God’s Secretaries : The Making of the King James Bible

Reviewed by Deane Barker tags: faith, bible, history

What’s interesting about this book is that there’s just very little information about the actual process of creating the King James Bible. Not much of the historical record of the actual translation process remains.

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 London. So the effort was likely somewhat influenced by feelings that the sickness was God’s punishment.

  • The Gunpowder Plot happened at the same time as the effort. Guy Fawkes almost hilariously fell of the gallows and broke his neck on his way to his own hanging. They had his corpse drawn and quartered anyway, out of spite.

  • King James himself was likely gay, or at least bisexual. He had many well-documented relationships with other men.

  • The translation is in a form of English that likely never existed. Apparently no one actually spoke in “thees” and “thous” and such. This language was invented for the translation.

Towards the end, the author compares some versions of the Bible and notes that the KJV was very emotional and majestic, much more than other versions. And there’s an appendix which covers previous translation efforts, which is interesting. You learn about Tyndale and Wycliffe – men whose names continue on in Bible publishing companies today.

Additionally, the book spends quite a bit of time on the cast of characters that made up the translators. There were six “companies”, totaling about 50 translators. Some of these guys (they were all men) have fascinating back stories. Many of them are not of the moral character you would normally associate with a Bible translator.

Overall, an interesting book.

Book Info

Adam Nicolson

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