In Honour of the Four Hundredth Anniversary of the King James Bible

In honour of the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, I wisheth to maketh thou awarest of a conference and books that celebrateth this momentous occasion.

But first, let us taketh a moment to remembereth a time when evenest ESVers used to useth a KJV. Who can forgetest memorizing Rom. 12:1-2 in KJV:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Or how about Psalm 19:1-2 (of which I memorized as partest of memorizing the whole chapter in KJV as a teenager):

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

Who could forgetest that blush-making verse in I Kgs. 16:11:

And it came to pass, when he began to reign, as soon as he sat on his throne, that he slew all the house of Baasha: he left him not one that pisseth against a wall, neither of his kinsfolks, nor of his friends.

And I suspecteth that if thou hast Psalm 23 memorized, thou hast it memorized according to the KJV.

O Lord God Almighty, Thou hast been kind to thy people in giving to us the KJV.

Conference

In 1611, England issued its official translation of the complete Bible, a masterful work that laid the foundation for an emerging Christian culture in the English-speaking world. At the time, it was not obvious that the new translation would have the impact that it did, but it was soon clear that the King James Bible would overcome its competitors, as it provided a magnificent new standard by which all later works would be judged. It would indelibly mark the literature and culture of England, America, and all regions across the globe touched by Britain’s empire. From small rural churches to great halls of power, the ideas and words of the King James Version helped form a new culture rooted in the Bible: the modern culture of the English-speaking world.

To celebrate and reflect upon the incomparable influence of the King James Bible, Baylor University will host “The King James Bible and the World It Made, 1611-2011,” on April 7-9, 2011. Organized by Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion, this conference will be one of the preeminent international events recognizing this auspicious moment in the history of Anglo-American and world Christianity. It will assemble distinguished scholars from around the globe to consider the history and ramifications of the Bible in English.

Books

The Legacy of the King James Bible: Celebrating 400 Years of the Most Influential English Translation. Originally published in 1611, the King James Bible (KJB) remains the most recognizable piece of literature in the English-speaking world today. For over three centuries, it served as the standard English Bible and has, as such, exerted unparalleled influence on English and American culture in nearly every sphere—including education, law, literature, government, art, science, and religion.

The Legacy of the King James Bible honors the 400th anniversary of the KJB’s publication by telling its story—a drama that starts with the pioneering work of William Tyndale and progresses through half a dozen other popular translations. Leland Ryken, an expert on the Bible as literature, explores the excellence of the King James Bible by examining its status as the climax of a century of English Bible translations, its impression on the subsequent history of Bible translation, its inherent literary excellence, and its overall impact on English and American literature and culture. The Legacy of the King James Bible will shed new light on the depth of the translation’s merit and influence and offer insight as to what its role may be in the next 400 years.

In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How It Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture. In the Beginning is Alister McGrath’s history of the King James Bible, and as the subtitle explains, his explanation of “How It Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture.” McGrath’s story begins with the development of the printing press, describes the forces (before, during, and after the Reformation) fueling the demand for English vernacular translations of the Bible, and considers the impact of the King James Version on Western worship and politics. McGrath deftly blends an arch and charming, donnish argot with breezy, tough, brass-tacks directness. Of the ongoing process of creating new biblical translations, he writes, “It has yet to end; indeed, it will not end, until either history is brought to a close or English ceases to be a living language.” Elsewhere, describing the cultural influence of the Authorized Version, he explains, “Without the King James Bible, there would have been no Paradise Lost, no Pilgrim’s Progress, no Handel’s Messiah, no Negro spirituals, and no Gettysburg address.”) A professor of historical theology at the University of Oxford, McGrath has written a number of popular books about Christianity (including Theology for Amateurs). In The Beginning continues his work of making complex matters of theological thought and history accessible to a wider audience. –Michael Joseph Gross

The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism. The author addresses laypeople and pastors with a concise explanation of the science of textual criticism and refutes the proposition that the King James Version is superior to contemporary translations.

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