ALL things considered, one of the most astonishing facts connected with the [Authorized] Version is the small amount of change which the scholars of King James found it necessary to make. . . . Our Bible came to us as its great original grew up in the beginning, slowly and gradually, extending its influence and perfecting its form, as the nation wakened into the knowledge and appreciation of its great heritage of spiritual liberty. It came to us as all our best things have come; not by the gift of any single hand, but by the united labors of the representative men of the nation and of generations. ... As astonishing as the testimony to the earlier versions which King James's version bears, is its own wonderful music.
Where did the Jacobean translators find the majestic movement, the dignity, the sense of rhythm, the instinct for exactly the right word which will not only express the meaning, but will complete the harmony of the passage, the cadences which linger upon the ear, and will never be forgotten as long as life lasts? It has already been pointed out that they were working precisely at the period when the English language was reaching the flood-mark of its achievement, and they were so far fortunate in this; but there is no conspicuous evidence that they were strongly influenced by this in other work. . . . Some of the credit, probably much of it, must go, no doubt, to Tyndale and Coverdale. It would probably not be far from the mark to suggest that a great deal of the strength and dignity of the rendering is Tyndale's, and a great deal of the tenderness and melody of it Coverdale's. But this . . . does less than justice to the Jacobean translators. They were dealing with work which was not their own, but had manifestly upon it the stamp of a greatness more than human. In the presence of divine truth, it is not fanciful to believe, these devout and learned men found a new power, not their own, inspiring them, chastening their extravagances, purging their smallnesses, and bringing them into harmony with their great themes. There is evidence on almost every page of the extreme care with which they sought for not only a word which would express their meaning adequately, but the word which would express it as none other could. They sought to give none but their best to God; and the effort was honored and accepted.
—From "The English Bible and Its Story," by