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King James Bible Symposium: Why the KJV?

As English-speaking Christians this year celebrate four centuries of the King James Bible, Latter-day Saints have their own reasons for observing this anniversary. The influence of the King James Version on the gospel's restoration is unquestioned. The Prophet Joseph Smith read from it when he came across the passage, James 1:5, that inspired him to seek wisdom from God and subsequently receive the First Vision. Later, he would use the King James Bible as the basis for receiving the inspired revision known to Church members today as the Joseph Smith Translation.

In observance of the 400th anniversary of the King James Version and publication of the Bible, a symposium was held Feb. 23-24 in the Harold B. Lee Library Auditorium at BYU, featuring 10 eminent LDS scholars exploring aspects of the theme "The King James Bible and the Restoration." Three of those presentations were repeated the evening of Feb. 25 in Salt Lake City in the LDS Conference Center Theater.

Page from 1611 first edition King James Bible is open to passage that inspired young Joseph Smith to seek God in prayer.
Page from 1611 first edition King James Bible is open to passage that inspired young Joseph Smith to seek God in prayer. Photo: Laura Seitz, Deseret News

In introductory remarks, Richard Bennett, associate dean of religious education, posed and answered the question "Why this conference?" He noted that many revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants stemmed from Joseph Smith's work in and on his inspired revision of the King James Bible.

"We as Latter-day Saints are not in the business of putting the Bible down," he said. "We are in the business of raising it up as a wonderful member of our scriptural family."

He declared, "We revere the Bible. We honor the Bible. And we honor particularly the King James Version of the Bible." He added, "This conference is to discuss why we continue to use the King James Version of the Bible. It's poetic; it's artistic; it's doctrinal authority to us to this very day. So it is a celebration, not only of this Bible, but of our doctrines and of our revelations that came in large measure because of this treasure."

On these pages are reports and summaries of a few of the presentations. These and other reports are being featured on the Church News website, www.ldschurchnews.com. Other reports will be featured in future print editions of the Church News during the course of this year.

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