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In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and how It Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2006

    Fascinating Narrative

    It was a pleasure reading this book with such a wealth of info. Can't believe that for generations the English people were once ashamed of their own tongue, preferring instead to speak in Latin, and then French. Every Jamaican in particular (those at home and in the diaspora) should read this book (for Miss Lou's sake at least), especially those who distance themselves from the Jamaican Language (JL now taught in Birmingham,UK),and others who believe that JL is not fit enough as a vehichle for the translation of God's holy Word. In the days before the KJV, it was Church officials and the Oxon and Contab academicians who opposed the very thought of an English Bible. Not so in Jamaica. It more the middle and upper classes, and successive goverments lacking the political will to promote such a project. McGrath is by no means an armchair theologian he knows how to communicate well on the popular level, like the Master Teacher of old--even if he has to do so with American spelling. Only one typo I have seen: p.256, last paragraph, 8th line where the author appears to 'stammer'for the first time ('It Italy') .Otherwise his prose flows with consummate ease, and his sense of humour (sorry, humor) is refreshing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2004

    Illuminating Window of History

    McGrath provides a broad overview of how the King James Bible came to exist and how it affected language and culture. He spends a lot of time setting the scene ¿ the King James translation doesn't really make an appearance until halfway through the book. McGrath starts at the beginning with the printing press and the legitimization of the English language and then works his way through the first vernacular translations and the religious/political tumult of the Reformation. McGrath expertly shows how religion and politics intertwined to spawn the King James translation. He also clearly lays out the challenges faced by the translation team. But I thought his efforts to show how the KJV impacted culture and nations were less effective. He does have some good examples of how the careful translation of Hebrew phrases led to many idioms becoming adopted into common use in English ¿ such as 'sour grapes', 'from time to time', and 'to fall flat on his face.' I also found it fascinating that the language of the KJV was considered a bit archaic from the start, and that it was not really accepted as the definitive translation until much, much later. It's amazing to me that the emphasis on an accurate translation in many cases led to beautifully poetic passages with a minimum of awkward phrasing. While it is clear that the author appreciates the KJV, he also explains quite nicely how new translations will always be needed because of our constantly evolving language. This is a clearly written, engaging history - the tone is more conversational than academic. He is a bit repetitive, and uses 'but we'll talk about that later' transitions a few too many times, but these are minor quibbles. The author brings history to life and makes it easy to understand why events played out the way they did. The broad strokes of IN THE BEGINNING should appeal to the casual reader who would like to see a big-picture history of the times that led to a string of printed Bibles cumulating in the King James Version. It is definitely more readable than the more tightly focused yet rambling GOD'S SECRETARIES by Adam Nicolson, which deals more closely with the personalities directly involved in the project.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2008

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