At Whitworth University, the Manifold Greatness exhibit dovetails nicely with the university’s mission to promote “an education of mind & heart.” As a faith-based liberal arts institution, we place high value on knowledge that addresses both intellectual and spiritual issues, much like the King James Bible was both an intellectual and a religious endeavor. Our Special Collections at the library include a Pacific Northwest Protestantism collection, and one of the university’s exhibit items is a Geneva Bible printed in 1611. Gonzaga University, one of our community partners, has also contributed a Douay-Rheims Bible for display.
At our first event on April 19, we listened to Whitworth Professor of Theology James R. Edwards speak about the translation teams’ commitment to providing an English translation that incorporated good scholarship with sound theology. Moreover, Dr. Edwards emphasized, the translators ensured that the King James Bible was stylistically superior, thanks in large part to other English translations that had come before it. Translators acknowledged their indebtedness to their predecessors and strove to make the King James translation the cream of an already superior crop. They, too, were interested in providing a translation that engaged both the mind and heart.
Amy C. Rice is an Instructor/ Coordinator of Technical Services & Systems at Harriet Cheney Cowles Memorial Library at Whitworth University.
William Shakespeare and the King James Bible have both contributed many noteworthy expressions to the English language. In honor of Shakespeare’s birthday, traditionally believed to be on April 23, readers are challenged to decide whether the following phrases come from William Shakespeare’s works or the King James Bible. Some people believe that Shakespeare himself had a role in creating the King James Bible translation. Scholar Hannibal Hamlin refutes this rumor with a resounding “No!” in his post, “Shakespeare did not write the King James Bible, no way, no how.”
And now for the challenge, “The Bible or Shakespeare?” Answers will be posted tomorrow.
A. salt of the earth
B. in a pickle
C. the blind lead the blind
D. apple of his eye
E. not a mouse stirring
F. at their wit’s end
G. the skin of my teeth
H. budge an inch
I. turn the other cheeck
J. many are called, but few are chosen
K. a tower of strength
L. for goodness’ sake
M. your own flesh and blood
N. one fell swoop.
Amy Arden assisted in the development and production of the Manifold Greatness website, particularly the content and activities in the “For Kids” section. She is a communications associate at the Folger Shakespeare Library.
The Manifold Greatness traveling exhibit opened on April 11 at the Winfield Public Library in Winfield, KS and will be on view through May 11. This will be the only stop in Kansas for this exhibit.
Since its opening, Manifold Greatness has attracted a steady stream of visitors, despite the library’s brief closure while while more than 100 tornadoes passed over Kansas! The town of Winfield escaped unscathed, and Manifold Greatness opened to a wonderful reception on April 16 hosted by the Friends of the Library.
Dr. Phil Schmidt, Professor of History at Southwestern College, opened the library’s five-part program series with a lecture entitled “The Historical Role of the King James Bible and English Power Politics, 1517 to 1692.” His witty and engaging approach encouraged audience participation. Dr. Schmidt shared information on the political, theological, and dynastic power struggles which engulfed the people of England in the 1500’s and 1600’s, both before and after the publishing of the King James Bible. The speech was well received by a packed house; more programs are planned, and www.wpl.org has a complete listing of upcoming events and programs for Manifold Greatness while it is in Kansas.
Several organizations loaned historic Bibles that are displayed with the Manifold Greatness exhibit. These include Bibles written in German, Spanish, French, Navajo, Aymara, and Lao; several of the Bibles on display are treasured family Bibles that traveled to Kansas with settlers or were distributed by early missionaries. The Navajo Bible was used by a missionary in Arizona before making its way to Kansas. The Lao Bible was brought from Thailand around 30 years ago and is printed on rice paper. The French Bible has traveled with its family from Switzerland to other countries around the world before finally arriving in Kansas, while the German Bible is an heirloom passed down through generations. Bibles are on loan from the Cowley County Historical Society, The Cherokee Strip Museum, The Winfield Masonic Lodge #110 and family Bibles from the community. More information on family Bibles is available on the Manifold Greatness website.
Sue Birney is the Adult Special Services Librarian at Winfield Public Library in Winfield, KS.
On April 6 & 7, 1862, opposing Confederate and Union forces met in the woods and fields of rural Tennessee. The ensuing battle would become the bloodiest to date in the United States. Casualties totaled over 23,000 dead and wounded—more than the number killed during all 8 years of the Revolutionary War. Even today, the Battle of Shiloh conjures up images of intense suffering.
For soldiers facing injury, illness, and possible death, the Bible could be a source of comfort. Bibles were distributed with items such as food and blankets by the Sanitary Commission, a relief organization organized to aid Union soldiers. One prisoner of war, Thomas P. Meyer, received a King James Bible while he was held captive at Belle Island prison in Richmond, Va. Other soldiers inscribed their names or listed battles in which they had fought inside their copies of the Bible, as this short video from the Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum shows. The Museum of Biblical Art is currently featuring an exhibition on soldiers’ Bibles from the Civil War to the present day.
While armies fought on the field, orators waged a war of words for public opinion. Two of the most famous abolitionists, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, both have connections to the King James Bible. A personal copy owned by Douglass is the subject of an earlier post, and Lincoln (and later, President Obama) were sworn in to office on a King James Bible.
Amy Arden assisted in the development and production of the Manifold Greatness website. She is a communications associate at the Folger Shakespeare Library.