King James Bible

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01Readings20110109

The King James Bible is one of the great works of English literature. For centuries it has had an extraordinary influence on the English language and culture. To mark its 400th anniversary, Radio 4 is broadcasting readings throughout the day from the King James Bible and essays to celebrate its language, imagery, poetry and storytelling.

This first collection of readings from the Book of Genesis is introduced by the historian Simon Schama.

0815 Samuel West....Creation

0830 Emilia Fox....Noah and the Ark

0845 Dan Stevens....Sodom and Gomorrah

Abridgers: Amanda Hancox and Richard Hamilton

Producers: Mark O'Brien and Elizabeth Allard

Editor: Christine Morgan.

Simon Schama introduces readings from the King James Bible beginning with Samuel West.

01The Story Of The King James Bible, The Commission
01The Story Of The King James Bible, The Commission20110103

James Naughtie tells the story of how King James commissioned a new Bible translation.

The King James, or Authorised, Version of the Bible remains the most widely published text in the English language. It has been called the "noblest monument of English prose" and has been recognised for centuries as both a religious and literary classic.

In the first of three programmes marking the 400th anniversary of its publication, James Naughtie tells the story of how and why King James IV of Scotland and I of England decided on a new translation of the Bible.

The programme is recorded at Hampton Court Palace. A conference here in early 1604 led to the commissioning of the King James Version. The Chief Curator at the palace, Lucy Worsley and James Naughtie walk the palace grounds, scene of so much Tudor and Stuart frivolity, and a refuge from the plague. Before the earnestness of the January conference there had been masques and feasting and Shakespearean drama. England was still revelling in its new monarch after the stultifying later years of Elizabeth's reign and breathing a sigh of relief that the accession had been a smooth one.

The Chapel Royal provides a fitting setting for James to discuss the position of the monarchy in Jacobean England with Professor Pauline Croft. The King sat in the Royal Pew, high above his bishops and clergy. James I's had written about his ideas of divine kingship in "Basilikon Doron," addressed to his young son.

In The Great Watching Chamber we hear about the religious background to James' reign. Elizabeth's death had lifted the lid on the tensions between the godly (Puritans) and the conformists (Anglican bishops). The godly had presented a petition to James on his journey from Scotland to London demanding the end to religious practices they found beyond the pale; wearing vestments, making the sign of the cross, the exchange of wedding rings, the power of the bishops. It was to address these concerns that James had called the conference.

We follow in the footsteps of the conference delegates through the palace and into the Kings state apartments. James Naughtie learns about the key characters at the conference - the pugnacious puritan-basher Bishop of London, Richard Bancroft, the great preacher and conformist Lancelot Andrewes and the leader of the Puritan delegation, John Rainolds. The Puritans had a delicate line to pursue, criticising the establishment and the episcopacy without undermining royal supremacy. But James was having none of it - "No Bishops, no King!" It was an ill tempered conference, with James harrying the protagonists on both sides. He was a brilliant theologian himself, and in him some of the most learned men in the country met their match.

The suggestion for a new translation of the Bible was made by John Rainolds. He was hoping to undermine the authorised Bishops Bible and elevate the Geneva version favoured by Puritans. James acceded to the request because he agreed that all the various translations on offer had their faults. A victory for Rainolds? Not so. James singled out the Geneva Bible, with its controversial marginal notes, as the worst of them all.

After the conference, Bancroft drew up the rules for translation, had them approved by the king, and brought together six companies of translators based in Oxford, Cambridge and Westminster.

Work began at once. Barely a year later the Gunpowder Plot traumatised England. It turned out to be one of James' finest moments as a statesman, and it gave impetus to his vision of a new translation of the Bible that could unite the country's church and people.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

01The Story Of The King James Bible, The Commission20110103

James Naughtie tells the story of how King James commissioned a new Bible translation.

The King James, or Authorised, Version of the Bible remains the most widely published text in the English language.

It has been called the "noblest monument of English prose" and has been recognised for centuries as both a religious and literary classic.

In the first of three programmes marking the 400th anniversary of its publication, James Naughtie tells the story of how and why King James IV of Scotland and I of England decided on a new translation of the Bible.

The programme is recorded at Hampton Court Palace.

A conference here in early 1604 led to the commissioning of the King James Version.

