A narrative of great power, drama and poetry
Four hundred years ago, a book was published that would be read for centuries by countless generations and that still remains of central importance to the English-speaking world. The King James Bible is one of the most influential books of all time, not just as a devotional work but as a narrative of great power, drama and poetry. This Folio Society edition is published to commemorate the 400th anniversary of its original publication. Limited to just 940 numbered copies, it is a beautiful and lasting edition of one of the most important books in history.
One of the first acts of King James I when he ascended the throne of England in 1603 was to commission a new translation of the Bible. The previous two centuries had seen the controversial arrival of the first ever English translations, and competing versions abounded. As head of the Church, James laid down the guiding principles of his new Bible, and forty-seven scholars from all over the country including Oxford, Cambridge and Winchester were assembled for the most ambitious translation project of the Reformation era.
‘An enduring link, literary and religious, between the English-speaking people of the world’
The scholars aimed above all to be faithful to the original Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic, translating literally where necessary. Though they were not aiming for poetic effect, their approach gave rise to some of the Bible’s most memorable and beautiful idioms: ‘labour of love’, ‘sign of the times’, ‘bite the dust’, ‘land of milk and honey’, ‘fly in the ointment’, and many others. The King James Bible became part of the public and private devotion of ordinary people and its phrases were absorbed into the English language. Also known as the Authorised Version, it is the touchstone by which all other translations are judged, and remains the Bible of choice for millions all over the world.