Why are Mormons celebrating the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible?
As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) I am often asked if we believe in the Bible.
Yes, Mormons believe, revere and love the Holy Bible. We see it as a powerful, important, and sacred holy record which serves as the bedrock of all Christianity. The Bible is rich in history, doctrine, stories, sermons and testimonies, all of which witness that Jesus Christ is the Son of our Heavenly Father. Members of the Church are encouraged to study it regularly and apply the divine counsel it contains.
I love the stories and teachings of the Bible, but I am also fascinated by the events that took place to bring it to the English language.
The English scholar William Tyndale was the first to translate considerable parts of the Bible directly from the original Greek and Hebrew languages into English. He was also one of the first to take advantage of the new medium of print, which allowed for its wide distribution. Placing the Bible into the hands of the common man was taken to be a direct challenge to the leadership of both the Roman Catholic Church and the English church and state.
In 1535, Tyndale was arrested and jailed for more than a year. He was tried for heresy, strangled and burned at the stake for his crimes in 1536.
In 1611 fifty-four independent scholars created the King James Version of the Bible. These scholars drew significantly on Tyndale's translations. One estimation suggests the New Testament in the King James Version is 83 percent Tyndale's, and the Old Testament 76 percent.
Of course Tyndale wasn't alone in the early efforts to translate the Bible into English during 16th century England. Many others in the Protestant Reformation movement were imprisoned, tortured and sentenced to death. While today these faith-driven individuals who brought God's word to the English-speaking masses are now recognized as the greatest theological scholars and linguists of their time, they were branded heretics and burned at the stake.
Fires of Faith 3-part documentary
Starting Wednesday, Oct. 19, BYUtv will be airing a new, three-part documentary film (three years in the making) called Fires of Faith: The Coming Forth of the King James Bible, which celebrates the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. This is the version used by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and widely considered the foundation of all English language versions.
BYUtv -- a Mormon-owned television channel that reaches 60 million homes in the United States -- is the only network in the country to use documentary format to commemorate the book's powerful and bloody history, as well as explore the King James Bible's contemporary significance.
While the film is not specifically about the Mormon religion itself, Fires of Faith can help educate the public about who the Mormons are, and what matters to them.
Fires of Faith offers a new perspective from interviews with a unique assembly of international experts -- ranging from Oxford and Notre Dame professors to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel - whose insights about the making of the King James Bible are powerful and profound. Although their religions differ, they all agree that the book's influence on humanity is unparalleled.
In three one-hour episodes airing Oct. 19 - Nov. 2, these interviews will be interspersed with 130 elaborately produced dramatic recreations, filmed on-location in eight different countries at many of the actual sites where the original events took place. Together the images and commentary create a comprehensive portrayal of the Bible's enduring history, and continued legacy.
Click here to view the Fires of Faith documentary episodes on the BYUtv website.