Critical Book Review of "In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How It Changed a Nation, a Language and a Culture" by Alister McGrath

Essay by kalmecutieUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, March 2007

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Almost four hundred years since its initial publication in 1611, the King James Bible has come to dominate the English-speaking Christian world and is commonly hailed as a literary achievement with a complex and humble beginning. Alister McGrath attempts to illustrate the intricate social, political and economic background throughout England and the rest of Europe that was the foundation for the creation of the King James Version of the Bible. The public’s demand for an English version of the Bible precipitated such controversy that an amicable resolution was not ultimately decided until the creation and, later, widespread acceptance of a unifying translation. While the creation of such a Bible was easily possible, securing the approval of the general populace was much more difficult to obtain.

Alister McGrath is currently Professor of Historical Theology at Oxford University, principal of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, and an author of numerous books. He has studied Chemistry and molecular biophysics at Oxford University.

Originally an atheist, he became a Christian when initially attending Oxford University. He also spent time at Cambridge University where he studied for ordination in the Church of England. He earned his Doctorate of Divinity in 2001 for his research on historical and systematic theology. Church history, doctrine, and evangelical spirituality are his major areas of expertise, with a major emphasis on the relation between faith and science. In the Beginning was published in 2001, and was generally well received by critics and popular readers. The New York Times praised McGrath on his “reverence for the language and a deep knowledge of the historical theology.”In the Beginning is divided into twelve chapters each dealing with a major cultural thread in the development of the King James Version of the Bible. It begins with the background into the development of the printing...