Exhibition: Out Of The Original Sacred Tongues @ Lambeth Palace Library

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 83 months ago
Exhibition: Out Of The Original Sacred Tongues @ Lambeth Palace Library
The Great Hall at Lambeth Palace
The Great Hall at Lambeth Palace
The King James Bible, 1611
The King James Bible, 1611
Collection of psalms and hymns in the Cree Indian language (1912)
Collection of psalms and hymns in the Cree Indian language (1912)
A Latin Vulgate Bible with hand-written notes, thought to be by Martin Luther
A Latin Vulgate Bible with hand-written notes, thought to be by Martin Luther

Here's another celebration of the King James Bible — having its 400th anniversary this year — with the major difference of being able to see an actual first edition.

Lambeth Palace Library has gone through its archives to present a fantastic timeline of the Bible in translation. The Church originally considered having the Bible in a language the ordinary man and woman could read (i.e. not Latin or Greek) as heretical and some translators, like William Tyndale, were burned for their efforts. The rise of Protestantism — and megalomaniac Henry VIII in England — led to that situation being swiftly turned around.

Here endeth the history lesson. The exhibition displays some of the earliest examples of beautifully illustrated reformist Bibles and Renaissance scholarship, and tracks the development of the King James Bible — including a 1611 first edition, complete with printer's error. It also has examples of Bibles in all kinds of languages, some going back to the 16th century, before bringing us bang up to date with the New English Bible.

Even if Biblical scholarship isn't quite your bag, this is a brilliant chance to get inside the walls of Lambeth Palace. Tours are booked up 18 months in advance and Open House weekend prompts a massive scramble for tickets. You won't see a huge amount, but you'll get into the grounds and the exhibition is held within the magnificent neo-Gothic Great Hall.

Out Of The Original Sacred Tongues: The Bible and Translation is at Lambeth Palace Library, Lambeth Palace Road, SE1. It runs 25 May to 29 July, Wednesday-Friday only, additionally Saturdays in July, 11am-4pm. Tickets £6, children under 17 free. We saw this exhibition at a press view.

Last Updated 25 May 2011