The Authorized Version (AV) or King James Bible is the best translation of the Bible done so far in English. Here are the rules, written and unwritten, that the translators followed:
- Start with the Bishops’ Bible (1568). Use its wording except where it is wrong.
- Translate every word. You do not always have to translate a word the same way into English.
- Keep the original word order as much as possible.
- You may add words to the English for sense, but clearly show which words were added. (This is done with italics in the AV).
- Read the English to others. The AV must be good for both public and private reading. (That it must sound good as spoken English also makes verses easier to remember.)
- Do not invent new ways to translate words. For example, the Greek episkopoi has always been translated “bishop”, so do not make it “overseer”.
- Prefer familiar names of people and places where they exist. For example, use Job, not Ijob.
- Where a word can be translated in more than one sense, use the sense favoured by the ancient church fathers.
- Faithfulness to the original is more important than style.
- Do not add notes. The English must stand on its own. References to parallel verses are allowed.
- You may consult five other translations: Tyndale (1526), Coverdale (1535), Matthew (1537), the Great Bible (1539) and the Geneva Bible (1560).
- Find about 50 of the most learned men in Hebrew and Greek. Divide them into six companies of seven to ten translators each.
- For each book of the Bible, assign it to one of the six companies. Each member translates it independently of the others. When they are done, they come together and come up with a common translation. They send this to the other five companies for review and then make any final changes.
- When all books of the Bible have been translated, the twelve top men come together and review the entire Bible.
- Consult outside experts as needed. Allow them to send in their own observations.
If you count the consulted translations, then each line of the AV has been translated or reviewed 20 times. This makes outright errors in translation rare.
On the other hand the men who did each of the 20 steps were all Protestants who lived in the same age in the same country. Although the translators were far more humble and faithful to the Word of God than those of our time, they were bound to be affected by the ideas they held in common.
None of the translations of the past 50 years have been clearly better than the AV. Yet there is a crying need for a new translation because the English of the AV is too old to clearly understand.
The new translations are bad because they break one or more of these rules. The AV will last till a new translation more or less follows the same rules as the AV.