Laralee's Reviews > God's Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible

God's Secretaries by Adam Nicolson
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's review
Jan 04, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: history-biography
Read in January, 2010

It was a good and interesting read. Having been raised with the KJV I am familiar with the language and it is the language of scripture for me.

For most of the men involved in translating the Bible, little is known - we have approximate dates and brief biographical information, often only from 2nd or 3rd hand sources. Each individual was a mix of scholarship, bigoty, self-indulgence, venality, nobility, loyalty and other adjectives. They were far from holy although some sincerely desired to be. Most were career divines, and most appeared to be looking out for themselves and making the right kinds of connections and advancements.

Nonetheless, what they managed to do was bring into being a version of the Bible that full of richness. The KJV was to be the version of scripture read from the pulpit every Sunday. The language was deep, the phrasing powerful - it was the language of sermon. The author compares verses in the KJV with other translations both before and after. Some of the text is almost identical, but the translators of the KJV were committed to the language, the deeper layers of understanding. For them it was as much about how it sounded as to what it meant.

The translating process consisted of several committees, each having responsibility for certain portions of the Biblical text. Each translator was to work on sections - the committee would discuss and adjust and the final work of each committee then went to a final committee composed of members of the smaller groups. There it was read aloud, and with much discussion (a far too mild term) the final version was submitted.

I also found it interesting to note that the language used in the KJV was never a form of English you would have heard on the street. They rejected Luther's contention that the word of scripture should be written as if a man on the street had said it. The Word was sacred and it needed a sacred, richer language to express it.

It also demonstrated to me how God can work with normal, weak, petty, greedy, dissolute people and bring about a wonder.

I would recommend this book

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01/04/2010 page 70

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