The Bible: Authorized King James Version (Oxford World's Classics)
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ISBN/ASIN : 0192835254
Manufacturer : Oxford Paperbacks|
Release data : 18 June, 1998
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A Little Objectivity Please!
What is the point of reviewing The King James Bible according whether you consider it to be true or not?! Anyone thinking of reading the Bible, in whatever translation, are doing so for their own reasons: whether because they believe it to be the Word of God; or because it is great literature and one of the cornerstones of our Western / English speaking society.
Translations do make a big difference, however. Having done a degree in Theology and studied the Bible in its original languages, I am still amazed to find how much difference the choice of one word over another can make. The influences of the people who translated the particluar version of the Bible have a big influence on the meaning that is put across.
The King James Bible was written in England as a result of the Reformation. It was the first translation of the Bible into English (before that the Latin version had been used by the clergy). The language is undeniably beautiful, very rich and powerful. Recitation of selected texts is a particularly beneficial exercise.
If it is comprehension you are looking for, however, a modern translation may be more helpful. The New Internationalist Version is very good, but sacrifices some of the beauty for the sake of clarity (as do all modern translations)
The whole story kicks off in the Garden of Eden when man (and wo-man) are expelled by God for having eaten something they were told not to, thus setting in motion a rather fantastical plot. The story develops when people start multiplying and at first the tale reads like the phone book, but later develops into a story about the liberation of slaves from Egypt and goes on, from chapter to chapter, in amazing form, discussing everything from the wisdom of kings, to fidelity and the problem of suffering. The earlier of the two books comprising this volume cleverly underlines the development of God's character from it's infancy and savagery to the point where, after some pause for thought in the story's chronology, God realises the error of his ways and repents for being such a cruel creator. In order to reconcile himself with his alienated people he must amend for his barbarism. This he does by taking on human form in the body of his only son, whose radical pacifism antagonise the authorities to the point where he is put to death cruelly, suffering both as God and man and thus carrying the weight of all sin upon his shoulders. Thereafter, through the divine connection, the dead son rises, overcoming death and leaving behind a legacy for those who wish to follow in his footsteps and be in God's good books come the end of time. The last chapter describes the apocalypse and is somewhat confusing. Overall though, the story is cleverly woven, focusing on the details of individual characters in ancient times whilst maintaining a grander notion of the development of the relationship between "God the husband" and "Isreal the bride" (which the Son eventually ammends to "Everyone else the bride"), whilst implying that with God's growing wisdom his strength and aggression wane.
As a measure of the impact of this book culturally it is worth noting that it has been the pillar of Christianity (an astoundingly popular religious movement) for quite a few hundred years, and thus is an accomplishment in culture far exceeding that of any other work to date. Sadly, it was omitted from the recent compilation of 100 best books of all time (as seen on the BBC), but nonetheless should consider its reputation unshaken. Well worth the money.
A must read
Perhaps the most quoted book in English (with Shakespeare), it's a must read for the student of literature (at lest the Book of Genesis and the New Testament). This edition includes notes and maps.