The Chief Curator at the palace, Lucy Worsley and James Naughtie walk the palace grounds, scene of so much Tudor and Stuart frivolity, and a refuge from the plague.

Before the earnestness of the January conference there had been masques and feasting and Shakespearean drama.

England was still revelling in its new monarch after the stultifying later years of Elizabeth's reign and breathing a sigh of relief that the accession had been a smooth one.

The Chapel Royal provides a fitting setting for James to discuss the position of the monarchy in Jacobean England with Professor Pauline Croft.

The King sat in the Royal Pew, high above his bishops and clergy.

James I's had written about his ideas of divine kingship in "Basilikon Doron," addressed to his young son.

In The Great Watching Chamber we hear about the religious background to James' reign.

Elizabeth's death had lifted the lid on the tensions between the godly (Puritans) and the conformists (Anglican bishops).

The godly had presented a petition to James on his journey from Scotland to London demanding the end to religious practices they found beyond the pale; wearing vestments, making the sign of the cross, the exchange of wedding rings, the power of the bishops.

It was to address these concerns that James had called the conference.

We follow in the footsteps of the conference delegates through the palace and into the Kings state apartments.

James Naughtie learns about the key characters at the conference - the pugnacious puritan-basher Bishop of London, Richard Bancroft, the great preacher and conformist Lancelot Andrewes and the leader of the Puritan delegation, John Rainolds.

The Puritans had a delicate line to pursue, criticising the establishment and the episcopacy without undermining royal supremacy.

But James was having none of it - "No Bishops, no King!" It was an ill tempered conference, with James harrying the protagonists on both sides.

He was a brilliant theologian himself, and in him some of the most learned men in the country met their match.

The suggestion for a new translation of the Bible was made by John Rainolds.

He was hoping to undermine the authorised Bishops Bible and elevate the Geneva version favoured by Puritans.

James acceded to the request because he agreed that all the various translations on offer had their faults.

A victory for Rainolds? Not so.

James singled out the Geneva Bible, with its controversial marginal notes, as the worst of them all.

After the conference, Bancroft drew up the rules for translation, had them approved by the king, and brought together six companies of translators based in Oxford, Cambridge and Westminster.

Work began at once.

Barely a year later the Gunpowder Plot traumatised England.

It turned out to be one of James' finest moments as a statesman, and it gave impetus to his vision of a new translation of the Bible that could unite the country's church and people.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

01The Story Of The King James Bible, The Commission20110103

James Naughtie tells the story of how King James commissioned a new Bible translation.

The King James, or Authorised, Version of the Bible remains the most widely published text in the English language.

It has been called the "noblest monument of English prose" and has been recognised for centuries as both a religious and literary classic.

In the first of three programmes marking the 400th anniversary of its publication, James Naughtie tells the story of how and why King James IV of Scotland and I of England decided on a new translation of the Bible.

The programme is recorded at Hampton Court Palace.

A conference here in early 1604 led to the commissioning of the King James Version.

The Chief Curator at the palace, Lucy Worsley and James Naughtie walk the palace grounds, scene of so much Tudor and Stuart frivolity, and a refuge from the plague.

Before the earnestness of the January conference there had been masques and feasting and Shakespearean drama.

England was still revelling in its new monarch after the stultifying later years of Elizabeth's reign and breathing a sigh of relief that the accession had been a smooth one.

The Chapel Royal provides a fitting setting for James to discuss the position of the monarchy in Jacobean England with Professor Pauline Croft.

The King sat in the Royal Pew, high above his bishops and clergy.

James I's had written about his ideas of divine kingship in "Basilikon Doron," addressed to his young son.

In The Great Watching Chamber we hear about the religious background to James' reign.

Elizabeth's death had lifted the lid on the tensions between the godly (Puritans) and the conformists (Anglican bishops).

The godly had presented a petition to James on his journey from Scotland to London demanding the end to religious practices they found beyond the pale; wearing vestments, making the sign of the cross, the exchange of wedding rings, the power of the bishops.

It was to address these concerns that James had called the conference.

We follow in the footsteps of the conference delegates through the palace and into the Kings state apartments.

James Naughtie learns about the key characters at the conference - the pugnacious puritan-basher Bishop of London, Richard Bancroft, the great preacher and conformist Lancelot Andrewes and the leader of the Puritan delegation, John Rainolds.

