Monday, 14 June 2010

King James Bible Quatercentenary

2011 is the 400th anniversary of publication of the King James Bible (1611). These anniversaries always generate a spurt of publications and conferences. One thinks of the recent celebrations of the Abolition of the Slave Trade in 2007, Milton in 2008 and Darwin in 2009. The KJV will not attract the same level of government funding as Abolition, and it may not equal the media exposure of Darwin, though it should eclipse Milton.

There will be one big academic history conference in the UK at the University of York entitled: 'The Bible in the Seventeenth Century: The King James Bible Quatercentenary (1611-2011)'. This boasts a strong line up of seventeenth-century literary scholars and historians:

The 2011 Trust (Patron: HRH The Prince of Wales; Chairman: Frank Field) has been set up to promote the Quatercentenary Year. Their website is worth browsing. It has an interactive map giving a full listing of events. They've even managed to get the endorsement of Richard Dawkins, who graces the website with a reading of the Song of Songs!

Books on the KJV and its impact are forthcoming from various quarters. They include a study by the literary scholar Gordon Campbell entitled The Story of the King James Bible, 1611-2011 (OUP), and a popular history of the Bible and English political thought by Nick Spencer from the think tank Theos.

CHF is planning its own day conference at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity on Sat 12th November 2011. This will come at the end of the anniversary year, but will provide an opportunity to reflect on how the occasion has been remembered, as well as on how the King James Bible has been read since 1611. More information to follow on this blog in due course.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Michael Harper

I note in the most recent annual review from Lambeth Palace Library that they have received the papers of Michael Harper, which contain much on the history of the Fountain Trust and the charismatic movement more widely. They are not catalogued as yet, but promise to be a major resource once they are.

See also the Times obituary of Harper.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

The Rise of Religious History

'Church History' or 'Ecclesiastical History' sound rather old-fashioned these days. Increasingly, historians of Christianity classify their work under the category 'Religious History', partly to distance themselves from the older denominational or confessional history, and also to indicate their interest in fresh historical approaches (the study of popular religious culture, gender, race and ethnicity etc). But a recent survey of members of the American Historical Association suggests that 'Religious History' has now overtaken its inspirational twin, 'Cultural History', as the most popular topical category:

Cultural History has reigned supreme since overhauling Social History as the most popular category fifteen years ago, so this new development has sparked some debate. Jon Butler of Yale University offers one explanation: “I think the category [of Religious History] has become more popular because historians realize that the world is aflame with faith, yet our traditional ways of dealing with modern history especially can’t explain how or why. In short, the ‘secularization thesis’ appears to have failed and so we need to find ways to explain how and why it didn’t die as so much written history suggests.”

For further comment by leading historians see The Immanent Frame website, which features high-level debate about secularism, religion and the public sphere: