Leland Ryken on the 400th anniversary on the King James Bible:
Upon the death of Queen Elizabeth I in March 1603, King James of Scotland became the ruling monarch of England. Somewhere along the way south to London his procession was met by a group of Puritans who presented him with a list of grievances and requests.
The requests were entirely in keeping with their movement’s desire to “purify” the Church of England from vestiges of Catholic church practices. They asked for an end to the obligatory wearing of vestments by ministers, for example; they wanted to end the practice of ministers not living in the parishes to which they had been appointed.
In response, the Hampton Court Conference met in January 1604 to consider their requests. It was a farce: Four hand-picked Puritan moderates were pitted against 18 Church of England heavyweights. King James rejected all Puritan requests and even threatened to “harry the Puritans out of the land or worse.” Then, at the last minute, the Puritans requested that the king commission a new English translation of the Bible.
This is somewhat surprising, inasmuch as the Puritans’ preferred English Bible, the Geneva Bible, was by far the most-used and best-selling translation of the time. It is not entirely clear why they made the request. More surprisingly, the king granted it.