The Puritans had a delicate line to pursue, criticising the establishment and the episcopacy without undermining royal supremacy.

But James was having none of it - "No Bishops, no King!" It was an ill tempered conference, with James harrying the protagonists on both sides.

He was a brilliant theologian himself, and in him some of the most learned men in the country met their match.

The suggestion for a new translation of the Bible was made by John Rainolds.

He was hoping to undermine the authorised Bishops Bible and elevate the Geneva version favoured by Puritans.

James acceded to the request because he agreed that all the various translations on offer had their faults.

A victory for Rainolds? Not so.

James singled out the Geneva Bible, with its controversial marginal notes, as the worst of them all.

After the conference, Bancroft drew up the rules for translation, had them approved by the king, and brought together six companies of translators based in Oxford, Cambridge and Westminster.

Work began at once.

Barely a year later the Gunpowder Plot traumatised England.

It turned out to be one of James' finest moments as a statesman, and it gave impetus to his vision of a new translation of the Bible that could unite the country's church and people.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

02Readings20110109

The author, David Lodge, introduces readings of sacrifice and betrayal from the Book of Genesis.

1330 Hugh Bonneville....Abraham and his son Isaac

1345 Emma Fielding....Joseph and his multi-coloured coat.

Abridger: Amanda Hancox

Producers: Elizabeth Allard, Lucy Collingwood and Mark O'Brien

Editor: Christine Morgan.

Hugh Bonneville and Emma Fielding read from the King James Bible introduced by David Lodge

02The Story Of The King James Bible, The Translation
02The Story Of The King James Bible, The Translation20110104

James Naughtie on how a committee of Bible translators produced a "national epic.".

In the second of two programmes marking the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible, James Naughtie tells the story of how six companies of men produced a new translation of Bible which has come to be regarded as one of the greatest works of English literature ever produced.

The programme opens in the main quadrangle of the Bodleian library. A statue of King James stands high over the courtyard, books in hand. The King loved the Bodleian. In a visit there in 1605 he said that he would love to spend his life chained alongside the library's chained books.

The translators in London, Cambridge and Oxford drew on several earlier translations of the Bible as they went about their work. In the chapel at Hertford college, Oxford, Jim sees a stained glass window of William Tyndale, the first man to translate the Bible into English directly from Hebrew and Greek. The translators drew heavily on his work. Many of the phrases that come to mind when we think of the King James Bible are in fact those of Tyndale. The translators had several other Bible translations at their disposal too. Each had their own agenda; the Great Bible with its frontispiece depicting the idea of Royal Supremacy; the Puritans' Geneva Bible which challenged that very idea.

One of the Oxford companies of translators worked in the Tower room at Corpus Christi college. It looks much as it did in the 17th century with the crests of the Oxford colleges embossed around the ceiling and wooden panelling. This was the room of John Rainolds, the college president and one of the "godly." It was Rainolds who as head of the Puritan faction had initiated the new translation at the Hampton court conference. The company met there because Rainolds suffered from gout. He died in 1607 - but most of his company's work was already complete.

James is shown two extraordinary documents which reveal how the translators worked. One, a 1602 copy of the Bishops Bible, contains annotations made by the scholars suggesting alternative translations. The other is a copy of notes made by one which reveals the mind of the revision committee which met to review the translations of all the companies.

James Naughtie goes to Stationers Hall in London where that revision committee met. It's here that the King James Bible would have been read out loud for the first time. As James hears the opening words from Genesis, he reflects on the achievement of the translators in giving a version of the Bible which has come to be our "national epic.".

02The Story Of The King James Bible, The Translation20110104

James Naughtie on how a committee of Bible translators produced a "national epic.".

In the second of two programmes marking the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible, James Naughtie tells the story of how six companies of men produced a new translation of Bible which has come to be regarded as one of the greatest works of English literature ever produced.

The programme opens in the main quadrangle of the Bodleian library.

A statue of King James stands high over the courtyard, books in hand.

The King loved the Bodleian.

In a visit there in 1605 he said that he would love to spend his life chained alongside the library's chained books.

The translators in London, Cambridge and Oxford drew on several earlier translations of the Bible as they went about their work.

