Britain’, because he was able to join the crowns of England and Scotland.
In 1604 after meeting with a counsel of England’s clergymen, James gave his permission for the translating of a new Bible for the English-speaking people. This became known as the ‘Authorized Version’ because King James authorized it. (NOI. The publishing rights of the Authorized Version are still vested in the crown of England today.)
James survived numerous plots against his life. One of these was in 1605 by 8 men, including a man named ‘Guy Fawkes’, who planted 36 barrels of gunpowder in the basement beneath Parliament, which Fawkes planned to blow up when James was sitting in Parliament. The plot, however, was found out and all 8 men, including Guy Fawkes, were put to death. Although the plot was an organized retaliation over the ‘anti-Roman Catholic laws’, it has been assumed that, had James been killed, the work on the Authorized Version would have stopped, and there would have been no King James Bible. (NOI. ‘Guy Fawkes Day’, sometimes called ‘Gunpowder Day’, is still celebrated in England every November 5, in honor of James’ survival. Some historians claim that it’s from this name that we get our slang term ‘guy’, which they claim was used as a derogatory reference to someone. Eg. “That ‘guy’ over there.”)
In 1612, his 18-year old son, Prince Henry, who was next in line for the throne, died. (NOI. The same year, Shakespeare published his ‘King Henry VIII’.)
King James, himself, died peacefully on March 27, 1625 at 58 years of age, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. His second son, Prince Charles, succeeded him as king. Incidentally, three months later, Charles married 15 year-old Henrietta Maria, the daughter of France’s King Henry IV. Years later, Charles was arrested and tried by British Parliament on charges of treason and executed on January 30, 1649. (NOI. Our modern-day ‘Prince Charles’ has an ancestry that dates back to this same King James.)
How did we get the King James Bible?
After ascending the throne of England, King James held a court conference in Hampton in January A.D. 1604 to help settle some church related problems. The previous century had witnessed the birth of the Church of England and the Reformation, both of which had come out of the Catholic Church. Add to this the zeal of the Puritans (who believed in nothing but the Bible only, and who had managed to gain some political clout) and it’s easy to see that James had inherited a religious time bomb, just waiting to explode! His desire was to assemble a conference of bishops, clergymen, college professors and Puritans and try to resolve differences. Although a new Bible translation was not on the agenda for discussion, Dr. John Reynolds (president of Corpus Christi College at Oxford) proposed the idea that a new Bible translation would help appease the situation. Apparently, some of them held to the ‘Great Bible’ of A.D. 1539 (which some of them called ‘corrupt’) while others held the ‘Geneva Bible’ of A.D. 1560 (which was filled with marginal notes and references, and some thought this detracted from the Scriptures. The Geneva Bible was also the first Bible to be brought to America.). Thus, under pressure, the King gave his approval for a new translation to begin, which was to become known as ‘The Authorized Version’, and later, ‘The King James Bible’.
In July 1604, King James wrote to Bishop Bancroft requesting him to select 54 learned and able men to the task of translation. Of this group, a couple died before beginning the work and a few were unable to participate because of commitments. The 47 remaining scholars were (according to Eldred Thomas in his book ‘Bible Versions’) comprised of six Bishops and 41 were university professors, of which 30 held doctorates and 23 were unusually gifted in Hebrew and Greek. The 47 were appointed and divided into six groups (two at Westminster, two at Oxford and two at Cambridge) who worked under some 15 stringent guidelines, one of which was that they were to keep the old ecclesiastical words. For example, ‘church’ was not to be translated ‘congregation’. Apparently, none of the translators received any pay for their work, as they gladly volunteered their time.
In A.D. 1611, the work was finally completed and about 2,000 copies were printed in London by Mr. Robert Barker. The very first printing became known as the ‘He Bible’, because the typesetter left off the letter ‘S’ in the 3rd person pronoun ‘she’, thus rendering it ‘he’ (emphasized in the following verse). Rut.3:15, “Also he said, Bring the vail that thou hast upon thee, and hold it. And when she held it, he measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her: and he went into the city.” This was corrected in the A.D. 1613 printing, which became known as the ‘She Bible’. (NOI. The author owns a digitally scanned reproduction of the complete ‘He Bible’.)
The King James Bible was first printed by Cambridge in A.D. 1629 and was later ‘reworked’ a couple of times to correct spelling mistakes, which crept in because of early printing methods. The Cambridge Edition Bible that we use today is based on the corrected edition of A.D. 1769. It contains 66 books, which have 1,189 chapters, which have a total of 31,102 verses, which have 789,314 words in them, which are made up of 3,221,202 letters.
