Instructions for your assessed coursework for this Unit are found in the Bible Comparison Exercise section so please read this carefully. To do this work you will need to watch the video presentations together with the accompanying notes. As you listen and read you may find issues being raised that you think need further thought in which case go and do some additional research. We offer suggestions as to where you might find this extra material but please do not feel restricted to using only what we recommend.
Special note for those who do not use English as a first language: this Unit is particularly Anglo-centric but we make no apologies for this as you are studying with the British Bible School and English is the majority language of the United Kingdom. If English is not your first language you may find it difficult to see the differences in some translations so you will have to trust us when we say that for a native English speaker the King James Version sounds old- fashioned whereas the English Standard Version, although still part of the King James family, sounds more contemporary. Feel free to use your own language Bible to help you prepare but the actual assignment must be based on English Bibles (although American English Bibles are acceptable for this exercise).
A Note on the Video Presentations
Much of the content of this unit is in the video presentations and accompanying notes and although this is and can only be a brief introduction to a large topic the resources in the Bibliography will take you further. However, for the purposes of the British Bible School Distance Learning Programme, what we have supplied is sufficient for you to complete the assignment and move on.
The video presentation as a whole is the longest that you will have seen so far on the Distance Learning Programme but you will find that it has been broken into several shorter parts so you can (and indeed should) watch it in bite-sized portions rather than trying to digest it all in one sitting.
What follows next are my notes intended to be incorporated in any future revision of the video presentation. Obviously once these revisions have been made these notes will be deleted from the module text but changing the written material is much easier than changing the video. Most of the programme, filmed a number of years ago now, is still perfectly useable but there are one or two places where mistakes need to be corrected or facts should be updated. We doubt whether we have caught all of the slips so feel free to point out any that we have missed.
Much of the material (both filmed and printed) is factual and will never change. The King James Version was first published in 1611. End of – unless every reference book since that date is wrong. Opinions are stated, some of which are not going to alter: the KJV is the most popular English Bible in history. “Popular” in terms of copies printed is a verifiable fact which may, one day, be superseded by a more recent translation; “popular” meaning most liked is more difficult to quantify. For more than two centuries the English-speaking peoples had no real choice as it was King James or nowt but even as more versions came on to the market towards the end of the nineteenth century King James continued to reign and, for some, does to this day. Can we measure this? Someone buys a KJV and another English Bible. The bookseller tell us that two Bibles have been sold but cannot tell us which is read and which sits unopened on a shelf. So learn to distinguish between verifiable, objective facts and subjective, personal opinions; you will find both in this unit.
- Filming took place in 2009. Early on there is a clear proviso that the content could become out of date and that there would be a delay before it was re-shot; reference was made to the Bibliography with the promise that this would be up dated more frequently than the DVD. It has been updated in 2013 and again in 2016.
- There are no significant issues until the section on “Modern Examples” which commences at 21.33 1 on the presentation “Brief history of English Bible” although here I state that what we have presented is up to date as of 2009. It is the material on NIV from 27.50 that needs changing and perhaps Holman Christian Standard Bible and others could be added.
- At 2.26 on the presentation “Selecting the best Bible” www.biblegateway.com is stated to provide “twenty versions”. This needs to be increased.2
- In 2016 it is far more likely that more readers are accessing the Bible electronically than they were in 2009. However this does not really change the content of the module which is concerned with “The Bible in English” whether it is transmitted as pixels on a screen or words printed on paper and bound in a cover. For more on this we refer you back to the article The Word of God: from scrolls to e-books in Unit One.