On this day in 1611, the “Authorized Version” of the English Bible — more commonly known as the “King James Version” — was first published. The “KJV” was not the first Bible in English, but it has been the most influential, so we’ll take a brief look at its importance here on Wonderful Words Wednesday.
Because it was given royal approval and was distributed to every church in England, the King James Bible has had a tremendous impact on the development of the English language for more than 400 years. “East of Eden, “know for a certainty,” “how are the mighty fallen,” “to every thing there is a season,” “much study is a weariness of the flesh” (a line for every student to learn), “beat their swords into plowshares,” “get thee behind me,” “turned the world upside down,” “let us now praise famous men” — these are just a few of the familiar phrases that originated from the King James Bible.
In 2011, for the 400th anniversary of the KJV, the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington and the Bodleian Library at Oxford University put together a major traveling exhibition called “Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible.” The materials and recordings from that exhibition have all been archived on the Folger Library’s website, and while they are a bit clunky to use, they are packed full of information and definitely deserving of study:
This fine three-minute video is a good introduction:
Be sure to bookmark that exhibition for future use — it would be easy to generate a hundred homeschool projects on history, language, literature, and religion from the materials it contains.
What wonderful words have you found and what literary discoveries have you made in your homeschool lately? 😊
❡ Explore more: For a quick homeschool overview of the Protestant Reformation, which depended for its success upon translations of the Bible into the vernacular languages of Europe, see pages 256–257 in your River Houses history encyclopedia (riverhouses.org/books).