This surprised me when I saw it on the Archbishop Cranmer blog.
It’s from the 2011 Trust and to quote their web site;
“The 2011 Trust has been established to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible which was completed in 1611. There have been few more important single publications and its impact through history has been colossal.”
Fantastic, they have a good web site, the Prince of Wales as the patron and a list of trustees that reads like “Who’s Who”. It seems they have approached prominent people and asked them to read a chapter of the King James Bible. They have posted videos of former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion, actress Patricia Routledge CBE, and Speaker of the House of Commons Right Honourable John Bercow MP.
All good stuff of course but in a very bold step, they wrote to Professor Richard Dawkins and asked him if he would read a chapter. According to Frank Field MP one of the trustees, he immediately responded and very graciously agreed to read a chapter. In this video he is asked for his views on the King James Bible, he states “Not to know the King James Bible is to be, in some small way, barbarian.” He goes on to list some of the phrases from the King James that have entered our everyday language. It’s clear that he loves some of the very beautiful words and phrases. However, before you start to think that this is the greatest conversion since Paul on the road to Damascus, he also says “It’s important that religion shouldn’t be allowed to hijack this cultural resource”.
There is so much that I could say on this but probably will stick with an illustration that my father used to use. He said that the bible is like a treasure map, very old and quite beautiful. Those who see it have one of three responses.
One group cast doubt on the map’s authenticity, “it’s a fake!” they cry, “how could it possibly be what it claims to be? A treasure map, that’s ridiculous!”
The second group are mesmerised by the beauty of the map. “Look at it, it’s so beautiful. Look at the brush work and the subtle colours. You can feel the history seeping from it!”
The third group take the radical step of actually following the directions that the map gives and when they do they find the treasure. Groups one and two continue to argue the merits or otherwise of the map but group three have the treasure.
The bible is certainly beautiful. It has undoubtedly had a huge effect on our language and culture but it’s much more than that, it’s a treasure map and the treasure is Christ. As Paul puts it;
“And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” – 2 Timothy 3:15 (King James Bible obviously)
It isn’t enough just to read the bible, we have to submit to the word of God. Some of the bible is difficult and some of it you may wish to be different but it remains the word of God. As writer to the Hebrews puts it;
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12 (King James Bible obviously)
I’ve been reading the bible for over forty years and sometimes when I read it still cuts deep, discerning my thoughts and intensions. It isn’t always comfortable but it always speaks life to my heart
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” – Psalm 119:105