The King James Bible’s language lessons

Jeanette Winterson, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Alexander McCall Smith, Michèle Roberts, David Crystal and Diarmaid MacCulloch on the importance of the KJV

“The Guardian” has brought together short articles by each of these writers.

Alexander McCall Smith writes, “In my dining room I have a portrait of King James VI of Scotland (I of England), or Jamie Saxt, as he was known north of the border. He looks rather melancholy, and with good reason: his mother, Mary Queen of Scots, had been beheaded, he had the most oppressive education, and he was four centuries too early to be open about his sexual inclinations (he was gay). He was, however, a man of erudition, a poet of some ability, and an interesting political theorist. His greatest achievement, though, was the commissioning of a translation of the Bible that has greatly enriched the English language. His contribution to English literature, although indirect, is incalculable.”

Jeanette Winterson is a novelist, Linton Kwesi Johnson is a poet, Michèle Roberts is a novelist, David Crystal is a linguist and author, and Diarmaid MacCulloch is professor of the history of the church at Oxford University. This is quite a diverse set of people each with different insights – and the reader will be challenged by what is a most interesting series of short reads.

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