"it’s the story of the King James Version of the Bible, which celebrates its 400th anniversary on May 2nd, that is likely to provide the greatest spread of cultural events (in 2011).
Produced during the lifetime of William Shakespeare and John Donne, it has long been viewed as the most elegantly written and poetic of the many English translations, and has given the language some of its best-known phrases: “lamb to the slaughter”, “skin of our teeth”, “chariots of fire”.
The King James, also known as the Authorised Version, remains one of the most frequently used Bibles in the English-speaking world, especially in the United States.
Barack Obama took the oath of office on the same King James Bible that had been used by Abraham Lincoln in 1861.
In Britain more than 70 celebratory events are planned, starting with an exhibition at St John’s College, Cambridge, and including lectures, reading marathons, symposia, concerts and conferences as far afield as Plymouth and Aberdeen.
The Royal Mail will bring out a series of commemorative stamps and the BBC plans to broadcast a one-hour documentary.
Oxford University Press, which has published King James Bibles since the 17th century, will bring out a 1,520-page special quatercentenary edition.
Houston Baptist University’s Dunham Bible Museum kicks off the celebrations in America. Further events will follow in, among other places, Kentucky, Louisiana and Columbus, where a conference at Ohio State University (in collaboration with The Tyndale Society) will study the enduring literary and cultural influence of the King James Bible on writers such as William Faulkner, Virginia Woolf and Toni Morrison.