In July of 1604, King James I of England appointed approximately 50 of the best Bible scholars and linguists of his day, to the task of translating a new version of the Bible into English. The work took seven years. Upon completion, it was presented to King James I in 1611. It soon became the standard Bible for English-speaking Protestants. It is a revision of the Bishop's Bible of 1568.
The original title of the KJV was "The Holy Bible, Containing the Old Testament, AND THE NEW: Newly Translated out of the Original tongues: & with the former Translations diligently compared and revised, by his Majesties special Commandment."
The earliest recorded date that it was called the King James Version or Authorized Version was in 1814 A.D.
Purpose of the King James Version
King James intended for the Authorized Version to replace the popular Geneva translation, but it took time for its influence to spread.
In the preface of the first edition, the translators stated that it was not their purpose to make a new translation but to make a good one better. They wanted to make the Word of God more and more known to the people. Before the KJV, Bibles were not readily available in churches. Printed Bibles were large and expensive, and many among the higher social classes wanted the language to remain complex and only available to the educated people of society.
Quality of Translation
The KJV is noted for its quality of translation and majesty of style. The translators were committed to producing an English Bible that would be a precise translation and not a paraphrase or approximate rendering. They were fully familiar with the original languages of the Bible and especially gifted in their use.
Because of their reverence for God and his Word, only a principle of utmost accuracy could be accepted. Appreciating the beauty of divine revelation, they disciplined their talents to render well-chosen English words of their time as well as a graceful, poetic, often musical, arrangement of language.
Enduring for Centuries
The Authorized Version, or King James Version, has been the standard English translation for English-speaking Protestants for almost four hundred years. It has had a profound influence on the literature of the past 300 years. The KJV is one of the most popular Bible translation with an estimated 1 billion published copies. Less than 200 original 1611 King James Bibles still exist today.