The King Named James.
A man calling himself head of the church sponsors a Bible and it is named after him. His government dictates some of the terms.
The original printing contains two prefatory texts; the first is a formal Epistle Dedicatory to “the most high and mighty Prince” King James. Many British printings of the Bible reproduce this introduction, while most non-British printings do not. Somehow, I remember reading about James in an early Bible I owned.
But “Most high and mighty?” Really?
Since we have introduced the “most high and mighty Prince” King James VI of Scotland [and James I of England, the same person], we should probably stop and describe the man a bit.
He was the son of Mary Queen of Scots, the infamous Catholic ruler of England who in the 16th century was the murderer of Protestants in her realm. She was aptly titled “Bloody Mary.”
So, James was born (1566) into a very Catholic setting in Scotland. But he did not stay in that setting long. His mother was soon thereafter imprisoned by Protestant forces, and later executed. The politics and thus the religion of Scotland and England changed radically.
James was made her successor as an infant. At age 13 months, the coronation took place, with none other than John Knox serving as the preacher. Scotland was then ruled by a series of regents in an ever-evolving political climate.
By 1579 he was declared the “adult” ruler, though only thirteen years of age.
James seems to have been convinced of the Protestant position on many issues, sometimes to the extreme. He was known for some time as a propagator of the witch-hunt. Literal witches. He is known to have supervised the torture of women accused of being of that profession.
He was also a firm believer in “absolute monarchy.” He was in charge, no doubt. But at least, he attempted to rule within the traditions of Scripture.
The “divine right of kings” was another plank in his platform.
In 1603, Elizabeth, down in England, passed away with no heir. Our James VI of Scotland, because of a familial connection, was made James I of England, after 36 years of his Scottish rule.
The church was at that time dealing with a number of leftovers from Catholicism. The Puritans brought issues like confirmation, wedding rings, the term “priest” etc., before the newly installed monarch, hoping he would do away with all traces of their Catholic past.
James said no at first. The Puritans therefore felt they were being persecuted. But his issuance of the Bible subsequently named after him certainly brought him into a more favorable position with them, and several Puritan scholars were on the translation committee, along with Anglicans, as we mentioned.
James’ reign brought with it a measure of peace, lower taxes, and a colony in Jamestown, Virginia, to name a few accomplishments. Many of his subjects loved and honored him.
But many did not. There is some testimony that the king was bisexual. One note from a former assumed lover seems to seal this opinion.
Further, the King was known to be irresponsible in the area of finance.
With pain ravaging his body in later years, the king was driven to drink heavily. He suffered from gout, arthritis, kidney stones, and more. His end was tragic, but he was still remembered with favor when all was finished. He had reigned over fifty years.
Now, my question. Since all men are flawed, and this king was obviously no exception, should his name be on the cover of a Holy Bible? Should his name be associated with a version of the Holy Scriptures? Should any man’s name be associated with the holy church of Jesus and the writings thereof?
Suppose a new version of the Bible was suggested by Abraham Lincoln, or Ronald Reagan, or FDR? Good men, but flawed also. Would it be appropriate to have a “Lincoln Bible” or an “FDR Bible”?
How about a “Donald Trump Version” (DTV)? After all, Trump was seriously flawed but did many things worthy of praise, just like the fabled King James.
I must say it must have been very confusing to seekers after truth to begin their study of the Scriptures by hearing of a “high and mighty Prince named James”. What do you think?