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King James Version

QUESTION: Who translated the King James Version of the Bible?


The 47 translators of the King James Version of the Bible were well established and accomplished scholars. King James I did not like the Geneva Bible nor the "official" Bishop's Bible, so he originally commissioned 54 translators to revise the scripts, paying special attention to the Hebrew and Greek original manuscripts.

Conformists and Puritans alike, with great dedication, were approved to take up the task in June 1604. However, only 47 of the men actually remained on the project with Bishop Bancroft entrusted with managing the project's work.

The translators were formed into six companies: two meeting at Westminster, two at Cambridge, and two at Oxford. The books of Genesis through II Kings were translated by the first Westminster Company, 1 Chronicles through Ecclesiastes by the first Cambridge Company, and Isaiah through Malachi by the first Oxford Company. The second Oxford Company translated the four Gospel accounts, Acts, and Revelation. The Second Westminster Company translated Romans through Jude. All of these men were of extraordinary and vast learning. They included:
  • Lancelot Andrews, skilled in 15 languages
  • William Bedwell, an Arabic scholar
  • Dr. Smith, proficient in Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic
  • John Harmar, a noted scholar in Greek and Latin
These are just a few of the highly intelligent and educated men appointed the task. All were exceptional in various fields of knowledge. After seven years of intense but fruitful work, the collective effort was published in 1611.

Their success has led to the King James Bible holding the first place position throughout the English-speaking world for over 3 centuries. However, its success is not due to their scholarship alone. Just as important in these men were their Spiritual characters.

Any translation of the Bible is affected by the faith of the translators and the leading of the Holy Spirit of God. A secular writer or translator will never translate God's Holy Word as will a Believer. Martin Luther is reported to have written, "Translating is not an art that everyone can practice, as the mad saints think; it requires a right, pious, faithful, diligent, God-fearing, experienced heart. Therefore, I hold that no false Christian or sectarian can be a faithful translator."

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