The Coming Forth of the King James Bible

Lincoln H. Blumell and David M. Whitchurch

Lincoln H. Blumell and David M. Whitchurch, “The Coming Forth of the King James Bible,” in The King James Bible and the Restoration, ed. Kent P. Jackson (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2011), 43–60.

Lincoln H. Blumell is an assistant professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University. He received a BA in classical and early Christian studies from the University of Calgary, an MA in religious studies from the University of Calgary, an MSt from the University of Oxford (Christ Church College) in Jewish studies, and a PhD in religious studies from the University of Toronto. He specializes in Greek New Testament, early Christianity, and Greek and Coptic papyrology.

When Queen Elizabeth I died on March 24, 1603, she left behind a nation rife with religious tensions. [1] The queen had managed to govern for a lengthy period of almost half a century, during which time England had become a genuine international power, in part due to the stability Elizabeth’s reign afforded. Yet Elizabeth’s preference for Protestantism over Catholicism frequently put her and her country in a very precarious situation. [2] She had come to power in November 1558 in the aftermath of the disastrous rule of Mary I, who had sought to repair the relationship with Rome that her father, King Henry VIII, had effectively severed with his founding of the Church of England in 1532. As part of Mary’s pro-Catholic policies, she initiated a series of persecutions against various Protestants and other notable religious reformers in England that cumulatively resulted in the deaths of about three hundred individuals, which subsequently earned her the nickname “Bloody Mary.” [3] John Rogers, friend of William Tyndale and publisher of the Thomas Matthew Bible, was the first of her victims. For the most part, Elizabeth was able to maintain religious stability for much of her reign through a couple of compromises that offered something to both Protestants and Catholics alike, or so she thought. [4] However, notwithstanding her best efforts, she could not satisfy both groups. Toward the end of her life, with the emergence of Puritanism, there was a growing sense among select quarters of Protestant society that while she claimed to favor Protestantism, she was granting too many concessions to Catholicism. In fact, many Puritans maintained that the Church of England had too many vestiges of Roman Catholicism, and they wanted reform within the English church itself.

Because Elizabeth never had any children (she never married), her death brought the very real possibility of severe religious turmoil in England, as there was no clear successor. To make matters worse, none of the descendants of Henry VIII had produced any offspring either. However, King Henry VIII’s older sister, Margaret Tudor, had married James IV of Scotland, and to this union was born Mary, the Queen of Scots (1542–87). In turn, during Mary’s second marriage to Henry Stuart, First Duke of Albany, she had a son named James who would become James VI of Scotland. As James VI did have a connection to the Tudor line though Henry VII, Henry VIII’s father, and because he was male, Protestant, and Elizabeth’s closest living relative, he was chosen to succeed Elizabeth. Accordingly, in April 1603, just one month after the death of Elizabeth, James left Edinburgh for London and was crowned King James I of England at the end of July.

The Decision to Make a New Translation

Though work on what would become the King James Bible would commence the following year under the patronage of James, at the time of his coronation in July 1603 he had as of yet no intention of sponsoring a new translation of the Bible. The idea for a new translation came about as a direct result of the religious tensions that had been simmering during Elizabeth’s reign. When word began to spread throughout England that James would be the next monarch, both Catholics and Protestants felt optimistic that their voices could now finally be heard. [5] Many Protestants were eager to welcome James, since Scotland had essentially become a bastion of Calvinism during his rule, and it was even rumored that he was somewhat sympathetic to their causes. [6] Even some Catholics were encouraged by his election because James’s mother, Mary Queen of Scots, had died a loyal Catholic, and therefore it was supposed that James might be somewhat more sympathetic than Elizabeth to their grievances and concerns, even though he was a Protestant. [7]

When James set out for London in April 1603, a number of groups, religious and otherwise, met him along his six-week trip from Edinburgh to London to petition for royal favor. [8] During this trip, James was met with a petition that would ultimately, though indirectly, lead to the creation of the King James Bible. At some point along the journey, James was given what is now referred to as the Millenary Petition, so called because it was allegedly signed by a thousand Puritan ministers. This Puritan petition, however, never asked for a new translation of the Bible but simply called for the “reformation of certain ceremonies and abuses of the Church [of England].” [9] The petition effectively aimed at removing various Catholic, or as the petition put it, “popish,” influences from the Church of England in order to bring it more in line with other Protestant churches.

