I continue the series of messages on Authorship of the Bible. Today I will discuss, Where did the KJV Bible come from?
The process by which we got our Bible is both complex and amazing. The Word of God is truly a wonderful thing and should be cherished.
“Language shapes the way we think, and determines what we can think about.” –Benjamin Lee Whorf (Hebrew Linguist, 1897-1941)
The written Word:
The Word of God is truly wonderful and beautiful. It is a life changing/giving force.
Exodus 34:27 records God’s words to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.”
The Old Testament was written in Hebrew with the exception of:
Ezra 4:8-6:18; 7:12-26; Daniel 2:4-7:28; Jeremiah 10:11
Which were written in Aramaic.
The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (1958 first edition) said Hebrew “ceased to be a spoken language around the fourth century BC”.
Now because of Archaeological Evidence, The Dead Sea Scrolls and Josephus, who was a first century Jewish historian which recorded Jewish life and sentiment during the time of the New Testament; In his work Antiquity of the Jews he writes “I have also taken a great deal of pains to obtain the learning of the Greeks, and understanding the elements of the Greek language although I have so long accustomed myself to speak our own language, that I cannot pronounce Greek with sufficient exactness: for our nation does not encourage those that learn the languages of many nations”. (Josephus, Ant.20.11.2)
The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (1997 third edition) has been changed to say, Hebrew “continued to be used as a spoken and written language in the New Testament period”.
We also now know that the New Testament was originally written in Hebrew and translated into Greek.
With the exception of the book of Matthew written in Hebrew (Shem Tov) we only have Greek manuscript copies (over 6,000 of them including fragments).
Some of the evidence that the New Testament was originally written in Hebrew are things such as Flavius Josephus quote above.
Archaeological Evidence: such as Shimon Ben Kosiba (Simon Bar Kockba) fragment. Kosiba lead the final revolt against the Romans in 135 CE. This fragment is from a letter he wrote to his leaders began by saying, “From Shimon Ben Kosiba to Yeshua Ben Galgoula and to the men of the fort, peace…” This letter was written in Hebrew.
All the coins minted in Israel during the second Temple period include inscriptions written in Hebrew.
Approximately 90% of all the Dead Sea Scrolls are written in Hebrew.
Ancient writings give evidence to the Book of Matthew being originally written in Hebrew:
Papias (150-170 CE) – Matthew composed the words in the Hebrew dialect, and each translated as he was able. [A quote by Eusebius; Eccl. Hist. 3:39]
Ireneus (170 CE) – Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect. [Against Heresies 3:1]
Origen (210 CE) – The first [Gospel] is written according to Matthew, the same that was once a tax collector, but afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ who having published it for the Jewish believers, wrote it in Hebrew. [A quote by Eusebius; Eccl. Hist. 6:25]
Eusebius (315 CE) – Matthew also, having first proclaimed the Gospel in Hebrew, when on the point of going also to the other nations, committed it to writing in his native tongue, and thus supplied the want of his presence to them by his writings. [Eccl. Hist. 3:24]
Epiphanius (370 CE) – They [The Nazarenes] have the Gospel according to Matthew quite complete in Hebrew, for this Gospel is certainly still preserved among them as it was first written, in Hebrew letters. [Panarion 29:9:4]
Jerome ( 382 CE) – Matthew, who is also Levi, and from a tax collectore came to be an Apostle first of all evangelists composed a Gospel of Christ in Judea in the Hebrew language and letters, for the benefit of those of the circumcision who had believed, who translated it into Greek is not sufficiently ascertained. Furthermore, the Hebrew itself is preserved to this day in the library at Caesarea, which the martyr Pamphilus so diligently collected. I also was allowed by the Nazarenes who use this volume in the Syrian city of Borea to copy it. In which is to be remarked that, wherever the evangelist…. makes use of the testimonies of the Old Scripture, he does not follow the authority of the seventy translators, but that of the Hebrew. [Lives of Illustrious Men, Book 5]
Isho’dad (850 CE) – His [Matthew’s] book was in existence in Caesarea of Palestine, and everyone acknowledges that he wrote it with his hands in Hebrew. [Isho’dad Commentary on the Gospels]
In the Greek text of the New Testament are many Hebrew words and phrases that have been transliterated from the Hebrew language into the Greek language. For example: Matthew (27:46) is a transliterated phrase.
