Article of the Month

April 2012

 

THE DEDICATION LETTER

for the

KING JAMES BIBLE

 

It was in 1611 that the so-called “King James” version (KJV) of the Bible was made available.  It is called the “King James” because that monarch commissioned its translation and proclaimed it to be the official Bible of the British Empire.  It was known originally as the “Authorized Version” (AV) of the Bible because James, as head of the English church, decreed that it would be the version authorized to be used in Britain’s churches.

The KJV was not the first English-language Bible.  There had been several before it.  In fact, the famous Tyndale translation which preceded it formed the basis and much of the wording of the KJV.

The KJV or AV Bible has been so popular and so wide-spread since its inception that many Christians apparently have come to accept the thought that it is the “Authorized Version” because God authorized it!  This is obviously not correct.  But, despite weaknesses due to the lack of early manuscripts, the KJV is, indeed, a valuable and beloved part of the English-speaking world’s Christian heritage.  This was not due to King James himself.  The king’s reputation as an exemplary Christian is lacking.  His intolerance for those who thought contrary to him is one of the primary reasons the Pilgrims left England for America.  So, in part, we can attribute the existence of the United States to the king’s lack of Christian graces.


 

—  A PUBLISHING CORRUPTION  —

 

Until the latter part of the Twentieth Century, the KJV was always published with “The Epistle Dedicatory” at its beginning.  This letter of dedication of the translation to the king who commissioned it was written by the translators — a large committee of scholars and English church officials.

For some reason, most KJV Bibles now being published OMIT this letter of dedication.  One might argue that it is outdated and even irrelevant and, therefore, not needed.  But there is a very important HISTORICAL and RELIGIOUS reason why the publishers are doing the public a great DIS-SERVICE by omitting The Epistle Dedicatory.

First of all, there is a certain lack of wisdom — perhaps even a dishonestly — in changing the wording or content of the work of another.  Among other things, doing so DISTORTS the intent of the preparers of the original, HIDES the flavor and meaning of the time in which it was prepared, and PRESUMES that we know better than the preparers.  It also CHANGES HISTORY by withholding vital historical information.

 

—  WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO US?  —

 

It is important to stress that the Epistle Dedicatory is not a part of the Bible.  But it IS a part of the King James Bible.  We are writing this article to show that a currently favored concept in Protestant prophetic interpretation is based on a kind of religious AMNESIA—a forgetting of the history of our religious past. 

The current Protestant interpretation of the identity of “the man of sin” and the “antichrist” is not the historical Protestant interpretation of that subject. Reformers LONG BEFORE the time of King James, but also DURING the time of King James, had clearly identified and interpreted the Scriptures about the man-of-sin and the antichrist as applying to the Papacy — the office of the Bishop of Rome, the head of the Roman Catholic Church.  This interpretation is clearly referenced in “The Epistle Dedicatory.”

 

—  WHY DID THE PUBLISHERS DO IT?  —

 

One can only surmise as to the justification publishers would make if asked why they now omit “The Epistle Dedicatory.”  We must give them the benefit of the doubt.  It is quite likely, however, that the dedication is now omitted because it is not “politically correct” or socially correct to be openly critical of someone’s religion.  And, there is no doubt, the “Epistle Dedicatory” is blatantly critical of the Roman church. Political correctness, however, should never stand in the way of history, of legitimate IDEA criticism, or of information availability.  We are not critical of Catholics!We are critical of Catholic doctrine.  The distinction is ENORMOUS!

 

—  “THE EPISTLE DEDICATORY”  —

 

At the end of this article we have reprinted “The Epistle Dedicatory” in its entirety.  We have numbered its six paragraphs for purposes of reference.

It is interesting to notice that in the dedication at the heading of the epistle, James is called “Defender of the Faith.”  This title was conferred upon Henry VIII by the Pope.  King Henry initially was a faithful Roman Catholic who wrote valiantly in defense of Catholic doctrine AGAINST the teachings of Martin Luther, the founding father of Protestantism.  The Pope was so pleased with King Henry’s efforts that he gave him this title “Defender of the Faith” — which all subsequent British Monarchs have retained.  Of course, the Pope would not have wished the title to continue once Henry overthrew the Pope’s authority and placed himself (Henry) in the position of the Head of the Church in England.  All subsequent British monarchs have been the official heads of the Anglican Church.

