Friday, October 8, 2010

Book Review: The Treasure of God's Word

The Treasure of God's Word: Celebrating 400 Years of the King James Bible

Some of you may not realize it, but an important milestone is next year:  2011 marks 400 years since the publication of the King James Version of the Bible. Now, many people will discount this, since they aren't major readers of the Bible in general, while others will discount the KJV for other reasons.  Others will certainly celebrate the KJV for both religious and linguistic reasons.

In the run-up to this anniversary comes this book.  It's the first I'm aware specifically targeted into that quadricentennial (yes, I looked that up) market.  It won't be the last.

Which is a good thing.  The book reports to readers that the KJV is highly influential, but does not go very far in describing that influence.  The primary content of the book are copy-and-paste sections from the Bible itself, which is certainly good content, but not really worth another book purchase if you own a Bible, especially a KJV.  The short, mini-essay style content that is interspersed between the Bible sections just doesn't hold up as a reason to purchase this book.

What are some of the difficulties I had here? 

At the simplest level, I felt the Scripture sections were too long and the information sections too short.  This makes the book seem more like an attempt to monetize than to inform or inspire.  Also, when the passages selected were specifically intended to show the strength and beauty of the English in the King James Bible, the more you read those words, the less impressive the modern writing is.  I don't know many authors that could generate content that would hold a candle.

A further difficulty was that the original content is more than just celebration of the King James, it comes across as almost too exalting.  If this was the first one read of Bible translations, you'd be shocked to later discover that there are issues with the KJV translation, rather than that it's the best there has ever been. In discussion of the heritage of the KJV, this book does address their existence, but does not acknowledge the debt the KJV has to the previous editions.  The reader is given the impression that the world of English Bibles was a complete mess until King James and the translators saved the day.

The historical reality is a little less clear.  There were prior Bible translations, and many of them were quite popular, except that they lacked official approval by the King and the state religion.  So, there are some issues left undiscussed.

Finally, there are a couple of references to the King James Version not simply as one translation of the Word of God into English, but as the Word of God in English.  It's a hint of treating this one translation as better than all others, and that I find questionable.

In all, this book could have been better.  Judged by its cover, it's beautiful, but on the inside, it falls into the trap of praising something by ignoring issues rather than addressing them.


Read Disclosures! to see that I received a free copy of this book from Booksneeze for the review.

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