The KJV Bible, Shakespeare and King James page 2


After it was published in 1611, the King James Version soon took the Bishops' Bible's place as the de facto standard of the Church of England (Anglican Church).  King James then banned the Geneva Bible in England and made its ownership a felony.


I continued to wonder why the Bible that James commissioned remained associated with him after his death.  The reasons should have been that he was a man of devout spiritual nature, with a belief in God and Jesus Christ as his personal Savior to justify having an edition of The Holy Bible emblazoned with his name and royal title for all time. 


So, I continued to learn more about King James, the man and king, and found that, throughout his life, James did not display any of the virtues that Jesus Christ taught and revealed.  James was neither spiritual nor holy, neither noble nor honorable.


Here are just a few of the items that I found:


James was tyrannical and obsessed with his belief in the divine right of kings.  James said, "Monarchy is the greatest thing on earth. Kings are rightly called gods since, just like God, they have power of life and death over all their subjects in all things. They are accountable to God only... so it is a crime for anyone to argue about what a king can do.”


On October 20, 1604, James proclaimed himself styled "King of Great Britain," the first monarch to do so, arrogantly without the approval of the English Parliament or the Scottish Parliament, 103 years before the United Kingdom of Great Britain came into existence by the Acts of Union in 1707.  That act did not make him a king ahead of his time, but a man obsessed with power.


King James feared witchcraft and wrote a treatise on demonology.  In 1604 James broadened Elizabeth's Witchcraft Act to bring the penalty of death without benefit of clergy to anyone who invoked evil spirits or communed with familiar spirits. As a result, hundreds of men and women were put to death for witchcraft; their bodies were later found in what was then called Nor Loch (now Princes Street Gardens).  James personally supervised the torture of women accused of being witches.


King James was bi-sexual.  He was a self-absorbed man and not much interested in his wife (Anne, Daughter of Frederick II of Denmark and Norway), possibly due to emotional scars about his mother supposedly conspiring with James Hepburn to murder his father.  Although, James showed enough interest in his wife to sire eight children (of whom only three survived beyond infancy) but due to his relationships with extravagant and unsavory Scottish male favorites and affairs with male courtiers in England, nonconformists said "Elizabeth was King: now James is Queen," and this quote has survived.


In 1607, when James was 41 years old, at a royal jousting contest, seventeen-year-old Robert Carr, 1st Earl of Somerset, the son of Sir Thomas Carr (or Kerr) of Ferniehurst, was knocked from a horse and broke his leg. According to Thomas Howard, the Earl of Suffolk, James fell in love with the young man, taught him Latin, and helped nurse him. Carr became another of the King’s closest advisors and his relationship remained strong with Carr for a number of years.  Then Carr fell out of the king’s favor, married a woman, and was betrayed by the king.


The kingdom of James I in England was rife with controversy.  His fiscal policies were reckless and his inability to get along with Parliament, and their refusal to raise taxes for his benefit, led to the King’s order to dissolve Parliament twice, in 1611 & again in 1614.  And he was not an honorable king.  With the crown deep in debt, James blatantly sold honors and titles to raise funds.  In 1611, he used letters patent to invent a completely new dignity: that of Baronet, which one could become upon the payment of £1,080. One could become a Baron for about £5,000, a Viscount for about £10,000, and an Earl for about £20,000.


History has it that James was also a great coward. On January 7, 1591, the king was in Edinburgh and emerged from a toll booth. A retinue (gaggle of servants) followed that included the Duke of Lennox and Lord Hume. They fell into an argument with the laird (landlord) of Logie and pulled their swords. James looked behind, saw the steel flashing, and fled into the nearest refuge which turned out to be a skinner's booth. There to his shame, he "fouled his breeches in fear."


In 1620 the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth with their Bibles and a conviction derived from those Bibles of establishing a new nation. Their Bibles were not the King James Version.  The Pilgrims considered the KJV a political document – the power behind the Church of England & King James I – and chose other Bibles, primarily the Geneva Bible.


Unfortunately, the fate of the Geneva Bible was sealed.  Certainly the king’s law banning the Geneva Bible in England and making its ownership a felony extended to the colonies.  And the fact that the Geneva Bible was outspokenly anti-Roman Catholic also made it a target.  There is little doubt that British subjects, loyal to King James I, brought the King James Bible to the New World and made a concerted effort to enforce the king’s law and replace the Geneva Bible.  This situation would also have been favorable to Roman Catholics.  Today the Geneva Bible is known as the “Forgotten Bible”.


But the Bible that founded America was the Geneva Bible, and certainly not the King James Bible.


Was King James a good king? 


Although considered a good king by some of his subjects, I believe the majority would have answered, “no”. 

And considering that his reign lasted for 58 years, he achieved relatively little.


James is considered to have been one of the most intellectual and learned individuals ever to sit on the English or Scottish thrones. Nevertheless, James did not rule by himself, relying instead on the advice of his closest courtiers.  Many of those men were his lovers.


As James VI of Scotland he proved to be a shrewd ruler who effectively controlled the various religious and political factions in Scotland.  As James I of England he ended England's involvement in the twenty-year conflict known as the Anglo-Spanish War by signing the Treaty of London, 1604.  


Under James, much of the cultural flourishing of Elizabethan England continued; science, literature and art, contributed by individuals such as Sir Francis Bacon and William Shakespeare, grew by leaps and bounds during his reign.


During his reign the East India Company expanded trade bringing spices from the East, and Jamestown was founded in Virginia.


He authorized the King James Version of The Holy Bible, but only for his personal political gain. 


Today, the British kindly remember James I as a wise king who had a turbulent upbringing and a misfortunate reign.  But, in truth, King James was evil.  He was a perverted, egotistical, vain, self-serving, murderous tyrant, believing himself and his monarchy answerable only to God.


I have no answer to the question of why the Authorized King James Version of The Holy Bible, using medieval English that is essentially a dead dialect, is still being published.  But the legacy of King James I leaves no doubt that he does not deserve to have his name associated with any version of The Holy Bible.


References, passages & historical data obtained from:


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