The King James translators divided their most ardent critics into two categories. First, they claimed to be “traduced by Popish persons at home [and] abroad.” These critics maligned them as “poor instruments to make God’s holy truth…known unto the people.”
Believing that only priests could properly interpret the Scriptures, these critics maligned the King James translators for daring to translate it, especially since their purpose in doing so was to provide the common people with a Bible that they could read for themselves. The Catholic Church had long claimed the authority to dictate the doctrines of the Bible to parishioners, who the church taught were incapable of understanding the Bible for themselves. Therefore, there was no greater affront to the papacy than to suggest that the people could read and interpret the Bible for themselves.
The second group of critics maligning the King James translators were described by them as “self-conceited brethren, who run their own way, and give liking unto nothing but what is framed by themselves, and hammered on their anvil.” In other words, though they were Protestants, these critics insisted that their preferred translation and interpretation of the Bible should be blindly followed with no questions asked. Ironically, these critics of the King James translators are very similar to the ardent proponents of today’s “King James Onlyism,” those who criticize modern-day translations and insist that the King James Version is the only acceptable English translation of the Bible.