The King James Bible

An Enduring Legacy

Photo of Cain and Abel (woodcut by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld) by ©

Did you know these oft-used phrases came from the King James Version Bible?

“...Am I my brother's keeper?” (Genesis 4.9)

“To every thing there is a season…” (Ecclesiastes 3.1)

“...neither cast ye your pearls before swine…” (Matthew 7.6)

“ shall cover the multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4.8)

Four hundred years ago, the King James Version (KJV) emerged as a translation of the Bible that set a high and unmatched standard for poetic rhythm and elegance of language — a legacy that continues.

Why is it that this translation has had such a significant impact on English speakers and remains a best seller to this day?

Within the African-American community, the KJV continues to be a preferred translation. The community reveres the KJV both for its language and its historical identity with the sacred text and spirituality of their enslaved ancestors who resonated with biblical narratives of bondage and liberation.

The KJV has also had a lasting impact on the process of Bible translation by initiating the use of collaborative teams of biblical scholars. These teams have established guidelines for planning the work, incorporating explanatory textual notes in the margins and putting into place a multistage review of drafted texts. Such a process was carried out by American Bible Society when preparing its two proprietary English translations — the Good News Translation and the Contemporary English Version.

In this anniversary year, we can celebrate the innovative precedents set by the KJV translators and the enduring legacy of this translation.

Thanks to the support of our faithful financial partners, American Bible Society has been engaging people with the life-changing message of God’s Word for more than 200 years.

Help us share God's Word where needed most.

Give Now

Sign up to stay in touch with how God is changing lives with his Word!


Subscribe Now

Sign up to stay in touch with how God is changing lives with his Word!