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union of the crowns

God uses not just saints, but sinners, too

Were not many of the giants of Christian history ordinary sinners with flaws and imperfections? From Moses and David, to Peter and Paul, to Augustine and Luther, many of our role models had sides that they themselves were mortified by. King James, too, had his feet of clay.

King James I of England was an intelligent, vain, yet morally a somewhat `loose` man. Yet he played a strategic role in history, despite the sexual proclivities of his private life. Shortly after his accession to the throne of England (upon Elizabeth's death), King James had a pivotal role in what Winston Churchill calls "a splendid and lasting monument to the genius of the English speaking peoples."

King James

The great libertarian historian Henry Grady Weaver has little good to say about the Stuart kings. He calls James I and his son Charles a pair of "charming self-indulgent" divine-right kings, "the poodle dogs of their species, with not a moral under their curly wigs."

Geddes MacGregor's view of King James

Winston Churchill presents a more balanced account:

"All the Puritan demands had been rejected, but towards the end of the Hampton Court conference a Puritan divine, Dr John Reynolds, President of the Oxford College of Corpus Christi, had asked, seemingly on the spur of the moment, if a new version of the Bible could be produced. The idea appealed to King James. Till now the clergy and laity had relied on a number of different translations -- Tyndal's, Coverdale's, the Geneva Bible, the "Bishop's Bible" of Queen Elizabeth. Their texts varied. Some were disfigured by marginal notes and glosses upholding and advocating partisan interpretations of Scripture and extremist theories of ecclesistical organisation. Each party and sect used the version which best suited its own views and doctrines.

Here, thought James, was the chance to rid the Scriptures of propaganda and produce a uniform version which could be entrusted to all. Within a few months committees or "companies" were set up, two each in Oxford, Cambridge, and Westminster, comprising in all about fifty scholars and divines. They were selected for this work without regard to their theological or ecclesiastical bias. Directions were issued with speed. Each committee was assigned a portion of the text, and their draft was to be scrutinised by all the other committees and finally revised by a committee of twelve. Tenditious renderings were forbidden, and marginal notes or glosses were prohibited except for cross-references or to explain the meaning of Greek or Hebrew words which were difficult to translate.

About three years passed in preliminary research, and the main work did not get under way till 1607, but it was then accomplished with remarkable swiftness. In an age without an efficient postal service or mechanical methods of copying and duplicating texts, the committees, though separated by considerable distances, finished their task in 1609. Nine months sufficed for the scrutiny by the supervisory committee, and in 1611 the Authorized Version of the Bible was produced by the King's Printer.

It won an immediate and lasting triumph. Copies could be bought for as little as five schillings, and even with the inflated prices of today [mid 1950s] can still be purchased for this sum. It superseded all other versions. No new revision was deemed necessary for nearly three hundred years. In the crowded emigrant ships which sailed to the New World of America there was little room for baggage. If the adventurers took books with them they took the Bible, Shakespeare, and later The Pilgrim's Progress, and the Bible they mostly took was the Authorized Version of King James I.

About ninety million complete copies are thought to have been published [this was written nearly one half century ago] in the English language alone. It has been translated into more than seven hundred and sisty tongues. The Authorized Version is still the most popular in England and the United States. This may be deemed King James's greatest achievement, for the impuse was largely his. The Scottish pedant built better than he knew. The scholars who produced this masterpiece are mostly unknown and unremembered. But they forged an enduring link, literary and religious, between the English-speaking peoples of the world.

Are you running with me, Jesus?

Sinners need God, even when he uses them:

King James is proof of the principle that God uses, not just saints and reverends, but sinners as well. King James, this self-imagined pedant from Scotland, notwithstanding his profligacy and luxury, notwithstanding his scandalous homosexual appetence and his unquenchable lust for the same, was used by God to bring the Bible in English to the Anglo-lingual world. And that is not all. Churchill acknowledges King James sexual addiction, and lists a few of the most notorious love affairs (Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset, the good-looking, quick-witted, extravagant youth, George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, etc). See David Bergeron, Michael Young.

But King James Stuart seemed to want to do right by his people, the Scots and English. His mother, the devout Catholic Mary, had been murdered at the behest of (the also devout) protestant Queen Elizabeth. Thus orphaned and then raised by Calvinists, it seems that James wanted nothing more than to be able somehow to bring peace between the Protestants and the Catholics of Europe. No, he did not succeed at all. In fact, the Gunpowder plot aimed at James just about ruined Roman Catholic activity in England for many centuries to come. But the Bible that bears James' name, ironically, shows the imprint of his conciliatory intentions.

Lay a Catholic Rheims New Testament alongside King James' New Testament, and the closeness or phrasing, diction, and tone will surprise you. The King's orders were to follow "traditional" language for all theological terms. The translators followed the Vulgate, via the English Rheims translation. And then were careful NOT to give credit to anything Catholic. (Touchy, touchy). James and his sons, however, found themselves in even deeper water with the popular Puritan movement of the day. James' high church sympathies were notorious. ("No bishop, no King!" was his motto and viewpoint.) England and Scotland at that time, however, leaned toward decidedly low-church and democratic attitudes. Trouble was a-brewing. With a hyper-authoritarian (Divine Right) monarch, and an increasingly anti-authoritarian and populist public (infected with puritan sentiments favoring the common man under God alone), a confrontation could not be delayed forever.

England's Saint George
I vow to thee my country
knight-martyr, servant of our Lord Jesus Christ
Protector of Women, and Patron saint of chivalry

search the scriptures
John 5 : 39

King James Version - online - the most original I could find, but spelling is modernized

KJV 1611 - search resources - This is from U Mich. Several research tools to use

His Majestie King James - some biographical material (paints him a saint)

KJV ONLY - exclusively enjoins 1611 translated English language version KJV, rejects alternatives

King James error? - the original 'agape' (I Cor. 13) it's better translated LOVE

Superiority of the King James Bible - through the ages, its almost immeasurable impact

An English Protestant views the Vulgate - a neglected treasure - The Bible

King James and his loves - David Bergeron's new book on James' intimacies

Patriotic - background music is Princess Diana's favourite hymn

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Northstate, let us pray
ora pro nobis
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