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King James Bible

Volume 521: debated on Tuesday 18 January 2011

9. What steps the Church Commissioners are taking to assist in the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the King James version of the Bible. (33925)

In her inauguration address to the General Synod, Her Majesty the Queen emphasised the importance of the King James Bible and the lasting impact it has had on the life of the Church and on the nation. The Archbishop of Canterbury also used his new year message to draw attention to the anniversary and enduring significance of the King James Bible. The 2011 celebrations were launched at Hampton Court and the King James Bible Trust, chaired by the right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr Field), has been set up to oversee the programme of events and activities planned around the world to mark 400 years since the creation of the book that changed the world.

Hundreds of words and phrases in modern English came from the King James Bible, such as, “Eat, drink and be merry,” “Grinding the faces of the poor,” “No peace for the wicked” and “Fly in the ointment.” York minster and the trust will celebrate this event in many ways this year, but what will the Church Commissioners do to make this a truly national celebration of our language and culture?

The Church Commissioners will give every possible support to the trust because, as the hon. Gentleman says, no book has had a greater influence on the English language. It is a masterpiece of literature that unites English-speaking people everywhere. Indeed, a number of expressions are unique to the King James Bible, some of which are relevant to politics, such as, “How are the mighty fallen,” “Set your house in order,” “Be horribly afraid”, “A thorn in the flesh,” “Let us now praise famous men” and “To everything there is a season.” My favourite phrase from the King James Bible is, “My father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.”