We have no original manuscripts. To-date they are all copies that go back to the originals.
The oldest manuscript to-date was included in the Dead Sea Scrolls; it dates to 150-100 BC. Making it over 1,000 years older than any we had before.
The oldest New Testament manuscript is The Chester Beatty Papyrus II. It contains most of Paul’s letters and was copied in circa, AD 100.
The Masoretic Text (MT) includes many copies of Old Testament books and works dated between AD 500-1000. The MT also includes the Codex Leningradensis: a complete copy of the Hebrew Old Testament dated at AD 1010 (a codex is a bound volume of cut sheets).
This is the source for the majority of Old Testament Bible translation in use today.
The sources for the New Testament use in Bible translations tend to be divided into 2 major categories:
1) The Byzantine or received text (that is, textus receptus).
2) The Alexandrian (modern critical text).
The Byzantine text is “fuller” than the Alexandrian text in the sense that the Byzantine text adds quite a few words here and there, as well as whole clauses, verses, and even two long passages (Mark 16:9-20; John 7:53-8:11) that are not in the Alexandrian text. The Alexandrian texts are much older copies than the Byzantine text are.
The word “canon” comes from the Greek “κανών” (kanon), meaning “rule” or “measuring stick”.
Some considerations for Canonization are:
1. Is it authoritative? 2. Is it prophetic? 3. Is it authentic?
4. Is it dynamic? 5. Was it received, collected, read and used?
Some of the books that are in our Bible were contested as late as 300 or 400 CE. They were: Ezekiel, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon and Esther.
Many books were rejected for both the Old and New Testament.
For example: The Old Testament Apocrypha [hidden books] (1st and 2nd Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Additions to Esther, Wisdom of Solomon, 1st and 2nd Maccabees, etc.)
There was no New Testament as we know it for the first 300 years of the Church’s history.
There were more than 10 Gospels including Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (For example: Gospel of Peter, Gospel of Hebrews, etc.). Of course they have all been rejected except for the four.
Irenaeus writes in Adversus Haereses: “The Gospels could not possibly be either more or less in number than they are. Since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds…”
Books listed as disputed by Eusebius were Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Jude, and Revelation.
The earliest exact reference to the `complete’ New Testament, as we now know it, was in the year 367 CE, in the Easter Letter by Athanasius.
Some of the New Testament books such as Jude and Revelation, etc. were still being disputed in the 1500’s by reformers like Luther and Calvin.
Side note: The New Testament never quotes from the Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes and Esther.
It is interesting to note that the Bible makes reference to several books that are not included in the Bible:
Book of the Covenant
Exodus 24:7 “And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient.”
Book of the Wars of the Lord
Numbers 21:14 “Wherefore it is said in the book of the wars of the LORD, What he did in the Red sea, and in the brooks of Arnon,”
Book of Jasher
Joshua 10:13 “And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.”
2 Samuel 1:18 “(Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.)”
The Manner of the Kingdom (Also called the Book of Statutes)
1 Samuel 10:25 “Then Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book, and laid it up before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house.”
Acts of Solomon
1 Kings 11:41 “And the rest of the acts of Solomon, and all that he did, and his wisdom, are they not written in the book of the acts of Solomon?”
The Chronicles of King David
1 Chronicles 27:24 “Joab the son of Zeruiah began to number, but he finished not, because there fell wrath for it against Israel; neither was the number put in the account of the chronicles of king David.”
Book of Samuel the Seer, Nathan the Prophet, Book of Gad the Seer
1 Chronicles 29:29 “Now the acts of David the king, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of Samuel the seer, and in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the book of Gad the seer,”
Prophecy of Abijah, Visions of Iddo the Seer
2 Chronicles 9:29 Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, first and last, are they not written in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the visions of Iddo the seer against Jeroboam the son of Nebat?
