The Typographic Hub

The King James Bible: a short history from Tyndal to today

The King James Bible: a short history from Tyndal to today: NORTON, David; Cambridge University Press, 2011; isbn 978-0-521-61688-1 [paperback]

For four centuries the Anglican community has regarded The King James Bible [KJB] as a book of divinely inspired truth, and the foundation of its religion, knowledge and law. The KJB has become the standard English form of the Word of God.

The King James Bible was the result of an extraordinary effort over the course of a century to take the many English translations of the Bible and turn them into what the translators called ‘one principal good one, not justly to be excepted against.’ David Norton, author of The King James Bible: a short history from Tyndal to today, traces the work of Tyndal and his successors, analysing the translation and revisions of two representative passages. 

The King James Bible is a minutely documented, erudite and yet infinitely readable account of the making of the KJB. Norton not only provides a fascinating account of the translators’ manuscript work, but he also provides extensive commentary on the textual history and the changing scholarly and literary reputations of the KJB.

But Norton’s book also has much to interest the typographic historian as he also gives a scholarly, yet vivid and wholly human account of the printing and design of the King James Bible through to 1800 – including the printings by Baker and Baskerville, and rival printers from Europe. It is a complicated, obscure and worldly story of litigation, bankruptcy, sabotage and imprisonment.

There is also a section on typographically errors in the KJB, which are the result of translators, printers and suspected typographic sabotage.


Read more about the making of the King James Bible