The Translation that Changed the World

Celebrating 400 years of the KJV

By: Becky St. Clair

A page from the original 1611 KJV translation of the Bible, located in the Walla Walla University library. Photo by Chris Drake.

On Oct. 22, Walla Walla University will celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible, the translation that changed the world.  Events include presentations on the literary, historical, and theological significance of this specific translation, completed in 1611 by 47 scholars in England.  All events are free and open to the public.

At 9:30 a.m., Dan Lamberton, professor of English, presents, “The Memory Book: The KJV in Mind” in Village Hall, located at 207 S. College Ave.  At 11:30 a.m., Alex Bryan, senior pastor of the University Church, presents, “The Most Beautiful Language” in the University Church, located at 212 SW 4th Street, at the corner of 4th and Bade.  

Then, at 2:30 p.m., three presenters partner for a final celebration event.  John McVay, WWU president, presents “William Tyndale: The Outlaw Wordsmith Behind the KJV;” Bev Beem, professor of English, presents, “Herbert’s Devotional Reading of the KJV;” and Greg Dodds, professor of History, presents “James’ Bible.”

Since Oct. 1, university departments, classes, and individuals have signed up to read through specific portions of the KJV. A large Bible, donated to the church several years ago, was placed in Heubach Chapel next to the University Church, and readers went in at their assigned times to read their portion of the Bible.  They were not required to read aloud, but many chose to do so.

"Reading out loud to an empty room was a unique experience and was actually  fun," says Steve Davis, director for student information at WWU. "I had not read the KJV story of Abraham's call to murder Isaac for some time and occasionally wondered what the translation would be in another version."

During the 11:30 a.m. service on Oct. 22, the final verses of the KJV will be read from the front of the church, read from the same KJV that individuals and groups have been reading from in Heubach Chapel this month.

For more information call 509-527-2541.

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