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© 2001 by David W. Daniels
Question: Why is the King James Bible called the "Authorized Version"? How did King James Authorize it?
Answer: Despite stories to the contrary, King James, in no uncertain terms, clearly authorized the translation of the Bible that now bears his name.
[Note: This is a drastically shortened account of the birth of God's preserved words in English. Longer accounts are available, as in Final Authority: A Christian's Guide to the King James Bible, by William P. Grady.]
Sanctioning the Authorized Version
When Elizabeth died on April 1, 1603, she had seen 130 editions of the New Testament and the Bible published during her 45 years as Queen of England. James VI of Scotland, son of Mary, "Queen of Scots," became James I of England.
Four days later, on his way to London, a delegation of Puritan ministers met James, asking him to hear their grievances against the Church of England. James consented, and on January of 1604, four Puritans came to express their troubles at Hampton Court, in front of King James and over 50 Anglican (Church of England) officials. One by one each request was rejected, until the Puritan group's leader, John Rainolds said these famous words:
"May your Majesty be pleased to direct that the Bible be now translated, [since] such versions as are extant [are] not answering to the original."
At first, Bishop Bancroft of London was dead-set against it, saying, "If every man's humor might be followed, there would be no end to translating." But the King made it clear he liked the idea. Not too long later Bancroft wrote this to a friend:
I move you in his majesty's name that, … no time may be overstepped by you for the better furtherance of this holy work…. You will scarcely conceive how earnest his majesty is to have this work begun!
When this Bible was translated, the title page was printed basically as you find it today in Cambridge Bibles:
OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS
TRANSLATED OUT OF THE ORIGINAL TONGUES:
APPOINTED TO BE READ IN CHURCHES
The King James Bible was "Authorized" to be translated as God's Word for the English-speaking people of the world. God bless you as you study His authorized and preserved words in English, the King James Bible.