In the chapel at Hertford college, Oxford, Jim sees a stained glass window of William Tyndale, the first man to translate the Bible into English directly from Hebrew and Greek.

The translators drew heavily on his work.

Many of the phrases that come to mind when we think of the King James Bible are in fact those of Tyndale.

The translators had several other Bible translations at their disposal too.

Each had their own agenda; the Great Bible with its frontispiece depicting the idea of Royal Supremacy; the Puritans' Geneva Bible which challenged that very idea.

One of the Oxford companies of translators worked in the Tower room at Corpus Christi college.

It looks much as it did in the 17th century with the crests of the Oxford colleges embossed around the ceiling and wooden panelling.

This was the room of John Rainolds, the college president and one of the "godly." It was Rainolds who as head of the Puritan faction had initiated the new translation at the Hampton court conference.

The company met there because Rainolds suffered from gout.

He died in 1607 - but most of his company's work was already complete.

James is shown two extraordinary documents which reveal how the translators worked.

One, a 1602 copy of the Bishops Bible, contains annotations made by the scholars suggesting alternative translations.

The other is a copy of notes made by one which reveals the mind of the revision committee which met to review the translations of all the companies.

James Naughtie goes to Stationers Hall in London where that revision committee met.

It's here that the King James Bible would have been read out loud for the first time.

As James hears the opening words from Genesis, he reflects on the achievement of the translators in giving a version of the Bible which has come to be our "national epic.".

02The Story Of The King James Bible, The Translation20110104

James Naughtie on how a committee of Bible translators produced a "national epic.".

In the second of two programmes marking the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible, James Naughtie tells the story of how six companies of men produced a new translation of Bible which has come to be regarded as one of the greatest works of English literature ever produced.

The programme opens in the main quadrangle of the Bodleian library.

A statue of King James stands high over the courtyard, books in hand.

The King loved the Bodleian.

In a visit there in 1605 he said that he would love to spend his life chained alongside the library's chained books.

The translators in London, Cambridge and Oxford drew on several earlier translations of the Bible as they went about their work.

In the chapel at Hertford college, Oxford, Jim sees a stained glass window of William Tyndale, the first man to translate the Bible into English directly from Hebrew and Greek.

The translators drew heavily on his work.

Many of the phrases that come to mind when we think of the King James Bible are in fact those of Tyndale.

The translators had several other Bible translations at their disposal too.

Each had their own agenda; the Great Bible with its frontispiece depicting the idea of Royal Supremacy; the Puritans' Geneva Bible which challenged that very idea.

One of the Oxford companies of translators worked in the Tower room at Corpus Christi college.

It looks much as it did in the 17th century with the crests of the Oxford colleges embossed around the ceiling and wooden panelling.

This was the room of John Rainolds, the college president and one of the "godly." It was Rainolds who as head of the Puritan faction had initiated the new translation at the Hampton court conference.

The company met there because Rainolds suffered from gout.

He died in 1607 - but most of his company's work was already complete.

James is shown two extraordinary documents which reveal how the translators worked.

One, a 1602 copy of the Bishops Bible, contains annotations made by the scholars suggesting alternative translations.

The other is a copy of notes made by one which reveals the mind of the revision committee which met to review the translations of all the companies.

James Naughtie goes to Stationers Hall in London where that revision committee met.

It's here that the King James Bible would have been read out loud for the first time.

As James hears the opening words from Genesis, he reflects on the achievement of the translators in giving a version of the Bible which has come to be our "national epic.".

03Readings20110109

The author Kamila Shamsie introduces a selection of stories about some of the most well known figures from the Old Testament.

1602 Toby Stephens....Moses in the Bullrushes

1615 Henry Goodman....the escape of Moses and the Israelites from captivity.

1630 Niamh Cusack....Samson and Delilah

1645 Olivia Williams....the story of Ruth.

Abridgers: Viv Beeby and Richard Hamilton

Producers: Lucy Collingwood, Elizabeth Allard and Mark O'Brien

Editor: Christine Morgan.

Stories are read by Niamh Cusack, Henry Goodman, Toby Stephens and Olivia Williams.

03 LASTThe Story Of The King James Bible, The Legacy
03 LASTThe Story Of The King James Bible, The Legacy20110105

James Naughtie on the enduring place of the King James Bible in British culture.

