The Translator’s Preface to the Reader of the 1611 KJV

Welcome to the Brickyard. This is a place to find quotes for use in your own research and writing. The bricks are free, but the building is up to you. The following quotes are from The Translator’s Preface to the Reader of the 1611 KJV. In a prior post I dealt with the term “meanest.” In this post I offer some of the less quoted material. As always, I hope these quotes can aid you in your own study and argumentation. Under “The Praise of the Holy Scripture” the Preface reads,

“But how what piety without truth? what truth (what saving truth) without the word of God? what word of God (whereof we may be sure) without the Scripture…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. Tolle, lege; tolle, lege: Take up and read the Scriptures.”

The Praise of the Holy Scriptures

“Translation it is that openeth the window, to let in the light; that breaketh the shell; that we may eat the kernel; that putteth aside the curtain, that we may look into the most holy place; that removeth the cover of the well, that we my come by the water.”

Translation Necessary

“So much are they [i.e, the Church of Rome] afraid of the light of the Scriptures…that they will not trust the people with it, no not as it is set forth by their own men.”

The Unwillingness of Our Chief Adversaries, That the Scriptures Should be Divulged in the Mother Tongues, &C.

“Many men’s mouths have been open a good while (and yet are not stopped) with speeches about the translation so long in hand, or rather perusals of translations made before: and ask what may be the reason, what the necessity of the employment.

The Speeches and Reasons, Both of Our Brethren and of Our Adversaries, Against This Work

And what exactly were these mouths saying? The translators share some very similar themes and questions. Ones we face even today.

“Hath the Chruch been deceived, say they, all this while? Hath her sweet bread been mingled with leaven, her silver with dross, her wine with water, her milk with lime…Was their translation good before? Why do they now mend it? Was it not good? Why then was it obtruded to the people?

The Speeches and Reasons, Both of Our Brethren and of Our Adversaries, Against This Work

Sound familiar? Briefly, the KJV translators plainly state that the Christians of their time critiqued and criticized those who translated the KJV. And why wouldn’t they? The KJV translators took upon themselves the work of retranslating a text that was already received by many Protestants – the Geneva Bible. So, the KJV translators were criticized for their work. In the end though, the KJV served and serves the believing community across multiple centuries.

There are many lessons to learn here but two seem to be of the utmost importance: 1.) If great scholars are to retranslate the Bible it is only natural that they be criticized because of the strong belief and conviction held by the believing community regarding the book they regard as the word of God. 2.) When all was said and done the Holy Spirit worked in those nay-sayers and critics and their progeny to accept the KJV as the word of God in English and it remained that way for over four-hundred years. Finally, on this Christmas Eve, I leave you with these words from the Preface.

“Many other things we might give thee warning of, gentle reader, if we had not exceeded the measure of a Preface already. 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 the eyes, the vail 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 love it to the end.”

Reasons Inducing Us Not to Stand Curiously Upon an Identity of Phrasing

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