James did not immediately respond to the Millenary Petition but waited some time before he weighed in on the matters it set forth. Though James would grant a few small concessions and favors to various petitioners, he was for the most part very prudent; he determined not to agree to anything until after he arrived in London and could ascertain for himself the country’s religious landscape and its various power bases and central fault lines. Like Elizabeth, James knew very well that a key to a successful and prosperous reign was religious stability. Therefore he did not want to make any promises that he would not be able to keep or that might alienate important segments of his kingdom. Accordingly, it was not until the later part of October that James formally responded to the petition and agreed to meet with certain Puritan representatives. He announced that he would hold a conference at Hampton Court the following January where the Puritans could present their grievances outlined in the petition. [10] The conference was set for two days in January: Saturday, January 14, and Monday, January 16, 1604. [11]

To the Puritans, James’s willingness to meet, even if it was entirely on his own terms, was met with much optimism because Elizabeth had never given the Puritans such an audience, especially when they wanted to reform the church. On the other hand, James’s willingness to meet the Puritans was taken by many within the Church of England, particularly by the archbishop of Canterbury, John Whitgift, and the bishop of London, Richard Bancroft, as a politically naive concession because it lent some credibility to the Puritan grievances. [12] To allay fears among the ecclesiastical hierarchy of the church, James met with ten senior bishops two days before the conference and communicated to them that while he intended that the conference would be convoked “for the reformation of some things amiss in ecclesiastical matters,” none of the bishops would need to worry, as he was clearly on the side of the church and its hierarchy and had no intention of instituting any significant reforms. [13] Because James invited to the conference nineteen representatives from the Church of England and only four handpicked Puritans who were considered moderates, it was clear from the start that there were not going to be any substantial changes to the church.

The conference started Saturday afternoon and began with a long speech by James wherein he set forth the importance of his role as steward of the church and pointed out that while it may be in need of some reforms, it was not in need of any drastic or radical changes. [14] Following his speech, James then asked each bishop for his thoughts on his comments, and for much of the first day, the conference it was not so much a dialogue with the Puritans as it was a lecturing to them on the merits of the existing organization of the church. Though James had elected himself moderator of the conference, it became rather evident during the first day that he was a less-than- impartial judge. When the conference resumed on Monday, the actual demands in the Millenary Petition were finally taken up. The Puritans, led by spokesman John Rainolds (also Reynolds), were able to directly question James about their grievances. However, almost every request brought forward by Rainolds was immediately denied or disputed by James. [15]

At some point during the course of Rainolds’s pleading before the king—it seems during the time they were debating the use of the Book of Common Prayer and Rainolds was making some suggestions [16]—Rainolds made a request that “one only translation of the Bible . . . [be] declared authentical, and read in the church.” [17] Whether Rainolds was asking for a new translation or simply for a direction to authorize only one of the existing English translations, most took Rainolds’s words as a request for the former. [18] It is reported that immediately after the request was made, and before the king could respond, Bishop Bancroft sprang to his feet in protest and shouted, “If every man’s humor should be followed, there would be no end to the translating.” [19] James, who up until this point had basically denied or debated every request made by Rainolds, readily agreed to a new translation. William Barlow records, “Whereupon his Highness wished that some special pains should be taken in that behalf for one uniform translation (professing that he could never yet, see a Bible well translated in English; but the worst of all, his Majesty thought the Geneva to be) and this was to be done by the best learned in both the Universities, after them to be reviewed by the Bishops, and the chief learned of the Church: from them to be presented to the Privy-Council; and lastly to be ratified by his Royal authority; and so his whole Church to be bound unto it, and none other.” [20]

However, before agreeing to authorize and fund a new translation, James placed a few preliminary stipulations upon the project, which included the requirement that Hebrew and Greek texts be used for the Old and New Testaments respectively—as opposed to the Latin Vulgate—and that there were to be no marginal notes in the new translation: “A translation be made of the whole Bible, as consonant as can be to the original Hebrew and Greek; and this is to be set out and printed, without any marginal note, and only to be used in all churches of England in time of divine service.” [21]

