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Fascinating book on how the translation was accomplished. The author fully develops the history, the context of the 'why' (to, in essence, end the war between the factions supporting the horrid Bishop's translation and the anti-king Geneva bible), the politics, and the budget. It would be a worthy read if it were written on any literature. Classically, even those not given to following the words of the bible, have always called the KJV 'great literature.' It is! And this book shows us how that came to be.
Out of the extravagant court of King James, surrounded by clusters of 'spangle babies' (men and women made juvenile by money), came the king's desire to bring unity to the nation, a nation with rising literacy.
Great scholars across the spectrum were consulted. Yes, even moderate Puritans (but no Presbyterians!). Unofficially, even men at the extreme ends served as consultants to the translators when they were truly expert in a subject. The translators brought prodigious linguistic scholarship to the project, able to tease nuance and subtleties from the original texts.
To loosely quote the author: The beauty of this project is the end result by a committee - a system not designed for genius or great works. It was the organization that was the genius. The translation committee was divided into 6 subcommittees. Each committee had assigned sections, and member was to work alone until he finished his part then review with other members of his subgroup. Each committee had oversight over all the others.
What is amazing is to see how men of so varied opinions, with vigorous and even fierce disagreements, could develop this beautiful and fairly accurate translation. The author weaves their backgrounds in beautifully so you truly understand them as men, not names in a history book.
I was surprised at another reviewer's comments on the "dark" stance of the author vis-a-vis this translation. After hearing 2 lengthy interviews with him and reading the book, I have to say I don't see that at all. The pace slowly gathers all the stories together, so it starts slower. But I definitely did NOT find it monotonous.
The timing was impeccable. It was finished in 1611. By 1614 Parliament had enough of James' excesses and cut his budget. James moved away from reconciliation with the Puritan's camp that had included so many Puritan moderates in the project. And the 30 years' wars in Europe began, with Catholic pitted against Protestant.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Not what I expected at all. I recently read the entire Bible cover to cover - it was a 'bucket list' item. So this book sounded like a fascinating way to learn about how the King James version was created. I knew that there were some matters of interpretation and translation, and disputed passages, and disagreement about which books to include, and the like.
But almost all of this book was about the lives of the men who translated it, in interminable detail. And commentary on the social and political times -, the royal family, the Guy Fawkes gunpowder plot, the Puritans, etc etc.
You WILL find that fascinating if you are into British history and want to know all that detail. But I do mean every detail. The research is, I'm sure, impeccable. But the detail goes on and on.
I actually can't believe that I slogged through the entire book, but I kept hoping that it would become more interesting and that the author would finally focus on the Bible itself. The last part of the book (maybe the last hour or 1 1/2 hours) had the most information about the actual translation of the Bible, and I did find that interesting.
I rarely, if ever, pay much attention to the narrators of the audiobooks I listen to. They are all good - or maybe I'm just not picky. I have never complained about one ever - until now. This narrator spoke in clear and precise English... in an absolute monotone for the entire book with barely a break or rise between sentences or paragraphs... in some places that made the text difficult to follow, and it almost put me to sleep.
I wouldn't say don't get the book. Definitely read it if you are a history buff. But I wish I had gotten the print version; then I could have just skipped to the parts that interested me and saved a few hours.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful