Impact of KJV according to the BBC's Politics UK

‘Politics UK’ have given over a whole programme to the legacy of the KJV

Some assorted quotes:

Professor Gordon Campbell: “It’s one of the cultural building blocks of  civilisation in the English speaking world… You cannot hope to understand the English speaking world without reference to the King James Bible.”  Professor Gordon Campbell

Baronness (P. D.) James: “It is one of the most interesting and important books ever written… It is a translation of genius.”

Frank Dobson MP: “For centuries it dominated all religious and political thought in this country and in those countries to which the British and most particularly the English emigrated.”

Richard Chartres, Bishop of London: “You must read the Authorized Version aloud.  It isn’t something just for the head.  There are sonorities there, there is an authority that can only really be communicated by a good reader.”

I was interested by the Bishop’s response when asked whether we should try to read the bible divorced from its religious context (as Dawkins suggests here).  He replied:

You bring a quite different attention to the sacred text if you realize that it is shot through with divinity.  To treat it tyrannically as some kind of secular expression of a culture of a particular time long past means that you’re shut out from it’s power and its capacity to move.

One of the most important things now is, people are always saying, ‘We want versions of the bible that are accessible.’  And that’s not wrong of course.  But the bible is very strange.  It’s very deep.  It’s symphonic.  It’s music.  There are themes adumbrated which are then reversed, which are decorated.  Therefore a certain defamiliarization when you encounter the biblical texts is a way to the depths.

If you think you understand it with the top of your mind because it is written in racey contemporary English, then you probably haven’t approached it in a way in which it is going to release its power and its depth.

What do you think about that?  I’m all for entering the bible as a strange and foreign country.  But that doesn’t mean you need arcane language does it?  Tyndale didn’t think so!

It’s on BBC iPlayer for the next little bit

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