The Hampton Court Conference of King James I appointed fifty-four scholars to produce a new translation of the Bible beginning on this day in 1604. The scholars included Anglicans, Puritans, linguists, theologians, clergy and laymen. They were divided into six groups. Each translator was assigned a portion of Scripture, but he had to present his work to the others in his group for approval. Each book was then sent to the other five groups for review and criticism. With this procedure, each book went through the entire group for review.
By 1611 the translation was complete. Though never officially authorized by the king or his successors, the translation was dubbed the "Authorized Version." It is best known, however, as the King James Version (or, KJV). Ultimately, it became a major influence in forming the Christianity and molding the language and literature of the English-speaking peoples for the next three centuries. Amazingly, those centuries ultimately saw English become the Lingua Franca of the world (much to the chagrin of the French)! Without the KJV, it is difficult to see how this cultural hegemony might have ever been possible.