Shemaiah the Prophet, Iddo Genealogies
2 Chronicles 12:15 “Now the acts of Rehoboam, first and last, are they not written in the book of Shemaiah the prophet, and of Iddo the seer concerning genealogies? And there were wars between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually.”
Story of Prophet Iddo
2 Chronicles 13:22 “And the rest of the acts of Abijah, and his ways, and his sayings, are written in the story of the prophet Iddo.”
Book of Jehu
2 Chronicles 20:34 “Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of Jehu the son of Hanani, who is mentioned in the book of the kings of Israel.”
Acts of Uziah
2 Chronicles 26:22 “Now the rest of the acts of Uzziah, first and last, did Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, write.”
Sayings of the Seers
Sayings of the Seers
2 Chronicles 33:19 “His prayer also, and how God was intreated of him, and all his sin, and his trespass, and the places wherein he built high places, and set up groves and graven images, before he was humbled: behold, they are written among the sayings of the seers.”
Epistle to Corinth
1 Corinthians 5:9 “I [Paul] wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:”
Epistle to the Ephesians
Ephesians 3:3 “How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,”
Epistle from Laodicea to the Colossians
Colossians 4:16 “And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.”
Book of Enoch
Jude 1:14 “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,”
It is also interesting to note that there are some quotes in the Bible for which we do not know their extra-Biblical source:
Matthew 2:23 “And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.”
John 7:38 “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”
James 4:5 “Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?”
Then on the other side of that coin we have some extra-Biblical quotes that we know their source:
Hebrews 1:3 – (Wisdom of Solomon 7:25-26)
Hebrews 11:35- ( Refers to 2 Maccabees 6-7)
James 1:19 – (Ecclesiasticus 5:11)
The Apostle Paul liked to quote from extra-Biblical sources:
In Acts 26: 13, he quotes a line from a play by Aeschylus (525-456 BC) called, Agamemnon. He quotes the phrase: “It is hard for you to kick against the pricks [goads]”.
In Acts 17:28 he quotes from the poem Cretica, written by Epimenides in the 6th century BC (the poem is applied to Zeus). He quotes the phrase: “in him we live and move and have our being”. Paul then adds “your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.” This is a direct quote from the Stoic thinker Aratus [Phainomena], (Aratus ascribes the origin of humanity to Zeus).
In 1 Corinthians 15:33, he quotes a line from Euripedes’ play Aiolos (“evil communications corrupt good manners.”); this line also appears in a play called Thais by Menander.
In Titus 1:12, Paul quotes the poet Epimenides who says “Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.” (The lie Epimenides referred to was the claim that Zeus was mortal, which was apparently believed by many of the Cretes of that day).
The English Bible
The History of England at that time:
Between Tyndale’s Bible (1523) and the King James Bible (1611) there were 7 English editions in this 90 year period.
During this time England will shift from Catholicism to a form Protestantism. Also the English language is evolving.
Then from the King James Bible until the 1880’s and then till the 1950’s there are no significant English translations.
The KJV has gone through several editions. Reading the 1611 edition is difficult to say the least.
John 3:16 [1611 edition]: “For God so loued þe world, that he gaue his only begotten Sonne: that whosoeuer beleeueth in him, should not perish, but haue euerlasting life.”
King Henry the 7th was the first Tudor King and Queen Elizabeth the 1st is the last Tudor. The English monarchy of today is of the House of Stuart.
Henry the 7th defeated the previous King Richard the 3rd (They just recently uncovered his remains under a parking lot).
Henry the 8th is Henry the 7th son.
Henry the 8th did not care for the Pope’s, yet he was very Catholic.
He opposed Luther’s attack from Germany on the Catholic Church. In response he wrote a book in 1521 called A Defense of the Seven Sacraments.
Because of this, the Pope gave Henry the 8th the title, “Defender of the Faith”. The Monarchy maintains this title even today.
