Forward to the 2011 edition of the King James Authorised Version of the Bible by His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales. This edition is published by the Bible Society and also features illustrations by Horace Knowles.

The 400th anniversary of the publication of the Authorised Version of the Bible is one which I am delighted to be able to celebrate.

I am sure that I am far from alone in appreciating the grandeur and the lasting quality of this translation. What it stood for when first published, and what it continues to embody, is something very close to my heart: a lyrical beauty that conveys a deep sense of the sacred. Such is the achievement of the translators that it has not only stood the test of time but, to my mind, has never been surpassed.

King James I, in giving his approval for this new translation in 1604, called for ‘some special pains’ to be taken by the ‘best learned men’. The level of scholarship was the highest possible over a period of seven years. The result was a fresh, invigorating new version of the Bible which became a benchmark of civilization. Today, it holds no less important a place. It is part of the very architecture of our culture.

For my part, I have always given a high priority to the spiritual roots of our society. I do believe that the survival of civilized values, as we have inherited them from our ancestors, depends on the corresponding survival in our hearts of that profound sense of the sacred.

These values are not held by just a few people, but by many around the world. In this respect, the Authorised Version provides a unique link between nations. It is a precious inheritance, worth every effort to preserve and to honour.

Few can argue against the dignity, power and cadence of the Authorised Version. The translators aimed for nothing less than theological and literary excellence. They could certainly never be accused of banality! When we want to convey something that goes beyond the ordinary, we need language that does the same, transcending our everyday speech. If the Word of God can seem a bit over our heads, perhaps it is supposed to be. Elevated is what God is - it is part of His very nature.

Today, the English language is too often debased. This Bible preserves a tradition which we ignore at our peril. We have to recognize that we need ever higher standards to communicate effectively in our modern world, whether for economic success or simply at the level of making ourselves understood and feeling connected to others. The English language, found in all its richness in this translation, is a source of pride and a legacy to be handed on with care.

The glorious thing about this Anniversary is that, through this exceptional translation, the generations are linked across the centuries. As we celebrate its achievement, it will be introduced to a new generation, meeting the profound human need for continuity and permanence and helping to maintain standards of quality that will serve our children well into the future.

Charlton Heston presents the King James Bible

"It was worth the work. In 1611, after 7 years as effort, the King James Bible was published. And aside from ecclesiatical purpose, was recognized as a great work of literature. It's described not only as a great monument of English prose, but is the only great work of art created by a committee. After nearly four centuries, it's still used in English speaking churches all around the world. Just as important, the King James Bible, along with Shakespeare, has helped shape the English language itself. This means more and more as the use of English rose throughout the world, becoming the 'lingua franca' of our time. If it can be said of any English published work, this is surely, the Bible.

"Why is the King James translation so good? so, clearly the best? What makes any writing good? Strong, simple sentences, vivid, active verbs and nouns, colorful images, good dialogue. When it's as good as this, it also touches the heart."

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