• More than 80% of the King James Bible, printed in 1611, can be attributed to British religious scholar William Tyndale 1494-1536
    • In 1408, a decree known as The Constitutions of Oxford made translation of the whole Bible or any part of it into English illegal
    • In 1523, Tyndale was denied by the English church when he sought special permission to translate the bible; he subsequently left England and undertook the first English translation of the bible from the original Hebrew and Greek texts
    • Tyndale’s translation, known as The Tyndale Bible, played a key role in spreading Reformation ideas across the English-speaking world and was viewed as a direct challenge to the Roman Catholic Church and the English church and state
    • Tyndale also wrote The Practyse of Prelates opposing Henry VIII’s planned divorce from Catherine of Aragon
    • In 1536, Tyndale was charged of heresy and condemned to death by strangulation and subsequent burning
    • Just a few short years later, King Henry VIII authorized The Great Bible as the first Bible in English; The Great Bible, printed in 1539, included a majority of Tyndale’s translations (with objectionable features revised)
    • Seventy five years later, King James ordered a new bible, now known as the King James Bible, featuring Tyndale’s work and carrying the monarch’s name forward for centuries to come
  • The King James Bible contains 66 books, 1,189 chapters and 31,102 verses
  • In 1620, an early edition of the King James Bible was brought to America on the Mayflower by John Alden, a member of the ship’s crew who stayed in the new world as a colonist
    • Over the next few decades, the King James Bible overtook the Geneva Bible to become the preeminent Bible in the American colonies
  • 1711 marked the first centennial of the King James Bible; as the leading English Bible at the time, it was read in churches and schools, influential in art, theatre and literature, and was a motivator of science and scientists
  • In 1760 and 1769, the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford produced updated standard texts due to the large amount of edition misprints leading up to that point
    • The two editions sought to remove the wide variations of spelling and punctuation, making approximately 24,000 minor changes to the text (i.e. ‘in stead’ was edited to ‘instead’ in Genesis 2:21)
    • The 1769 Oxford edition, edited by Benjamin Blayney continues to be reproduced, almost unchanged, as the Authorized King James Version by Oxford University Press
  • Voltaire 1694-1778, a French infidel and ‘Enlightenment’ writer, historian and philosopher, claimed that Christianity would not last another 100 years; 50 years after his death, the Geneva Bible Society used his home and printing press to produce stacks of Bibles for the masses
  • During American Revolution bible shortages, The 1782 Aitken Bible was endorsed by Congress as the first King James Bible to be printed in North America
    • The 1782 Aitken Bible left out all references of King James
  • In 1789, George Washington was sworn in using a 1767 edition of the King James Bible printed in London, and set the stage for the longstanding tradition of swearing in Presidents at their presidential inaugurations
    • Known as the Washington Bible, the same bible has since been used to swear in Presidents Warren G. Harding, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush
  • Thomas Jefferson took scriptures from the King James Bible when creating The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, an account of Jesus’ teachings that excluded supernatural elements in English, Greek, Latin and French.
  • In 1833, Noah Webster, best known for Webster’s Dictionary, published an edited version of the King James Bible, which undertook to correct translation errors and update archaic words/phrasings
  • In 1861, Abraham Lincoln was sworn in during his first inauguration using an 1853 Oxford University Press edition of the King James Bible
    • Known as the Lincoln Bible, the same bible was recently used to swear in Barak Obama during his 2009 inauguration, where commentary focused on the historic link between Obama, the first African American president, and Lincoln, traditionally known as the Great Emancipator
    • President Obama also referenced 1 Corinthians 13, verse 11 from the King James Bible during his 2009 inaugural address.
  • During the Civil War, over 3 million King James Bibles were distributed to both Union and Confederate troops; in his second inaugural address, President Lincoln said of the troops that, “Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God.”
  • An 1889 Oxford edition of the King James Bible was presented to former slave Frederick Douglass when he departed to Haiti as the United States resident minister and consul-general
  • Literary critic and New Yorker staff writer James Wood believed that Virginia Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse (1927) was influenced by the Bible
  • During his first and second inauguration in 1981 and 1985, Ronald Reagan used his late mother’s King James Bible, which was printed by Dickson Publishing in Chicago and contained special notations and insights made by his mother
  • In 1995, President Bill Clinton quoted Proverbs after the bombing in Oklahoma City: “Let us teach our children that the God of comfort is also the God of righteousness. Those who trouble their own house will inherit the wind.”
  • In 1963, Rev. Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a Dream” speech was influenced by the following King James Bible passages: Psalms 30:5, Isaiah 40:4 and Amos 5: 24.
  • In 1997, British Prime Minister Tony Blair read 1 Corinthians 13 at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales
  • In 2010, David Crystal’s Begat: The King James Bible & the English Language set out to prove that the King James Bible contributed more to the English language than any other literary source, where he highlights over 250 idioms made popular through the King James Bible compared to roughly 100 from William Shakespeare’s writings. See the section "Familiar Phrases"
  • 2011 marks the 400 anniversary of the King James Bible; to celebrate, Zondervan released The Holy Bible: 1611 King James Version 400th Anniversary Edition as a partial replica (the Apocrypha being excluded and it was scaled down from its original size) of the original Authorized Version as it was released in 1611
  • In 2011, Prince William of Wales and Miss Catherine Middleton celebrated their marriage in Westminster Abbey with a traditional ceremony featuring the King James Bible
The King James Bible greatly influenced English language. Do you recognize these well known phrases originating from it?
  • Let there be light
  • Land of the living
  • Wolf in sheep’s clothing
  • Am I my brother’s keeper?
  • Letter of the law
  • The writing on the wall
  • Know them by their fruits
  • Cast the first stone
  • Good Samaritan
  • How are the mighty fallen
  • Twinkling of an eye
  • Skin of his teeth
  • Stumbling stone
  • Leopard change his spots?
  • Judge not lest you be judged
  • Heart’s desire
  • Rod of discipline
  • Thorn in my side
  • Fly in the ointment
  • Blind leading the blind