Academic journal article The Seventeenth Century

The King James Bible: A Short History from Tyndale to Today

Academic journal article The Seventeenth Century

The King James Bible: A Short History from Tyndale to Today

Article excerpt

David Norton, The King James Bible: A Short History from Tyndale to Today, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2011, pp. xii + 218, pb. £14.99, ISBN: 978-0-5216-1688-1

Among a number of books which have been produced to commemorate the quatercentenary of the publication of the Authorised or King James Version of the Bible in 1611, Professor Norton's contribution provides the reader with a short but comprehensive account of the making of the translation, and a brief view of its later publishing history. Professor Norton begins with a succinct account of the Protestant translations which preceded the 1611 Bible-Tyndale, Coverdale, the Great Bible, the Geneva Bible, and the Bishops' Bible-along with the Catholic Rheims New Testament. This section of the book offers a valuable overview of the sometimes intricate connections between the different Bibles, showing how translators were often dependent on their predecessors even when they chose not to acknowledge them. (It appears that the 1611 Bible was printed from a marked-up copy of the Bishops' Bible.) Close readings of two passages-one from Matthew on the relationship between Joseph and Mary, and the account in Genesis of the Fall of Adam and Eve-show in detail how the 1611 Bible drew on and altered Tyndale's pioneering text.

Addressing the practicalities of the translators' task, Professor Norton explains how the work was organised by being distributed to teams in Cambridge, Oxford, and Westminster, and illuminates the day-to-day process through newly discovered evidence from the diary of one of the translators, John Bois. …

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