Exhibit offers 100 years of English Bible translations leading to publication of first King James Bible

By Carol Nelson, Office of Communications and Marketing



Auburn University Libraries' Special Collections and Archives is hosting a special exhibit of some of the rare and historic Bibles that it holds in its collection. The exhibit marks the 400th anniversary of the first publication of the King James translation of the Bible and covers the approximately 100 years of English Bible translations that led to the publication of the first King James Bible in 1611.

Bibles in the exhibit include a facsimile of the 1525 Tyndale translation along with original printings of King Henry VIII's Great Bible, the Geneva Bible, the Bishop's Bible, the Rheims New Testament and a 1613 printing of the King James Bible.

"Special Collections and Archives holds many rare and historic Bibles in its collection," said Greg Schmidt, special collections librarian at Auburn University Libraries. "Of special note in this exhibit is the Great Bible. This book is not only of historical interest as a 16th century Bible, it also is of great importance to the university as a gift from former Auburn University President Philpott in 1979 and as the one millionth volume collected by the library."

The story of how each Bible came to be made and the historical events surrounding them are told in the exhibit prepared by Schmidt and reference librarian Todd Shipman. Also displayed are books and correspondence of Auburn professor emeritus Ward Sykes Allen, an eminent scholar in English Bible translations.

"The exhibit offers a chronological progression from the earliest written or printed works up through the 1613 King James Bible," said Schmidt. "The difference between the 1611 and 1613 Bible is a ‘he vs. she.' The 1611 King James Bible is nicknamed the ‘he' Bible because in the book of Ruth, they called Ruth ‘he' accidentally. But, by the 1613 edition, they had fixed that."

"Many of these Bibles were given to us by very generous donors who had them as part of their family's collection," said Bonnie MacEwan, dean of Auburn University Libraries. "Those kinds of gifts have been very important to our special collections as we provide a well preserved, well cared for, expert environment for these valuable resources to be forever available to scholars, and as with this exhibit, to the community."

The exhibit is free to the public and can be seen through the end of 2011 in the Special Collections and Archives Department, located on the ground floor of Ralph Brown Draughon Library, during regular semester hours: 7:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; 7:45 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday; and 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays. Go to the Auburn University Libraries' website at http://www.lib.auburn.edu/hours/spec for non-semester hours

Last Updated: July 14, 2011

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