Book of the Month: December 2011

cover of Alister McGraths In the BeginningIn the Beginning: the Story of the King James Bible

by Alister McGrath

As we draw to the end of the 400th Anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible (KJV), it seems timely to consider the wealth of books which have appeared this year.

For its illustrations, the Visual History of the King James Bible (£14.99) is a treat.  Melvyn Bragg’s The Book of Books (£20/ £8.99) gives a good summary of the history.  For an excellent account of the language of the Bible and its influence, read David Crystal’s Begat (£14.99/£8.99).

But for a very readable overall picture at an affordable price I have chosen, In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How it Changed a Nation, a Language and a Culture. Not new (hardback 2000), but published in a new paperback edition his year, it gives a very thorough account of why and how the KJV came into being.

We are given an overview of the development of printing, and a fascinating chapter on the rise of the English language.  As late as 1513, John Colet was suspended from his position of Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral for translating the Lord’s Prayer into English.

McGrath writes accessibly of the tumultuous times of the Reformation, of Luther and Tyndale, and the production of the Bibles which paved the way for the KJV.  We are taken through the process of the new translation, and the debt the translators owed to previous versions.

Written by a theologian, this is a book we should all read, whether or not we use the KJV in our everyday lives, to gain an insight into our nation’s history and the huge influence this translation has had on all aspects of our culture.  “Even four hundred years after [the translation] …the King James Bible retains its place as a literary and religious classic, by which all others continue to be judged”.

A great stocking present!

Reviewed by Jenny Monds, Director of Learning Resources Sarum College

In the Beginning is normally priced at £8.99.  Quote Sarum College Website to order a copy at the special price of £7.99 and POST FREE until December 31st 2011 from Sarum College Bookshop .

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