400th Anniversary of the Authorised Version of the Bible

The Authorized King James Version is an English translation by the Church of England of the Bible begun in 1604 and completed in 1611. First printed by the King's printer Robert Barker, this was the third such official translation into English; the first having been the Great Bible commissioned by the Church of England in the reign of King Henry VIII and the second having been the Bishop's Bible of 1568. In January 1604 King James I convened the Hampton Court Conference where a new English version was conceived in response to the perceived problems of the earlier translations as detected by the Puritans, a faction within the Church of England.
James gave the translators instructions intended to guarantee that the new version would conform to the ecclesiology and reflect the Episcopal structure of the Church of England and its beliefs about an ordained clergy. The translation was by 47 scholars, all of whom were members of the Church of England. In common with most other translations of the period, the New Testament was translated from Greek, the Old Testament was translated from Hebrew text, while the Apocrypha were translated from the Greek and Latin.
In the Book of Common Prayer (1662), the text of the Authorized Version replaced the text of the Great Bible - for Epistle and Gospel readings - and as such was authorized by Act of Parliament. By the first half of the 18th century, the Authorized Version was effectively unchallenged as the English translation used in Anglican and other Protestant churches. Over the course of the 18th century, the Authorized Version supplanted the Latin Vulgate as the standard version of scripture for English speaking scholars.


The Handwritten Bible

The Methodist Conference of 2010 initiated a project to create a handwritten copy of the whole Bible. This project is timed to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the publication of the "King James" or "Authorised" Version of the Bible in 1611.

Sections of the Old and New Testaments have been allocated to all Methodist Circuits in the country. Here at Stricklandgate we have written out Psalms 29 and 30 and Deuteronomy chapter 19. Our sister church at Sandylands has had responsibility for a chapter in Luke's gospel, where the work has been shared with local primary schools.

The writing is to be completed by the end of May, at which time the various chapters will be gathered and bound into several volumes.

Handwriting a section of the Bible reminds us that, until the invention of printing in the sixteenth century, all Biblical texts were copied by hand. This was a real labour of love carried out with great care.

The most ancient Biblical texts are those found in caves at Qumran - the "Dead Sea Scrolls". Handwritten in Hebrew, these date from around the time of Jesus. Parts of nearly all the books of the Old Testament were found, including an almost entire text of Isaiah.


More than 30,000 Britons transcribe Methodists' Bible

Thousands of people across Britain and Northern Ireland have hand transcribed the Bible in the last 12 months, and the final version was presented to the Methodist Conference in Southport this weekend.

As part of the 400th year anniversary of the King James Bible, people were invited to join Methodists in handwriting verses from the Scripture. Volunteers joined in from across communities, including prisons, schools, colleges, libraries, nursing homes, airports and shopping centres to copy verses from the NRSV version of the Bible after Methodists voted to transcribe the scripture at their Conference in Portsmouth last year.

Revd Lionel Osborn, President of Conference, said: "The hand-written Bible has been a tremendous success. It has enabled people to engage with Scripture at perhaps a slower pace than usual and to really think about what they are copying. For many it has been a deep and enriching experience."

The Methodists' handwritten Bible, which will be bound in 31 volumes and then tour the country, will also be available to read online on the Deepening Discipleship website. Verses have been written in English, Chinese, Welsh and braille with accompanying illustrations.

Revd Jenny Ellis, Co-ordinator of Evangelism, Spirituality and Discipleship, said: "It has been wonderful to see how this project has captured the imaginations of many local churches. Methodists have used it as an opportunity to reach out and work together with people in their communities. The Scriptures were originally passed down through word of mouth and then through handwritten scripts, and so asking people to write out verses is a particularly significant way of valuing Scripture and its life giving words. The King James Bible was a book that changed the lives of many."

The idea to celebrate the year of the Bible with a handwritten version was put forward by Daniella Fetuga-Joensuu from the London district at last year's Methodist conference. Revd Jenny Ellis drew up guidelines for the 31 Methodist districts, enabling them to organise the project as creatively as possible in their regions. The guidelines included advice on how to organise scriptoriums or writing "sit-outs" in public places. A scriptorium outside Westminster Central Hall attracted so many people that participants were limited to writing one word per verse. Some churches filmed their scriptoriums and posted them on You Tube. The handwritten Bible - a project that cost £3,500 in total - also travelled through Durham and Frankland prisons.

Janet Deakin, an administrator at Methodist Church House in London, wrote her verses in braille. "I have a version of the Bible in braille," said Jan. "It is made up of 35 volumes and they sit on two shelves of my bookcase at home. I also have five versions of the Bible on my braille sense machine."