God's Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible
A network of complex currents flowed across Jacobean England. This was the England of Shakespeare, Jonson, and Bacon; the era of the Gunpowder Plot and the worst outbreak of the plague. Jacobean England was both more godly and less godly than the country had ever been, and the entire culture was drawn taut between these polarities. This was the world that created the King...more
The King James Bible is probably still the most widely known translation, its archaic language lending an authority and romance to the words. I was surprised to learn that the language was archaic even when it was written. King James I & VI, a formidable intellectual, had the task of uniting Scotland, England, Wales, ...more
It's a very fine history of the making of what is arguably the most significant book in English; how it was collated and adapted from at least three previous versions ...more
The book weaves together a history of the Jacobean era, with all of its political and religious turmoil, with biographies of many of the major players involved in the translation of the King James Bible. In this section, the author explains the political and religious problems that the ...more
Committees can’t perform such literary feats – except when they do, and the King James Bible is perhaps ...more
Not from the book, but can't resist adding Eliot's comment on first reading the Revised Standard Version: "It's the work of men who did not realize they were atheists."
So, what the book does is concentrate on the societal, political, and religious environment of the times, which is pretty interesting. Some random trivia:
- The idea for the translation came out of the Hampton Court Council, which happened right as or after The Plague was ravaging ...more
This book brings ...more
The book is strongest when setting out the context in which the book was written. It presents James as a natural peacemaker who took a deliberate decision ...more
And I loved it now on this re-reading.
What strikes me is what I recalled from the first reading, and what impressed me on the second reading.
On the first reading, I was taken with the description of actual process. Who were the translators, how were they assembled, how did they go about their work, etc.
The second reading I saw more on the historical context. How the ...more
It was many, many years later that my husband finally lured me into tasting the forbidden fruit of the NIV. And, ...more
I did appreciate the effort that went into the translation process, as well as King James’ efforts to have a Bible that was translated by both parts of Christendom – the Separatists who did not want the trappings of English hierarchical Christianity as well as those that supported the authority of bishops and the King. By the time this text was put together (1611), England ...more
The book has 2 titles, and this may be the problem. There should be plenty to fill a 400 page book on God's secretaries alone. The second title, the actual making of the KJV, gets short shrift in favor of a third topic which is England in the early period of ...more
I loved Nicolson's book. It is not just about religion, or the fine points of theology, or esoteric issues of translation. It is about the historical background which led to the decision by the king, James I, to call for a new ...more
The instructions James I personally wrote to his translation committees reveal both his goals in commissioning the new version -- puritans at the time were reading the "Geneva Bible," whose text and extensive notes were exceptionally critical of "tyrants" and the power of kings generally -- and something of the difficulties facing anyone working on holy texts. For example, how does one handle the Septuagint, in which Greek texts used by Jesus and the disciples do ...more
While some comparisons are made between the translations made for the KJV with other translations to demonstrate how much more "rich", poetic and fraught with meaning the KJV translation is, I thought some of the claims exaggerated. In the absence of any evidence that the translators did intend all the ...more