King James Bible Exhibition: 25 May-29 July 2011

Lambeth Palace Library's 2011 public exhibition celebrated the 400th anniversary of the King James Version. The exhibition set in historical context the translation of the sacred texts of the Bible into the languages of everyday life. Comments from visitors included: 

Frank from Surrey: "A wonderful display tracing the history of the book which has contributed so much to English language, literature and culture"

Richard from Dallas, USA: "A privilege to see this work - very well explained"

Carrie from Malaysia: "Impressive collection and excellent interpretation"

Kerry from Surrey: "Another excellent exhibition provided by Lambeth Palace Library"

Loraine from Canada: "Breathtaking! A touching exhibition"

On display were a wide range of important manuscripts and books offering a glimpse into the practical processes involved, as well as the motives behind these great achievements. At the centre of the exhibition was the 1611 edition of the King James Version, set in the context of the scholarship which created it.

Other highlights of the exhibition included:

  • Medieval English Bible translations and documents relating to their suppression
  • The landmark editions which drew on the new textual scholarship of the Renaissance and Reformation, including the first edition of Erasmus' New Testament in Greek (1516)
  • Early printed vernacular translations in a variety of languages such as the first edition of Luther's German Bible, as well as the first complete Bible in Icelandic
  • Translations intended for missions, such as Gospel editions in Maori and Mohawk
  • Documents showing the drive towards modern English translations for the twentieth century