Henry the 8th marries many times. His first wife was Catherine of Aragon. They hand a child, Mary the first who was married to Philip King of Spain.
Catherine was not able to produce a male heir so he divorced her.
He then marries Ann Bolyen and they have a daughter, Elizabeth the 1st.
He keeps marring and final had a male heir with Jean Seymour, Edward.
In 1534 he passes a law that makes him the head of the Church called, The Act of Supremacy. Making the Monarch leader of the Church of England. In 1535 He passed laws making it illegal to proclaim the Pope has power over the Monarchy.
In 1545 he issues his own Catechism (Henry’s Catechism).
4 of the 7 English Bible are going to come into existence under Henry the 8th reign. (Tyndale 1523, Coverdale 1535, Matthew’s 1537, Great Bible 1539).
After Henry the 8th Edward the 6th born in 1537 and died 1553. Henry died in 1547 and Edward is 10 years old.
During this time Thomas Cranmer Archbishop Canterbury was a major proponent of the Reformation. He created two things: 1) He is the author of the book of Common prayer in 1548. 2) He also wrote the 39 Articles (Doctrinal statements of the Church of England).
Edward the 6h had no heirs, so the next in line for the thorn was his two half-sisters, Mary and Elizabeth. Both of them had been exiled by their father.
Edward appointed Mary Jane Gray to rule in his stead. She was to be married to Edward before he died, but died before that could happen. She ruled for 9 days.
Mary became queen in 1553 and Mary Jane Gray and her supports are put to death. She was known as Bloody Mary. She so hated her Father for the way he treated her Mother and put her to death that she attacked his religion. She appoints Reginald Pole as Archbishop of Canterbury. He was the last Catholic to hold that position.
She was so violent against the Protestants that they either had to leave the country or die. (For example: she called a meeting between a large number of Protestants and herself to discuss. It was a ruse and she put them all to death).
After Mary the 1st, Elizabeth the 1st reigned from 1558 to 1603. She was called the virgin queen (not because she was, rather because she never had any offspring). Two English Bibles come into existence while she is in power: The Geneva Bible (she never had anything to do with, nor did she oppose it) and The Bishop’s Bible 1568 (she never sanctioned it as she saw it was a lesser work than the Geneva Bible). While in power she undid what Mary the 1st had done and restored the Church of England to power.
Mary Queen of Scots was Catholic and as the Reformation was full blaze in Scotland at this time with men like John Knox she had to advocate the thorn in favor of her son James the 6th who had been raised a Protestant. Mary Queen of Scots went to Mary the 1st for help. Instead of helping her, she put her to death.
In 1603 Elizabeth died with no heirs, as a result James the 6th becomes King of England. He then becomes James the 1st… i.e. King James.
The KJV Bible was authorization by James the 1st. It took about 30 or 40 years before the KJV replaced the Geneva Bible as the Bible of choice. The Geneva Bible is the Bible that came over on the Mayflower. It is also the Bible that is quoted by the Founding Fathers of this great country.
Editions of the Bibles:
Coptic Bible. (180 A.D.) Early translations of the New Testament from Greek into Latin, Syriac, and Coptic.
Old Latin Bible. (195 A.D.) The first translation of the Old and New Testaments into Latin. Both Testaments were translated from the Greek.
The Septuagint (LXX). (250 B.C.) The Old Testament Hebrew translated into Greek for the Library of Alexander.
Old Syriac Bible. (300 A.D.) The Old Syriac was a translation of the New Testament from the Greek into Syriac.
The Vulgate Bible. (382 A.D.) The Roman Catholic Church was completely dedicated to the Latin Vulgate Bible. The Vulgate was created by Jerome. He was very anti-Jewish, yet he used Hebrew sources rather than the Septuagint (LXX) for the Old Testament and Greek sources to translate the New Testament.
