kingjames02I received the following question:

As you know, the name “James” in the Bible is really Jacob in the Greek. It seems like an obvious manipulation of the name by King James, the major translator of the New Testament. Yet I am in a discussion as to whether or not this was actually the fault of King James. What do you say?

While it is interesting that “Iacobos” is changed to “James” in the King James Version, this was not something unique to King James. The name was changed to James or Iames in the Wycliffe Bible (1395), the Tyndale Version (1526), the Bishop’s Bible (1568), and the Geneva Bible (1587). Apparently, though it was Iacobus in the Vulgate, there was a dialect wherein it was pronounced Iacomus. Apparently from here it came into French as Iames, and then into English as the same. Probably the translators knew the connection with Iacomus in Latin, and so distinguished between Iacob and Iacobos in this way. It was still a rather silly choice. It must have been Tyndale’s doing, and no one was brave enough to change it after that. Perhaps Tyndale got it from the fact that the Latin services he was used to hearing pronounced it Iacob and Iacomus.

So no, we cannot blame this one on good old King James. He did have some axes to grind and manipulated some things in the King James Version, but putting his name into it was not one of them. That had been done long before.