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Weekly Reflections

The Year of the Bible 5 Dec 10

The Year of the Bible

In 1066 the Normans took control of England and began to use their version of French as the official language. Ordinary people used Old English which gradually changed into Middle English by the time of Chaucer. Only in 1362 did Parliament decide that English was to be used in Parliament and the Courts.

The big change into early modern English began with the reign of Henry V in the 15th century and continued into the 17th. There were two great influences. Shakespeare invented many new words and gave English a new place in the hearts and minds of the people. Following soon after Shakespeare the King James Bible also cemented a beauty of language in the minds of the English.

But it was not an easy transition.

The language of the university was still Latin. The church hierarchy used Latin or French until at least the 15th century. In 1407 the Archbishop of Canterbury ordered that no one was to translate any text of Holy Scripture into English or any other language, only Latin was to be used.


However both the followers of Wycliffe and later William Tyndale  thought that English people should be able to read the Word of God in their own language. The 16th century saw many translations of the Bible into English. Tyndale’s was probably the most influential. After Elizabeth’s death James I agreed to a request for a new translation. The translators started work in 1604 and finished in 1611.  From then on this was the only version authorised to be used in churches in England (hence one of its nicknames). The King James version of the Bible has had an enormous influence both on English language (providing many words and famous phrases) and on the culture and values of the English speaking peoples.

Next year we celebrate the 400th anniversary of this amazing Bible. At Christ the King we will aim to read and explore some of the major parts of the Bible (in modern English).  We want to encourage everyone to read whole books of the Bible. Sermons will take us through what is probably the first published gospel (Mark), the first book of the Bible (Genesis) and one of the most influential writings (Romans). We will also provide reading and study guides.

The Bible is not just an influence on language and literature but has been at the heart of major social changes and personal transformation.  It changes lives.


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