The 1611 Gang

(THE 1611 BUNCH – A FEW GOOD MEN)

I’d like to talk about a few good men.  Men chosen of God to write down His word… and men prepared for when it needed to be translated.

Let’s start with the writers of the Bible.  Moses, Daniel, Solomon, David, Peter, Paul, John… men who suffered for the sake of the Gospel.  They were chosen by God to write His word… and what a task!  Some wrote in prison, some while being chased, some while dealing with difficult people…

Troubles are par for the course when you’re chosen to do God’s work.  Heck, look at the stories… men who faced trials unlike any you or I ever had to face.  Paul was beaten, stoned, imprisoned, chased out of practically every town, and crucified.  Wha!

So I guess I wasn’t surprised to read what I read about the 1611 bunch.  (Actually the were assembled around in 1605, but the work was finished in 1611.)  You see, King James wanted an English translation of the Bible (which at the time was only available in Latin)… so he found a few good men and commissioned them to do the work.  Among them:

John Boys. At the age of five years old, he could read the Bible in Hebrew, and at the age of fourteen he was a proficient Greek scholar. And for years he spent from 4am til 8pm at the Cambridge library studying languages.

Lancelot Andrewes, who was the overall chairman of the committee. He was the greatest linguist of his day. He was familiar with and spoke nearly twenty languages, including Arabic, Hebrew, and many others. He spent five hours a day in prayer.  Not only was he capable of the job, but he had a heart for it.

William Tyndale, a man of God who was at home in 8 languages. He translated all of the New Testament and some parts of the Old Testament. He did such a tremendous job that the King James translators kept well over sixty percent of his translation intact, just as it was, to be used in the King James translation.

Practically every man chosen for the translation of the King James Version were men of note, not only in their own country, but in other countries, too.

Another phenomenal man was Desiderius Erasmus.  He held in the deepest reverence the Word of God. We are told that he had access to Codex Vaticanus and was offered it to be used in his studies, but he rejected it because he had found it untrustworthy. He was offered the cardinal’s hat by the pope of Rome, but refused it. It’s also said that he could have become pope if he had pulled the right strings, but he refused to, because in his famous book, In Praise of Folly, in a very satirical way he exposed the terrible sins of the Roman Catholic Church of that day.

Although he’d died before the 1611 bunch was formed, Erasmus was responsible for the Textus Receptus, the Greek text upon which the KJV is founded.  According to Bible scholars, 90 to 95 percent of all of the ancient manuscripts are in essential agreement with this text.  The 1611 bunch were deeply indebted to Erasmus for his work, and used it to further their own work in translating the Bible to English.

Practically every one of the 1611 bunch of the King James Version had been through suffering of one kind or another. Either they had been apprehended and put in jail, or their loved ones had the same thing done to them.  William Tyndale was hounded like a wild animal by those who hated him and wanted him burned at the stake. King Henry VII, through one of his stooges, caused Tyndale to be betrayed. He was thrown in prison, and just outside of Brussels, he was strangled to death by order of the king, and then his body was burned.  (The last thing he said before he died, was this: “Oh, God, open the eyes of the King of England!”)  What a faith!  These men had deep convictions and a holy reverence for the Word of God which you don’t find in modern-day scholars. They were willing to die for their work – for the truth.

Wouldn’t it be something if people really protected and revered the Word of God like that today!  Instead, they throw it in the back seat of the car and lose it under the passenger’s side for a few weeks.  They let people put verses on an overhead instead of searching the Word for truth with their own hands.  They refuse to accept it as the infallible, inerrant, inspired Word of God.  Few would die for it… few live within it.  What a shame.

Tomorrow:  Westcott and Hort… the ‘Bad Guys’ of Bible Translation.

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