The Translation

Careful oversight guided the translation of the new Bible. [22] Following the conference, King James elevated Bishop Richard Bancroft as his chief adviser for the project. Bancroft, who had initially scoffed at the suggestion of a new translation, would become one its foremost backers in the initial stages and play an instrumental role in assembling and organizing the translators. [23] As stipulated by the king, the best and brightest Hebraists and Greek scholars from Cambridge and Oxford would form the basis of the translation team. Forty-seven of an intended fifty-four translators were appointed by June 30, 1604. They were divided into six committees called “companies”: two from Cambridge, two from Oxford, and two from Westminster, with each company assigned to translate a different section of the Bible. By spring or early summer of 1604, Bancroft had drafted a document providing detailed rules to be used throughout the translation process. It is presumed that the rules were written in consultation with, and under the direction of, King James. The rules were put in place so as to minimize the possibility that the Bible might be biased and lend credibility to any one group. They were so central to the completed work that they are given here in their entirety: [24]

  1. The ordinary Bible read in the Church, commonly called the Bishops’ Bible, to be followed, and as little altered as the truth of the original will permit.
  2. The names of the prophets, and the holy writers, with the other names in the text, to be retained, as near as may be, accordingly as they are vulgarly used.
  3. The old ecclesiastical words to be kept, viz.: as the word ‘Church’ not to be translated ‘Congregation’ etc.
  4. When a word hath diverse significations, that to be kept which hath been most commonly used by the most of the Ancient Fathers, being agreeable to the propriety of the place, and the Analogy of Faith.
  5. The division of the chapters to be altered either not at all, or as little as may be, if necessity so require.
  6. No marginal notes at all to be affixed, but only for the explanation of the Hebrew or Greek words, which cannot without some circumlocution so briefly and fitly be expressed in the text.
  7. Such quotations of places to be marginally set down as shall serve for fit reference of one Scripture to another.
  8. Every particular man of each company to take the same chapter or chapters, and having translated or amended them severally by himself where he think good, all to meet together, confer what they have done, and agree for their parts what shall stand.
  9. As one company hath dispatched any one book in this manner, they shall send it to the rest to be considered of seriously and judiciously, for His Majesty is very careful for this point.
  10. If any company, upon the review of the book so sent, shall doubt or differ upon any place, to send them word thereof, note the place and withal send their reasons, to which if they consent not, the difference to be compounded at the general meeting, which is to be of the chief persons of each company, at the end of the work.
  11. When any place of especial obscurity is doubted of, letters to be directed by authority to send to any learned man in the land for his judgement of such a place.
  12. Letters to be sent from every Bishop to the rest of his clergy, admonishing them of this translation in hand, and to move and charge as many as being skilful in the tongues have taken pains in that kind, to send his particular observations to the company, either at Westminster, Cambridge or Oxford.
  13. The directors in each company to be the Deans of Westminster and Chester for that place, and the King’s Professors in the Hebrew and Greek in each University.
  14. These translations to be used where they agree better with the text than the Bishops’ Bible, viz.: Tyndale’s, Matthew’s, Coverdale’s, Whitchurch’s, Geneva.
  15. Besides the said directors before mentioned, three or four of the most ancient and grave divines, in either of the universities not employed in the translating, to be assigned by the Vice-Chancellors, upon conference with the rest of the heads, to be overseers of the translations as well Hebrew as Greek, for the better observation of the 4th rule above specified. [25]

The main sources used by the translators included the Hebrew Bible, Beza’s Greek New Testament, all of the English Bible printings indicated in rule 14 (Tyndale, Matthew, Coverdale, Whitchurch, Geneva), and the 1582 Catholic translation known as the Rheims New Testament. [26] To facilitate the translation process, and in accordance with instruction number 1, forty folio-sized unbound 1602 Bishops’ Bibles were distributed to the translators to work from. By design, the new Bible was more a revision of previous Bibles than a new translation. The Bishops’ Bible was the core text. Working from it, the translators examined the other Bibles, particularly the Hebrew and Greek originals, and selected what they felt were the right words for every verse. Even though only a few of the translators’ papers have survived, they still provide invaluable insights into the translation work. [27]

The translation process started with each person in a company revising the portion of the Bible assigned, in accordance with the rules of translation. Once the translator’s changes were completed, the revisions were circulated among the other members of the company for comparison and further revision. Passages that could not be agreed upon were sent to outside scholars for additional insights and recommendations. Revisions that could not be agreed upon were noted and left for future reviewers. Each company then circulated its portion of the Bible to the other five companies for further examination before forwarding the revisions to the general committee for a determination of the final text.

