13th June 2011

Happy Anniversary, KJV!

The seventh of a series

“Behold, the dais come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.”
Amos 8:11 (original KJV of 1611)

Henry VIII died January 28, 1547, and his successor, Edward VI, in July 1553. When Mary Tudor came to the throne, she immediately sought to restore England to Roman Catholicism. All Bibles in English were banned, and those possessing them became subject to burning at the stake. All prominent Protestant clergy fled to France, and Catholic Englishmen living in exile returned. The Protestants settled in Switzerland and turned their activities to producing an English Bible which became known as the Geneva translation of 1557.

During Mary’s five-year reign it is reputed that she burned more heretics than the Inquisition during the same period in Europe. Truly, this was a time when the Word of God was silenced throughout the land. When Mary died, Elizabeth, last of the Tudors came to the throne.

Having seen the religious warring between her father, half-sister, and the fate of her own mother and her step-mothers, Elizabeth, unsurprisingly, had little interest in religion. Only insofar as opposition to religion provoked treason, did she exile some and execute a few others. All the Protestant exiles from Mary’s time, including Coverdale, gradually returned. Elizabeth was finally persuaded that it was in her interest to permit yet another Bible—“The Bishop’s Bible” of 1568, was to replace all versions currently available, including the ever-popular Geneva Bible, regarded by the bishops as subversive because of its marginal notes.

But the Bishop’s Bible was scholarly and erudite, and was not aimed at the people. Consequently it was never popular, and the Geneva Bible continued unchallenged, eventually even being printed in Cambridge, England. This was the Bible of Shakespeare; this was the Bible of the people.

Most merciful Father, we acknowledge the role that so many have been willing to play, through exile, sacrifice and privation, to bring your Bible to the people of Britain in their own tongue. Help us, who have so much exposure to your word, not to despise, or even just to take for granted, the Bible because we have such freedom of access. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by John Stettaford 

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One Response to “13th June 2011”

  1. hugh jenkins on June 14th, 2011 8:31 am

    excellent overview

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