After all the celebrations for the poetry and power of the King James Version, I chaired a rather more revisionist public panel discussion for the Royal Shakespeare Company on March 9th. In the atmospheric setting of the Stationers’ Hall, off Ludgate Hill, where the translation was completed 400 years ago, Canon Dr Giles Fraser of St Paul’s Cathedral was keen to dismiss the nostalgia of ex-public schoolboys for school assembly recitations. He subsequently did a Thought for the Day on March 22nd drawn from our discussion about whether the KJB, like the Midsomer Murders row, was linked to nostalgia for a pre-multicultural Britain. Atheist playwright and self-styled “lefty” David Edgar brought the perspective of a writer, working on his own play about the creation of the KJB. Dr Peter McCullough presented a detective’s investigation, intriguing even as he de-romanticised the writing of it and how many of its most memorable phrases came from earlier translations, notably the Geneva Bible. Only Professor Ralph Williams was more romantic and passionate about the influence on Shakespeare.
At 1 hour and 12 minutes in there’s an interesting discussion about the power of Biblical oratory contrasting Martin Luther King and President Obama. And I managed to call the only Canadian panellist an American. But he showed Christian forgiveness and turned the other cheek.
Thank you to the Royal Shakespeare Company and the meeja-people at St Paul’s Cathedral for the invitation to be involved and putting it all on YouTube.
A blog summary of the event: http://www.atomies.org/public-lectures-miscellaneous.html