Story of this Book
How The Forgotten Preface Came To Be
The journey that led to this book started almost a decade ago while I was attending bible college in the Midwest. I was at a chapel service when the guest preacher said, “Most people don’t know it, but there is a fascinating letter in the front of your Bible that the King James translators wrote to you, the reader.” I logged that compelling thought away in the back of my mind. Sometime later, as I recalled that statement, I opened my black leather-bound “Church Bible Publishers” Bible. To my dismay, there was no letter from the translators in the front of my Bible.
Life went on.
Several years went by, and I came to a point in my life that I began to investigate and study the history of the English Bible, and how God preserved His Word through history. I began to realize how much I did not know about the history of the Bible I held in my hands. I read of Erasmus, Wycliffe, and Tyndale. But the most striking characters were the King James translators. I came to realize that their Bible translation was controversial and criticized in their day. This bore a striking similarity to the perception of modern English translations in my day.
As I continued my study, a repressed memory came back to my mind. I remembered the statement about the “letter from the translators” that the guest preacher had made in chapel. At this time of my life, I had collected almost a dozen Bibles – all of which were King James Version. I had a Scofield Study Bible, a Henry Morris Study Bible, a Zondervan Full Color Study Bible, a Rock of Ages Study Bible, a Holman Study Bible, a pocket Bible, and even a Bible app! But what all these Bibles lacked was the letter from the translators.
Thankfully, I had managed to inherit a New Cambridge Paragraph Bible that a college classmate had left behind in my dorm room when he dropped out of school. This was the only Bible I owned that contained this mysterious “letter from the translators.” I remember feeling like I had stumbled upon a lost book of the Bible as I read this preface to the King James Translation.
I was so captivated by this letter – but the font was so tiny, and the pages were so thin in my New Cambridge Paragraph Bible. So I went online and ordered “The translators to the Reader: preface to the King James Version 1611: with Updated Spelling and Introduction” by Edwin Goodspeed. This preface in its entirety is included in “Appendix B” of this book. I read the preface in a larger font and on thicker pages. With a highlighter in one hand and a pen in the other, I scoured that preface for insights as to what the King James translators actually believed.
I have read many books on both sides of the “King James Version vs. Modern Versions” debate, but it was the preface to the King James Translation that so molded and directed my current understanding of Bible translations. I could not contain what I had learned to just some highlighted pages and marginal notes that I had made in the book. I was compelled to take the surprising translational beliefs of the King James translators and compile them into a book. This book is the final product of an almost decade long journey that I have been on. And I do not intend to stop journeying and learning.
There is a definite audience that I am writing to in this book. I am writing primarily to those who have a wonderful deep-seated love and respect for the King James Translation of the Bible. I, too, have loved and respected the King James Translation from the time I was a child, and I still do to this very day. But there is a dark side that I had to deal with that was connected to my love for the King James Version – ignorance. I was the person that “hated” any other translation than the King James. I was the person that called anything other than the King James “the Devil’s Bible” (I read way too many Chick Tracts as a child). I eventually progressed to a more tolerant spirit towards modern translations, but still believed that a Christian could only grow to their fullest potential if they were reading a King James Version Bible.
However, I began to hear sermons by men that were much more spiritually minded than myself. I began to read books by authors who revealed the scriptures to me in ways that I had never fully understood. But to my consternation, these men used modern translations of the Bible in their preaching and literature. I asked myself, “how is it that these men are expounding the scriptures and the depth of Christ in such a way without the right Bible?” I came to a defining fork in the road.
I had to know more about this topic. I bought over a dozen books about the “King James Version vs. Modern Versions” debate by advocates of both viewpoints. I was starting to form a more Biblical and logical viewpoint, but still could not fully allow myself to admit that it was permissible to use a modern English version of the Bible. That is until I read the preface to the King James Translation.
God used this preface to free me and to help me understand that His Word is not limited to one English translation of that Bible from a particular point in history. I realized that there is a beauty and joy in reading God’s Word in clear, common, modern English.
I love God’s Word. It is God’s Word that revealed Who Jesus Christ is to me. It is God’s Word that has made me wise unto salvation. It is God’s Word that has guided me through many conflicts, comforted me during many trials, and chastised me during many prodigal wanderings. I love God’s Word, and there is an unrestrainable passion in me to help others love God’s Word as well.
The intent of this book is not to attack the King James Translation – because there is nothing to attack. It is a beautiful and extremely accurate translation that I love dearly. The intent of this book is not to attack those who hold a “King James Only” position. If that is you, then you are my brother or sister in Christ, and I love you. The intent of this book is not to attack a movement. Every movement has a good side and an ugly side. Every movement reminds us that all movements will end, but God’s Kingdom is forever.
The intent of this book is twofold. First, to exposit the forgotten preface to the King James Translation, and to show the reader what the translators actually believed about inspiration, preservation, translation, and even modern translations. And second, to free believers from any unbiblical teaching that keeps them from the joy of reading God’s Word in a clear, common, modern English.