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Melvyn Bragg, The Book of Books: Biography of the King James Bible

KJV400: Legacy & Impact, the King James festival hosted by the Center for Biblical Studies at Union University will get underway tomorrow with viewing of the Bible exhibit in the afternoon and the actual program beginning in the evening with bagpipes, dinner and an address from Timothy George.

Here is what I thought was a well put tribute to the impact of the KJV from Melvyn Bragg’s TThe Book of Books: A Biography of the King James Bible, 1611-2011:

The King James Bible has been called the Book of Books. It has a good claim to this title. It consists of sixty-six different “books”. It has sold more than any other single book since its publication in 1611. It has carried the Protestant faith around the globe. And, by the law of unexpected consequences, its impact, alongside and often outside its vital role in spreading the Word, has been radical and amazingly wide-ranging. This Bible is one of the fundamental makers of the modern world. It has set free not only its readers and its preachers but those who have used it as a springboard to achieve gains and enrichment in our world never before enjoyed by so many. This book walks with us in our life today…

It stands still as a book of great language and beauty. There has never been a book to match it. It has a fair claim to be the most pivotal book ever written, a claim made by poets and statesmen and supported by tens of millions of readers and congregations.

When we “put words into someone’s mouth” and “see the writing on the wall” or “cast the first stone”, when we say “you are the salt of the earth”, or “a thorn in the flesh”, when we “fight the good fight” or “go from strength to strength” or “when the blind lead the blind”, or are “sick unto death” or “broken-hearted”, or “clear-eyed”, or talk of “the powers that be”…  in these and literally thousands more ways we talk the language of the 400-year-old King James Bible. And “beautiful”, that too makes its first appearance in the translation which became the keystone of the Bible. “It is,” wrote American journalist and satirist H.L. Mencken “the most beautiful piece of writing in any language.”

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