 

 

  References To The Papacy 

 

Most of The Epistle Dedicatory is a statement about the greatness and glory of James I.  Most of us can only wonder about the accolades made in reference to this sovereign!  But that is not our subject.

Toward the end of the third paragraph is a parenthesis:  “(which hath given such a blow unto that man of sin, as will not be healed,).”

The authors of The Dedicatory Epistle are making clear reference to two scriptures.  One is in II Thessalonians 2:3 which refers to the “man of sin” — a “mystery of iniquity which doth already work” in Paul’s day, but which is the product of a “falling away” from the true faith. (II Thessalonians 2:7, 3)  These terms are important.  While the Papacy did not exist in Paul’s day, the attitude which would result in Papacy was “already at work.”  Verse 4 shows clearly that Papacy would exalt itself to being God on earth.  But it could not attain that supreme religious authority until Pagan Rome “be taken out of the way.”  (Verse 7)

The second scripture referred to in the parenthesis above is Revelation 13:3.  This is a prophecy about the WOUNDING of Papacy by the Reformation.  It is SO INTERESTING to note how the dedication authors IGNORE the intent of Revelation 13:3.  The text says, “his deadly wound was healed.”  But the English writers say that James’ influence is so great that James “hath given such a blow…as will not be healed”!!  We appreciate their enthusiasm, but not their theology.  It is true, however, that the wide distribution of the King James Bible was (and is) a thorn in the side of the “man of sin.”

One thing is clear:  The Protestant view was that the man of sin” was NOT FUTURE.  He was already present, and he was recognizable in the office of the Pope.

In the middle of the fourth paragraph we see again the enmity of these translators against their arch religious foe, the “man of sin.”  Their words are:

“…we shall be traduced by Popish Persons…
who…will malign us…”

and, concerning the people:

“whom they desire still to keep in ignorance and darkness.”

This last point, of course, goes to the intent of James’ commission to make an “authorized” English Bible.  It was the claim (and justly so) of the English Church that the BEST WEAPON against the antichrist and against all error is the SPREAD OF GOD’S WORD.  Now that the printing press made it possible, now that the King commissioned an “official” translation, the spread of truth would be enormous.  It has been.  We are eternally grateful for the King James Bible and for all of the subsequent improved translations that have brought LIGHT to those who seek it and which have shined LIGHT into the recesses of DARKNESS to expose God-dishonoring error.

One God-dishonoring error is the modern interpretation proclaiming a COMING “man of sin.”  Again, the Papal theologians have succeeded in foisting their darkness errors on Protestants.  If we believe in a future antichrist, we have failed to recognize the EXISTING antichrist.  Reformers from the days of Peter Waldo, John Wycliffe, and Martin Luther, all have taught us the identity of the man of sin and antichrist.  The Biblical delineation of this monster is clear.  How can we allow Papacy to convince us otherwise?  The powers of darkness prevail when Protestantism loses its PROTEST!  This is one reason the publishers of King James Bibles need to re-include its Dedicatory Epistle.  There is no future antichrist or man of sin.

                  

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

 

The Epistle Dedicatory

 

TO THE MOST HIGH AND MIGHTY PRINCE, JAMES, by the Grace of God, KING OF GREAT BRITAIN, FRANCE, AND IRELAND, DEFENDER OF THE FAITH, etc.  The Translators of the Bible wish Grace, Mercy, and Peace through JESUS CHRIST our Lord.

