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Verily, Verily: The KJV - 400 Years of Influence and Beauty Hardcover – March 9, 2011

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Verily, Verily: The KJV - 400 Years of Influence and Beauty + The Shadow of a Great Rock: A Literary Appreciation of the King James Bible
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 219 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (March 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310320259
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310320258
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #531,199 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jon M. Sweeney is an author, editor, and popular speaker with a wide range of interests. For many years, he was the co-founder and editor-in-chief of SkyLight Paths Publishing. Since 2004, he has been the associate publisher at Paraclete Press. The author of several books including The Road to Assisi and Light in the Dark Ages, both about St. Francis, Jon is a Catholic living in Woodstock, Vermont. He wrote about his evangelical childhood in the memoir, Born Again and Again, which received an Award of Merit from Christianity Today. You can follow Jon on his King James Bible fan blog,

More About the Author

Jon M. Sweeney is an independent scholar and writer of popular history. He is married, the father of three children, and lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He writes and reflects on religion, history, and culture in books, articles, reviews, and various other media. Jon was the cofounder and editor-in-chief of SkyLight Paths Publishing in Vermont for many years. Since 2004 he has been the editor in chief and publisher at Paraclete Press in Massachusetts.

He has written more than 20 books, seven of which are about Francis of Assisi, including the new "When Saint Francis Saved the Church." HBO has optioned the film rights to "The Pope Who Quit."

In early 2013, as the author of "The Pope Who Quit," Jon was interviewed on CBS News in Chicago, WGN-TV, Fox News, and WTTW's Chicago Tonight. He also appeared on CBS Sunday Morning to talk about St. Patrick on March 17, 2013.

Jon's spiritual and religious life continues to evolve, and much of his writing is about this. His first 20 years were spent as an involved evangelical (a story told in the memoir Born Again and Again); he then spent 22 years as an active Episcopalian (see Almost Catholic, among others); and on the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi in 2009 he was received into the Catholic Church. Today, Jon is a Catholic but his most regular spiritual practice is Jewish, as he prays regularly with his wife, a rabbi.

Sweeney says that he loves the church, the synagogue, and other aspects of organized religion. (He never claims to be "spiritual but not religious"). In all of his writing, Jon is drawn to the ancient and medieval (see "The Road to Assisi," and "Inventing Hell"). Many of Jon's books have been selections of History Book Club, Book-of-the-Month Club, and Quality Paperback Book Club.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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It's humor and poetic language.
I have read different versions of the bible and have used them for studying, but the KJV has always been my favorite.
"I found myself listening for God's voice, and hearing it in different ways and in new places," Mr. Sweeney says.
N. B. Kennedy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Scandalous Sanity VINE VOICE on March 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This interesting book starts off with a clever metaphor: the author burying KJV Bibles. This is how he disposes of donated Bibles that he cannot sell or give away. But despite their unceremonious ending, he can't help but admire the influence of the King James Version.

The book starts out with a short history of the Bible leading up to the KJV, including a chapter on a few lesser known English Bibles and the influence of King Henry VIII on Christianity in England. Sweeney does a good job of condensing a lot of history into a small amount of space, but still keeping it relevant and precise. He then moves on to how the KJV was translated.

The real fun starts when Verily, Verily moves onto a chapter discussing the humorous and odd verses that only the KJV boasts, because of spelling and the oddities of Middle English. Sweeney then discusses the "KJV only" movement and its origins. Another chapter lists notable people who's works were influenced by the KJV, such as Charles Dickens, Abraham Lincoln, and Mark Twain. Also appearing are chapters that list famous KJV verses, the conflict of science and the KJV, and a glossary of archaic words and phrases found only in the "Authorized Version."

This is a educational and entertaining book, and those interested in Bible history won't be disappointed.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By N. B. Kennedy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am a huge fan of Jon Sweeney's Born Again and Again, his memoir of an evangelical childhood and his subsequent faith journey. I love his thought that an upbringing of any spiritual nature at all is a gift that grants a person "a language of faith" on which to expand in later life.

So, it doesn't surprise me that Mr. Sweeney wanted to take on the evolving language of the Bible and the centricity of the King James Version to many generations. Its language is what we retain from the thousands upon thousands of hours we sat in the pews of our youth. "What could be more important than the ways the KJV has formed the followers of Christ?" he asks.

Mr. Sweeney's writing is conversational, as if you were in the lecture hall of your favorite prof. On the whole, it is an engaging style that allows for easy comprehension of a difficult and wide-ranging subject. History gallops by at a good clip -- Cromwell is dispatched with in one sentence, King James himself in about a page. Within a few pages, publishing goes from an expensive, laborious one-off process to the mass production of Tyndale Bibles.

I appreciated Mr. Sweeney's history of biblical versions preceding the KJV -- the Vulgate, the Coverdale Bible, the
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By delightedtoshare on May 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I have always enjoyed studying the historic biblical translations, especially the King James Version. I love history of all kinds, and church history all the more. A debate in the church that has long intrigued me is the undeniable controversy surrounding biblical translation.

There are arguments to be made for a variety of contemporary english versions. I have used the NIV for the past 10 years. Most seminary trained pastors point to the New American Standard Bible as the most literal word for word translation and therefore the most accurate. Lifeway, the literature publishing branch of the Southern Baptist Convention has adopted the Holman Christian Standard Bible as its official translation. Some embrace "paraphrases" such as the Message for its ease of understanding by laymen, and some condemn it has not being scripture. My first real bible reading was an early paraphrase that was never widely adopted called The Book. The most interesting to me however has always been the opinion that the King James Version is the only correct English translation. There are quite a few that hold this view (you know who you are...) and those who do mean it. I have heard a church near me even inform people who have said they have a difficult time understanding the KJV that they may not be genuinely saved. I even heard one story of a senior pastor at a small church who was beside himself having learned that one of his staff members was teaching from a contemporary translation, and in a fit of rage slam this bible to the floor and kicked it across the room.

With all this in mind I chose to review VERILY, VERILY: THE KJV - 400 YEARS OF INFLUENCE AND BEAUTY if for no other reason than to see if this was another controversial opinion.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By B. Wilson VINE VOICE on February 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Verily, Verily is a narrative of the history of the origin of the King James version of the Bible. The author, Jon Sweeney, takes the reader back in time to journey forward through the different gatherings and translations of the Bible, fixating primarily on the last 400 years which comprise the time line of the King James version. He discusses the six committees that met in several cities over a period of seven years. The original KJV was completed in 1611, but subsequently revisions were made and printing errors were made. In 1769 many of these errors were fixed in the Oxford Standard Edition, which is used for nearly all versions of KJV Bibles today. Sweeney also includes information on earlier versions of the Bible, including William Tyndale's version. Some scholars believe that many phrases of the KJV New Testament were taken from Tyndale's English Bible. Tyndale was burned at the stake for translating the Bible into English, and hundreds of other people were killed for translating or possessing English versions of the Bible. Sweeney includes the controversial issues of interpreting Hebrew and Greek wording to fit the English translation. It is quite often difficult to obtain the exact word in English that relates to the original meaning as written in Hebrew or Greek. There is also a chapter on how it is often humorous the way words are twisted or tweaked to try to get the true meaning across. Sweeney makes his point that the KJV is classical, has a lilt and rhythm to it and has withstood the trials of time to still be the book of choice for thousands and thousands of Bible readers.

One of my favorite parts of the book is the Appendix, which lists words used in the KJV and their everyday meanings. Quite a useful help if you do use the King James Version of the Bible instead of one of the easier to understand versions. Sweeney also includes information on online resources and ebooks. Unfortunately the book does not have an index.
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