The translators began the actual work on the project sometime in the fall of 1604. They took three years to complete the preliminary phases of translation before circulating their work for review by other companies. It would take approximately two more years (1608–9) before the general committee would be selected, made up of one representative from each of the six companies. This committee met at Stationers’ Hall in London for nine months in 1610 to carefully review the whole translation and discuss unresolved disputes between variant translations. John Bois, who participated in this final review and kept meticulous notes of part of the proceedings, indicated just how impassioned some of the discussions became. Ward Allen summarizes:

Bois notes discussions at 453 places in the Epistles. If his notes are complete, the general meeting deliberated each day over some thirty-two readings. We know from Bois that the members of the meeting engaged in arguments, which were sometimes violent, consulted dictionaries, pored over and discussed current and antique theologians, traced textual variations, studied classical authors to settle questions of diction, thought about style, composed in places original readings. We know from the tenth rule that the meeting deliberated over questions which were so difficult that the translators themselves had reached a deadlock over correct answers. [28]

The final outcome resulted in a text familiar to us today. For example, the marginal annotations for Luke 1:57 demonstrate the stages of the translation process. The Bishop’s Bible reads, “Elizabeths time came that she should bee delivered, and she brought forth a sonne.” The first revision made the following change: “Now Elizabeths time was fulfilled that she should bee delivered, and she brought forth a sonne.” One last change made by the Stationers’ Hall group brings the text into the form familiar to King James Version readers: “Now Elizabeths full time came, that she should bee delivered, and shee brought forth a sonne.” [29] Hundreds of such changes produce a text that echoes familiarity to many Bible readers of today.

The Translators

The names of some fifty translators and overseers are known. [30] Little detail is known about some of them, but all were well qualified for the work of King James’s Bible. Consider the short biographies of the following participants:

Lancelot Andrewes was the head translator of the entire Bible. His list of accomplishments is impressive. He was dean of Westminster Abbey, a prebendary (presiding or honorary priest) of St. Paul’s Cathedral, a chaplain at the Chapel Royal in Whitehall, and vicar of St. Giles Cripplegate. Andrewes was described as brilliant, scholarly, political, passionate, agonized, in love with the English language, saintly, courageous, craven, and bewitched by ceremony. In private, he was troubled by persistent guilt and self-abasement. He stated, “For me, O Lord, sinning and not repenting, and so utterly unworthy, it were more becoming to lie prostrate before Thee and with weeping and groaning to ask pardon for my sins, than with polluted mouth to praise Thee.” [31] Paintings often portray him with a handkerchief in hand to represent the many tears he offered in behalf of himself and others.

John Rainolds, one of the few Puritan translators, received his doctorate of divinity in 1585 and became Regius Professor of Divinity and later president of Corpus Christi College at Oxford. He was the one who recommended a new translation of the Bible at the Hampton Court Conference. He was recognized as “a prodigy in ready, a living library and a walking museum.” [32] He worked on the translation of a portion of the Old Testament until his death in 1607.

John Bois, member of the general committee, showed a propensity for languages at an unusually early age. His father was conversant in both Hebrew and Greek, and he taught John well. Bois read the entire Bible by age five and a year later was writing in Hebrew. He entered St. John’s College at Cambridge at fourteen, where he distinguished himself in the Greek language. After twenty years at Cambridge, he married and became vicar of Boxworth. As a translator, he often completed his assigned portion of the translation and then helped others complete theirs. Eventually he became a member of the general committee. Bois took detailed notes during the final revision of the Bible.

Sir Henry Savile, translator, came from an honored country family in the region of Yorkshire. He was educated at Oxford and after graduation became a fellow at Merton College. Later he was appointed the provost of Eton College. His reputation in the Greek language was so good that early on in his career he tutored Queen Elizabeth. Savile is noted as a pioneer of mathematics and was the founder of the Savile Professorships of geometry and astronomy at Oxford. He is the only one of the translators who was not a priest or bishop of the Church of England.

