How the King James Bible Changed the World

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WASHINGTON -- This week marks the 400th anniversary of the King James version of the Bible. Since mass production of the book began more than 400 years ago in England, it has changed the lives of many.

Before that time, it was a capital crime for an Englishman to read or print an unauthorized copy of the Bible. Author Larry Stone wrote about those days in his book, The Story of the Bible: The Fascinating History of Its Writing, Translation & Effect on Civilization.

"In other countries it wasn't against the law. But in England, it was against the law. In fact, it was against the law to read any unauthorized English translations," he told CBN News.

It wasn't physically possible for mass populations to have books until the invention of the Gutenberg printing press, like the one on display at the King James Bible 400th Anniversary Expo held on the National Mall in Washington this week.

"Before Gutenberg, the common person just didn't have the ability to read. He didn't have access to knowledge and understanding. After Gutenberg, literacy exploded because everybody could read," Stone explained.

It was perfect timing when in 1604, King James I of England authorized an English translation, and poured God's word -- God's truth into a mankind thirsty to exercise the new ability to read.

"The Bible was the force that created the modern world," said author Vishal Mangalwadi.

Mangalwadi wrote the book titled, The Book That Made Your World: How The Bible Created The Soul of Western Civilization.  He says it describes why the Bible, mostly starting with the King James version, was crucial to modern civilization evolving.

"How the West became a thinking civilization, a rational civilization -- developing technology, science, education, universities, languages, literature, and I'm showing how the Bible created the modern world," Mangalwadi said.

Some Bible scholars warn "the King James version is monumentally inaccurate" as Dr. Joel Hoffman wrote on his blog,

Hoffman argues modern translators "know more about ancient Hebrew and Greek now than they did 400 years ago" and "about how to convey them in translation."

Stone disagrees, pointing out the fact that King James was himself a poet and published author. He gave the world a Bible full of beautiful, flowing language.

"Every Bible has the power of God unto salvation. The King James version has a majesty and a beauty and a poetic power. And as long as we speak English, that influence and that legacy will be here," he said.

The King James Bible Expo concluded with a rally and a call for the U.S. Congress to recognize the King James Bible's 400th anniversary for the version's importance and for the influence on the world that it has had.

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at