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'an entertaining read',
This review is from: The Book of Books: The Radical Impact of the King James Bible 1611-2011 (Hardcover)
In its 400th anniversary year, the King James Bible has enjoyed plenty of attention already. Others have given us the extraordinary story of how it was translated into English, analysed in depth the richness, origins and impact of its vocabulary, and even attempted to put the whole, 4,000-year history of the Good Book itself into context.
The King James Bible, argues Melvyn Bragg in his tribute, is a triumph of translation by committee, and he's not just talking about their turns of phrase. It has often been called the Book of Books both in itself and in what it stands for; and since its publication in 1611 it has been the best selling book in the world, and many believe has had the greatest impact on not only literature in general but in particular the Protestant faith.
Bragg asserts that its influence on social movements - particularly involving women in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries - and politics was profound. It was crucial to the growth of democracy and was integral to the abolition of slavery and it defined attitudes to modern science, education and sex.
For his thesis, Bragg's uses, as one example, Mary Wollstonecraft, who in the late 18th century scandalised polite society with her unconventional living arrangements and radical views, was fired not by the intellectual flames of the Enlightenment, with its belief in the supremacy of reason and rejection of the divine, but by her Christian faith. Moreover, as a lifelong churchgoer and the author of A Vindication of the Rights of Women, she found her inspiration, Bragg suggests, in the King James Bible.
The Book of Books is aimed at the general reader, be he Christian, non-Christian, of some other religion, or none at all. It contains a feast of information and persuasive argument in support of Bragg's claim that it is the most influential book to be published in the past 400 years. Highly recommended.