Books that Changed Humanity is an initiative of the Humanities Research Centre, based at the Australian National University. The HRC invites experts to introduce and lead discussion of major texts from a variety of cultural traditions, all of which have informed the way we understand ourselves both individually and collectively as human beings.
In our first event for 2017, Rev Dr John Harris will introduce and discuss The King James Bible.
Greatly loved and respected, the King James Version of the Bible has been continuously in use for 400 years since 1611. The world’s all-time bestselling book, and arguably the world’s most influential book, it has never been out of print. When King James VI of Scotland became James I of England in 1603, one of his first reforms was a completely new version of the Bible. Translated by a carefully-chosen team of 54 scholars, it was to be based on the best Greek and Hebrew texts available at the time. Importantly, it was to be in ordinary speech, in the language ‘understanded of the people’.
On display will be an original 1611 edition. This King James or Authorised Version is known for its beauty, dignity and charm. While it was probably never actually ‘Authorised’, its influence on the English Church, the English language, and the culture of the English-speaking world is incalculable.
Rev Dr John Harris holds a PhD in linguistics and a Doctorate in Theology. His last professional appointment was as Director of the Bible Society’s Translation and Text Division, in which he was responsible for the Bible Society’s work in Indigenous Australian and Pacific Island languages. In 2010, John was awarded the rare and prestigious Lambeth Doctor of Divinity (DD Cantuar) by the Archbishop of Canterbury and Her Majesty the Queen. In retirement John is curator of the Bible Society’s remarkable collection of Historic Bibles. He has a particular interest in 16th and 17th Century English Bibles.
John Harris with 1st edition of King James Bible, 1611.