410 years ago, despite the best efforts of William Tyndale (the excellent biography by David Daniell (Yale) is a must), King James VI of Scotland decided – after attending the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland at St Columba's Church in Burntisland, Fife – that a new translation of the Bible into English was the order of the day. Two years later, James acceded to the throne of England.

According to wikipedia, the "newly crowned King James convened the Hampton Court Conference in 1604. That gathering proposed a new English version in response to the perceived problems of earlier translations as detected by the Puritan faction of the Church of England... The translation was by 47 scholars, all of whom were members of the Church of England. In common with most other translations of the period, the New Testament was translated from Greek, the Old Testament was translated from Hebrew text, while the Apocrypha were translated from the Greek and Latin." In 1611 the new (KJV) Bible was printed.

It is surely redundant to say that the new Bible's affect on both written and spoken English was – and is – profound. Along with Shakespeare's First Folio (published just over a decade later in 1623), the KJV changed English for ever) not least because it codified it, allowing countless idiots subsequently to be able to claim that what wasn't codified (ie regional or dialect English) wasn't proper English...

Anyway, all of that preamble, merely to announce that OUP published two excellent KJV-related titles at the end of last year: Begat: The King James Bible and the English Language by the prolific David Crystal, and Bible: The Story of the King James Version 1611-2011 by Gordon Campbell.

-- Mark Thwaite (06/01/2001)

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