King James Version. While in the 17th Century most of the colonists used Geneva Bible (1560), by the 18th Century the King James Version (otherwise known as the Authorized Version) became the most read version.
What can you learn from this Bible?
• How language was used. For example, did you know that ‘ye’ was used as the subject of the sentence but ‘you’ would be used for the object?
• How verses would have been quoted by people in that time. They didn’t use the NIV or the NASB to quote a verse. Those versions did not exist at that time.
• Word choices. The King James Version used words the colonists were familiar with, and in many cases, used on a daily basis. For example, the word charity would still be understood to mean love in the 17th Century.
• Sentence structure. While readers today may not appreciate a novel written with the complex sentence structure found in Romans or Philippians in the KJV, you can get a feel for how people spoke and wrote. If you doubt this, read some of the sermons written by John Winthorp or letters by George Washington or read the account of Patrick Henry’s discourse in the courthouse at Spottsylavania when he defended the Baptist Ministers indicted there.
Most educated men were well-versed in the use of Scripture. In fact, when the Puritans arrived in America, they determined to educate both boys and girls so that they could read the Bible. For them, the Bible played a major role in forming society and the laws they sought to establish. There are many sermons or articles written by men that demonstrate how they attempted to make the colonists conform to what they understood Scripture to say.
Governors of the Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and other New England colonies were men who knew Scripture and based their decisions on their understanding of the Bible. Dr. John Clarke, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, James Madison, John Hart, and many others who were instrumental in creating the liberties we presently enjoy founded their beliefs on God’s Word.
While some people did not believe in God nor abide by Biblical precepts and principles, if you read letters, diaries, and other writings from people of the time you'll discover that those most influential knew the Bible to some extent, whether they had a personal testimony of salvation or not.
Therefore, to better understand how society functioned, what people believed and valued, you should also be well-versed in the Bible, particularly the KJV, since that is what many read.