|Dr. Carl Eby, Chair of the English Department of USCB|
Students viewing the exhibition for the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible after the discussion.
Bluffton, SC – On October 24th the University of South Carolina Beaufort hosted a roundtable discussion entitled The King James Bible in Context: Art, Language, & Literature, focused on the history of the King James Bible. This discussion, which was open to USCB students and the public, was inspired by The English Bible: An exhibition for the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, which is currently on display in the USCB Library.
The discussion about the history of the King James Bible was facilitated by the Chair of the English Department, Carl Eby PhD, Professor of English, Robert Kilgore PhD, and Professor of Art History, Lisa Victoria Ciresi PhD.
Eby started the discussion by asking, “Why are we celebrating the 400th anniversary of this book?” since few other books receive this sort of recognition. “We celebrate the anniversary of this book,” he answered, “because the language of the King James Bible is woven into the fabric of our daily speech.”
The King James Bible was translated into English during the same era when William Shakespeare was writing his famous plays. Eby explained that one of the reasons the Bible is so much easier than Shakespeare to understand is that “the Bible has an 8000 word vocabulary and was written to be understood by the masses, whereas there are 34,000 different words in Shakespeare’s works.”
Kilgore stated that it is important to know “how we read or understand the bible.” In the past, the bible was not meant to be read straight through, cover to cover. Different passages reference other passages in the text. “Early modern readers of the Bible often read in these cross-referencing kinds of ways, and this method of reading in some ways resembles what people do today with the Internet” explained Kilgore.
“There is a long and rich history of illustrating the bible” said Dr. Lisa Victoria Ciresi. Ciresi discussed some of the prints included in the 1611 King James Bible, noting that the images, motifs, and symbolism hark back to earlier traditions, and although their significance eludes many of us today, the images are based on scripture from both the Old and New Testaments and would have been more familiar to the audience back then.
Drafted by: Stefny Ankney, Social Media Intern
USCB Public Information Director