Are There Problems with the King James Bible??
►IMPORTANT NOTE: This dictionary is based on the A.D. 1611 Authorized Version of the Holy Bible (sometimes known as the ‘He Bible’ – see above) using the Cambridge text of the KJV (as opposed to the Oxford text). This is important to note because there are a few slight differences between the 1611 Bible and the KJV of today. There are even two or three minor differences between some modern KJV Bible editions, so the reader may find a variation of a word that is not in his or her KJV. Do not despair.
Some people believe the KJV is archaic and full of problems. It is the opinion of this author that, although there are certain minor differences between the A.D. 1611 and the modern KJV, there are no doctrinal problems or errors as such. Rather, the modern KJV is an accurate and trustworthy duplicate of the 1611 with only minor exceptions. (This opinion considers the 66 Books of the Bible only (39 in the OT, and 27 in the NT), without the apocrypha, the reading schedules or any notes of any kind.)
As strange as it may sound, various publishers of the KJV have a few slight differences in their Bibles. (Bear in mind that the Cambridge and Oxford texts are basically the only two sources for all the editions of the KJV.) For example, the Oxford spells the pl. ‘cherubim’ without a final ‘s’, whereas the Cambridge spells it ‘cherubims’. Furthermore, the Oxford has at least three other differences from the Cambridge: Jer.34:16 “he” (Cambridge “ye”), 2Chr.33:19 “sins” (Cambridge “sin”), and Nah.3:16 “fleeth” (Cambridge “flieth”). Various publishers, such as Broadman, Holman and Zondervan will follow either Cambridge, or Oxford, or will mix them both. For example, one Zondervan Bible tends to follow the Oxford text, except in Nah.3:16, where it follows the Cambridge. However, this Bible, in Phil.4:4, uses “always ”, whereas the Cambridge says “alway”. It is the opinion of this author that the Cambridge text is the correct one, however these differences do not alter any doctrine.
The reader should be aware that there are perhaps 76 verses with word ‘differences’ between the A.D. 1611 and today’s KJV, but these involve things like a few adjectives and pronouns, words being plural or singular, etc. Listed below is a small sampling of the differences:
· Gen.39:16 (1611) “her lord” (KJV) “his lord”.
· Lev. 20:11 (1611) “shall be put to death” (KJV) “shall surely be put to death”.
· Jer.4:6 (1611) “set up the standards” (KJV) “set up the standard”.
· Eze.24:7 (1611) “she poured it upon” (KJV) “she poured it not upon”.
· Dan.3:15 (1611) “of a fiery furnace” (KJV “of a burning fiery furnace”.
· Mt.12:23 (1611) “Is this the son of David?” (KJV) “Is not this the son of David?”
· 1Tim.1:4 (1611) “rather than edifying” (KJV) “rather than godly edifying”.
· Heb.3:10 (1611) “err in their hearts” (KJV) “err in their heart”.
Having said this, it is IMPORTANT to bear in mind that these differences are minor only and do not destroy the doctrines of the Scriptures. The KJV we use today is not an exact replica of the 1611, as there may be up to 140 minor word-differences (not counting spelling changes and the removal of the Apocrypha), but it is still an accurate and trustworthy duplicate as far as the actual text of the 66 books of Scripture is concerned.
To view the word-differences in graphic terms, imagine that a man, standing six feet tall (72 in., or 1.82 m.), were divided by 750,000 units of equal height (the approximate word-count of the KJV), and then had 140 of these units changed (the approximate number of differing words). The result would equal the thickness of dust on the soles of his feet (about .0134 thousands of an in., or 0.34 of a mm.). That’s about the amount of difference there is between the 1611 and the modern KJV.
Nevertheless, where did the word-differences come from? The answer lies in how the early printers went about their jobs. Serious study of early printing methods deserves a large, complete book by itself, but here is a thumbnail sketch of what went on:
From the time Gutenberg invented the printing press in A.D. 1455, printers have used moveable wood or metal letters. Considering that the 1611 Bible has almost 750,000 words (about 3,566,480 letters!), setting them in type was a mammoth job. Furthermore, no printer could afford to set and keep all the letters for all the pages, it was just too costly and too difficult to store. Instead, they would set the type for several pages, print thousands of copies, then dismantle the type and use it to set up for the next several pages. They continued doing this until they had printed the entire Bible.
