This year marks the 400th anniversary of the printing of the King James Bible, the most widely published and bestselling book in all of history. Yet about 100 years ago, Bruce Barton referred to it as “the book nobody knows.” But is it a book nobody knows?
Sadly few people read this book with any regularity, and what was once the one book everyone had in the home is no longer in every house. Without a doubt, the printing of the English Bible for the common man is one of the most influential events of the last millennium. It brought about considerable turmoil in society as many norms were challenged. It created equality and put pressure on those who wanted a caste system. It was more revolutionary than any book in history. It was instrumental in the creation of the American Constitution.
Even though many people don’t read the book, much of its wisdom and phraseology is richly embedded in common conversation. Do you recognize any of these phrases: "All things to all men." "His feet are made of clay." "Count the cost." "Don’t be a respecter of persons." "His left hand doesn’t know what his right hand is doing." "Many are called but few are chosen." "Fight the good fight." "A law unto themselves." Yes, these and hundreds more are all biblical expressions commonly used by people who don’t know their origin.
The Bible so concisely gives its colorful imagery to identify many aspects of man’s nature. It is at once encouraging to many who suffer and condemning to those who would esteem themselves or lord it over their fellow man. It contains lessons in courage and gives hope to the opressed. The book is full of wisdom, history, prophecy and poetry.
It seems funny that the best-selling book of all time is being removed from schools, even as a work of literature by a king who was very scholarly. King James was fluent in English, Latin, Greek and French and had the personal motto of beati pacifici--"blessed are the peacemakers." Why would such a major literary work be feared by educators whose trade is in books and knowledge?
On this anniversary of its printing, why not challenge yourself to actually read the book, cover to cover. Discover--or rediscover, for those who have read this book--what it actually says. You just might find out even more about yourself and about why the world is the way it is.