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Page last updated at 15:57 GMT, Tuesday, 30 November 2010
Celebrate 400 years of King James Bible
by Jenny Minard
BBC Berkshire Reporter

King James Bible
The first King James Bible was published 400 years ago

It has been described as the single most important publication in whole of history.

A series of events are underway to mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.

This was the version of the Holy Bible published in 1611, known as the King James' version.

In the first decade of the 17th century, it took the new King James from Scotland to hammer out a Bible that endured.

"It is one of the first British things to be made," said Glasgow-born Neil MacGregor, fresh from his work with A History of the World in 100 Objects.

"It was made by the whole island to be used by the whole island."

Now it is used by the whole globe. The last Harry Potter book sold 44 million - the Bible has sold 2.5 billion some say, or six billion, say others.

The Authorised Version today is not the text published in 1611. Hundreds of changes in vocabulary, grammar, spelling and punctuation have been made.

Churches Together

Mike Penny from Churches Together in Reading explained why one version is known as the vinegar version.

"Instead of having the parables of vineyards, on version had the parables of vinegar.

King James
Portrait of King James by Daniel Mytens

"The worse one was done in 1631, a reprint by the Royal Printers, Robert Baker and Martyn Lucas. They missed the word 'not' out in the 7th commandment

"So it read: 'Thou shalt commit adultery'.

"They are worth a lot from that point of view, with its antique value.

"Robert Baker and Martyn Lucas were fined £300, which is about £35,000 today, and had their printing licence withdrawn."

What is published now is the version revised by Benjamin Blayney, an Oxford man, in 1769, and quietly adopted by printers.

Even the typeface is important, for in 1611 it was set in black letter - gothic type.

Words not in the original Hebrew and Greek, but added by translators to elucidate the sense, were inserted in small Roman type, in italics.

They looked suitably subsidiary in importance. Our use of italics today is to emphasise, so the modern editions, with the print in Roman and these added words in italics, give the wrong impression say the King James Bible Trust.

Bible events

For the anniversary of the Authorised Version Britain is going Bible bananas.

There is a continuous reading of the whole volume at Blackburn and there are still chapters to be added to the YouTube Bible.

The Duke of Edinburgh is kicking off celebrations this week with a party in the Banqueting House at Whitehall, even though there are 162 days to go before the anniversary of its publication.

In Berkshire you'll have to wait until June 2011 for a lecture by Adam Nicolson.

Or you can go to any of the events organised by the King James Bible trust.

For more information go to King James Bible Trust website.

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