Monday, 18 April 2011

King James Bible, Now 400, Still Echoes 'Voice of God'

April 18, 2011
 
This year, the most influential book you may never have read is celebrating a major birthday. The King James Version of the Bible was published 400 years ago. It's no longer the top-selling Bible, but in those four centuries, it has woven itself deeply into our speech and culture.
The title page of the first edition of the King James Bible from 1611 reads: "Newly Translated out of the Originall tongues: & with the former Translations diligently compared and revised, by his Majesties speciall Comandement. Appointed to be read in Churches." Click here to see a larger version.
The Green Collection The title page of the first edition of the King James Bible from 1611 reads: "Newly Translated out of the Originall tongues: & with the former Translations diligently compared and revised, by his Majesties speciall Comandement. Appointed to be read in Churches." Click here to see a larger version.
Let's travel back to 1603: King James I, who had ruled Scotland, ascended to the throne of England. What he found was a country suspicious of the new king.
"He was regarded as a foreigner," says Gordon Campbell, a historian at the University of Leicester in England. "He spoke with a heavy Scottish accent, and one of the things he needed to legitimize himself as head of the Church of England was a Bible dedicated to him."
At that time, England was in a Bible war between two English translations. The Bishops' Bible was read in churches: It was clunky, inelegant. The Geneva Bible was the choice of the Puritans and the people: It was bolder, more accessible.
"The problem with the Geneva Bible was it had marginal notes," says David Lyle Jeffrey, a historian of Biblical interpretation at Baylor University. "And from point of view of the royalists, and especially King James I, these marginal comments often did not pay sufficient respect to the idea of the divine right of kings."
Those notes referred to kings as tyrants, they challenged regal authority, and King James wanted them gone. So he hatched an idea. Bring the Bishops and the Puritans together, ostensibly to work out their differences about church liturgy. His true goal was to maneuver them into proposing a new bible. His plans fell into place after he refused every demand of the Puritans to simplify the liturgy, and they finally suggested a new translation. With that, James commissioned a new bible without those seditious notes. Forty seven scholars and theologians worked through the bible line by line for seven years.

 Read more HERE

2 comments:

  1. It is an amazing work of English literature. The language is still so powerful, even though not perhaps the guiding light it used to be. A few weeks ago I participated in a publicreading of the whole text at the Bath Literary festival (in one hour shifts) It was a moving experience

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  2. Yes, Of course!! I remember that. I was so envious and so sorry I wasn't able to be there. I loved this article and I quite like the Bible (yes, I know, horribly out of fashion these days)as a source of spirituality and just a lovely piece of literature!

    R
    ♥♥

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