Compiling the pages was a job sometimes assigned to a lowly wage-earner who may not have been able to read (remember, not everyone in the 1600’s could read, though some estimates put the reading percentage of the population as high as about 50%). So, in the bottom right corner of every page they printed the very first word of the following page. This helped insure that the compiler could find his way and not mix up the pages.
Some printers often ‘farmed out’ some of the printing to other printers (so as the job could be completed faster) then sent back to the original printer for compiling, trimming and binding. Future Bibles were printed using a previous copy as a guide for the words, punctuation and layout.
This, then, is how a few slight differences crept into print.
Any mistakes, however, were quickly discovered and remedied. For example, in A.D. 1631, King Charles (successor to his father James) ordered 1,000 Bibles from his printer, Mr. Robert Barker (the original printer who followed the methods described in the above paragraphs), but Barker’s typesetter made a grievous mistake in Ex.20:14 and accidentally left out the word ‘not’, making the commandment to say, “Thou shalt commit adultery”. The king ordered this ‘Wicked Bible’ to be recalled and destroyed, and he fined Mr. Barker ₤300 English Pounds (an astronomical sum in those days!). In other printings, there were other such mistakes that were quickly caught, so it’s easy to see why the typesetters trembled with fear when they printed a Bible!
The spelling of early modern English words could easily fill a book, because most words were spelled several different ways! (People would spell their words the way they sounded to them.) The 1611 Bible was actually the first major step towards solidifying the spelling of English words and rules of grammar, however the ‘f ’ was still pronounced like ‘s’ and the ‘u’ like a ‘v’, etc. By the 1700’s, spelling rules were properly developed and by the 1800’s, the spellings of most English words were finally established. For example, ‘wee’ was changed to ‘we’; ‘fheepe’ was changed to ‘sheep’; ‘sayth’ was changed to ‘saith’ and ‘euill’ was changed to ‘evil’. (NOI. Photostat and digitally reproduced copies of the actual A.D. 1611 first edition are available on the market, for a modest price, in which the readers can see these differences for themselves.)
Because spelling rules were not established in the 1600’s, and typesetting was still a laborious effort, the typesetters often took liberties in their work, making use of the variant spellings to their advantage in order to balance a string of text on a page. For example, when there wasn’t sufficient space in a line, words such as ‘and’ would be shortened to a mere symbol, while ‘the’ was shortened to a ‘y’ with a tiny ‘e’ over top. Often the letters ‘n’ and ‘m’ were left off the end of words and replaced with a symbol over the last vowel. Eg. ‘upon’ would be printed as ‘upô’.
An interesting example of balancing a line of text is with the word ‘diddest’ (see ‘Diddest’), which was a common spelling along with ‘didst’. (Other early modern English writings, such as the ‘Book of Common Prayer’ (A.D. 1559), used both spellings.) Both words meant the same thing and the 1611 uses ‘didst’ almost exclusively over ‘diddest’ except in Act.7:28, where it is presumed the typesetters needed a bit more space in the line of text, and so chose ‘diddest’ instead of ‘didst’.
A similar oddity is found in Mt.4:3, “If thou be the sonne of God…” and in verse 6, “If thou bee the sonne of God…” Both ‘be’ and ‘bee’ were acceptable spellings and were used wherever they fit. In fact, ‘sonne’ and ‘son’ were also acceptable, as seen in Mt.9:2, “Son be of good cheere”.
Other oddities include the ‘j’ and the ‘i’. These were printed with the same letter in both lower and upper case, and the ‘?’ looked more like a full colon ( : ) with the upper dot smudged. Nevertheless, spelling variations are not a problem in the KJV because there are no changes in doctrinal accuracy.
The science of printing has changed in marvelous ways since the 1600’s. What used to take a day can now be done in a minute, with no typesetting problems. The average home computer and printer can produce perfect documents that would make the printers in the 1600’s gasp in unbelief! But considering the fact that Satan has long tried to destroy the Word of God, it’s quite amazing that the printing of the 1611 Bible turned out as well as it did. But then, God has promised to preserve His Word (Ps.12:6-7; Mt.5:17-18; 24:35; 1Pt.1:23-25.)
Note: There may be those who use a copy of the King James Bible as edited by Dr. F.H.A. Scrivener in A.D. 1873. Dr. Scrivener spent many years comparing early copies of the KJV, and made certain minor changes that he thought would make it more accurate. His work became the basis for a concordance entitled, “The Strongest Strongs” (see Bibliography), therefore the reader may find a few minor differences between the statistics of this dictionary and the Scrivener edition of the KJV.
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