Event Title

The Politics of Union: The Creation of 'Britain' and the KJB

Presenter Information

Brandon Fralix, Bloomfield College

Location

Room A

Start Date

1-10-2011 4:15 PM

End Date

1-10-2011 5:30 PM

Abstract

While the King James Version of the Bible was officially published in 1611, it was commissioned in 1604, less than a year after James Stuart had inherited the throne of England from Elizabeth Tudor. This seven-year lag between its commissioning and publishing allowed the politics of those years to influence the translators. Scholars have noted such influence in the places where translators chose language supporting monarchial government and royalist positions, when a more nuanced translation would have been less monarchial and royalist. Scholars have explored these translation choices for evidence of royalist influence on the translators and have argued that much of the impetus for James’s commissioning of a new translation was for purposes of propaganda.

What fewer scholars have done—and what this paper proposes to do—is trace how the translators were influenced by the dominant political debate of the first decade of James’s reign, which was the debate about the proposed union between England and Scotland. Because of the successful attempts at Union in the eighteenth century and because of the modern American (and English!) tendency to conflate England with Britain and use the names interchangeably, the debate about British union can seem surprising to modern readers, but in the first decade of James’s reign no other domestic policy, including religion, was as intensely debated or caused as much conflict between the king and the English parliament as the debate about transforming the dynastic marriage of Scotland and England into a formal, legal union.

This paper, then, will explore how the raging debate about the creation of Britain and the ideas of union influenced the translators who developed the King James Version of the Bible.

Comments

Dr. Brandon Fralix is Assistant Professor of English at Bloomfield College.

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Oct 1st, 4:15 PM Oct 1st, 5:30 PM

The Politics of Union: The Creation of 'Britain' and the KJB

Room A

While the King James Version of the Bible was officially published in 1611, it was commissioned in 1604, less than a year after James Stuart had inherited the throne of England from Elizabeth Tudor. This seven-year lag between its commissioning and publishing allowed the politics of those years to influence the translators. Scholars have noted such influence in the places where translators chose language supporting monarchial government and royalist positions, when a more nuanced translation would have been less monarchial and royalist. Scholars have explored these translation choices for evidence of royalist influence on the translators and have argued that much of the impetus for James’s commissioning of a new translation was for purposes of propaganda.

What fewer scholars have done—and what this paper proposes to do—is trace how the translators were influenced by the dominant political debate of the first decade of James’s reign, which was the debate about the proposed union between England and Scotland. Because of the successful attempts at Union in the eighteenth century and because of the modern American (and English!) tendency to conflate England with Britain and use the names interchangeably, the debate about British union can seem surprising to modern readers, but in the first decade of James’s reign no other domestic policy, including religion, was as intensely debated or caused as much conflict between the king and the English parliament as the debate about transforming the dynastic marriage of Scotland and England into a formal, legal union.

This paper, then, will explore how the raging debate about the creation of Britain and the ideas of union influenced the translators who developed the King James Version of the Bible.