Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
NUMBER 27, PAGE 4-5b

God's Care For His Own


"I know not where His islands life

Their fronded palms in air;

I only know I cannot drift

Beyond his love and care."

These words of John Greenleaf Whittier express a conviction of God's care and concern that surely is no where more obvious and apparent than in his protecting guidance in the giving to the world perhaps the greatest literary production of all time — the King James Version of the Bible, Consider the background of that event. James VI of Scotland was about as unlikely a monarch as could be found to have his name associated with such a magnificent production. He was weak and vacillating in political matters, scheming, and unprincipled. In 1584 he wrote to the pope in Rome more than hinting that he would be glad to be a loyal Roman Catholic if the pope would give him certain help he desired. The Encyclopedia Britannica declares, "His yen/ natural desire to escape from the poverty and insecurity of Scotland to the opulent English throne led him to behave shamefully in 1587, taking good care to do nothing to offend Elizabeth.... Elizabeth was uncertain how James VI might take the execution of his mother (Mary, Queen of Scots) but when she discovered that he was much more interested in the succession to the English throne than in his mother's life, and that, if he was assured that her trial and condemnation would not prejudice his claim to the succession he would (in his own words) 'digest' his resentment, she rejected the intercession made by France and Scotland, and in February 1587, signed the death warrant..."

When James succeeded to the English throne in 1603 (as James I) the Church of England was in an extremely corrupt condition. It was this profligate and immoral atmosphere which gave rise to the 'Puritans" a deeply consecrated sect within the Church of England bent on "purifying" their religion of its evil. James held the Puritans in contempt, and showed himself much more friendly toward the Catholics than toward his own Church of England — of which he was the legal head. The Puritans presented the King with a petition with approximately one thousand signatures on it stating their grievances against the clergy and the practice of the Church of England. As a result of this the Hampton Conference Court was called in January, 1604, for the purpose of determining what was wrong with the church.

James treated the Puritans rather roughly at the conference, but this marked the beginning of the movement to get a new translation of the Bible. President John Reynolds of Corpus Christi College at Oxford, an outstanding Puritan, finally moved the king that there be a new translation of the Bible prepared. In order to appease the feelings of those he had treated so rudely the King consented to the suggestion, and appointed fifty-four scholars to do the translating. Nearly all of those named were professors from Oxford University, Cambridge University, and Westminster. There were no non-conformists on the committee and only a few Puritan-minded clergy. President Reynolds was on the committee, but died a year after the work began and long before it was finished.

Nearly all the men of the translation committee were abjectly subservient to the King. They curried his favor, and sought his approval in every way possible. Notice the fawning flattery they used in their dedication of the translation: "To the most high and mighty Prince," "Most dreadful Sovereign," "Most Sacred Majesty," "the wonder of the world!" From such cringing and servile adulation could anyone suppose for a moment that these scholars would give anything like a fair and honest translation of the scriptures — particularly in those instances where they knew a faithful translation would go counter to the King's taste and conviction?

But in spite of their political todayism they came forth with a translation that (considering the manuscripts from which they worked) was fantastically accurate and complete! There are a few instances indeed in which we feel political and denominational motivations rather than pure scholarship dictated the choice of a word (baptism rather than immersion, for example), but even in those instances the choice is not always as clearly political as some have thought. For even then the word "baptism" had come to be accepted as having a peculiar religious connotation lacking in the simple word "immersion."

The King James Version, coming from men who were superbly equipped intellectually, but servile and time-serving politically and with a scarcity of manuscripts appalling to the modern scholar, yet achieved such accuracy of expression, such fidelity to the original, and such moving simplicity that it has been the marvel of all succeeding generations. Even in the dark superstition of early seventeenth century England, coming out of ignorance, corruption and moral degradation, this new translation of the Bible burst on the English speaking world like a dazzling display of the Northern Lights on a clear winter's night. Opposed and feared at first by those who were wedded to earlier and far inferior translations, its sheer brilliance soon won it a place in the hearts of English speaking peoples — a place which it has never relinquished. Later and more accurate translation's have appeared (notably the American Standard Version); but it is highly unlikely that any translation made, or yet to be made, into the English language will ever achieve the acceptance that this one has been given.

God's Care For His Own, His Ever Present Protecting Care Is Surely Shown In Bringing Such A Volume — At Such A Time In Human History — And From The Background Of Such Political And Moral Weakness! — F.Y.T.