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4.4 out of 5 stars16
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on 15 December 2010
This is that rarest of things - a book that will appeal to scholars as well as interested ignoramuses such as myself. It is a compelling read, written so well that the story is never dry, as it might have been. This is clearly a work of love, by a man with a deep understanding of, and an infectious enthusiasm for, his subject. It seems to have been consciously pitched at US and UK readers, which is perfectly sensible, but Oxford's production, in my edition anyway, is another matter. The typesetting is not of the first water and the paper is rather starkly white. Furthermore, the book seems not to have been stitched, which I think is unwise in a hardback; the pages of my copy began dropping out as soon as I opened it. The reader deserves better than this and so does he author. So, five stars for the wonderful text but two stars for the production quality.
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on 13 September 2011
This is a stylish read for all who are interested in the development of the English language. Professor Campbell's account is written with a delightful balance of authority and dry (Scottish) wit, which is sustained from beginning to end. He focuses - and lightly speculates - on the motivations of the original translators, and on the political and religious trends which have provoked the revisions that have followed in the intervening four hundred years. But the two highlights for me are his obvious enthusiasm for the literary merit of the King James Version, and his admiration for the scholarship of the translators.

Scholars have clearly made great advances in the last four hundred years, and the Bible today is no doubt truer to the original manuscripts than ever before; but Professor Campbell makes a compelling case for the 1611 translation as the most complete work of theology and literature, created by a group of eminent scholars whose like we will not see again.

A warm and accessible book, full of insight. Heartily recommended!
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on 4 April 2011
This is not a book for the faint-hearted.It is scholarly, well illustrated and packed with historical facts. The author traces the various attempts to produce a version of the complete Bible - Old and New Testaments, which as one earlier translator put it could be understood by every ploughboy. He did not expect "every ploughboy" to be able to read it himself, but to be able to understand it on hearing it read. Gordon Campbell makes it clear that the aim of the compilers of the King James Bible was similar. Thus although to modern readers and hearers the language of the King James Bible may seem archaic and in places obscure that would not have been the impression made on those reading and hearing it when it was first published and for many generations thereafter. In this context it is worth remembering that for many years, and indeed well into the early years of the last century men and women of little, if any, formal education seem to have had no difficulty in understanding its language. Gordon Campbell does make the interesting point that by the date of the "new" Bible's publication in 1611 "thou" and "thee" had fallen out of use.
Gordon Cambell's book would make a valuable addition to the library of anyone interested in Church history and the evolution of the English language.
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on 23 June 2012
The four-hundredth anniversary of the publication of the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible is currently upon us. If you still read the Bible in the KJV and you are interested in how the translation and the editorial decisions were made, then this book provides a fascinating "backstory" to the production of the original 1611 text. The author, Gordon Campbell, is Professor of Renaissance Studies at Leicester University, and the man who wrote the Anniversary Essay at the back of the new Oxford 1611 Quatercentenary facsimile edition of the KJV.

The author takes us through previous translations, such as the Tyndale and Coverdale versions, before giving us the history of how the KLV was originally commissioned by the King and how the team of scholars organised their work. He than follows the fortunes of the KJV over the centuries up to the present, giving brief details of competing translations and other notable editions.

The territory that the author covers would normally be of interest to literary scholars and textual bibliographers, but the KJV is so widely known and the material so fascinating that this book could be read with profit and enjoyment by any number of people. The author makes a real effort to be engaging and to avoid bibliographic and textual minutiae, with the result that he has produced a very readable and easy-to-follow account. Highly recommended.
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on 24 December 2011
An entertaining but scholarly read on a weighty topic. It was refreshing not to find a closely-printed tome with hundreds of pages which one never finds time to read. Overall, the best souvenir of the anniversary for the common man/woman.
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on 2 December 2013
The quality of manufacture of this book is assured. It has thick paper inside with a large print, and the cloth-bound spine and black boards embossed with gold are a stark contrast to other books. Particularly cheap bibles. The author is an educated man with a clear knowledge of English Literature and languages.

The contents of this book seem to be very well researched (there is an authoritative bibliography for your own research) from what appears to be a plethora of sources hitherto-often hidden. The text is well written, and fluent, unlike many history books- and leads you slowly but surely into this huge subject. It is huge. I would like a diagram of the history somewhere. Just to keep a track.

The book would be of infinite size, if every correction and emendment was looked at with its historical context; but that said, there are some shocking and eye-openng revelations for the bible scholar. 1 John 5:7 KJV for example. Where the trinity is defined with poesy 'symbolically'. Your NRSV bible has been re-written from new Greek documents. Jesus, however actually puts these symbols into definition by contextual examples in St Matthew "heaven and earth shall pass away but the word shall never pass away". Look yourself. The interesting thing, is that some have allowed the word "the word", then taken it out? Sometimes newer translations can perhaps miss the point...
As I say, this cannot be an exhaustive study, but I feel that this book leads us in the right directions. And even explains, how the KJV compilers agonized over exactly such situations as these above- but themselves found "inspiration" and not the 'breathly inculcations' of poor literal Greek. Sorry, couldn't resist.

We know that Hebrew is a vowell-less almost glyphic cuniform text spoken and chanted by essence; and that Greek has difficulties with subject-object relations, such that there is a very important role and story to be gleened from looking at the story of bibles. You may have to read to understand. The Bible that is...
Strongly recommend.
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on 26 December 2012
AV Addicts will welcome this but may be in for a few surprises. The AV in common use, for example, is not the original which suffered badly from printers and translators' errors, and was slow to catch on; the version we have dates only from 1769. For 150 years it was in competition with earlier translations (Wyciffe, Tyndale, Coverdale, Bishops' Bible, Geneva Bible and the Roman Catholic Douai-Reims. The objective to improve the translations already existing by producing one `truer to the original' was not nearly as simple as it seemed and Campbell does not shy away from the problems, driving a coach and horses through any suggestion of verbal inspiration based on an English translation, as he acknowledges and explains valuable insights into the way translators go about their task, pointing out that the end product was not nearly as objective and `free from bias' or `interpretative apparatus' as is commonly supposed, with the politics of the theological, doctrinal and ecclesiological divisions of the day all part of the package. All his examples are interesting and enlightening but some readers may regret that he does not give us a fuller study of the AV rather than a rehash of subsequent translations, much of which is already available.
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on 29 June 2014
I own many Bibles as there are plenty with new translations and revisionist have altered and played with but never owned this one. The Artwork and reproduction of this world famous genius scribe and artwork, it is far better then I expected and I envy people who have owned it in the past as it makes me feel how I have missed something great. Nevertheless I own a copy now and it is a fine bit of work
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on 1 April 2016
This book puts the King James Version of the Bible into its historical context, helping one to understand what it owes to earlier English translations and how it has remained the foremost English version for 400 years. The scholarship underlying the book is immense but it is lightly worn and the author succeeds in making a very complex subject highly readable and digestible.
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on 28 June 2013
This is an informed and well written book that is easy to read. He covers ground not dealt with in previous accounts of the KJV bible. Of particular interest is his discussion of later "revisions" and "corrections".

Strongly recommended for the general and specialist reader.
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