William Barlow, director of the Second Westminster Company and translator of the New Testament Epistles, he was a client of the well-known and gifted archbishop of Canterbury, John Whitgift, a prebendary of Westminster, dean of Chester, bishop of Rochester and Lincoln, and court propagandist and operator for King James. Barlow also provides a semiofficial account, Summe and Substance of the Conference, where he describes the events of the 1604 Hampton Court Conference.

Miles Smith, member of the First Oxford Company (Isaiah–Malachi) and general revision committee and participant in the final review, was a doctor of divinity, prebendary of Hereford and Exeter Cathedrals, and later bishop of Gloucester (1612), and was expert in Hebrew and other Semitic languages. Thus he participated from the very beginning to the very end of the new translation of the Bible. He was the author of the 1611 KJV’s long preface, “The Translators to the Reader.”

The Translators to the Reader

In 1610 the translation was formally submitted for printing, and in 1611 the first edition of the King James Bible (Old and New Testaments as well as the Apocrypha) was published. The text was printed in two columns per page, with cross-references in the interior and exterior margins and brief chapter summaries placed before the first verse of each chapter. In addition to the actual biblical text, a decorative title page was affixed that contained the following inscription: “THE HOLY BIBLE, Conteyning the Old Testament, and the New. Newly translated out of the originall tongues: & with the former Translations diligently compared and revised, by his Maiesties speciall Comandement. Appointed to be read in Churches. Imprinted at London by Robert Barker, Printer to the Kings most Excellent Maiestie. Anno Dom. 1611.” Following the title page, there was a three-page dedication of the work to King James, “the Most High and Mightie Prince,” followed by the translators’ preface, calendars of church festivals, prayers and lessons with readings for various church services, a map of the Holy Land, a table of contents listing the books of the Bible and the number of chapters, and thirty-four pages of biblical genealogies.

Miles Smith received the assignment to draft the translators’ preface. In that eleven-page introduction, “The Translators to the Reader,” he stated eloquently, “So hard a thing it is to please all, even when we please God best, and do seek to approve ourselves to every one’s conscience.” [33] The preface set forth the reasoning behind the making of the new translation: the translators believed that the Bible was God’s word, and that it should be available in the language of the people. Even in translation, Smith wrote, the words of scripture are of inestimable worth: “If we be ignorant, they will instruct us; if out of the way, they will bring us home; if out of order, they will reform us; if in heaviness, comfort us; if dull, quicken us; if cold, inflame us. . . . Love the Scriptures, and wisdom will love thee.” [34] A simple suggestion by John Rainolds at Hampton Court initiated what would become the most popular English Bible of all time. Yet its popularity would take some time and some convincing. To help allay concerns over the accuracy and value of the translators’ work, Smith wrote:

We affirm and avow, that the very meanest [most humble] translation of the Bible in English, set forth by men of our profession . . . containeth the word of God, nay, is the word of God. As the King’s speech which he uttered in Parliament, being translated into French, Dutch, Italian, and Latin, is still the King’s speech, though it be not interpreted by every translator with the like grace. . . . No cause therefore why the word translated should be denied to be the word, or forbidden to be current, notwithstanding that some imperfections and blemishes may be noted in the setting forth of it. [35]

The translators were aware that there were “some imperfections and blemishes” in their new Bible. They were excellent scholars and knew that every translation falls short of the original. Yet they knew that their work was good and that their new translation was not to be denied its place as the word of God. As if to dismantle the wall on the new Bible’s title page, take the readers by the hand, and lead them into the Promised Land before them, the preface concludes with an invitation—an invitation for people to enter the new translation, receive God’s Spirit to read it, and understand the Bible in their own language:

Many other things we might give thee warning of (gentle Reader). . . . It remaineth, that we commend thee to God, and to the Spirit of his grace, which is able to build further than we can ask or think. He removeth the scales from our eyes, the veil from our hearts, opening our wits that we may understand his word, enlarging our hearts, yea correcting our affections, that we may love it above gold and silver, yea that we may love it to the end. Ye are brought unto fountains of living water which ye digged not. . . . Others have labored, and you may enter into their labors; O receive not so great things in vain. [36]


[1] For a concise overview of the different religious tensions simmering at the time of Elizabeth’s death, see Diarmaid MacCulloch, The Later Reformation in England, 1547–1603 (New York: St. Martin’s, 1990), 46–56.

