The positives first. I listened to all 3 of the docs about the production of the KJ translation and the motivations behind it when broadcast in January: marvelous radio with superb guidance from James Naughtie's commentary. But it is the readings which really merit this purchase: they are absolutely wonderful - understated and untheatrical, allowing the splendour of the language and the pared down simplicity of many of the narratives to speak for themselves. I was struck by the brevity of some sections, for example the story of Joseph in the OT, but they have lingered in my mind since childhood, because of the perfect fusion of meaning and language (I write as an agnostic). The readers are superb, with Emma Fielding standing out for me as being particularly effective: there is something absolutely spellbinding in her quiet enunciation of the hypnotically repetitive inevitability of 'And it came to pass ...' in the account of the birth of Jesus.
The introductions are of variable effectiveness, focusing on a range of aspects of the texts: literary effects, historical context, personal reflection, scriptural significance rather than offering a specific religious commentary. But all are interesting.
My one serious complaint is that there is no indexing of the cds. We are told that there are 28 readings (15 from the Old and 13 from the New Testaments though it is only prior knowledge which enables me to write that with confidence) and 3 documentaries (The Commission, The Translation and The Legacy): but which discs each is on is only revealed by listening and keeping a written record for future reference. If one wishes to listen again to one of the readings or its intro, the packaging gives no help in guiding the listener to a particular disc: similarly if one wished to locate the readings in a physical copy of the Bible. Quite inexcusable and an extraordinarily foolish oversight from the publisher of BBC sound recordings. (I contacted Audiogo in the hope of being sent a track listing, but the point seemed not to have been grasped at all and I received another copy of the liner!) But don't let this put you off buying this excellent compilation.
PS the later review by 'Listener' helpfully lists all the tracks. Very helpful!
The readings are vivid and gripping, with a superb range of voices, and the introductions are varied and interesting. The three programmes presented by James Naughtie on the history of the King James Bible are full of interest. The set is good value for money and would rate five stars if it were not let down by packaging; the 9 discs come in a heap on a central column, which makes it tricky to get at any particular one - and it is absurd that there is no menu giving the content of each disc. For those who are interested here it is: Disc 1 1 Introduction by Simon Schama 2 Creation, Adam & Eve, Cain & Able (Samuel West) 3 Introduction by Simon Schama 4 Noah & the Ark (Emilia Fox) 5 Introduction by Simon Schama 6 Sodom & Gamorrah (Dan Stevens) 7 Introduction by David Lodge Abraham & Isaac, Jacob & Esau (Hugh Bonneville) 8 Introduction by David Lodge 9 Joseph (Emma Fielding) Disc 2 1 Introduction by Kamila Shamsie 2 Moses in the Bullrushes (Toby Stephens) 3 Introduction by Kamila Shamsie 4 Escape from Egypt (Henry Goodman) 5 Introduction by Kamila Shamsie 6 Samson & Delilah (Niamh Cusack) 7 Introduction by Kamila Shamsie 8 Ruth (Olivia Williams) 9 Introduction by Howard Brenton 10 David & Bathsheba Rory Kinnear) Disc 3 1 Introduction by Howard Brenton 2 Solomon (Miriam Margolyes) 3 Introduction by Howard Brenton 4 Job (Hugh Quarshie) 5 Introduction by Howard Brenton 6 Ecclesiastes (Bill Paterson) 7 Introduction by Rt Rev Dr Rowan Williams 8 Song of Solomon (Adjoa Andoh & Rory Kinnear) 9 Introduction by Rt Rev Dr Rowan Williams 10 Daniel (Miriam Margolyes) Disc 4 1 Introduction by Rt Rev Dr Rowan Williams 2 Birth of Jesus (Emma Fielding) 3 Introduction by Rt Rev Dr Rowan Williams 4 Baptism of Jesus; St John ch1 (Samuel West) 5 Introduction by Joanne Harris 6 Temptation of Christ (Toby Stephens) 7 Introduction by Joanne Harris 8 Miracles & Parables (Emilia Fox) 9 Introduction by Joanne Harris 10 Death of John the Baptist (Niamh Cusack) Disc 5 1 Introduction by Will Self 2 Entry into Jerusalem (Dan Stevens) 3 Introduction by Will Self 4 The Last Supper (Adjoa Andoh) 5 Introduction by Will Self 6 The Crucifxion (Rory Kinnear) 7 Introduction by Will Self 8 Road To Emmaus (Olivia Williams) Disc 6 1 Introduction by Frank Cottrell Boyce 2 Pentecost (Henry Goodman) 3 Introduction by Frank Cottrell Boyce 4 Conversion of Saul (Bill Paterson) 5 Introduction by Frank Cottrell Boyce 6 First Letter to the Corinthians (Hugh Quarshie) 7 Introduction by Frank Cottrell Boyce 8 Revelation (Hugh Bonneville) Disc 7 The Story of the King James Bible - The Commission Presented by James Naughtie Disc 8 The Story of the King James Bible - The Translation Presented by James Naughtie Disc 9 The Story of the King James Bible - The Legacy Presented by James Naughtie
This is a huge nine cd set; half of which is readings and the other half discussion. I bought it for Mum, who absolutely loved the readings, and found the discussion interesting. She says she will definitely re-listen to all of it, though particularly the readings.
Excellent, I heard the original broadcast on radio 4 before Christmas ...... it was superb. I enjoyed it so much that I wanted a copy that I could play whenever I chose. The readers have very good diction too.
I ordered this BBC documentary for my Master's dissertation on C17 English literature. As an auditory learner, these CDs provide me with a useful overview of the Authorised Version: its origins and development, and its relation to contemporary pop culture (the pervasiveness of the AV in the film and music industries, &c). The explications--such as that of Dr. Rowan Williams--are lucid and provocative. The readings of select passages are equally compelling, and I am eager to re-read some (the beautiful Song of Solomon) myself, once I've finished. Highly recommended for anyone looking for an accessible, yet informed, introduction to the AV.