Eight-day Bible marathon begins in Norwich
The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, and 14 year old Martin Walton from Surrey Chapel Free Church, began an eight-day public reading of the King James Bible at the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library at noon today (April 10). Keith Morris reports.
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light and there was light…”
So the Bishop of Norwich began the 72-hour reading, part of Norwich’s contribution to the celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary of its publication in 1611, in front of an audience of around 30 people.
The week-long event has been initiated and organised by Dr Derek Haylock, an elder of Surrey Chapel, in conjunction with the Library and the churches of all denominations in Norwich. The readings will be undertaken by a total of 75 readers drawn from 21 churches across the city and county.
Derek said: “The King James Bible is recognised as being so significant in the history of our country. It has established a common language for all classes of people and is really the foundation of modern English even though it is seventeenth century English.
“It is not only a work of great literature but has had a great impact on the world. Melvyn Bragg called it ‘the book that changed the world’ in the recent TV series. It brought a sense of justice and democracy and was influential in promoting the abolition of slavery for example.
“It gave the common man and woman a voice because they could have God’s Word for themselves now - it was not just something you had to go to a priest to get - and it was what made us the country we are. There are a lot of Christians for whom it is a precious treasure. It is the way God reveals himself and his truth to the world,” said Derek.
“I think it is fantastic that we are able to hold the reading in such a public place as the Millennium Library and this translation of the Bible was specifically written to be read out loud.
“Psalm 119 says: ‘The entrance of thy words bring light’ and that is what we want to do by bringing God’s words into a public place, we hope it might shed a little bit of light and help bring God’s truth to the world.”
Martin Walton was chosen to open the reading, along with Bishop Graham, because he often reads the Bible out loud at his church, Surrey Chapel. Other readers will include Rosalind Wright, wife of Norwich MP Simon Wright and 12-year-old Murray Chapman, son of Surrey Chapel pastor Tom Chapman and the youngest reader.
The readings will continue throughout the week, and will end at around 4pm on Sunday April 17 with the Archdeacon of Norwich, the Ven Jan McFarlane, and Pastor Tom Chapman reading the final chapters of the Book of Revelation.
Picture above are Derek Haylock, Martin Walton and Bishop Graham at the start of the Bible marathon.