In the 1500s, England was ruled by Henry VIII. He’s the one who cut the heads off his wives when they didn’t do what he wanted. He’s the one who finally threw the pope out of England so he could marry another woman.
As the king from 1509-1547, Henry was very antagonistic, not just to Rome, but to Protestants. It was during that time that much of the Bible, including William Tyndale’s translation, the Matthews Bible and the Great Bible, was done.
William Tyndale finished his translation in Saxony (on the continent) because Henry, who had banned everything Tyndale wrote, had falsely accused him of sedition and Tyndale had to flee England to keep the king from cutting his head off.
“Saints can be kind of wise as serpents and harmless as doves,” observes Jordan. “At one point Tyndale had finished the revision of his translation and wanted to publish but had run out of money, so a merchant friend of his in London went to the archbishop and said, ‘I have a way to purchase some 2,000 of Tyndale’s Bibles—we could purchase them and then burn them.’
“So they purchased through this emissary all these old Tyndale bibles that Tyndale wanted to replace anyway. The archbishop buys them, brings them to London, burns them and makes a big thing out of it. The king’s ever so happy. Tyndale takes the money and reprints his revised edition. Of course, the merchant friend didn’t let on that he was a friend of Tyndale’s; he just went ahead and made the business deal.”
After Henry VIII died, his nephew became King Edward VI. Edward was a ‘Live and Let Live’ kind of a guy. Bloody Mary took over after Edward’s death and she was as rabidly Roman Catholic as anyone could be. The Catholics, in the meantime, had set up on the mainland, where the Douay-Rheims translation came from.
Ignatius Loyola founded the Jesuits. Loyola was a general in the army of Ferdinand Isabella, the one who financed Christopher Columbus, and he was also rabidly Roman Catholic. Much of the Spanish Inquisition took place under his nose.
“Loyola was wounded in the fighting to expel the Muslims from Europe. He couldn’t be a soldier anymore so he was casting about, ‘Well what should I do for the good of man and the glory of God,’ so he comes up with the idea…by that time the Protestants had spread all over Europe and the papacy was sort of behind the scenes.
“In 1454, Constantinople fell (Istanbul). The Ottoman Empire comes in and takes over the Byzantine Empire. All of the eastern church, the Muslims came in and took them over and the Byzantines flee to Europe.
“For the first time in a millennium, Greek language, manuscripts, culture and understanding comes into Europe. The Romans (Latin) had pushed them out. When they did that, Erasmus is there. All of this original language and Greek understanding comes in and there’s this confluence of all this education, thinking and opportunity. It was an exciting time.
“The pope was beginning to wake up: ‘We’re in trouble!’ Two-thirds of Europe is Protestant and the other third is leaning that way. Loyola says, ‘I know what we need to do. We’ll found the Jesuits for the specific purpose of subverting the Protestant Reformation.’ That’s what the Jesuits were for. That was their charter.
“One of Loyola’s goals was to train 300 priests to send back to England to re-establish Romanism in England. But because the English have been translating this bible into English, you know, Wycliffe comes along and he takes all of these disparate pieces of translations. You’ve got a new language developing. He puts this complete English bible together, begins to publish it and Wycliffe was a statesman. He’d been a member of parliament, called on by the king of England to help. He was a well-known figure.
“So Loyola says, ‘What we need to do is get us an English bible,’ and they go to Rheims France and start translating the bible. They also set out a place and they’re training 300 priests they’re going to send back.
“Bloody Mary’s over here chopping the heads off of people. She literally beheaded some of the great saints of the Protestant Reformation in England. And then she croaks.
“After she dies, Queen Elizabeth comes on the throne and she was as much the other way as Mary was that way. She was rabidly Protestant, so now all the Catholics have to uproot and go. The 300 dudes being trained, forget it, they can’t come. Douay-Rheims is a failed effort.
From 1558-1603 you have this golden era of English accomplishments and moving forward under Queen Elizabeth’s reign. When she died there were a whole bunch of different bible translations and before she died she actually sent to parliament a proposed legislation to authorize one final English translation that would gather together all the bibles that had been done and make out of them just one final acceptable English translation.
“Before that passed she died, but it was on the books as being a proposal,” says Jordan. “James the sixth of Scotland was born in 1566 in the summer. He was crowned King of Scotland while he was a baby.
“By the way, his coronation sermon was preached by John Knox, one of the great saints of the old school in church history. He preached his coronation message. I say that so you understand it came out of a strongly Protestant heritage.
