Inside take on a Folger, Bodleian, and Ransom Center exhibition on the creation and afterlife of the King James Bible on the 400th anniversary of its publication.

Ideas for educators: using Manifold Greatness in the classroom


This post first appeared on the Folger Education blog, “Making a Scene” and I thought I would share it here. It is Teacher Appreciation Week, after all, and Manifold Greatness has many rich resources that teachers can benefit from.

Just as William Shakespeare’s life and work attract myths and speculation, the King James Bible has been privy to a number of legends and half-truths in its 400-year history. And like the works of Shakespeare, the King James Bible has had a profound influence on English-speaking peoples across the globe. The creation and influence of this remarkable book is the topic of a new exhibition and website, Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible, recently launched by the Folger Shakespeare Library, Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford, and the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas.

The Manifold Greatness website offers rich resources for educators, including content designed specifically for elementary and middle school audiences. Students can explore key questions surrounding the King James Bible, including what Bibles were used previously, how translators worked together to create the King James Bible, and how this remarkable text continues to be a part of our daily culture.

Explore interactive content to get activity ideas for your classroom. The “how to” videos, including the one above, show you and your students how to make ink, quill pens, quartos, and other materials that relate to life during the period the King James Bible was being produced. For older students, you might visit the “Literary Influences” timeline to see how language from the King James Bible has impacted subsequent works, including the poetry of Emily Dickinson and the novels Jane Eyre, The Grapes of Wrath, and Song of Solomon.

Curious about a few myths associated with the King James Bible?

We won’t spill all of the beans right now, but it’s true that:
1. The King James Bible was not the first translation of the Bible into English.
2. King James did not personally translate any part of the text.
3. Shakespeare did not help to translate the King James Bible. As exhibition curator Hannibal Hamlin says in a previous blog post on this topic, “No way, no how.”

Amy Arden is a Communications Associate at Folger Shakespeare Library and developed the Manifold Greatness Family Guide and online content for children.

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