Wycliffe Bible. (1382/1383) John Wycliffe’s (1310/1320 to 1384) Bible was technically the first English Bible. However it was translated from the Latin Vulgate instead of going back to the Greek. His Bible was composed of just the Gospels. He had poor English because he thought in Latin. He dies in 1384. 30 years later at the Council of Constance in 1414 at the Catholic Church ruled him a hereticfor translating the Bible into English. In-turn they dug up his body and burned his remains on a wooden stake and his ashes were dumped into the ocean.
The Gutenberg Press was invented in 1448 forever changing the world.
Gutenberg Bible. (1456) Gutenberg produced the first printed Bible in Latin.
The Greek New Testament. (1514) The Greek New Testament was printed for the first time by Erasmus. He based his Greek New Testament from only five Greek manuscripts, the oldest of which dated only as far back as the twelfth century. With minor revisions, Erasmus’ Greek New Testament came to be known as the Textus Receptus or the “received texts.”
The Polyglot Bible. (1522) The Polyglot Bibles Old Testament was in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Latin and the New Testament in Latin and Greek. Erasmus used the Polyglot to revise later editions of his New Testament. Tyndale made use of the Polyglot in his translation on the Old Testament into English
Luther’s Bible. (1522) Martin Luther translated the Bible into German from the Hebrew and Greek. This became an inspiration to William Tyndale to engage in his translation into English.
Tyndale New Testament. (1523) William Tyndale lived from 1494 until 1536. He wanted to produce an English Bible. He tries to go through proper channels to get permission. When this failed he decided to break the law and translate from the Hebrew and Greek. He became an outlaw. In his translation he changed the word Church to congregation; Charity as Love; Priest as Elder (first edition he used senior); and the phrase do Penance as Repent. His primary purpose was to put the Word of God into the hands of the common man.
Tyndale also wrote The Practice of Prelates; in which he attacked Henry the 8th marriages and divorces. In the end Henry the 8th order Tyndale to be arrested and brought to him. However, the ones who captured him put him on trial killed him (first by strangling him and then burring him at the stake). His last words were a prayer, “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.” His execution made Henry angry.
Coverdale Bible. (1535) Miles Coverdale lived from 1488 to 1569. He translated Luther’s German Bible into English. Henry the 8th allowed it to be used until The Great Bible was ready.
Matthews Bible. (1537)Thomas Matthews (his real name was John Rogers). Henry the 8th approved the use of the Matthews Bible in the Church of England until The Great Bible was ready. The Matthews Bible was the completion of Tyndale’s Bible.
The Great Bible. (1539) This was the first authorization Bible. It was authorized by Henry the 8th. The work was over saw by Miles Coverdale. It was also known as the Chained Bible.
Note: Before Henry the 8th died, he decreed that only the Great Bible could be used; so they destroyed many of the other Bibles. That is why there is so few original copies left today of the Tyndale and Coverdale, etc. Bibles.
Geneva Bible. (1560) Created by Reformers, in Geneva; who had fled there for safety from the oppression of Bloody Mary. This was the first Study Bible.
Bishops Bible. (1568) Created because Queen Elizabeth and her Archbishop Matthew Parker did not like the study notes had the Bishop
Bible created. This was the first Bible created by a committee as oppose to it being the work of one person.
King James Bible. (1611) King James authorized the revision of the Bishops Bible. However, the committee soon realized that they could not fix it and would have to re-translate it. The King James translators of the New Testament used the Textus Receptus as the basis for their translations. The KJV dominated the Church world for the next 400 years and still does.
II Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”
interpretation. 21- For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
Philippians 2:9 “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him [Jesus], and given him a name which is above every name:”
II Peter 1:20-21 “20- Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21- For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
Philippians 2:9 “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him [Jesus], and given him a name which is above every name:”
Psalm 138:2 “…for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.”
Now if you were asked, “Where did the KJV Bible come from?” Would you be able to answer? And what would your answer be?
Search me O God and know my heart
Test me and know my anxious thoughts
See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.
Forgive us for putting on a show.
Forgive us for being concerned with externals when what you really care about it our hearts.
Make us real. With a Circumsized and a heart after you!
In Jesus Precious name, Amen.