“Now, 36 years later he became James I of England in July of 1603 after the death of Queen Elizabeth. James, when they talk about him being ugly, vile and vulgar; when they say vulgar, they don’t mean cursing, they mean plain, ordinary.
“When you see pictures of James he was kind of a reddish-looking faced guy. Looks sort of like a red-headed stepchild kind of cartoon character. He was a skinny guy. He was married, had kids, so forth, a family man, but he was nerdy, as we would say. He was a bookworm. He wasn’t the warrior-type ready to pick up the sword and slay the dragon. He was a poet. He translated. He was educated and fluent in languages.
“People who would come in and meet him as a child (7-10 years old), and the ambassadors from France, for example, would go away and say how fluent he was in French and then how he met the Italian ambassador and that he could speak as equally in Italian as he could in French and spoke both as well as he did English.
“In 1584, he wrote ‘The Essays of a Pretense into the Divine Art of Poetry.’ He wrote, ‘A Fruitful Meditation on the 6th, 8th, 9th and 10th Verses of Chapter 20 of the Book of the Revelation.’ That’s an interesting thing to write. In 1589 he wrote, ‘A Meditation on the First Book of the Chronicles of the Kings.’ In 1591 he wrote, ‘His Majesty’s Poetical Exercises.’ In 1598 he wrote, ‘The Law of Free Monarchies.’ In 1597, he wrote a book called ‘Demonology,’ in which he denounces homosexuality quite clearly.
“He wrote a book for his son, ‘Basilikon Doran,’ which became an international best-seller, something that didn’t happen a lot in that era.
“I say all that so you understand that before James became King of England he had a background in thinking and understanding and knowledge and awareness of doctrine, things that pertain to Scripture. He was a man who enjoyed the study of Scripture. He actually had translated a Psalter, a book with some of the psalms in it, himself.”
When it came time for James to assume the throne, he left Scotland and traveled down to London and on the way there was a Millenary Convention. One thousand preachers had signed a petition to the new king asking for consideration of a long list of grievances, suggestions and things that needed to be done both in the church and in the culture. He met with those preachers at Hampton Court. They used the address because of its massive size.
One of the things that came out of the meeting was James’ agreement they would produce one final translation of the Scripture. Bancroft’s Rules were the rules by which the translators had to operate. James selected out the best of the available scholars.
Jordan says, “You have to understand you have a group of people who first came out of Bloody Mary’s persecutions. They go into the bright light of Queen Elizabeth for all that time. Well, when you come out of persecution into liberty, what do you do? You tend to excel.
“So there had been this 50-year period where they had advancements and learning. And you know how Christians are. If you’re giving them liberty and advancements and learning, there’s also fighting: ‘Well, I think it says this. No, it says this.’ Let’s be honest, that’s how we are, but that’s part of the exercise of learning.
“If we didn’t disagree with one another, we’d never find out something was right and something was wrong. You ever thought about that? A verse in Corinthians says, ‘For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.’
“The way you try something is you take and cross examine it. So when you look at controversy that way, not as a destructive mean, nasty, personal thing, but as the natural course of growing, all of a sudden it isn’t quite so bad.
“The Geneva Bible, for example, had become the most popular English bible of the time. To translate it they went to Geneva, headquarters of John Calvin. Calvin’s son-in-law headed the group that translated it and the people in most of Protestantism made it real popular because it was the right size and it had a lot of study notes. But the study notes were all extremely Calvinistic. So the Calvinists loved it, and if you weren’t a Calvinist, you didn’t like it.
“By the way, King James was not a Calvinist! In the book he wrote to his son, he warned him about the influences of Calvinism. One of the reasons you will discover that so many people who oppose the KJV today, people like James White, for example, are five-point Calvinists.
“If you go through a list of people who are on the other side, in the quote intellectual-scholarly (that’s what they think of themselves) and ask who are they and what they believe, you’ll find consistently the overwhelming majority are extreme Calvinists.
“Now why would they not like the KJV? Because they had a bible that was the most popular bible of the time that the KJV was written specifically to replace! The Bishops’ Bible was supposed to do it but it didn’t. The KJV did!
“By 1640, that was the last year the Geneva Bible was printed. In less than 30 years, the Authorized Version had supplanted very other English version. None of them were printed again as popularly to be distributed. The KJV was the bible that took over the market.
“The pilgrims, when they came over on the Mayflower, they brought a Geneva Bible because they came before 1611.
