A Profound Influence

06.14.2012 | Catholic, Fine Arts, Campus and Community, Culture and Society

The University of Dayton will be one of only 40 sites in the U.S. to host a National Endowment for the Humanities traveling exhibit on the history and influence of the King James Bible.

"Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible" will be featured from Friday, Aug. 24, through Wednesday, Sept. 19, at Roesch Library. The exhibit celebrates the 400th anniversary of the first printing of the King James Bible in 1611 and examining its influential and complex history. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

"The history and influence of the King James Bible is of interest to many people, and is especially important to the University of Dayton as a Catholic and Marianist University," said Kathleen Webb, dean of University Libraries. "The exhibit shows how important this book has been in history and helps audiences to develop a new understanding of its social, cultural, literary, and religious influence over four centuries. We're delighted to be a site for this exhibition."

A first edition King James Bible, on loan from Denison University, will be displayed next to the University of Dayton’s own first edition Douay-Rheims Bible, a Catholic translation of the Bible from the Latin Vulgate. Select rare books, Bibles and items from the University's collections related to the King James Bible also will be featured. The traveling exhibit includes high-quality reproductions of rare and historic books, manuscripts and works of art from the collections of the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford, along with interpretive text.

The library will also offer free programs in connection with the display, including an opening lecture and reception 6:30–8:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30, at Roesch Library. A panel discussion by University faculty members will close the exhibit Wednesday, Sept. 19, at Roesch Library.

Other public events include book discussions and brown bag lectures at Roesch Library and the Dayton Metro Library Main Branch. Michael S. Carter, assistant professor of history will lead a discussion of In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How it Changed a Nation, A Language, and A Culture, by Allister McGrath. Thomas Morgan, assistant professor of English, will lead a discussion of Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon. Faculty hosting brown bag lectures at lunch include Carter and associate professors of history Laura Hume and Bill Trollinger. Dates and times will be announced and listed on the Roesch Library website.

Translated during several years by six committees of England's top scholars, the King James Bible became the most influential English translation of the Bible and one of the most widely read books in the world. For many years, it was the predominant English-language Bible in the United States, where it is still widely read today.

The language and style of the King James Bible has influenced authors, poets and novelists from Harriet Beecher Stowe to Charles Schultz. Its words have been heard and quoted broadly in English speaking-cultures in sermons, public speeches, popular culture and even from space from the Apollo 8 astronauts as they orbited the moon.

Organized by the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, D.C., and the American Library Association Public Programs Office, the traveling exhibit is based on an exhibit developed by the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford, with assistance from the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. The traveling exhibition was made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Library hours vary; for more information on the exhibit, hours, directions and parking, visit http://www.udayton.edu/libraries/manifoldgreatness or call 937-229-4270.

For interviews, contact Katy Kelly, outreach librarian, at 937-229-4274 or kkelly2@udayton.edu.