The King James Bible has often been called ‘the Book of Books’ both in itself and in what it stands for. Since its publication in 1611 it has been the best-selling book in the world, and many believe it has had the greatest impact. The King James Bible has spread the Protestant faith. It has also been the greatest influence on the enrichment of the English language and its literature. It has been the Bible of wars from the British Civil War in the 17th century to the American Civil War two centuries later, and it has been carried into battle in innumerable conflicts since then.
Its influence on social movements - particularly involving women in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries - and politics was profound. It was crucial to the growth of democracy. It was integral to the abolition of slavery and it defined attitudes to modern science, education and sex.
Fascinating and eye-opening, The Book of Books reveals the extraordinary and still-felt impact of a work created 400 years ago. Stephen Thorne reads Melvyn Bragg’s definitive history of the King James Bible.
©2011 Melvyn Bragg (P)2011 AudioGO Ltd
Melvyn Bragg was lyrical in his appreciation of the literary contribution of the King James Bible to the English language, crediting it with having the most influence on the all subsequent English literature of any writing. He dismissed the content of the Bible as being mostly fairy tales however, which was disappointing. As it is the 400th anniversary of the K.J.V. being universally available, I was hoping to find a book that gave some background to the events which finally allowed ordinary people to own these amazing scriptures which have influenced our culture so markedly. I lost interest halfway though the volume as it became a technical treatise about language.
When I drive, I read... uhm listen. I like SciFi, Fantasy, some Detective and Espionage novels and Religion. Now and then I will also listen to something else.
If you want a history of the King James Version, this book will probably be a disappointment. Melvyn Bragg tries to give an overview of the impact of the King James Version on the English speaking peoples and the world at large ranging over 400 years. The book has a too broad scope and therefore I think it fails. The impression that I got at times is that it is the ramblings of someone that don't know where to start and where to finish. While there are a lot of interesting bits, I was left with a lot of questions. Should a short rebuttal of Richard Dawkins be part of such a book? Does Bragg really know the difference between the Old and New Testament, as in the beginnig he especially equated the New Testament with the Bible? I really don't think Bragg is right when he says that British and other English speaking missionaries made their translations into other languages from the King James Bible. He quotes Diarmaid Macullach a lot, taking his point of departure uncritically. In the end I am a bit disappointed in the book. I really think there are better books on the issue for instance the one Alistar McGrath wrote. Bragg should really limit his scope in future.
I must say that I am a confirmed sceptic. However I did have a religious period (Jehovah's Witness) in my life and reckon I had a reasonable and defensive knowledge of scripture. But I little realised the generational influences and past degree of Biblical intrusion in Western cultural development. The appeal to Biblical authority as Western thought processes and lifestyle evolved is more significant than I had realised.
Bragg's book develops the history of translational battles, church divisional arguments, language use and modern scholastic studies which are fascinatingly researched and developed. The multiple Biblical versions and their use in sectarian warfare is related with skill and interest. American development was strongly influenced by religious concept and no doubt accounts for the still strong religious belief (at least to my Australian comparison) which steers attitude and politics today.
I learned a lot and to some extent it fed my sceptical state of mind that, after all, the Bible is not the inerrant 'Word of God' that I used to 'witness' about in my youth. Bragg, (though an attitudinal sceptic himself) criticises Dawkins' attitude towards the Bible but I would support Dawkins on that issue. Anyone with an agenda can find a Bible passage that will support that agenda and Bragg illustrates examples with skill. Such Biblical 'authority' has given cause to violence and tragedy excused in the name of God.
Well read with a pleasing voice by Stephen Thorne and a fascinating book with interest levels for Christian or sceptic.
This type of book is why I started listening to audio books as although I have a great interest in history it can sometimes be hard slog reading through. As an atheist but brought up a Presbyterian in Scotland I am acutely aware of religious differences in the UK. Too many people dismiss the role that religion has and still continues to play in our lives, the King James bible changed the face of history and played a massive part in freeing the peasants and opening up education to the masses.
I don't believe in God and the bible is full of stories written by men but there is no mistaking the profound affect on history.
Read this book regardless of your religious beliefs to discover how it changed the face of Britain, Europe and the Americas.
"Absolutely wonderful .........."
This is among the best books I have ever "read". It was so interesting,brilliantly written and narrated. I will listen again because although dense with facts it is not at all tedious ... on the contrary it is totally absorbing. Congratulations Melyn Bragg, this is a classic.
I was disappointed with this book. I was expecting more of a history of the King James Bible rather than quite so much quoting from it, but I guess Melvyn Bragg is interested in language.
Unfortunately the reader has a speech impediment.
"worth a read but keep a large pinch of salt handy!"
An interesting sketched history of the KJV but when the author gets into opinion it gets murky. At times it seemed that Mr Bragg was making the case that this book was responsible for all good things and all doers of good things that have ever existed, which seems a bit weak to me. I almost gave up on the book after the annoying chapter on Richard Dawkins mainly because it seemed utterly inaccurate and unnecessary to me. I'm glad I kept going; we secularists are nothing if not open minded, to state the bleeding obvious.
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