“King James authorized the founding of Jamestown, Va. That town was founded in honor of him and he authorized it and when you read the dedication, what he wrote had everything to do with the gospel. So here’s a guy interested in seeing the gospel get out.
“In James’ book ‘Demonology,’ published in Edinburgh in 1597, he wrote, ‘The fearful abounding at this time in this country of these detestable slaves of the devil, the witches or enchanters, hath moved me, beloved reader, to dispatch, in post this following treatise of mine . . . without regeneration, men slip into slavery and into the horrors of hell. Men have obtained to a great perfection of learning and yet remaining overbased, alas, of the spirit of regeneration and fruits thereof, tread upon the slippery and uncertain scale of curiosity, becoming bondslaves to their mortal enemy and their knowledge. For all they pursue therof is nothing increased except in knowing evil and the horrors of hell for punishment thereof. Christians do not demand revelations from God, visions, or inquire into things which He hath not revealed to us by the Scriptures. It becometh us to be content with a humble ignorance, they being things not necessary for our salvation. Many of the witches’ art are of such silly illusions like to the little transubstantiational god in the papist mass that I could never believe in.’
“That would get him in a little trouble, see? Now he was the King of Scotland writing that in a book that became an international best-seller. You think, ‘Okay, would he have a target on his back?!’ So all I’m trying to get you to understand is that he was a Bible-believer. He did not know everything we know.
“He writes, ‘Prophecies and visions are now ceased. All of the spirits that appear in these forms are evil. Two symptoms of devil possession are incredible strength and speaking of sundry languages, which the patient is known by them that were inquired with him never to have learned.’
“You thought tongue-talking started at the Azusa Street Mission in 19-whatever. Old James is saying, ‘They were doing that over here and it’s of the devil!’
“My point to you is James believed ‘the whole Scripture was dictated by God’s Spirit. The scripture must be an infallible ground to all true Christians.’
“In 1605, when he visited Oxford for first time, they put, at his request, Bible verses all over the place. Don’t fall into the idea that he was nut case; some fowl-mouthed cussing guy over here looking for some child to bed. That’s not who he was. He was a Protestant; a Bible Believer.
“When he wrote his son in the book for his boy, he said, ‘Praying God as you are regenerated and born in Him anew, so you may rise to Him and be sanctified in Him forever with garments washed in the shed blood of the lamb. Remember, my son, salvation is the free gift of God, as Paul sayeth.’ ”
When James was 13 years old, as the young king in Scotland, he had a distant cousin, Esme Stuart, a French Catholic, who came to Scotland to befriend King James and seek to convert him into Catholicism.
As an account reads, “Though still in his early teens, James used his most persuasive arguments on his cousin, causing him to become a Protestant convert. He was to die a Protestant. Esme wrote a document which ‘condemned in detail many aspects of Catholic belief and practice.’
Jordan says, “The dude’s a soul-winner at 13 years old, preaching the gospel. In March of 1604, James told the Protestant clergy, ‘Be more careful diligent than you have been to win souls for God. Where you have been in many ways sluggish before, now wake yourselves up again with a new diligence at this point.’
“You say, ‘Wow, what’s got him so fired up?!’ When he established the colony in Virginia, it was ‘for the propagating of the Christian religion to such people as yet live in darkness and miserable ignorance of the knowledge of the worship of God.’
“He pleaded that, ‘The true Word of God and the service of God in the Christian faith be preached, planted and used in the new colony of Virginia. The inhabitants of those parts live in utter ignorance of divine worship and are completely deprived of the knowledge and solace of the Word of God and probably will remain and end their days in such ignorance unless such a great evil is cared for as soon as possible. Therefore, we ought to end that out of the love for the glory of God and the desire to work for the good and the salvation of souls to those parts. Dedicate yourselves to and perform the ministry of preaching the Word of God in those parts.’
In a book to his son, James made it clear, “As to the apocryphal books I omit them because I am no papist.” Jordan says, “That’s good advice from a dad to his boy. He wrote his boy about godliness, holiness, a fear and knowledge of God, decidedly pure and chaste conduct. Among James’ good qualities, one contemporary said, ‘None shine more brightly than the chasteness of his light which he hath preserved without stain, down to the present time, contrary to the example of almost all his ancestors.’ ”
James’ writes his son about how a man should carry a “certain natural modesty and kindness. He wears his hair short, about food and clothing he does not care, I wish therefore someone has a single coat or one living before others have doubles of plurality.”
