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Spotlight on the collection

The King James Bible, 400 years old


‘In the beginning was the Word…’ is the first line from the Gospel of John in the King James Bible, a translation that is known by Christians and non-Christians alike. It took centuries of religious and political conflict, and Bible translation, for this well known line to be crafted.


Although the King James Version of the Bible, or the Authorised Version, is probably the most well-known translation of the Bible various other translations had paved the way before it. Here at Gladstone’s Library we have copies of many of these translations, from the Anglo-Saxon Gospels and religious poetry through to Wycliffe’s and Tyndale’s translations, the Geneva Bible and the Douey-Rheims Bible. Studying these shows you not only the influence they had on the King James Bible but just how far Bible translation has come. An example of this improvement in translation is shown in one of our Geneva bibles. This particular version is known as ‘The Breeches Bible’ because its translation of Genesis 3:7 reads as ’and they sewed figge tree leaves together, and made themselves breeches.’ – that’s some skill! The King James Version translates the same word as ‘aprons’ and the more modern New International Version translates it as ‘coverings’, which seems an easier garment to make out of fig leaves than breeches!


Title page

Translation begins....

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