The Preface to the 1611 KJV
edited by W.J. Bethancourt III
this page is © copyright 1997 W.J. Bethancourt III
Updated 04/29/00
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I am holding a reproduction of the original 1611 in my lap as I type this. I was going over a section in the beginning of this Bible which was written by the actual KJV translators to the reader of the KJV. (This is NOT the "Epistle Dedicatory to King James", but rather an introduction to every reader of the 1611 King James Version.) This introduction is missing in every modern KJV I have ever seen or owned. Remember, I am quoting from an ORIGINAL 1611. The style of English is quite different than what we use today - or even what we find in the KJV Bibles now in use - but I'm sure you will understand.

For the very Historicall trueth is, that vpon the importunate petitions of the Puritanes, at his Maiesties comming to this Crowne, the Conference at Hampton Court hauing bene appointed for hearing their complaints : when by force of reason they were put from all other grounds, they had recourse at the last, to this shift, that they could not with good conscience subscribe to the Communion booke, since it maintained the Bible as it was there translated, which was as they said, a most corrupted translation. And although this was iudged to be but a very poore and emptie shift; yet euen hereupon did his Maiestie beginne to bethinke himselfe of the good that might ensue by a new translation, and presently after gaue order for this Translation which is now presented vnto thee. Thus much to satisfie our scrupulous Brethren.

Now to the later we answere: that wee doe not deny, nay wee affirme and auow, that the very meanest translation of the Bible in English, set foorth by men of our profession (for wee haue seene none of theirs of the whole Bible as yet) containeth the word of God, nay, is the word of God. As the Kings Speech which hee vttered in Parliament, being translated into French, Dutch, Italian and Latine, is still the Kings Speech, though it be not interpreted by euery Translator with the like grace, nor peraduenture so fitly for phrase, nor so expresly for sense, euery where. For it is confessed, that things are to take their denomination of the greater part; and a naturall man could say, Verum vbi multi nitent in carmine, non ego paucis offendor maculis, &c. A man may be counter a vertuous man, though hee haue made many slips in his life, (els, there were none vertuous, for in many things we offend all) also a comely man and louely, though hee haue some warts vpon his hand, yea, not onely freakles vpon his face, but also skarres. No cause therefore why the word translated should bee denied to be the word, or forbidden to be currant, notwithstanding that some imperfections and blemishes may be noted in the setting forth of it. For what euer was perfect vnder the Sunne, where Apostles or Apostolike men, that is, men indued with an extraordinary measure of Gods spirit, and priuiledged with the priuiledge of infallibilitie, had not their hand?

Take in very carefully what you have just read. The King James translators believed that even the meanest [most inferior] translations of the Bible in English at that time, in their opinion, not only contained the word of God, but actually WERE the word of God. They also stated their belief that no translation of the Bible, regardless of textual "imperfections and blemishes" should be denied to be the word of God. Furthermore, they believed that the word of God should not be forbidden to be translated in the "currant," or current language used in its present-day. They also make no claim that their King James Version was a perfect translation.

(Note also that the many of the Pilgrims (Puritans) that landed at Plymouth Rock did not accept the 1611 KJV as authentic. This was one of the reasons they left England in the first place!)

Chick Comics' take on this is wonderfully paranoid

The translators go on to support the translation of Scripture into the "vulgar," or tongue of the common people:

Now through the Church were thus furnished with Greeke and Latine Translations, euen before the faith of CHRIST was generally embraced in the Empire : (for the learned know that even in S. Hieroms time, the Consul of Rome and his wife were both Ethnicks, and about the same time the greatest part of the Senate also) yet for all that the godly-learned were not content to haue the Scriptures in the Language which themselues vnderstood, Greeke and Latine, (as the good Lepers were not content to fare well themselues, but acquainted their neighbours with the store that God had sent, that they also might prouide for themselues) but also for the behoofe and edifying of the vnlearned which hungered and thirsted after Righteousnesse, and had soules to be saued as well as they, they prouided Translations into the vulgar for their Countreymen, insomuch that most nations vnder heauen did shortly after their conuersion, heare CHRIST speaking vnto them in their mother tongue, not by the voyce of their Minister onely, but also by the written word translated.

Quite a different view of the translators of the KJV than some would have us believe. They would have to brand the translators of their own beloved KJV as heretics and modernists for even suggesting that (a) the KJV is anything less than perfect, (b) even poor translations of the Bible contain the essential word of God, and (c) that the words of Scripture should be translated into (God forbid!) the common understandable language of the people.

Read these pages in a scanned copy of the original here!

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