A fascinating, lively account of the making of the King James Bible.
James VI of Scotland – now James I of England – came into his new kingdom in 1603. Trained almost from birth to manage rival political factions, he was determined not only to hold his throne, but to avoid the strife caused by religious groups that was bedevilling most European countries. He would hold his God-appointed position and unify his kingdom. Out of these circumstances, and involving the very people who were engaged in the bitterest controversies, a book of extraordinary grace and lasting literary appeal was created: the King James Bible.
47 scholars from Cambridge, Oxford and London translated the Bible, drawing from many previous versions, and created what many believe to be the greatest prose work ever written in English – the product of a culture in a peculiarly conflicted era. This was the England of Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jonson and Bacon; but also of extremist Puritans, the Gunpowder plot, the Plague, of slum dwellings and crushing religious confines. Quite how this astonishing translation emerges is the central question of this book.
Far more than Shakespeare, this Bible helped to create and shape the language. It is the origin of many of our most familiar phrases, and the foundations of the English-speaking world. It was a generous and deliberate decision to make the Bible available to the common man: not an immediate commercial success, but which later became a bestseller, and has remained one ever since.
Adam Nicolson gives a fascinating and dramatic account of the early years of the first Stewart ruler, and the scholars who laboured for seven years to create the world's greatest book; immersing us in a world of ingratiating bishops, a fascinating monarch and London at a time unlike any other.
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Adam Nicholson's Power and Glory tells the story of the authorised, or King James translation, of the Bible with authority and verve. As a product of the early 17th century, the authorised version of the Bible is one of the masterpieces of an English Golden Age. Its influence on English culture and language cannot be overestimated. Adam Nicolson tells the fascinating story of how and why the King James version came about.
Nicolson takes us into the political and theological intrigues of the day, and shows how a century on from the Protestant Reformation England was still in religious turmoil. Out of the clash between Catholic, Anglican and Puritan came a version of the Bible that combined scholarly skill, exalted language and an exquisite homeliness. We are shown the lives of the translators: some of them were humble country parsons; others were dazzling scholars, eminent bishops and worldly hypocrites.
Nicolson writes with clarity, confidence and panache, and through the window of the King James version we can glimpse the whole splendid and sordid world of Jacobean England. He ends with a lament for the passing of this splendid version. It's a pity he didn't visit the American south. There he would have found the King James version alive and well. The fact that this majestic translation thrives in the context of hootin' and hollerin' backwoods religion is one of those strange and hilarious anomalies of history. --Dwight LongeneckerReview:
‘This scrupulously elegant account of the creation of what four centuries of history has confirmed is the finest English-language work of all time, is entirely true to its subject: Adam Nicolson's lapidary prose is masterly, his measured account both as readable as the curious demand and as dignified as the story deserves.’ Simon Winchester
‘Vivid, exhilarating, consistently intelligent, you can almost taste the air breathed by these Jacobean heroes, who gave English its most famous book. History at its best.’ Simon Jenkins
‘unobtrusively learned, rich in curious and purposeful detail, an ideal balance between fervent enthusiasm and elegantly witty detachment….a brilliantly entertaining, passionate, funny and instructive telling of an important and gripping story….Adam Nicolson has written a thrilling and constantly absorbing book.’ The Spectator
‘a marvellous book: there are few more stylish or sensitive introductions than this to the personalities, the sights and the smells, as well as the words of Jacobean England.’ Sunday Telegraph
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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 2003. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0007108931