King James Version (KJV) Bible History
In 1604, King James I of England authorized that a new translation of the Bible into English be started. It was finished in 1611, just 85 years after the first translation of the New Testament into English appeared (Tyndale, 1526). Please see the Preface to the KJV 1611 which provides a very detailed account of the history and motivation for the KJV 1611 version. The Authorized Version, or King James Bible (KJB) or King James Version, quickly became the standard for English-speaking Protestants. It was published in 1611, by sponsorship of King James VI and I. The 80 books of the King James Version include 39 books of the Old Testament, an intertestamental section containing 14 books of what Protestants consider the Apocrypha, and the 27 books of the New Testament. Noted for its “majesty of style”, the King James Version has been described as one of the most important books in English culture and a driving force in the shaping of the English-speaking world.
For the translation King James gave the translators instructions intended to ensure that the new version would conform to the ecclesiology, and reflect the episcopal structure, of the Church of England and its belief in an ordained clergy. The translation was done by 6 panels of translators (47 men in all, most of whom were leading biblical scholars in England) who had the work divided up between them: the Old Testament was entrusted to three panels, the New Testament to two, and the Apocrypha to one. In common with most other translations of the period, the New Testament was translated from Greek, the Old Testament from Hebrew and Aramaic, and the Apocrypha from Greek and Latin. In the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, the text of the Authorized Version replaced the text of the Great Bible for Epistle and Gospel readings (but not for the Psalter, which substantially retained Coverdale’s Great Bible version), and as such was authorized by Act of Parliament. (see Wikipedia article for more details)
The KJV was first printed by John Norton and Robert Barker, who both held the post of the King’s Printer, and was the third translation into English language approved by the English Church authorities: The first had been the Great Bible, commissioned in the reign of King Henry VIII (1535), and the second had been the Bishops’ Bible, commissioned in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1568). In Geneva, Switzerland, the first generation of Protestant Reformers had produced the Geneva Bible of 1560 from the original Hebrew and Greek scriptures, which was influential in the writing of the Authorized King James Version.
Emerging at a high point in the English Renaissance, the King James Bible held its own among some of the most celebrated literary works in the English language (think William Shakespeare). Its majestic cadences would inspire generations of artists, poets, musicians and political leaders, while many of its specific phrases worked their way into the fabric of the language itself. Even now, more than four centuries after its publication, the King James Bible remains the most famous Bible translation in history—and one of the most printed books ever.
Other translations and the New King James Version
King James proposed that a new translation be commissioned to settle the controversies; he hoped a new translation would replace the Geneva Bible and its offensive notes in the popular esteem. After the Bishop of London added a qualification that no marginal notes were to be added to Rainold’s new Bible, the king cited two passages in the Geneva translation where he found the notes offensive. King James gave the translators instructions, which were designed to discourage polemical notes, and to guarantee that the new version would conform to the ecclesiology of the Church of England. Eventually five different editions of the King James Version were produced in 1611,1629, 1638, 1762, and 1769. It is the 1769 edition which is most commonly cited as the King James Version (KJV).
IN 1982 a modernised version of the KJV was published and is known as the New King James Version (NKJV). The translators have sought to follow the principles of translation used in the original King James Version, which the NKJV revisers call “complete equivalence” in contrast to “dynamic equivalence” used by many contemporary translations. The task of updating the English of the KJV involved significant changes in word order, grammar, vocabulary, and spelling. One of the most significant features of the NKJV was its replacement of early modern second-person pronouns, such as “thou” and “thine”; and corresponding verb forms, such as “speakest”; with their twentieth-century equivalents.
We provide online the text for the original KJV Bible which is now in public domain (the New King James Bible is under Copyright).
Audio Bible / Bible Podcasts
The KJV bible is also available as an audio bible Podcast either as a chapter by chapter podcast :
Bible Reading Plans
The following Bible Reading plans (1 year/ 6 months) are also available as text online or as an audio Podcast.
On our church partner site Action Biblique Vevey Switzerland, the (KJV bible in 6 months reading plan text). Click on one of the icons below for the podcast corresponding to your desired platform.
AB Renens-Lausanne Church Podcasts
Our church association (Action Biblique, literally biblical action) in Lausanne/Renens is regularly visited by foreign and local students from the EPFL and University of Lausanne. These students often have a strong desire to learn English as a second language or in many cases, particularly at the Graduate level to perfect their use of English as it is often the language of the Master’s or PhD thesis. The Action Biblique Church in Lausanne/Renens is happy to provide this Podcast which is a precious Bible Study resource and doubles as a helpful additional English language studying tool. Listening to the audio while viewing texts even passively can be extremely helpful for developing fluency. Since the start of 2020, our church association Action Biblique Switzerland noticed that for the French language in particular, there were few resources available in the Podcast form, particularly for the newer Bible versions (Segond 21). As such audio Bible 1 year and 6 month reading plans have been published as podcasts on the leading platforms Spotify, Apple, Amazon and Google for the Segond 21 Bible. The freely available offer has now been extended to include some English Bibles (Basic English Bible and KJV in particular). As well as a Bible Study tool, KJV Podcasts can also be used to increase fluency for those who already have an intermediate English level.