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1611-2011: The 400th Anniversary of the King James Bible by Bonnie Buckingham

In the Parent’s Reviews, Charlotte Mason had articles on book recommendations for teachers and  students.  She gave lists of books.  Books to be read.  The King James Bible is having an extraordinary anniversary this year:  400 years  old! We need to read it plus tell others about it.

King James VI of Scotland, who is also King James I of England, ordered the translation of Scriptures. It is still the most beautiful  version  in the English Language. It was translated in the lifetime of Shakespeare and John Donne. Perhaps you memorized Psalm 23 with “ my cup runneth over.”  The  team of scholars, 48 of them, produced a work that changed the way we speak.   Where does one begin this Anniversary year of study?


1.READ the King James Version out loud.  Memorize from this version in celebration.

“It is a mistake to use paraphrases of the text; the fine roll of Bible English appeals to children with a compelling music, and they will probably retain through life their first conception of Bible scenes, and, also, the very words in which these scenes are portrayed.” (Mason, Home Education, p. 249.)

“The habit of hearing, and later, of reading the Bible, is one to establish at an early age.”  (Mason, School Education, p. 142)

“We do not, even for tiny children, advocate “Bible stories,” but actual passages from the sacred text, for the wonderful grand old English in which it is written has been more than one great writer’s school of language, and will, with necessary explanations, be far more impressive and likely to carry the contained idea, than the paraphrase of some well-meaning but common-place teacher.” (Miss R.A. Pennethorn, Parent’s Review, vol. 10, 1899, p. 590


Oxford University Press : King James Bible: 400th Anniversary Edition (Bible KJV) This is the most authorative edition published this year: 1611  text.

2. LOOK at the art in illuminated Bibles.

American Japanese artist Makoto Fujimura has  illuminated The Four Gospels with his contemporary abstract paintings. It is the size of a coffee table book and is stunning. He envisions it for family reading.This version is in the English Standard  although the book itself is a work of art.

Tears of Christ

3. FIND  the influences in language. New words and idioms were invented.

Lynne Bruce has a wonderful article on Ambleside Online: “Why KJV?”

Examples of new language :“Turned the world upside down” and  “feet of clay”

4. Read about KING JAMES

God used this man, not an excellent one,  to further His kingdom , even to send forth the Pilgrims to America. (1620)

RECOMMENDED BOOKS:   Check  your local library

* Donald Brake: Visual History of the King James Bible. Good for younger and older  students.

*Gordon Campbell  ( leading scholar on John Milton), Bible: The Story of the King James Version 1611-2011.

*David Crystal ‘s Begat: The Kings James Bible and the English Language writes  a fun book of the idioms and how they are found in modern culture.

*Robert Alter ( Hebrew Scholar) , Pen of Iron: American Prose and the King James Bible. Alter shows how the KJV has informed  American prose from Melville to Marilynne Robinson. He argues the aesthetic  influence  writers.

* David Norton, The King James Bible : A Short History from Tyndale to Today. Lots of praise for this book.

* A biography: Majestie: The King Behind the King James Bible by David Teems


If you are in England , check the King James Bible Trust for the calendar of events this year. Here  in the States, what are you doing?

The Good Book Shop in  Belfast, Northern Ireland is reading  through the KJV every afternoon at 4:00. You can sign up to be a reader! At home, in school, or in church  you can  do something similar.

How are you celebrating this 400th Year Anniversary ?  Watch for the King James Anniversary stories!









This entry was posted in: Philosophy


Carroll Smith has spoken on various topics related to Charlotte Mason. Currently he teaches at Gardner-Webb University and enjoys working with children, teachers, college students, and Charlotte Mason Institute. He was a teacher and a principal for 21 years before coming to Gardner-Webb University where he has been for six years. Having grown up in eastern North Carolina, he attended East Carolina University for his undergraduate degree and his master's in school administration. He completed his terminal degree and wrote his dissertation on Charlotte Mason at Virginia Tech. Carroll enjoys reading, gardening, and discussing ideas with friends. He and his wife, Andra, and their two young adult college-age children, Corban and Anna, enjoy living, working and playing in North Carolina.

1 Comment

  1. Bonnie,
    Thanks so much for this post highlighing the KJV Bible, which is definitive in so many ways.

    Here are a few more resources that tie into this celebration:
    America’s Providential History, Mark Beliles
    The Story of Liberty, Charles Coffin
    These books shows how the King James Bible figures into the “great chain of liberty” as it has been termed.

    Another resource is this site (, which has a large number of resources for the entire year, including videos of short historical documentaries, a countdown calendar, daily podcasts, verse of the day and more.

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