Though it would have surprised the original translators, the King James Bible is one of the most influential literary documents, and arguably, the most important religious document in the English speaking world.
Produced during the height of Shakespeare and Donne's careers, the King James Version of the Bible has long been revered for its eloquence and poetry, and as the most beautiful of all English translations. Now reaching its 400th anniversary, it remains a frequently used and controversial translation, especially in America a country whose religious conceptions have been shaped by the KJV since its inception.
This book, The Bible: The Story of the King James Version, 1611-2011 written by leading Renaissance literature authority Gordon Campbell, is a comprehensive history that tells the intriguing story of how the KJV Bible from its inception to its existence today as both a religious authority and literary masterpiece.
The story of course begins with King James himself, the commissioning of the work, the gathering of scholars who would produce it, and of course, the politics that lay behind the work of translation. The textual history of the Bible from the first edition in 1611 to the Oxford University Press edition published in 1769 and considered the modern standard, is traced and reveals a fascinating transmission process by subsequent generations who edited and interacted with the text through the 17th and 18th centuries. In the end, the editors only added fuel to controversies surrounding the KJV both in their day and our own.
The 19th and 20th century history the KJV is then presented and pays particular attention to the revision controversies in 19th century England, and the continuing impact of the Bible on the emerging American continent whose religious mind had been shaped by the KJV since its inception, and who continues to revere and read the KJV more than any nation in history. The American life of the KJV is, of course, the spring board for discussing the KJV in the modern world, and its relevance and place in a globalized society which Campbell discusses in the final chapter.
Finally, The Bible: The Story of the King James Version includes illustrations and appendices containing short biographies of the translators and a guide to the 74-page preliminaries of the 1611 edition.