The King James Version of the Bible, first printed in 1611, turned 400 this year, but not many churchgoers are aware of that fact, according to local ministers.
“We will dedicate one of our mid-week worship services to the history and significance of the KJV of the Bible,” Pastor Richard D. Hayes said. “I don’t think that many of the church members recognize that it is in its 400th year, but this special, special service will highlight the importance and bring that fact to their attention.”
Hayes, pastor of New Day Outreach Ministry and president of the United Ministerial Alliance, said he uses the KJV about 95 percent of the time, but often uses other translations to help clarify in the message he presents.
And even though the anniversary has never been discussed in any churches that Peggy Rayman, academic dean of Coastal Georgia School of Missions has attended, she said it should be a hot topic among pastors and church congregations.
“No, I don’t think it is being discussed, but believe it should be,” Rayman said. “Not only was the publishing of the KJV a pivotal move in the history of the Church, but it grew out of a context that was over 200 years in the making … if people are celebrating this event, they should do it with humility and an earnest desire to see that we are not selfish with this treasure.”
Rayman’s husband, Joseph, agrees with Hayes that the KJV has lost a bit of clarity with translations that have been done over time, but said that happens with nearly all translations. He uses a variety of Bibles because, he said, the KJV is just one version of an important historical and religious document.
“You can find tons of information on the Internet comparing Bible version to Bible version. I find that each Bible that I read from gives me a bit more perspective on any given scripture. It is like listening to several people tells the same story on what they saw,” Joseph Rayman said. “Each will tell the story from their perspective. When I find a large disparity between stories or I am not sure what the author is saying, I will do a Greek word study to determine which one appears more accurate.”
Local pastors agree on one thing: the King James Bible has long been the standard for church members and clergy who participate in and lead services on a near-daily basis.
“It is important to read the word of God to help us understand the heart of God, understanding that God’s way is oftentimes much different from our way,” Hayes said. “The Bible shares with us a diverse history of God dealing with real life situations, so through it we gain wisdom and knowledge on how to live our lives right now. If we desire to know God, we must read his word. John 1:1 states, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’”
In addition, historically and even today, pastors claim the words of the sacred text bring hope to those who have none, and joy to those who are joyless. The publication has bridged the gap between several religious communities as well, Hayes said.
“Christians across the world have accepted and adopted this version of the Bible as the most complete standard for the written word of God,” he said. “You can travel to almost any Christian church service with your KJV Bible and immediately feel connected to the word of God that is being preached.”