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.

A Scintillating Start to Manifold Greatness at the Sumter County Library

After a great deal of  planning, the traveling exhibition for Manifold Greatness is currently on view at the Sumter County Library in Sumter, SC. On Friday, July 13th, the Library presented an opening reception with remarks by Dr. Harry Singleton of Benedict College and Dr. Larry Watson of South Carolina State University.  The two scholars led a discussion focusing on the religious and political aspects involved in the creation and afterlife of the King James Bible. Dozens attended the event, including State Representative David Weeks and Sumter Mayor Joe McElveen. The Friends of the Sumter County Library graciously provided the funds for a wonderful spread of refreshments.

Dr. Larry Watson returned on Monday, July 16th to discuss Dr. Martin Luther King’s use of the King James Bible in his speeches and sermons, including the “I Have a Dream Speech” and his allusion to Amos 5:24 and Isaiah 40:4-5. (More on Dr. Martin Luther King and other examples of the King James Bible’ influence on contemporary culture can be seen on the Manifold Greatness website’s “Modern Life” timeline). During and after the discussion, Dr. Watson fielded numerous questions from an attentive audience. In addition to these events the Sumter County Library created a display of Family Bibles. These Bibles, which include a Greek New Testament Pocket Bible from 1822, were loaned courtesy of the Sumter County Museum.

On left, a 1852 Bible printed in London by the G.E. Eyre Company. On the right, a Bible printed in 1963 by the South Carolina Tract Society. Both items on loan from the Sumter County Museum. Image courtesy of the Sumter County Library.

In addition to the both the Manifold Greatness exhibit and Family Bible display, the Sumter County Library will put on a variety of events until the Closing Reception on Thursday, August 9th. These events include lectures by Dr. Valinda Littlefield and Dr. Harry Singleton, a King James Bible Quiz Bowl, King James Choir concert and an “Expressions” Art Show.

We look forward to these upcoming events and will send an update soon. In the meantime, please see our Photobucket account for pictures and YouTube channel for videos from this project:


Ford Simmons is the Reference and Information Services Coordinator/Webmaster at Sumter County Library.

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