The King James Bible: The four hundredth anniversary 1611 - 2011
How the San Antonio Public Library acquired a copy of the original 1611 King James (Authorized) Bible The story goes back to World War II and the London blitz. From September 1940 into May 1941 the Germans bombed English towns , especially London, causing much destruction of property and the loss of thousands of lives. In 1942, fearing more such raids, a rare book dealer in London sold several items to Frank Rosengren, a San Antonio bookstore owner. One of those books was this copy of the King James Bible. In 1945 the San Antonio Public Library purchased the 1611 Bible with funds from Harry Hertzberg’s bequest to the Library.
Why a new Bible?
Shortly after his accession to the English throne in 1603,
James I called a conference at Hampton Court (1604) to deal
with religious differences between Anglicans and Puritans. In
reality the conference settled only one thing, the English
version of the Bible. Hitherto, there had been several
translations in circulation.
This English Bible was to be used throughout Great Britain for
liturgical purposes and at home. It assured western Europe
that English biblical scholars could lead the Protestant
A commission of 54 (only 47 completed the task) scholars was approved to undertake a new translation, two companies from each of three institutions: Cambridge, Oxford, and Westminster. Each company translated the following books:
The First Westminster Company – [Genesis – II Kings]
The First Cambridge Company - [I Chronicles – Ecclesiastes]
The First Oxford Company - [Isaiah – Malachi]
The Second Cambridge Company - [The Apocrypha]
The Second Oxford Company - [Gospels, Acts, Revelation]
The Second Westminster Company - [New Testament Epistles ]
The Front Cover
The text of the Bishop’s Bible would serve as the primary guide for the translators, and the familiar proper names of the biblical characters would all be retained. If the Bishops’ Bible was deemed problematic in any situation, the translators were permitted to consult other translations from a pre-approved list: the Tyndale Bible, the Coverdale Bible, Matthew’s Bible, the Great Bible, and the Geneva Bible. Translations in French, Italian, Spanish (Protestant), and the Latin Vulgate were used. Original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts, in medieval manuscript form, were consulted. Therefore, the Authorized Version was not a totally new translation, but a revision of earlier translations.
“ The Great He Bible” Ruth 3:15 This copy of the King James Bible is the first issue of the first edition, often referred to as the “Great He Bible.” Chapter 3, verse 15 of the Book of Ruth reads, “He went into the citie.” The typesetter made an error, as the text is referring to Ruth, and should have read, as corrected later, “She went into the citie.”
Dedicatory Epistle to King James
Royal Coat of Arms of James I Left – lion of England; Right – unicorn of Scotland; Below - rose of England and thistle of Scotland; Shield - quarters 1 & 4: lions of England; quarter 2: lion and floral border of Scotland; quarter 3: harp of Ireland Motto: Dieu et mon droit (God and my right) Motto of the Order of the Garter: Honi soit qui mal y pence (shame upon him who thinks evil of it) Bottom: Cum privilegio Regiae Maiestas (by authority of the king)
Genealogies Thirty-six pages of genealogies from Adam and Eve to Jesus. These were produced by antiquarian John Speed.
Last page of the genealogies with Christ at the bottom.
Map of Canaan begun by John More and completed by John Speed in 1595.
The preliminaries are followed by 1,464 unnumbered pages of two columns of text. Each column is composed of fifty-nine lines of text enclosed within ruled margins. Right hand pages have the chapter number at the top center and a summary. Left hand pages have the name of the book and summary. The columns on the right and left have explanatory notes, explained later, but no theological comments.
A dagge r indicates a literal translation from Greek or Hebrew .
Words in Roman type within the text were added by the translators to make the text more intelligible.
Title page for the New Testament
Chapter (Roman text) Chapter summary (Roman text) Initial letter and text (Black letter, imitation Gothic text) * Biblical cross-reference Two vertical parallel lines – alternate English translation
The slides that follow are of the initial letters of various books of the Bible.
Note that some of the illustrations are biblical in theme, some are from Classical mythology, and some are more general.
Luke and Ox
John and Eagle
Pan playing his pipe
Woman with asp and vase
Daphne pursued by Apollo, prays for help, and is transformed into a laurel.