From Publishers Weekly
With the 400th anniversary of the King James Version (KJV) on the horizon, expect to see a cloud of dust rising from the march of all things commemorative. As Campbell, professor of Renaissance studies at Leicester University and coauthor of John Milton: Life, Work, and Thought, observes, the KJV "is the most celebrated book in the English-speaking world." Campbell's book is an erudite companion to a new release of the KJV that hews as closely to its 1611 progenitor as possible. Packed with information as minute as the genealogy of the king's printer and history of his printing house, it's tough to read on its own, despite the author's occasional wry asides. Yet as a resource detailing all aspects of the development and production of the KJV, this is a fine book. Readers will appreciate the discussion of original illustrations (some are reproduced here) and the recital of hilarious typos that plagued early editions. The subject of the KJV's influence on Christianity in American history, addressed toward the book's end, is unfortunately mired in excessive detail. (Oct.) (c)
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Entire books have been written on the making of the King James Version of the Bible. Campbell’s scope is much bigger, though—devoting only a third of his book to the KJV’s creation. In what he calls a “biography of a book,” Campbell traces the version’s entire history up to 2011, which will mark the 400th anniversary of what may be the most influential book in the English language. Since the King James Bible is a product of the Renaissance era, it is appropriate that its biographer is a professor of Renaissance studies (Leicester University). Even so, Campbell never seems out of his element when covering the KJV in its later historical stages. He devotes a chapter apiece to each century since the Bible’s first edition and also includes a chapter on the unique aspect of the KJV’s reception in America. The final third of the book highlights all of the KJV’s significant revisions (e.g., NKJV) and editions (e.g., Scofield). Throughout, there is enough detail to please serious researchers but not too much to turn off those simply wanting a “good read.” --Wade Osburn