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The original printing of the Authorized Version was published by Robert Barker, the King's Printer, in 1611 as a complete folio Bible. It was sold looseleaf for ten shillings, or bound for twelve. Robert Barker's father, Christopher, had, in 1589, been granted by Elizabeth I the title of royal Printer, with the perpetual Royal Privilege to print Bibles in England.The first printing used a black letter typeface instead of a Roman typeface, which itself made a political and a religious statement.
The original printing contained two prefatory texts; the first was a rather fulsome Epistle Dedicatory to "the most high and mighty Prince" King James.
The Authorized Version remains among the most widely sold. The Authorized Version maintained its effective dominance throughout the first half of the 20th Century. New translations in the second half of the 20th Century appeared, which displaced its 250 years of dominance (roughly 1700 to 1950).
|Full name:||Authorized Version
|Abbreviation:||KJV or AV|
|Complete Bible published:||1611|
|Textual Basis:||NT: Textus Receptus, similar to the Byzantine text-type; some readings derived from the Vulgate. OT: Masoretic Text with Septuagint influence. Apocrypha: Septuagint with Vulgate influence.|
|Reading Level:||US and Canada Grade 12, US and Canada Grade 8-10|
|Copyright status:||Public domain due to age, publication restrictions until 2039 in the United Kingdom
(See Copyright status)
The Authorized King James Version is an English translation of the Christian Bible conceived in 1604 and brought to fruition in 1611 by the Church of England. Printed by the King's Printer, Robert Barker, the first edition included schedules unique to the Church of England; for example, a lectionary for morning and evening prayer. This was the third such official translation into English; the first having been the Great Bible commissioned by the Church of England in the reign of King Henry VIII, and the second having been the Bishop's Bible of 1568. In January 1604, King James I of England convened the Hampton Court Conference where a new English version was conceived in response to the perceived problems of the earlier translations as detected by the Puritans, a faction within the Church of England.
The king gave the translators instructions designed to guarantee that the new version would conform to the ecclesiology and reflect the episcopal structure of the Church of England and its beliefs about an ordained clergy. The translation was by 47 scholars, all of whom were members of the Church of England. In common with most other translations of the period, the New Testament was translated from the Textus Receptus (Received Text) series of the Greek texts. The Old Testament was translated from the Masoretic Hebrew text, while the Apocrypha were translated from the Greek Septuagint (LXX), except for 2 Esdras, which was translated from the Latin Vulgate.
While the Authorized Version was meant to replace the Bishops' Bible as the official version for readings in the Church of England, it was apparently (unlike the Great Bible) never specifically "authorized", although it is commonly known as the Authorized Version in the United Kingdom. However, the King's Printer issued no further editions of the Bishops' Bible; so necessarily the Authorized Version supplanted it as the standard lectern Bible in parish church use in England. In the Book of Common Prayer (1662), the text of the Authorized Version replaced the text of the Great Bible — for Epistle and Gospel readings — and as such was "authorized" by Act of Parliament. In the United States, the Authorized Version is known as the King James Version. The earliest appearance in print of the phrase "authorized version", to mean this particular version of the bible, was published in 1824. The phrase 'King James version' first appeared in print in 1884.
By the first half of the 18th century, the Authorized Version was effectively unchallenged as the English translation used in Anglican and Protestant churches. Over the course of the 18th century, the Authorized Version supplanted the Latin Vulgate as the standard version of scripture for English speaking scholars.
In most of the world the Authorized Version has passed out of copyright and is freely reproduced. In the United Kingdom, the British Crown restricts production of the Authorized Version per transitional exemptions from the Copyright Act 1775 (which implemented this clause) in the Copyright, Designs and patents Act 1988 (Schedule 1, section 13(1)), which expire in 2039. Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, HarperCollins and the Queen's Printers have the right to produce the Authorized Version.