In fewer than 250 pages, this book places the King James Version in historical context, brings vividly to life many of those who worked on it, gives a plausible account of how the task was accomplished, and conveys in Nicolson's own passionate prose the full grandeur of the translation.
- New York Times Notable Books of the Year
The King James Bible remains the most influential Bible translation of all time. Its elegant style and the exalted cadences of its poetry and prose echo forcefully in Shakespeare, Milton, T.S. Eliot and Reynolds Price. As travel writer Nicolson points out, however, the path to the completion of the translation wasn't smooth. When James took the throne in England in early 1603, he inherited a country embroiled in theological controversy. Relishing a good theological debate, the king appointed himself as a mediator between the Anglicans and the reformist Puritans, siding in the end with the Anglican Church as the party that posed the least political threat to his authority. As a result of these debates, James agreed to commission a new translation of the Bible as an olive branch to the Puritans. Between 1604 and 1611, various committees engaged in making a new translation that attended more to the original Greek and Hebrew than had earlier versions. Nicolson deftly chronicles the personalities involved, and breezily narrates the political and religious struggles of the early 17th century. Yet, the circumstances surrounding this translation are already well known from two earlier books-Benson Bobrick's Wide as the Waters and Alister McGrath's In the Beginning-and this treatment adds little that is new. Although Nicolson succeeds at providing insight into the diverse personalities involved in making the King James Bible, Bobrick's remains the most elegant and comprehensive treatment of the process. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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1 . Well structured, good historical information
Posted February 21, 2010 by Nano , Guaynabo, PRIf you are interested in this topic this will be a good source of information. It is well structured, well written and offers a good perpspective on the social, political and historical issues associated with the making of the King James Bible.
July 31, 2005
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Excerpt from God's Secretaries by Adam Nicolson
A poore man now arrived
at the Land of Promise
And the LORD magnified Solomon exceedingly in the sight of all Israel, and bestowed upon him such royal maiestie as had not bene on any king before him in Israel.
I Chronicles 29:25
Few moments in English history have been more hungry for the future, its mercurial possibilities and its hope of richness, than the spring of 1603. At last the old, hesitant, querulous and increasingly unapproachable Queen Elizabeth was dying. Nowadays, her courtiers and advisers spent their lives tiptoeing around her moods and her unpredictability. Lurching from one unaddressed financial crisis to the next, selling monopolies to favourites, she had begun to lose the affection of the country she had nurtured for so long. Elizabeth, should have died years before. Most of her great men -- Burleigh, Leicester, Walsingham, even the beautiful Earl of Essex, executed after a futile and chaotic rebellion in 1601 -- had gone already. She had become a relict of a previous age and her wrinkled, pasteboard virginity now looked more like fruitlessness than purity. Her niggardliness had starved the fountain of patronage on which the workings of the country relied and those mechanisms, unoiled by the necessary largesse, were creaking. Her exhausted impatience made the process of government itself a labyrinth of tact and indirection.
The country felt younger and more vital than its queen. Cultural conservatives might have bemoaned the death of old values and the corruption of modern morals (largely from Italy, conceived of as a louche and violent place), but these were not the symptoms of decline. England was full of newness and potential: its population burgeoning, its merchant fleets combing the world, London growing like a hothouse plum, the sons of gentlemen crowding as never before into the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, plants and fruits from all over the world arriving in its gardens and on its tables -- but the rigid carapace of the Elizabethan court lay like a cast-iron lid above it. The queen's motto was still what it always had been: Semper eadem, Always the same. She hadn't moved with the times. So parsimonious had she been in elevating men to the peerage that by the end of her reign there were no more than sixty peers in the nobility of England. Scarcely a gentleman had been knighted by the queen for years.
That drought of honours was a symptom of a kind of paralysis, an indecisive rigidity. None of the great issues of the country had been resolved. Inflation had transformed the economy but the Crown was still drawing rents from its properties that had been set in the 1560s. The relationship between the House of Commons and the queen, for all her wooing and flattery, had become angry, tetchy, full of recrimination. The old war against Spain, which had achieved its great triumph of defeating the Armada in 1588, had dragged on for decades, haemorrhaging money and enjoying little support from the Englishmen whose taxes were paying for it. The London and Bristol merchants wanted only one outcome: an end to war, so that trade could be resumed. Religious differences had been buried by the Elizabethan regime: both Roman Catholics, who wanted England to return to the fold of the Roman Church, and the more extreme, 'hotter' Protestants, the Puritans, who felt that the Reformation in England had never been properly achieved, had been persecuted by the queen and her church, fined, imprisoned and executed.