[2] After Pope Pius V (pope 1566–72) formally excommunicated Elizabeth with the papal bull Regnans in Excelsisis in February of 1570—the last such papal excommunication of a ruling monarch—he released Elizabeth’s subjects from any allegiance to her and in effect invited her subjects to depose her violently and replace her with a monarch friendlier to Rome. Subsequently, Elizabeth was the target of the Ridolfi Plot in 1570 and the Babington Plot of 1586. Additionally, under the direction of Philip II of Spain, a huge flotilla left Spain in May of 1588 to attack England and crush English Protestantism. The flotilla was decisively beaten by the English, thus establishing English superiority on the seas. See MacCulloch, The Later Reformation, 144–50.

[3] This persecution is described in detail by John Foxe (1516–87), an English clergyman and martyrologist, in his famous sixteenth-century work, Acts and Monuments (commonly known as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs)—an English Protestant classic that details the persecution of Christians from the first century to the sixteenth century. The chapter on Mary (“XVI—Persecutions in England during the Reign of Queen Mary”) is by far the longest in the book. Though it is clearly a tendentious account of the persecution, it is nevertheless an important source since Foxe was an eyewitness to many of the events described. For a more recent treatment of the Marian persecution that is not so ideologically slanted, see Gina Alexander, “Bonner and the Marian Persecutions,” in The English Reformation Revised, ed. Christopher Haigh (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 157–75.

[4] Elizabeth tried to work out a religious compromise that would work for both groups, Protestants and Catholics, even though it favored the former. The Elizabethan Settlement, as it would come to be known, made the monarch supreme in spiritual and ecclesiastical matters, thus reestablishing the Church of England’s religious independence from Rome. At the same time, it was a compromise between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, as it effectively made the Church of England Roman Catholic in ritual and organization but Protestant in doctrine. The Settlement was the result of two Acts, the Act of Supremacy and the Act of Uniformity, which were passed 1559–60. For a detailed treatment of this settlement, including the effects of its aftermath, see William P. Haugaard, Elizabeth and the English Reformation: The Struggle for a Stable Settlement of Religion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968).

[5] Many Catholics, and not a few Protestants, felt that Elizabeth did not give their grievances the necessary credence they deserved, since she rarely gave any of their petitions a formal hearing. While this policy may have been pragmatic and at times prudent, since Elizabeth would have almost certainly been inundated with petitions, Elizabeth’s general reluctance to entertain formal religious petitioning gave many the impression she was indifferent to their concerns. And at times, her perceived apathy stoked their anger toward her.

[6] While many Protestants looked very favorably at Jacobean Scotland and had some reason to believe that James was favorably disposed to their religious causes, James was no real supporter of either Puritanism or Calvinism. He certainly had no overwhelming desire to promote their agendas in England, as he felt their religious ideas potentially undermined monarchic authority. See Alister E. McGrath, In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How It Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture (New York: Doubleday, 2001), 139–41.

[7] On Catholicism in sixteenth-century England, see Christopher Haigh, “The Continuity of Catholicism in the English Reformation,” in Haigh, English Reformation Revised, 176–208.

[8] Fredrick Shriver, “Hampton Court Re-visited: James I and the Puritans,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 33, no. 1 (1982): 49–50.

[9] A copy of the Millenary Petition may be found in J. P. Kenyon, ed., The Stuart Constitution, 1603–1688: Documents and Commentary (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1966), 37:132–34.

[10] There is some evidence that James may have originally intended the conference to be held in November 1603 and that it was postponed until January 1604 as a result of the ongoing plague. See Olga S. Opfell, The King James Bible Translators (London: McFarland, 1982), 3.

[11] As the intervening day was a Sunday, it being deemed a day of rest, the conference was adjourned.

[12] Shriver, “Hampton Court Revisited,” 50.