Jordan says, “That doesn’t sound like the description 50 years later of King James being this prurient-interested person. He wrote in his book ‘Demonology’ that ‘evil is never to be done that good may happen. Sodomy and witchcraft are horrible crimes. When choosing friends, my son, guard against corrupt lads, effeminate ones, eschew to be effeminate in your clothes.’
“The dude was pretty clear to his son. He said, ‘Be ever careful to prefer the gentlest nature and enjoy frequently hearing the Word of God.’
Sir John Oglander said about James “he was the best scholar and wisest prince for general knowledge that ever England knew.”
Jordan says, “That’s probably a common view of him from contemporaries but he was also a widely persecuted king. His official motto when he took the crown was ‘Blessed are the peacemakers,’ yet he fought with the Catholics most of his life.
“While he was king in Scotland he was confronted by a Roman Catholic conspiracy called the Spanish Blanks, in January, 1593. Basically a bunch of Jesuit priests, Father William Wright and crowd, instigated a plot to bring 5,000 Spanish troops to Scotland to take over the kingdom. It was discovered it was thwarted but it set James’ political bent—they didn’t like him.
“In The Gunpowder Plot of 1605, 13 conspirators were after James and their goal was to restore the Catholic religion in England. In 1603, there was a big plague in London in which 30,000 people died. The Catholics fomented the idea that the plague was God judging the Protestants.
“The superstition of all that gets to going and so, in order to discourage that, here comes James out of the shoot and he begins to attack the Roman system as being superstitious. As he does that, these Jesuit terrorists begin to plot his destruction.
“Here’s what Guy Faulks said in his trial: ‘Many have heard King James say at the table that the pope is the Antichrist, which he wished to prove to anyone who believed the opposite.’
“And it was that opposition that James took to the front that caused these guys to say, ‘Hey, we need to get rid of King James.’ They filled the basement of Parliament with gunpowder. They were going to do it in November of ‘05. Now what happened is it was discovered. James immediately condemns the Jesuits as a generation of vipers and things go on from there.
“He lived all of his reign under the threat of personal attack by Jesuit terrorists. One of the first accounts of that I ever read was a story of a young girl who was a chamber maid; a servant in the castle.
“For King James’ protection, when he went to bed at night bodyguards would slide a bolt through the door to secure it so he’d be in his chamber locked from the inside.
“But with the bodyguards bribed to go away, terrorists managed to have that mechanism disabled and the bar taken out, so the door, rather than being locked, was open. This little girl found out about the plot and she ran up into the king’s chamber and warned him of what was happening. They discovered the door couldn’t be locked to keep the assassins out.
“This young girl goes and takes her arm and puts it through the hasp on the door and uses her arm to hold the door locked while James gets away. And this young girl literally has her arm broken and severed in half and dies from the wounds.
“Imagine a guy who can inspire that kind of loyalty out of young believers. As I said, 50 years after his death, he’s being hounded and claimed to be a homosexual by professed Roman Catholic antagonists.
“I just want you to understand King James was not this nefarious guy or this detached, uninterested person. When you find out who he really was, he turns out to be a Bible believer, a scholar in his own right and someone who the Jesuits targeted specifically for destruction over and over.
“His crowning achievement was probably, during his reign, the term Great Britain was applied to the British Commonwealth. He did have quite a reign.”
In the first decade or more after its introduction in 1611, the King James Authorized Version was simply entitled, “The Holy Bible,” and that’s all you read: “The Holy Bible containing the Old Testament and the New Testament.”
Jordan explains, “They did not put people’s names on the Bible. King James did not say, ‘This is my Bible.’ Where King James came from is in the dedication. The translators dedicated it to the king and consequently, as Ecclesiastes says, ‘Where the word of the king is there is power.’
“By the way, it’s interesting that many of the English bibles that have been translated down through history--many of the influential bibles in the line of the Textus Receptus--have been translated under the reigns of good kings, including Alfred the Great in 899 with the Saxon Bible and Alfonso XIII of Spain when the Protestant bible came out. You find under the reign of some of these monarchs who were favorable to the Scripture the peaking of translations for those nations. And that’s not a fluke. That’s part of the way things operate.
“You’d be well to look into some of these things and enjoy the details. You need to be able to look across history and spot some of your kinfolk.
“King James did oversee the setting up of the most extensive translating process of any bible in history. With three separate locations, two separate translating groups checking the translations of the others and then editorial committees bringing them together; bringing in all of the peoples’ knowledge and the whole country and fine-tuning the thing, going over all the controversial issues. And they were not producing a new translation. They were also not trying to produce an easier-to-read translation.”