Majestie Non-Fiction Review : 2010/11/20
Majestie: The King Behind The King James Bible
by David Teems
Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010, 252 pp., tradepaper.
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We are nearing the 400th anniversary of the venerable King James Version of the Bible, a work that has had a tremendous impact on the English-speaking world and is often misunderstood. Rejected as archaic by many, embraced by a rabid uninformed few as the only valid translation, the KJV has a rich history. David Teems' Majestie
is an entertaining look at the king behind the book, along with insights into the translation process.
Birthed at the height of England's power in a world of William Shakespeare and the settling of Jamestown--England's first colony in America--the King James Version drew upon the best scholarship of its day in an attempt to create a truly "English" Bible, not only in language, but in culture.
One of the interesting tidbits that Teems brought out was that the "holy prayer" words of my childhood like "thee" and "thou" were going out of popular use by 1611, but the translators retained them from the older Bishop's and Tyndale translations, essentially because people were used to hearing those words in church. Sounds like my childhood.
Despite the claims of KJV-Only advocates about their adherence to the AV 1611, the King James Version was never formally authorized and of course, they don't actually use the 1611 edition, as the English would be too hard to read:
That doesn't stop them from making wild claims like this one
"three year olds can read, understand, and copy the Authorized Version, four year olds can add four digit numbers, and a child's baseline education can be completed before seven years of age when utilizing the Authorized Version in a sanctified homeschool."
Of course. If you buy into that, you wouldn't be reading this review anyway.
The only flaw I noticed in this book was that the author seemed to feel as though the humor had to appear frequently, so at times it came across as forced and a bit flippant. However, many times it made the book more readable, and since it's a popular book rather than a scholarly work, it may attract more readers to a fascinating topic as a result.
Because of the fascinating details about the historical setting of the reign of King James and the translation that bears his name, I highly recommend Majestie
for anyone with an interest in history, England, or the Bible.
Note: If you're concerned about KJV-Only advocates, read James White's The King James Only Controversy