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The King James Version at 400: Assessing Its Genius as Bible Translation and Its Literary Influence
David G. Burke, John F. Kutsko, Philip H. Towner
Publication Date
October 2013


In this collection of essays, thirty scholars from diverse disciplines offer their unique perspectives on the genius of the King James Version, a translation whose 400th anniversary was recently celebrated throughout the English-speaking world. While avoiding nostalgia and hagiography, each author clearly appreciates the monumental, formative role the KJV has had on religious and civil life on both sides of the Atlantic (and beyond) as well as on the English language itself. In part 1 the essayists look at the KJV in its historical contexts—the politics and rapid language growth of the era, the emerging printing and travel industries, and the way women are depicted in the text (and later feminist responses to such depictions). Part 2 takes a closer look at the KJV as a translation and the powerful precedents it set for all translations to follow, with the essayists exploring the translators’ principles and processes (with close examinations of “Bancroft’s Rules” and the Prefaces), assessing later revisions of the text, and reviewing the translation’s influence on the English language, textual criticism, and the practice of translation in Jewish and Chinese contexts. Part 3 looks at the various ways the KJV has impacted the English language and literature, the practice of religion (including within the African American and Eastern Orthodox churches), and the broader culture.The contributors are Robert Alter, C. Clifton Black, David G. Burke, Richard A. Burridge, David J. A. Clines, Simon Crisp, David J. Davis, James D. G. Dunn, Lori Anne Ferrell, Leonard J. Greenspoon, Robin Griffith-Jones, Malcolm Guite, Andrew E. Hill, John F. Kutsko, Seth Lerer, Barbara K. Lewalski, Jacobus A. Naudé, David Norton, Jon Pahl, Kuo-Wei Peng, Deborah W. Rooke, Rodney Sadler Jr., Katharine Doob Sakenfeld, Harold Scanlin, Naomi Seidman, Christopher Southgate, R. S. Sugirtharajah, Joan Taylor, Graham Tomlin, Philip H. Towner, David Trobisch, and N. T. Wright.

David G. Burke served as Director of the Translations Department and as the first dean of the Eugene A. Nida Institute for Biblical Scholarship at the American Bible Society. He is the author of The Poetry of Baruch and editor of Translation That Openeth the Window: Reflections on the History and Legacy of the King James Bible (both from Society of Biblical Literature).

John F. Kutsko is Executive Director of the Society of Biblical Literature and the author of Between Heaven and Earth: Divine Presence and Absence in the Book of Ezekiel (Eisenbrauns).

Philip H. Towner is Dean of the Eugene A. Nida Institute for Biblical Scholarship at ABS and holds several visiting lecture positions in Europe. He is the author of The Letters to Timothy and Titus (Eerdmans) and 1–2 Timothy and Titus (IVP Academic).

Download a printable publication sheet that you can put in your files or give to your librarian or bookstore.

Download volume front matter, including table of contents and introduction.

Praise for The King James Version at 400

"This book is a comprehensive garnering of previous work in and around the KJV. It reminds one of a field at harvest time, full of agricultural 'Swiss rolls' ready to be collected and used. Or more literally: if you want one book on the KJV, this is the one to buy."
—Rev. Dr. Paul Ellingworth, The Methodist Recorder