A new poll taken for the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible reveals that a majority of those under 35 in the United Kingdom don’t even know about the work, which has been described as a significant part of the estimated 100 million Bible sales annually, making it the best best-seller, ever.
“Yet this is a work which was far more influential than Shakespeare in the development and spread of English,” a spokesman for the King James Bible Trust told the Christian Institute in a recent report.
The Christian Institute’s report said the translation, which will celebrate its 400th anniversary next year, was the subject of a poll commissioned by the Bible Trust, and a spokesman said it was clear “there has been a dramatic drop in knowledge in a generation.”
The results revealed that 51 percent of those under 35 never have heard of the King James Bible, compared to 28 percent of those over the age of 35.
The institute reported that Labour Member of Parliament Frank Field said, “It is not possible to comprehend fully Britain’s historical, linguistic or religious development without an understanding of this great translation.”
According to officials who are working on a series of events marking the 400th year of the King James Bible, work on the translation into English of God’s Word started in 1604 at the request of King James I. Work continued on the project until 1611, when the team of 47 of the top Bible scholars of the time finished their work.
Among the various events that are being planned is the issuance of commemorative stamps in the U.K. Mervyn Storey of North Antrim was among those petitioning for the recogtnition.
“The Authorized or King James Version of the Bible is the most influential piece of literature in the English language,” he told The Christian Institute. “However, the King James Version didn’t just influence our literature and language. It also had a beneficial influence upon political and constitutional affairs.”
The Bible Trust has posted online a reproduction of what the original project looked like, and offers a variety of options for people to recognize the anniversary.
The Christian Institute also reported that BBC Radio 4 will celebrate the anniversary by devoting a Sunday in January to reading the text. Plans are for the readings to happen over a time frame of seven hours, broken up into 28 15-minute sessions, highlighting various parts of the Bible.
The Christian Institute said the station also will broadcast a three-part documentary on the King James Version.
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