[13] Quoted in McGrath, In the Beginning, 156. See 156–157.

[14] Unfortunately, the records of the conference are no longer extant, since they were housed at Whitehall, where a fire destroyed them in January 1618. The proceedings of the conference can only be fragmentarily reconstructed from the correspondence and memoirs of its participants. The chief source for the proceedings of the conference is William Barlow’s Summe and Substance of the Conference.

[15] See Adam Nicolson, God’s Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible (New York: HarperCollins, 2003), 53–57.

[16] The Book of Common Prayer contains the official liturgy of the Church of England. It was originally compiled by Thomas Cranmer and others who were simply attempting to revise, reform, and condense the Latin liturgies of the medieval church for the benefit of the English laity and clergy. In 1549 it was officially approved by Parliament, and in 1559 it was slightly revised under Elizabeth. Puritans came to be very critical of the Book of Common Prayer because they alleged that it contained a number of “unbiblical” elements and preserved too many vestiges of the Roman Catholic mass.

[17] Quoted in McGrath, In the Beginning, 161. As recorded in Barlow’s Summe and Substance of the Conference, Rainolds cited three particular examples where the existing English translations of the Bible were faulty. First, he stated that every English translation he had read had not correctly translated the word συστοιχε? (“to correspond to”; KJV “answereth to”) in Galatians 4:25. Second, that in Psalm 105:28 many translations incorrectly read “they were not obedient” when they should read “they were not disobedient” (KJV “and they rebelled not”). Lastly, he pointed out a minor translational error with Psalm 106:30.

[18] In the semiofficial proceedings of William Barlow, it is reported, “After that, he [John Rainolds] moved his Majesty that there 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.” See Opfell, King James Translators, 6–7.

[19] Quoted in Opfell, King James Translators, 7.

[20] William Barlow, Summe and Substance of the Conference, quoted in David Daniell, The Bible in English: Its History and Influence (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 433–34.

[21] Quoted in McGrath, In the Beginning, 163–64.

[22] Ward Allen, ed., Translating for King James: Notes Made by a Translator of King James’s Bible (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1969), 5. This is a reproduction of notes made by John Bois as he and others discussed the translation of the KJV.

[23] In February 1604, only one month after the conference, John Whitgift, the archbishop of Canterbury, died, and a replacement was needed. It seems likely that Bancroft’s newfound enthusiasm for the translation had to do with the fact that James was very keen on the project, and Bancroft wanted to succeed Whitgift. In any case, Bancroft was ordained archbishop of Canterbury in October 1604. He would die November 2, 1610, before the publication of the translation.

[24] This list is taken from David Norton, The King James Bible: A Short History from Tyndale to Today (New York and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 86–89; see also Alfred W. Pollard, ed., Records of the English Bible: The Documents Relating to the Translation and Publication of the Bible in English, 1525–1611 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1911), 53–55.

[25] It appears that guideline 15 was added at a later time.

[26] The corresponding Catholic Old Testament was unavailable to the King James translators because it was not published until 1609–10.

[27] See Ward Allen, ed., Translating the New Testament Epistles, 1604–1611: A Manuscript from King James’s Westminster Company (Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International for Vanderbilt University Press, 1977), xxviii; see also Norton, King James Bible, 94–106.

[28] Allen, Translating the New Testament Epistles, xxiv.

[29] Quoted in Allen, Translating the New Testament Epistles, xxix.

[30] Biographical sketches can be found in Nicolson, God’s Secretaries, 251–59; Gordon Campbell, Bible: The Story of the King James Version, 1611–2011 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 276–94; and Norton, King James Bible, 54–62. The information below draws from these sources.

[31] Quoted in Nicolson, God’s Secretaries, 32.

[32] Quoted in Nicolson, God’s Secretaries, 254.

[33] “The Translators to the Reader,” vii. Spelling and capitalization are modernized in this quotation and in those that follow. A good reproduction is found in Erroll F. Rhodes and Liana Lupas, eds., The Translators to the Reader: The Original Preface of the King James Version of 1611 Revisited (New York: American Bible Society, 1997), 27.

[34] “The Translators to the Reader,” vii–viii.

[35] “The Translators to the Reader,” xii.

[36] “The Translators to the Reader,” xvi.