Friday, 18 February 2011

To be continued… Bible Year 2011 (8)

Excellent podcast by +Stephen Cottrell on the importance of the Bible. Here is the full text and it is always worth listening to him speak.
I have to confess to feeling slightly irritated by the Radio 4 insistence that the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible is an important cultural event. You know, all that stuff about the incomparable prose of the Authorised Version, its indelible mark upon the English language. Well, all that is true. It is impossible to understand European literature and art without some familiarity with the Bible. It has indeed shaped our culture and our laws.
But the reason we are celebrating this anniversary is not primarily about the form of the Bible, however beautiful, but its content. The Bible is vital and central because it is God’s word, not faxed down from heaven, but inspired by the Spirit, the indispensable record of God’s dealings with his people, written by the people themselves, a record of God’s activity in history, God’s ways and God’s heart and supremely God’s revelation of his self in Jesus Christ who is God’s word made flesh and then the beginnings of the Christian church and the story of how we are formed as God’s people today.
The Bible, which is a great library, a collection of books within a book,  enables us to meet with God and to know God. That is what we are celebrating in this year of the Bible. That is the reason we are encouraging people to open their Bibles. And here it doesn’t really matter which translation you are using. What matters is letting the word of God into our lives and through us into our world. The word that was made flesh in Jesus Christ is made available to us through the written word of scripture and now God wants to write that same word in our hearts.
Sometimes I rather provocatively say to people, I would like to make a change to the Bible. It is this, a simple addition, right at the very end: ‘To be continued  until that great day when we see the Lord face to face.’ The great promise of scripture, the great Christian hope is that  God wants to write his word in our hearts, and we need to listen and brood upon that word so that we can learn to be his people. What was revolutionary about the King James Bible 400 years ago was that it put the scriptures into everyday language and into the ears and hearts and hands of ordinary people. That is also the challenge for us today.
Further details about  Bible Year 2011 in the Diocese of Chelmsford can be found here.


Robert said...

The Bible had been accessible in English since Wyclif's two versions in the 1380's, and the first printed English NT was Tyndales; version, which came out in 1526. The first complete English Bible was Coverdale's version of 1535, which was approved by Henry VIII after the bishops assured him that it contained no heresies. So there was nothing new about the Authorised Version. I think the reason for its historical importance was that the English church was so divided that there were no more official versions till Victorian times.

Philip Ritchie said...

Thanks Robert, I've mentioned the facts about earlier English translations in previous posts on this topic. The point is that given the anniversary of the KJV is being so widely celebrated we have a great opportunity to draw peoples attention to the content of the Bible and its relevance today. That's the message +Stephen is trying to get across.