by Louis A. Turk, B.A, M.Div., Ph.D.
The next time you sit down to read your King James Bible consider the value of that translation which you hold in your hands.William Tyndale was the translator who gave us the English text which, after five revisions, became the King James Bible. Making this translation cost Tyndale many years of exile from his country and family as he hid to be able to translate, and eventually actually cost him his life itself—he was strangled and his body burned by the Papists for making the translation. Tyndale paid the ultimate price so that you could read the words of God in the English language. So did Tyndale’s friend and assistant, John Rogers, who produced what many consider the first revision of Tyndale’s translation, the Matthew’s Bible. Rogers was burned at the stake, leaving behind a wife and eleven children, one still a nursing baby. These two men considered giving us a Bible in our language worth dying for. How much is it worth to us to give people of other nations Bibles in their own language?
Between the time of Tyndale’s death and the time when the King James Bible was produced many other men also worked to perfect Tyndale’s work. We have no way of determining the US dollar value of their work, but without a doubt the cost was very great—exceedingly greater than most people realize.
It is easier to estimate the cost of translating the King James Bible. Tyndale did the foundation work—the original translation. Other man worked to perfect Tyndale’s work through four revisions. The KJV translators revised the Bishop’s Bible which was the last previous revision of Tyndale’s work, updating spelling, and carefully checking to make sure that it conformed completely with the Received Texts (the Masoretic Hebrew text and the Textus Receptus Greek text). How much did this fifth revision cost?
According to the US Census Bureau, persons with professional degrees in the United States in the year 2011 had an average yearly income of roughly $100,000.00.* The KJV translators were the top scholars in Great Britain, many of them the heads of the language department in their respective universities. Surely we can safely assume that their average income was at least the equivalent of that of an average person with a professional degree in the USA today—and was most likely much higher.
King James originally commissioned 54 scholars, but by the time translation began in 1607 their number was reduced to 47 men. It took these 47 men 4 years to produce the King James Bible we love so much today.
US$100,000.00 per year x 4 years x 47 translators = $18,800,000.00.
US$18,800,000 / 1,189 chapters = 15811.606391926 = approximately US$15,811.61 per chapter.
US$18,800,000 / 31,102 verses = 604.462735515 = approximately US$604.46 per verse.
That is eighteen million eight hundred thousand United States dollars to produce a revision of a pre-existing translation. Had they produced an original translation it would have taken much, much longer, and therefore would have been much, much more expensive. The King James Bible is exceedingly valuable any way you look at it!
Remember that the King James translators did a revision, not an original translation. If the funding for our Indonesian Bible translation project remains as limited as it has been until now (we pray it doesn’t, as we are presently going in the red), the total cost of this project will be less than $648,000.00 for 12 years work. That is less than 3 and a half percent of the cost of the King James Bible project.
$648,000.00 / $18,800,000.00 = 0.034468085 = less than 3 and 1/2 percent of the cost of the King James Bible translation project.
US$648,000 / 1,189 chapters = 544.995794786 = $545.00 per chapter
US$648,000 / 31,102 verses = 20.834673011 = US$20.84 per verse.
We are producing a chapter for less than the King James project cost per verse. And we are producing an original translation (not a revision of a pre-existing translation). Thanks to computer technology, the production of a Greek-Indonesian-English Interlinear New Testament, a Greek-Indonesian Lexicon, and an Indonesian concordance is included in that cost—something impossible for the KJV translators to do. Consider also that the use of computer technology makes possible Greek word studies in a time frame that was impossible when the KJV was being translated. We spent over 30 years preparing for this project. We have the necessary tools, and know how to use them. Do not underestimate the quality of the work we are doing—our translation will change Indonesia forever.
Even if the cost of this project should end up being double that stated above (very unlikely), it would still be a very economical project. This vital translation project is a wise investment of your mission funds. There is nothing that will speed the evangelization of Indonesia like this translation will. Please ask God what he would have you do to help. Your support will speed up the project, and will be deeply appreciated. Has God blessed you with earthly riches? Consider paying for the cost of translating a few chapters or books of the Bible. Your reward in Heaven will be beyond your wildest imagination!
There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. (1 Cor. 14:10)
You can learn about our Indonesia Bible translation project by going here: Indonesia Bible Translation Project