The King James Version of 1611, also known as the Authorized Version of the Bible, has been proven throughout history to be the greatest of all English translations. The beautiful English prose contained in the King James Bible has had supreme influence in society, and is widely considered to be the greatest literary masterpiece known to man. When King James the Sixth of Scotland succeeded Queen Elizabeth the First of England after her death, many different translations of the Bible were in existence, including the Bishop’s Bible, the Great Bible, and the Geneva Bible. To settle various religious grievances, King James called the Hampton Court Conference in January of 1604. During the Conference, Dr. John Reynolds, a Puritan leader and Oxford scholar, “moved his Majesty, that there might be a new translation of the Bible, because those which were allowed in the reigns of Henry the Eighth and Edward the Sixth were corrupt and not answerable to the truth of the Original.” King James then replied, “I wish some special pains were taken for an uniform translation, which should be done by the best learned men in both Universities, then reviewed by the Bishops, presented to the Privy Council, lastly ratified by the Royal authority, to be read in the whole Church, and none other.”
After a resolution was passed by King James in 1604, a committee of fifty-four of the finest scholars in England was commissioned for the purpose of creating a translation “of the whole Bible, as consonant as can be to the original Hebrew and Greek; and this to be set out and printed, without any marginal notes, and only to be used in all churches of England in time of divine service.” The committee was divided into six groups - two at Oxford University, two at Cambridge University, and two at Westminster University. The groups worked on certain portions of text separately, and then each group brought their translations before the entire committee to be reviewed for accuracy and revised to create better harmony as a whole. King James encouraged the men to diligently seek out “all our principal learned men within this our kingdom.” Thus, the scholars of an entire country were dedicated to this noble work - the only Book that can engage the heart, challenge the mind, and stir the soul.
The King James translators incorporated many of the helps first introduced in the Geneva Bible, and built upon the strengths of earlier versions such as Tyndale's New Testament, the Matthews Bible, the Great Bible, and the Bishops Bible to produce the greatest of all English translations. Its beautiful prose and simple structures have made it the greatest literary masterpiece of all time, but most importantly, we can be assured that the Word of God has been preserved in the pages of the King James Version.