The King James Bible is everywhere. We see it in hair commercials, film titles, novels, music, even in the way we speak. It is lauded with praise as "The great monument to English Prose." But how and why has it achieved such a status? What is its significance in the English speaking world? In the final programme to mark the 400th anniversary of its publication, James Naughtie assesses the legacy of the King James Bible.

He begins in the pub. James meets linguist and Renaissance scholar Gordon Campbell, the Jamaican poet Kei Miller and Rachel Holmes from the Southbank centre to discuss the surprising and unusual places we hear of the King James today. "Salt of the earth", "skin of their teeth", "Apple of his eye" are all phrases that

have come into the English language through the King James Bible, but do any of the drinkers in the pub know this?

The King James Bible became part of our everyday speech because of the role that Christian belief and practise has played in our national story. Jim will meet Giles Fraser at St. Paul's Cathedral to discuss the central place of the Bible and Christianity within British culture. For 300 years the King James Bible reigned supreme. Nearly everyone went to church and the King James Bible was the only translation to be used. Preachers would draw crowds of over a thousand and the words of the King James gradually worked their way into the blood stream of all those in the country.

Today most people don't attend church, but they will come across the King James in one of the most famous pieces of music the world has ever known, Handel's Messiah.

Handel and Charles Jennens, who composed the libretto for Messiah, were accused of blasphemy for staging a sacred work in the immoral world of the theatre. They had moved the Bible away from its original place and purpose and reinvented it for a changing audience. But today Handel keeps the King James Bible in our hearts and minds like no other artist. His oratorios are the conduits through which the Bible comes to us.

The KJB was the book of the Empire. Where the empire spread, the Bible spread and that Bible was the KJB. Back in the OBE chapel at St. Pauls, James discusses the spread of the King James Bible through the Empire.

It was used both to defend and challenge the slave trade. When slaves learnt to read, they read the Bible in a whole new way. They read the story of the Exodus and the Sermon on the Mount and changed the way the world thought. The KJB would be used in the abolition addresses of Abraham Lincoln, in the famous speeches of the civil rights movement and in the writings of African-American authors. The tool of oppression became the tool of liberation.

In the late 19th Century the demand for a more accurate and a more accessible translation of the Bible became apparent. This led to the publication of The Revised Version in 1881. Keeping very much in the tradition of the King James Bible, it posed no immediate threat but it did open the flood gates for numerous translations which appeared throughout the 20th Century. Today in churches it is the RSV, NIV and Good News that reign supreme; the King James is like the best china which is only brought out for special occasions.

The KJB has become one among many, serving a consumerist society. What is important to Christians now is not the elegance of the language but the ability to understand. People want a Bible which is suitable for them.

So where is the support for the King James Bible today? Rather surprisingly its keenest proponents today are secularists. They praise it for the beauty of language, extol its place within our culture and vehemently campaign for it to be taught in schools and universities but as a work of literature rather than a work of God.

Knowledge of the King James Bible may be waning, but its place in our culture is secure. It can still be used for religious devotion but its impact is far wider reaching. It has a great power to challenge and subvert but also to amuse and entertain. It constantly reinvents itself for new audiences and situations. The KJB is very much alive today and pops up in the most surprising of places.

03 LASTThe Story Of The King James Bible, The Legacy20110105

James Naughtie on the enduring place of the King James Bible in British culture.

The King James Bible is everywhere.

We see it in hair commercials, film titles, novels, music, even in the way we speak.

It is lauded with praise as "The great monument to English Prose." But how and why has it achieved such a status? What is its significance in the English speaking world? In the final programme to mark the 400th anniversary of its publication, James Naughtie assesses the legacy of the King James Bible.

He begins in the pub.

James meets linguist and Renaissance scholar Gordon Campbell, the Jamaican poet Kei Miller and Rachel Holmes from the Southbank centre to discuss the surprising and unusual places we hear of the King James today.

"Salt of the earth", "skin of their teeth", "Apple of his eye" are all phrases that

have come into the English language through the King James Bible, but do any of the drinkers in the pub know this?

The King James Bible became part of our everyday speech because of the role that Christian belief and practise has played in our national story.

Jim will meet Giles Fraser at St.

