Norfolk thoughts as King James Bible turns 400
2011: The King James Version of the Bible officially turns 400 years old this week, after months of celebrations across the world. Here are the thoughts of community leaders and academics from across Norfolk on “the book that changed the world”.
“For me, the Bible can never be a disposable book. It contains the good news of God’s loving purposes for all of humanity and all of creation. It is our Book of Life. The translators of the King James Version rendered its text into English of timeless power and dignity.”
Canon Peter Doll, Norwich Cathedral
“The King James Bible has shaped our language, thoughts, customs and laws more than most of us realise. One of the good things about this 400th celebration of its publication is that it reminds us that it’s not just a literary treasure but a spiritual one too.”
The Rt Revd Graham James, Bishop of Norwich
“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.”
Dr Derek Haylock, senior fellow at UEA and elder at Surrey Chapel, Norwich
"We can scarcely complete a thought or sentence without referring to it – ‘faith, hope and charity’ – ‘when I was a child I spake as a child’ – ‘eat, drink and be merry’ – ‘salt of the earth’ – these and a thousand other phrases speak to our hearts as no other single source apart from Shakespeare does."
Peter Wilson, Chief Executive, Norwich Theatre Royal
"I can only marvel when I think what an impact the King James Bible has made on this land. It didn’t immediately unify the kingdom in the way James had hoped, but it did give everyone the opportunity to hear the Bible in their everyday language. They could now start to think for themselves about what the Bible said, and that was undoubtedly of far greater consequence than James could ever have imagined. "
Paddy Anstey, elder at the Surrey Chapel, Norwich
"When today we sit in study, lecture theatre or pew to relish the mellifluous flow from the King James’ translation, we need to recognise that its still-engaging tones had both purpose and reason in the world from which it arose. The immediate purpose and reason have long passed, but the biblical language to which they gave birth survives. It continues to engage any who have the least sensitivity to the word upon the lips, the sentence upon the air."
Victor Morgan is Senior Lecturer in English and Regional History at UEA
“My reading and understanding of the teachings of the Bible has affected many of my major life decisions. My wife and I have always sought to live by the moral values of the Bible, that same Bible I was taught to read as a child.”
John Betts – New Hope Christian Centre, Norwich
“It seems to me that one of the clinching points in the King James’ favour is that even people who don’t believe in God acknowledge its achievement and demand that it should be taught in schools.”
DJ Taylor, Norwich-based author, academic and media commentator
Extracts from EDP24
Pictured above are Derek Haylock, Martin Walton and Bishop Graham at the start of the King James Bible marathon in the Forum, Norwich.