New Atheist Christopher Hitchens declares his heartfelt love for the King James Version – in this its 400th anniversary year – in a new article in the May 2011 edition of Vanity Fair.
Following a long line of critics from Herder to Leavis to Frye and Bloom who transform the earlier affirmation of the divine inspiration of the Bible into the championing of its poetic genius, Hitchens extols the heights of humanistic achievement which is represented by the 1611 translation of the Christian Bible into English. Hitchens offers an overview of the historical process that led to the publication of the King James Version, and waxes eloquent about the influence of its vocabulary and distinctive phrases on the English language. He also makes interesting comments on some of the political and religious motivations for certain translations (as an example of the latter, the use of “virgin” to translate ‘almah in Isaiah 7.14, so as to agree with New Testament prophecy in Luke, and despite the Hebrew term not specifically denoting a virgin). Hitchens contrasts the one, Authorised Version with the marketplace of “niche Bibles” available today, including “the ‘Couples Bible,’ ‘One Year New Testament for Busy Moms,’ ‘Extreme Teen Study Bible,’ ‘Policeman’s Bible,’ and…the ‘Celebrate Recovery Bible.'” He also makes a comment on the trend towards gender-neutral translations, including this sage comment:
to suggest that Saint Paul, of all people, was gender-neutral is to re-write the history…