Friday, January 25, 2013

The King James Bible

“Great and manifold were the blessings when God made James the King of England”1

In 2011, the four hundredth anniversary of the completion of the King James Bible was celebrated and continues to be commemorated with a forty-stop travelling exhibition. From January 26th to February 21st the exhibit Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible will be at Eastern Mennonite University’s Sadie A. Hartzler Library and is open to the public. The exhibit was organized by the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, D.C., and the American Library Association Public Programs Office. It is based on an exhibition of the same name developed by the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, with assistance from the Harry Ransom Center of the University of Texas. The traveling exhibition was made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The impetus for a new translation of the Christian Bible was both political and ecclesiastical. A motivation for a new version of the Bible was to uphold the structure of the Church of England and to curb the influence of the Puritans. In 1601, the King instructed the translators to keep what was familiar to listeners and to readers in the new translation of the Bible. Forty-seven scholars, all from the Church of England, undertook the new translation task. The completion of the translation in 1611 influenced the world of literature, biblical scholarship, and set Anglican/Episcopal congregations on numerous battles against revisions.

The current exhibit highlights the historic translations and printings, Bibles of noted people, and the influence of the King James Version in literature, music, and world events. In addition, a series of programs relating to the KJB and its influence are scheduled—two of which will be hosted by the Massanutten Regional Library. For more information on the speakers and topics, pick up a brochure at the downtown Massanutten Regional Library or check out the EMU Hartzler Library website.

1.  The 1611 Bible’s dedication to King James.

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