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The King James Bible

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life, and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life......  John 5: 39, 40

 

Our beloved Queen Elizabeth II was present earlier this week at a major event in London to mark the 400th anniversary of the completion and publication of the Complete Bible in English. And rightly so.

 

As publicised during the course of 2011, this Bible has had a major role in forming the English language and Britishness. The King James bible itself drew heavily on the slightly earlier Geneva Bible. That Geneva Bible was drawn upon by Shakespeare time and again in his plays.

 

What a heritage! There is probably a King James Bible in every home in Jersey. More than one in many homes. Unopened.

 

The King James Bible (like all Bibles) is in two parts – the Old Testament and the New Testament. When Jesus said the words in bold above to the Jews around AD 31 he was referring to their Scriptures. Their Scriptures – the Jewish National Archive – are now known as the Old Testament in ever Christian Bible.

 

Why? The reason is in Jesus’ words in bold above: “it is they [the Scriptures] that bear witness of me.”No wonder then that followers of Jesus Christ, down to this very day – and in Jersey – love to read these ancient archival records that begin at the creation of the world and end in the fifth century BC. They all bear witness about Jesus Christ who was born as the Son of Man, much later, in AD 0.

 

And then the New Testament of every Bible starts with the four biographies of Jesus Christ and then the record of what happened in AD 33 and beyond after Jesus rose from the dead. Folk began coming to Jesus after his death (as he said that those then listening to him were not doing when he was alive – see bold above).

 

And they later came, as Jesus said, “so that they might have life.” They came to the Son of Man who had died on that cross in shame as a criminal but whom God His Father raised from the dead, because He was so pleased with his Son.

 

If you call into Christian Solution in Jersey’s St Helier Central Market, there is an excellent selection of Bibles – including not only the King James Bible but also the New King James Bible (even more readable whilst retaining majesty and metre) and the English Standard Version, published in 2001, from which the words in bold above were taken.

 

But there’s tragedy here. Tragedy in Jersey AD 2011. Not only do we emulate the Jews of AD 31 in refusing to come to Jesus so as to have “life”. We also, today, do not even search the Scriptures (the Old Testament).

 

And, far more damaging to each of us, we don’t even read his life and actions and teaching as so faithfully recorded by his four biographers in the New Testament of the Bible.

 

The Jews were assessed by Jesus as devoutly reading the Scriptures but failing to come to the one Son of Man/ Son of God about whom all the Scriptures were written.

 

They didn’t want anything to do with Jesus – even though what arises from coming to Jesus is “life” (the Greek word used by Jesus is zoe = the eternal life of God the Father as opposed to Greek psuche = ordinary life).

 

2011, the anniversary year for the King James Bible, has come and is about to pass. Jersey folk don’t have any idea of how so many people have this year quietly mourned the fact that praise is coming to the fore only about the words and the language and the culture of this Bible.

 

So very little is being said about the man Jesus to which the Bible bears witness from beginning to end and who gives “life”, eternal life to those who come to him.

 

Why, oh why, is this happening?

 
 ‘We do not find Christ in the Old Testament by spotting accidental references or similarities here and there; he is the centre, the structure, the whole history of the Old Testament.’ (Edmund P Clowney, Educator and Pastor, 1917-2005)
 
‘The first thing the Bible does is to make man take a serious view of life.’ (D M Lloyd-Jones, Writer and Preacher, 1899-1981)
 
Richard Syvret

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