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 Vol. 7, No. 8 

August 2005

~ Page 14 ~

Image Who Authorized It?

By D. Gene West

Each time we travel to the British Isles to attempt to serve Christ in his great work in that area of the world, we try to visit the great city of London so that we can enjoy looking at the displays in both the British Library and the British Museum. What a thrill it has been to stand and look upon the very same statuary on which the apostle Paul looked when he passed through the streets of Athens. It is almost breathtaking to look upon the terracotta cylinder upon which Cyrus wrote the decree for the Jews to return to their homeland at the end of the seventy years captivity in Babylon. Another favorite place to visit is the British Library that houses such things as the great Codex from Sinai, which was taken to Russia by Von Tischendorf and later sold to the British Library by the Russians for about $100,000.00. To see this ancient manuscript of a great portion of our New Testament will make one's blood pressure rise.

Across the room from this and other important manuscripts of the Bible are original copies of the Bishop's Bible, which was the 1568 revision of the Great Bible of 1539 and the Geneva Bible of 1560, both ancient English translations, predating the King James Version. (Of course, both the Tyndale Version of 1526 and Wycliffe's Version of 1388 preceded these, and they can be seen as well.) Also, one sees the very first copy of the King James Version of the Bible just as it looked as it came from the press in 1611. This is a magnificent translation of the Bible and one that all who have ever seriously read the Bible have come to love and respect deeply. Notwithstanding the fact that it has gone through some seven revisions since the first edition came from the press, the last one being in 1881, it is still one of the greatest examples of the Bible in English that can be found to this day. There are whole sections of it that read word for word after the Geneva Bible, which can be found in the same glass case.

The last time we were there, filling our memories with these great things, we noticed that on the title page of the original KJV there was no mention of its being the Authorized Version, by which it is often referenced today. We mentioned that to friends who were with us and asked why those words did not appear on the title page of that first edition as it did on all the editions we had seen. They replied that they did not know, but knew where we could find out. We went to one of the authorities on ancient manuscripts whose life, for all intents and purposes is spent within the walls of this great library containing more than fifteen million books and manuscripts. We asked why the words Authorized Version did not appear on the title page of the first KJ Bible to be printed. He replied, "Because it was never authorized by any authority at that time." We told him we assumed that King James had authorized the translation when he ordered it printed. He told me that we were mistaken in that regard, that KJV of the Bible was never authorized by either King or Parliament of that time. Well, we were so astounded that we asked how the words had gotten there.

We were told they were probably put there by the printer because there was a great fuss going on between the Catholics, Anglicans and the Puritans about whether or not they would use it. (Originally, it was a very unpopular and much criticized version of the Bible, especially by those whose prejudices lay in the direction of the Bishop's Bible and the Geneva Bible.) We were further told that after several editions had come from the press, one edition, he thought it was the fourth, but was not sure at that moment, came out with the words Authorized Version on the title page. So, all the authorities in England, the birthplace of the King James Bible, reckon the words were placed there by the printer! Today, when asked who authorized the words Authorized Version to be put in later editions of the KJV, we must honestly say, we do not know, but it is supposed that it was done by the printer. Hence, we do not even know what they mean! But we do know they did not appear on the original copy of the KJV, of which we have a facsimile in our library. We thought this is so interesting that our readers might like to know.Image

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