The 1611 King James Bible is far from the first English translation of the Bible, although for centuries it has been the most enduring. The translators, often called “revisers,” were well aware of the previous versions and used them freely in combination with their own word choices.
Comparing passages from the King James Bible with the same lines from earlier English Bibles is a good way to illuminate the decisions that the translators of each Bible faced in selecting the words, the word order, the tone, and other elements.
Select a passage from the list below to see how it appeared in a previous English Bible and in the King James Bible. For simplicity, the text is shown in the original wording, but with modern punctuation and spelling.
- It is not good that the man should be alone. |
- Thou shalt not commit adultery. |
- The Lord is my shepherd. |
- All is vanity. |
- None shall slumber nor sleep. |
- Arise, shine, for thy light is come. |
- Is there no balm in Gilead? |
Watch an original video interview, Reconstructing the Process, to learn more about how the King James Bible translators used earlier English Bibles.