(1)   Great and manifold were the blessings, most dread Sovereign, which Almighty God, the Father of all mercies, bestowed upon us the people of England, when first he sent Your Majesty’s Royal Person to rule and reign over us.  For whereas it was the expectation of many, who wished not well unto our Sion, that upon the settling of that bright Occidental Star, Queen Elizabeth of most happy memory, some thick and palpable clouds of darkness would so have overshadowed this Land, that men should have been in doubt which way they were to walk; and it should hardly be known, who was to direct the unsettled State; the appearance of Your Majesty, as of the Sun in his strength, instantly dispelled those supposed and surmised mists, and gave unto all that were well affected exceeding cause of comfort; especially when we beheld the Government established in Your Highness, and Your hopeful Seed, by an undoubted Title, and this also accompanied with peace and tranquility at home and abroad.

(2)   But among all our joys, there was no one that more filled our hearts, than the blessed continuance of the preaching of God’s sacred Word among us; which is that inestimable treasure, which excelleth all the riches of the earth; because the fruit thereof extendeth itself, not only to the time spent in this transitory world, but directeth and disposeth men unto that eternal happiness which is above in heaven.

(3)   Then not to suffer this to fall to the ground, but rather to take it up, and to continue it in that state, wherein the famous Predecessor of Your Highness did leave it:  nay, to go forward with the confidence and resolution of a Man in maintaining the truth of Christ, and propagating it far and near, is that which hath so bound and firmly knit the hearts of all Your Majesty’s loyal and religious people unto You, that Your very name is precious among them:  their eye doth behold You with comfort, and they bless You in their hearts, as that sanctified Person who, under God, is the immediate Author of their true happiness.  And this their contentment doth not diminish or decay, but every day increaseth and taketh strength, when they observe, that the zeal of Your Majesty toward the house of God doth not slack or go backward, but is more and more kindled, manifesting itself abroad in the farthest parts of Christendom, by writing in defence of the Truth, (which hath given such a blow unto that man of sin, as will not be healed,) and every day at home, by religious and learned discourse, by frequenting the house of God, by hearing the Word preached, by cherishing the Teachers thereof, by caring for the Church, as a most tender and loving nursing Father.

(4)   There are infinite arguments of this right Christian and religious affection in Your Majesty; but none is more forcible to declare it to others than the vehement and perpetuated desire of accomplishing and publishing of this work, which now with all humility we present unto Your Majesty.  For when Your Highness had once out of deep judgment apprehended how convenient it was, that out of the Original Sacred Tongues, together with comparing of the labours, both in our own, and other foreign Languages, of many worthy men who went before us, there should be one more exact Translation of the holy Scriptures into the English Tongue; Your Majesty did never desist to urge and to excite those to whom it was commended, that the work might be hastened, and that the business might be expedited in so decent a manner, as a matter of such importance might justly require.

(5)   And, now at last, by the mercy of God, and the continuance of our labours, it being brought unto such a conclusion, as that we have great hopes that the Church of England shall reap good fruit thereby; we hold it our duty to offer it to Your Majesty, not only as to our King and Sovereign, but as to the principal Mover and Author of the work:  humbly craving of Your most Sacred Majesty, that since things of this quality have ever been subject to the censures of ill meaning and discontented persons, it may receive approbation and patronage from so learned and judicious a Prince as Your Highness is, whose allowance and acceptance of our labours shall more honour and encourage us, than all the calumniations and hard interpretations of other men shall dismay us.  So that if, on the one side, we shall be traduced by Popish Persons at home or abroad, who therefore will malign us, because we are poor instruments to make God’s holy Truth to be yet more and more known unto the people, whom they desire still to keep in ignorance and darkness; or if, on the other side, we shall be maligned by self-conceited Brethren, who run their own ways, and give liking  unto noting, but what is framed by themselves, and hammered on their anvil; we may rest secure supported within by the truth and innocency of a good conscience, having walked the ways of simplicity and integrity, as before the Lord; and sustained without by the powerful protection of Your Majesty’s grace and favour, which will ever give countenance to honest and Christian endeavours against bitter censures and uncharitable imputations. 

(6)   The Lord of heaven and earth bless Your Majesty with many and happy days, that, as his heavenly hand hath enriched Your Highness with many singular and extraordinary graces, so You may be the wonder of the world in this latter age for happiness and true felicity, to the honour of that great God, and the good of his Church, through Jesus Christ our Lord and only Saviour.