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The King James Bible and the World It Made

David Lyle Jeffrey

Publication Year: 2011

The King James translation of the Bible ushered in a new eloquence that until 1611had not existed in the English language. Four centuries later, the literary and historical power of this Bible continues to awe. Originally conceived to help unify Protestants during the English Reformation, many of the Bible’s phrases still saturate popular prose—as evidenced by sayings such as “an eye for an eye” and Abraham Lincoln’s famous “a house divided against itself,” and even in the intonations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the music of Johnny Cash. The King James Bible and the World It Made brings into conversation leading contemporary scholars who articulate how this celebrated translation repeatedly influenced the language of politics, statecraft, and English literature while offering Christians a unique resource for living the faith.

Including Mark Noll, Alister McGrath, Lamin Sanneh, David Bebbington, Robert Alter, Philip Jenkins, and Laura Knoppers, this collection highlights the most notable facets of the King James Bible and the history it created, and astutely reflects on its relevance to the modern world.

Published by: Baylor University Press

Title page

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Introduction

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pp. 1-10

The very notion that words can make a world has its obvious root in the Hebrew of the first book of the Bible. There, however, we are told that the word (davar), and the work and works (davar, davarim) of which all Scripture is both witness and legacy, are not reducible to social construction. Nor can human kings or moguls of culture claim ...

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1 THE “OPENING OF WINDOWS: ”The King James Bible and Late Tudor Translation Theories

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pp. 11-27

To its later admirers, the King James Bible was a noble monument of English prose, a classic expression of the beauty of the English language and the religious sentiments and convictions that so often inspired its moments of elegance and passion.1 Without in any way detracting from its merits as a work of literature, it is important to remember that ...

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2 TRANSLATING MAJESTY: The King James Bible, John Milton, and the English Revolution

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pp. 29-48

On the chilly afternoon of January 31, 1649, King Charles I stood on a recently erected scaffold outside the Banqueting House at Whitehall awaiting execution. The public beheading was a crucial step in a struggle that had begun with paper bullets in parliamentary pamphlets and newsbooks, moved through civil war and parliamentary victory to the king’s trial and condemnation, and would continue even after the king’s death.1 ...

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3 THE KING JAMES BIBLE IN BRITAIN FROM THE LATE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

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pp. 49-69

The King James Bible was in a strong sense a product of the eighteenth rather than the seventeenth century. Variant texts had circulated since 1611, and the established version was not defined until two scholars made corrections in the middle years of the eighteenth century. F. S. Parris, Fellow of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, and Benjamin Blayney, Fellow of Hertford College, Oxford, produced modified texts ...

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4 THE KING JAMES VERSION AT 300 IN AMERICA: “The Most Democratic Book in the World”

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pp. 71-97

In 1911 the collective leadership of the English-speaking world stood at attention to salute the King James Version of the Bible (KJV). The president, the king, the prime minister, and other statesmen of the first rank led a great chorus of praise for the literary, political, ethical, and religious virtues of what their contemporaries were hailing as ...

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5 THE KING JAMES BIBLE, MISSION, AND THE VERNACULAR IMPETUS

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pp. 99-117

Translation of the Bible into the vernacular has had important unintended consequences not only for culture and society generally, but also, notably, for subject and colonized populations. Bidding fair to the scruples of the Enlightenment regarding the intellectual inferiority of illiterate cultures, the proponents of vernacular Bible translation produced the first systematic documentation of non-Western languages, including languages with no written form. ...

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6 REGIONS LUTHER NEVER KNEW: Ancient Books in a New World

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pp. 119-134

The history of the King James Bible is a tale of choices, of roads taken and not taken. Which Greek version was the best source for particular parts of Scripture? Which Hebrew tradition? Which manuscripts ...

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7 THE QUESTION OF ELOQUENCE IN THE KING JAMES VERSION

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pp. 135-147

If there is a single attribute large numbers of readers attach almost reflexively to the King James Version, it is most likely eloquence. The warrant for this attribution is abundantly evident. Eloquence, a term associated with oratory, especially delivered orally, suggests a powerful marshalling of the resources of language to produce a persuasive ...

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8 THE WORD THAT ENDURETH FOREVER: A Century of Scholarship on the King James Version

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pp. 149-175

“If everything else in our language should perish it would alone suffice to show the whole extent of its beauty and power.”1 When Thomas Macaulay penned these words about the King James Version in 1868, the world was a different place. Queen Victoria was still in the early years of mourning the death of her beloved Albert; the United States was ...

NOTES

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pp. 177-202

NOTES ON THE CONTRIBUTORS

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pp. 203-205


E-ISBN-13: 9781602584174
E-ISBN-10: 1602584176
Print-ISBN-13: 9781602584167
Print-ISBN-10: 1602584168

Page Count: 211
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 1st

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Bible. English. Authorized -- History.
  • Bible. English. Authorized -- Influence.
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