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.

Archive for December, 2012

The Queen James Bible

Queen James BibleLast week, a new adaptation of the King James Bible titled the Queen James Bible attracted considerable  media attention. A statement on the Bible’s website notes “The Queen James Bible seeks to resolve interpretive ambiguity in the Bible as it pertains to homosexuality.” Its editors have changed 8 verses: Genesis 19:5, Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 1:10 and Jude 1:7, amending each to remove anti-gay language.

One of the claims made on the Queen James Bible website is that James I, the royal sponsor of the King James Bible, was called “Queen James” during his lifetime due to his public affection for other men. While James did have many male favorites, including Robert Carr and George Villiers, his sexual preferences remain ambiguous. There is no historical evidence that James was referred to as “Queen James” by contemporaries, although one epigram noted “Rex fuit Elizabeth, nunc est regina Jacobus” (Elizabeth was King, now James is Queen). However, the epigram is apocryphal. Furthermore, whether the epigram is a comment on his sexuality, or the difference in governing style between James and his forceful cousin, remains unclear.  James and his wife, Anne of Denmark, had 7 children, although only 3 of them reached adulthood. In addition, Anne suffered several miscarriages. Within a few years of his marriage, James also became romantically linked to Lady Anne Murray, a Scottish noblewoman.

Whatever James’ sexual orientation may have been, the King James Bible is one of the definitive achievements of his reign, and its legacy continues to inspire Bible translation and interpretation today.

Amy Arden assisted in the development and production of the Manifold Greatness website and Family Guide. She is a Communications Associate at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC.


The KJB on TV

The Emmy-winning television program Little House on the Prairie enjoyed great popularity between 1974 and 1982, and remains in syndication today.  Based on the book series chronicling the adventures of Laura Ingalls Wilder as a girl and young woman on the Western frontier, the program includes dramatic encounters with the harsh realities of pioneer life.

During one poignant episode, the townspeople must shelter in the church and schoolhouse on Christmas Eve to wait out a sudden blizzard while other residents search for several of the town’s children trapped outside in the storm. By the following day, the children are recovered safe and sound, although one man dies during the search and leaves behind a grieving family. Community leader Charles Ingalls (played by Michael Landon) picks up a copy of the King James Bible and reads the Christmas story from gospel of Luke to comfort the survivors.

Amy Arden assisted in the development and production of the Manifold Greatness website and Family Guide. She is a Communications Associate at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC.


Refashioning a Classic

Cover of the 1962 edition of A Wrinkle in Time. Art design by Ellen Ermingard Raskin.

Cover of the 1962 edition of A Wrinkle in Time. Art design by Ellen Ermingard Raskin.

Fans of A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle’s popular science fiction fantasy novel, will likely remember its trio of leading characters, Meg Murry, Calvin O’Keefe, and the precocious Charles Wallace; the mind-bending possibilities of the tesseract; and the children’s dramatic final confrontation with IT.

2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the book’s publication, and this epic story of good vs. evil continues to be widely read by children and adults. In fact, A Wrinkle in Time was recently made into a graphic novel by writer Margaret Ferguson and illustrator Hope Larson.

“It was definitely an important book for me. It’s one of those books that I’ve gone back to again and again throughout my life.” Larson said in an October interview.

With the novel’s motifs of love, redemption, and sacrifice, many readers detect spiritual themes. L’Engle herself considered A Wrinkle in Time to be a Christian allegory, and the text borrows directly from the King James Bible in one of the novel’s final scenes as Meg Murray prepares to face IT and rescue her brother Charles Wallace. Meg receives encouragement from another character, who tells her:

The foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called, but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. And the base things of the world, and the things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought that are. (I Corinthians 1:25-28)    

Amy Arden assisted in the development and production of the Manifold Greatness website and Family Guide. She is a Communications Associate at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC.


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