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Jamaica ignoring the 400th anniversary of The King James Version?


Wednesday, December 28, 2011…

I find it so interesting that while Jamaicans seem so pre-occupied with the Holy Bible, nobody has shown any interest in the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the King James’ Version, this year.

Well, after 400 years, what is there to celebrate, one might ask. But, after 400 years we are suddenly recalling Christopher Columbus, the slave trade, not to mention that we are still celebrating the birth and death of Christ, the superstar of the Bible, some 2,000 years after he died.

A copy of the King James Bible. (Photo: Karl McLarty)


But, John did say that “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us”, and nearly all us have grown up with the words and interpretations of its many contributors so that, after 400 years, we really should be joining in the global discourse on the King James’ Version and the impact it has had on our lives.

One of the things that fascinated me about the Holy Bible is that, even people who reject its contents as imperialistic, racist or even the prominence of Jesus Christ, including Rastafarians, still turn to it for spiritual guidance.

Very few people seem to agree with everything the Bible says: some like the Old Testament, some like the New Testament. People wonder how come God made Moses, a murderer, into a leader of his people, or how come his most highly touted servants, like David and Solomon, sold their souls for sex.

I am always intrigued by the homosexuals of Sodom who defied God, and even Lot when he offered his young daughter, and attempted to “bugger” God’s male angels instead, leading to the immediate destruction of the city.

Equally intriguing is how Lot’s daughters got him drunk and seduced him into impregnating them, in an attempt to save the dying breed, committing incest in the process.

And then there is the most interesting man of all, Paul, who although never being given any hallowed glory and not a Jew was obviously God’s chosen intellectual, interpreting the words of Jesus so even 21st century man can have a better understanding.

The point, basically, is that the current political environment seems to have so captivated us, especially the Church, that I have heard virtually nothing locally about celebrating this 400th anniversary of the King James Version, though it is being acknowledged in so many other places.

The Christian Science Monitor reported that on November 16, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Phillip and Prince Charles attended a service at Westminster Abbey, marking the anniversary of the Bible first published in 1611.

There have been many editions since the original conception of one collection of Jewish and Christian religious history was officially canonized at the Council of Carthage of 397 CE (not at Nicaea, a common mistake) under Augustine of Hippo.

Aside from the Latin Vulgate of St Jerome that was used throughout the Middle ages, modern protestant denominations have spawned countless English editions: the Revised Version, the Revised Standard Version, the English Standard Version, the American Standard Version, the New Living Translation, Today’s New International Version, etcetera, etcetera.

The King James’ translation was assembled by 47 translators in six committees working in London, Oxford and Cambridge.

According to the CSM, it came about when King James I summoned a conference at Hampton Court Palace near London in 1604, hoping to trash out differences between Church of England Bishops and Puritans.

“Failing to make progress on other issues, Puritan leader John Reynolds proposed a new translation – which emerged in 1611,” the newspaper said. Since then, the King James Version has grown to be dubbed the “DNA of the English language”.

The celebrations around the world have included lectures, educational programmes and theatre performances but, surprisingly, in Jamaica, which loves to claim more churches per capita than anywhere else, nothing!

But, one novelty, is the new “Holy Bible, 1611 King James Bible: 400th Anniversary Edition”, which is being offered by Amazon Books.

Amazon boasts that the new book allows, “for the first time since the original King James Version rolled off the presses”, the chance to experience an exact, page-by-page, digitally re-mastered replica of the original 1611 print in an economically priced edition.

There are only two differences between this special 400th anniversary edition and the original 1611 KJV, says Amazon, “It does not contain the deuterocanonical books and has been reduced from its massive 12 feet by 16 feet pulpit sized folio”.

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