Critical Book Review Of "In The Beginning: The Story Of The King James Bible And How It Changed A Nation, A Language And A Culture" By Alister Mc Grath

1355 words - 6 pages

Almost four hundred years since its initial publication in 1611, the King James Bible has come to dominate the English-speaking Christian world and is commonly hailed as a literary achievement with a complex and humble beginning. Alister McGrath attempts to illustrate the intricate social, political and economic background throughout England and the rest of Europe that was the foundation for the creation of the King James Version of the Bible. The public’s demand for an English version of the Bible precipitated such controversy that an amicable resolution was not ultimately decided until the creation and, later, widespread acceptance of a unifying translation. While the creation of such ...view middle of the document...

McGrath goes on to chronicle the impact of the reformation in increasing the public desire for a Bible that catered to the continual rise of Anglican and Puritan beliefs. Through the creation of the first printed Bibles the essential crux of the problem is brought to light; the existing Catholics, the newly established Anglicans in the Church of England (est. 1534), and the Puritans, who were seeking comprehensive reform, each had different ideas for what was best for England. Each had a different desire for the future of England in regards to whether an English version of the Bible should be available for the public and exactly which version should be used. Through a complex process with Catholics staunchly opposing the idea, several versions were ultimately printed and continuously criticized by opposing parties. The ongoing conflicts are ultimately ended with the decision to produce a new translation by King James I and the persuasion of the English public to accept it. In the Beginning goes further, in its final pages, to explain the ways in which the King James Version of the Bible went on to shape the modern English language and even how it came to be accepted by a public in North America made up predominately of Puritans from England who had once so strongly opposed it.McGrath goes into great detail with much historical information and supports his work with a rather extensive body of over one hundred eighty articles, books and other reference materials. Although preferable, he does not include footnotes; instead, he includes such contributing information in a bibliography at the end of the book. There is a wealth of historical documents to draw from, although some rather important historical facts are not available in any format. Due to inaccurate or incomplete documentation, a significant lack of recording the information, or fires and other such disasters destroying the historical data, McGrath notes that a few important details during this period in history are left to mere supposition. He does include many illustrations of notable historical figures and sample pages from the different versions of the Bibles discussed. In addition to the actual illustrations, there is a wealth of descriptive material on each version. The process used to produce each work, the actual physical final appearance thereof, and the integrity of content thoroughly prove to the reader exactly what caused the many inescapable conflicts Throughout the book McGrath does provide numerous addendums to the text with passages of scripture from the different translations which he uses to illustrate their differences. Showing some of the actual divergences in the texts via translations and explaining mistakes that occurred during the printing process is a highly useful inclusion. It allows the reader to better understand the ideals McGrath puts forth in the book in regards to controversy arising from...

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