Paul's Cathedral to discuss the central place of the Bible and Christianity within British culture.

For 300 years the King James Bible reigned supreme.

Nearly everyone went to church and the King James Bible was the only translation to be used.

Preachers would draw crowds of over a thousand and the words of the King James gradually worked their way into the blood stream of all those in the country.

Today most people don't attend church, but they will come across the King James in one of the most famous pieces of music the world has ever known, Handel's Messiah.

Handel and Charles Jennens, who composed the libretto for Messiah, were accused of blasphemy for staging a sacred work in the immoral world of the theatre.

They had moved the Bible away from its original place and purpose and reinvented it for a changing audience.

But today Handel keeps the King James Bible in our hearts and minds like no other artist.

His oratorios are the conduits through which the Bible comes to us.

The KJB was the book of the Empire.

Where the empire spread, the Bible spread and that Bible was the KJB.

Back in the OBE chapel at St.

Pauls, James discusses the spread of the King James Bible through the Empire.

It was used both to defend and challenge the slave trade.

When slaves learnt to read, they read the Bible in a whole new way.

They read the story of the Exodus and the Sermon on the Mount and changed the way the world thought.

The KJB would be used in the abolition addresses of Abraham Lincoln, in the famous speeches of the civil rights movement and in the writings of African-American authors.

The tool of oppression became the tool of liberation.

In the late 19th Century the demand for a more accurate and a more accessible translation of the Bible became apparent.

This led to the publication of The Revised Version in 1881.

Keeping very much in the tradition of the King James Bible, it posed no immediate threat but it did open the flood gates for numerous translations which appeared throughout the 20th Century.

Today in churches it is the RSV, NIV and Good News that reign supreme; the King James is like the best china which is only brought out for special occasions.

The KJB has become one among many, serving a consumerist society.

What is important to Christians now is not the elegance of the language but the ability to understand.

People want a Bible which is suitable for them.

So where is the support for the King James Bible today? Rather surprisingly its keenest proponents today are secularists.

They praise it for the beauty of language, extol its place within our culture and vehemently campaign for it to be taught in schools and universities but as a work of literature rather than a work of God.

Knowledge of the King James Bible may be waning, but its place in our culture is secure.

It can still be used for religious devotion but its impact is far wider reaching.

It has a great power to challenge and subvert but also to amuse and entertain.

It constantly reinvents itself for new audiences and situations.

The KJB is very much alive today and pops up in the most surprising of places.

03 LASTThe Story Of The King James Bible, The Legacy20110105

James Naughtie on the enduring place of the King James Bible in British culture.

The King James Bible is everywhere.

We see it in hair commercials, film titles, novels, music, even in the way we speak.

It is lauded with praise as "The great monument to English Prose." But how and why has it achieved such a status? What is its significance in the English speaking world? In the final programme to mark the 400th anniversary of its publication, James Naughtie assesses the legacy of the King James Bible.

He begins in the pub.

James meets linguist and Renaissance scholar Gordon Campbell, the Jamaican poet Kei Miller and Rachel Holmes from the Southbank centre to discuss the surprising and unusual places we hear of the King James today.

"Salt of the earth", "skin of their teeth", "Apple of his eye" are all phrases that

have come into the English language through the King James Bible, but do any of the drinkers in the pub know this?

The King James Bible became part of our everyday speech because of the role that Christian belief and practise has played in our national story.

Jim will meet Giles Fraser at St.

Paul's Cathedral to discuss the central place of the Bible and Christianity within British culture.

For 300 years the King James Bible reigned supreme.

Nearly everyone went to church and the King James Bible was the only translation to be used.

Preachers would draw crowds of over a thousand and the words of the King James gradually worked their way into the blood stream of all those in the country.

Today most people don't attend church, but they will come across the King James in one of the most famous pieces of music the world has ever known, Handel's Messiah.

Handel and Charles Jennens, who composed the libretto for Messiah, were accused of blasphemy for staging a sacred work in the immoral world of the theatre.

They had moved the Bible away from its original place and purpose and reinvented it for a changing audience.

But today Handel keeps the King James Bible in our hearts and minds like no other artist.

His oratorios are the conduits through which the Bible comes to us.

The KJB was the book of the Empire.

Where the empire spread, the Bible spread and that Bible was the KJB.

