Re: King James Bible celebrated (News, Sept. 16)
Thank you for your article on the King James Version of the Bible. I would like to correct misconceptions about that bible.
The ringing phrases that were credited to the KJV – “blind leaders of the blind,” “woe is me” – were not in fact authored in 1611 by the men on the KJV committee. They were written by one man about 75 years earlier, a man who was publicly strangled and burned at a stake for translating the bible into English. His name was William Tyndale.
Tyndale gave us much that the KJV borrowed: “In the beginning God created heaven and earth,” “With God, all things are possible,” “In Him we live, and move, and have our being.”
From his pen also came, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in unto him and will sup with him, and he with me.”
Tyndale was an able linguist who spoke eight languages. He lived on the continent, in exile from England, in poverty and hardship, pursued from city to city by religious authorities. The law made it illegal to assist him; his brother was apprehended for sending him food money. But working almost single-handedly by the light of oil lamps, Tyndale was able to translate the full New Testament and part of the Old before he was betrayed by a paid informant, imprisoned, and killed in 1536.
Then in 1537 a man named John Rogers, who was also burned at the stake, gathered Tyndale’s translations, added that of Miles Coverdale to complete the undone work, added commentaries, and published it all as the Matthew Bible. This scarcely known masterpiece is the real basis of our English version. It is estimated that 85 per cent of the KJV New Testament is straight Tyndale. It is Tyndale, therefore, who so greatly influenced the English language. Coverdale is also noted for his eloquent renderings of the Psalms.
Victoria is home to a project, newmatthewbible.org, that attempts to make the full Matthew Bible more easily understood and available to everyone.