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The King James Bible
A Short History from Tyndale to Today


  • Date Published: January 2011
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521616881

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About the Authors
  • The King James Bible was the result of an extraordinary effort over nearly a century to make many good English translations and turn them into what the translators called 'one principal good one, not justly to be excepted against'. David Norton traces the work of Tyndale and his successors, analysing the translation and revisions of two representative passages. His fascinating new account follows in detail the creation of the KJB, including attention to the translators' manuscript work. He also examines previously unknown evidence such as the diary of John Bois, the only man who made notes on the translation. At the centre of the book is a thorough discussion of the first edition. The latter part of the book traces the printing and textual history of the KJB and provides a concise account of its changing scholarly and literary reputations.

    • Indicates how the first edition of the King James Bible developed into modern editions
    • Looks in detail at how the text of the King James Bible developed through the work of William Tyndale, Myles Coverdale, the Geneva translators and the King James Bible translators themselves
    • Brings together the author's previous work on the King James Bible for the general reader
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'By his work as editor of The New Cambridge Paragraph Bible and through his careful study of manuscripts left by King James's translators, David Norton has made himself master of his subject. This history of the King James Bible is detailed, clear, and complete.' Ward S. Allen, author of Translating the New Testament Epistles 1604–1611

    'Professor David Norton has written a brilliant little book. It is a fine summary of Christian and literary heritage … Its usefulness will appeal primarily to the educated Pastor and the serious student. It is a beautifully-produced volume, divided into manageable sections for the busy reader, well-laced with biblical quotations and illustrations …' English Churchman

    'Readable, surprising and informative.' Irish Examiner

    'David Norton … produces a masterly account of the interstices of translation, enabling us to look over the shoulders of those remarkable KJB scholars [F. R. Leavis and F. W. Bateson].' Financial Times

    'This is micro-history at its very best and it brings us closer to understanding the chaps behind 1611's most noteworthy book.' Catholic Herald

    'A minutely documented, erudite and yet infinitely readable account of the making of the KJB.' The Typographic Hub (

    '[Norton] gives a scholarly, yet vivid and wholly human account of the printing and design of the King James Bible.' The Typographic Hub (

    'Norton's achievement is to demystify the KJB by reconstructing, in careful and precise detail, what is known of the process of translation … [He] does a masterly job of assembling the scattered evidence that remains …' The Times Literary Supplement

    '[This] is perhaps the best current book for the reader who wants a sound, scholarly and sober account of the AV.' Faith and Worship

    'Amongst the minor flood of books that have been published to mark the four hundredth anniversary of the King James Bible, few, as is the nature of things, will prove to be of lasting value. This is one that will last. This goes much further than some more general surveys that do give the historical context, but leave the reader deprived of the 'mechanics' of translation. Norton's book supplies the want.' Ian Gibbs,

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2011
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521616881
    • length: 232 pages
    • dimensions: 215 x 137 x 12 mm
    • weight: 0.32kg
    • contains: 11 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of illustrations
    1. Predecessors
    2. Drafting the King James Bible
    3. 'I was a translator'
    4. Working on the King James Bible
    5. 1611: the first edition
    6. Printing, editing and the development of a standard text
    7. Reputation and future.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Bible and Renaissance Literature
    • Global Humanities:Atheism in creative and inspiration traditions
    • History of Biblical Interpretation
    • Introduction to the Bible
    • The Printed Bible
  • Author

    David Norton, Victoria University of Wellington
    David Norton is Professor of English at the Victoria University of Wellington. His previous publications include A History of the Bible as Literature, 2 volumes (Cambridge, 1993) and The New Cambridge Paragraph Bible (Cambridge, 2005).

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