Back in the OBE chapel at St.

Pauls, James discusses the spread of the King James Bible through the Empire.

It was used both to defend and challenge the slave trade.

When slaves learnt to read, they read the Bible in a whole new way.

They read the story of the Exodus and the Sermon on the Mount and changed the way the world thought.

The KJB would be used in the abolition addresses of Abraham Lincoln, in the famous speeches of the civil rights movement and in the writings of African-American authors.

The tool of oppression became the tool of liberation.

In the late 19th Century the demand for a more accurate and a more accessible translation of the Bible became apparent.

This led to the publication of The Revised Version in 1881.

Keeping very much in the tradition of the King James Bible, it posed no immediate threat but it did open the flood gates for numerous translations which appeared throughout the 20th Century.

Today in churches it is the RSV, NIV and Good News that reign supreme; the King James is like the best china which is only brought out for special occasions.

The KJB has become one among many, serving a consumerist society.

What is important to Christians now is not the elegance of the language but the ability to understand.

People want a Bible which is suitable for them.

So where is the support for the King James Bible today? Rather surprisingly its keenest proponents today are secularists.

They praise it for the beauty of language, extol its place within our culture and vehemently campaign for it to be taught in schools and universities but as a work of literature rather than a work of God.

Knowledge of the King James Bible may be waning, but its place in our culture is secure.

It can still be used for religious devotion but its impact is far wider reaching.

It has a great power to challenge and subvert but also to amuse and entertain.

It constantly reinvents itself for new audiences and situations.

The KJB is very much alive today and pops up in the most surprising of places.

04Readings20110109

Stories from the King James Bible about power, lust, adultery and suffering are introduced by the playright Howard Brenton.

1702 Rory Kinnear....King David and Bathsheba

1715 Miriam Margoyles....the story of Solomon

1730 Hugh Quarshie....reads from the Book of Job

1745 Bill Paterson....reads from the Book of Ecclesiastes.

Abridgers: Amanda Hancox, Richard Hamilton and Viv Beeby

Producers: Mark O'Brien and Elizabeth Allard

Editor: Christine Morgan.

Stories read by Miriam Margoyles, Rory Kinnear, Bill Paterson and Hugh Quarshie.

05Readings20110109

Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, introduces the last of the Old Testament and the first of the New Testament readings from the perspective of a poet and theologian.

1915 Rory Kinnear and Adjoa Andoh....Song of Solomon

1930 Miriam Margoyles....Daniel

1945 Emma Fielding....The Birth of Jesus

2000 Samuel West....The Baptism of Jesus

Author Joanne Harris introduces readings from the life of Jesus.

2015 Toby Stephens....The Temptation and Sermon on the Mount

2030 Emilia Fox....Jesus' miracles

2045 Niamh Cusack....The Death of John the Baptist

Abridgers: Amanda Hancox,Richard Hamilton, Viv Beeby

Producers: Mark O'Brien, Elizabeth Allard

Editor: Christine Morgan.

Stories from the King James Bible introduced by Dr Rowan Williams and Joanne Harris.

06Readings20110109

Will Self introduces the account of Jesus' death and resurrection from the King James Bible to mark it's 400th anniversary.

2100 Dan Stevens....Entry into Jerusalem

2115 Adjoa Andoh....The Last Supper

2130 Rory Kinnear....The Crucifixion

2145 Olivia Williams...The Road to Emmaus

Abridgers: Amanda Hancox, Richard Hamilton

Producers: Mark O'Brien, Simon Vivian

Editor: Christine Morgan.

Stories read by Rory Kinnear, Adjoa Andoh, Dan Stevens and Olivia Williams.

07Readings20110109

The author Frank Cottrell Boyce introduces the last of the readings from the King James Bible.

2300 Henry Goodman....Pentecost

2315 Bill Paterson....The Conversion of Paul

2330 Hugh Quarshie....The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians

2345 Hugh Bonneville....readings from the Book of Revelation

Abridgers: Viv Beeby, Richard Hamilton, Amanda Hancox

Producers: Elizabeth Allard, Lucy Collingwood, Mark O'Brien

Editor: Christine Morgan.

Stories read by Hugh Bonneville, Bill Paterson, Henry Goodman and Hugh Quarshie.