The Book of Books, The Radical Impact of the King James Bible 1611-2011 by Melvyn Bragg (Great Britain: Hodder & Stoughton 2011), 347 pp., hardback 18.99
Bragg has written a fascinating book describing the development, importance and influence of the King James Bible. The first several chapters deal with the translation of the KJV, especially detailing the debt owed to William Tyndale. A very nice overview of Tyndale’s life is given (pp. 12ff) and reference is made to approximately 80% of the KJV actually being Tyndale’s translation (pp. 45, 141), although 54 scholars, a quarter of them Puritans, produced the final product.
The impact of the KJV can hardly be overstated. It helped standardize the English language, especially the spelling of words (pp. 120-124, 134), it changed cultures, brought social reforms, encouraged education and of course helped spread Christianity. Bragg details all of these and more. The author’s esteem for the KJV is immense which is surprising given that Bragg is not a Christian (see pp. 200, 294-295, 304-309). He writes as a nostalgic and appreciative historian, not as a believer. As a result the reader should not turn to this volume for spiritual enlightenment or insights. But as a work that interlaces the KJV with historical events it is an excellent read. If you love the KJV, your love will be reinforced. Even if you prefer other translations you cannot help but be grateful for how the Lord has used the KJV after reading The Book of Books.