Every now and then a film comes along that is, in my opinion, a must-have for DVD libraries that pertain to a particular subject or genre. “KJB: The Book that Changed the World” is such a DVD.
It is said that Christians know less about the origins of their faith than people of other faiths. And I have to admit, until I saw this docudrama, I was surprised to know how little I knew about a book that I read everyday.
The phenomenal actor John Rhys-Davies (“The Lord of the Rings,” “Indiana Jones” sequels) presents a wonderful, dramatic story about how the King James Bible came into being. Timed to hit the streets just in time to mark the 400th anniversary of what is referred to as the Holy Bible, its survival is a feat in itself, seeing as how the KJB was virtually ignored by the people living in that era. Most studied from the Puritan’s (Geneva) Bible, or the Bishop’s Bible, but King James made it his mission to change that. He met incredible opposition; one such protest led to a national holiday, Guy Fawkes Night on Nov. 5, that has been celebrated every year for the last 400 years.
Today, the King James Bible can be found in millions of homes across the world, from believers to non-believers, and it’s still the best-selling book of all time, some say.
Nothing just happens. But for many of us the King James Bible is something we grew up with and read in private or at church. Wars have been fought over it, and many people have died because of it.
Others have found or experienced peace from it and, yes, argued over the relevance of it since it was translated 400 years ago.
In July 1604, King James appointed 54 men to the translation committee. These men were not only the best linguists and scholars in the kingdom, but in the world. Much of their work on the King James Bible formed the basis for our linguistic studies of today.
These men were not only world-class scholars–they were deans and presidents of major universities such as Oxford, Cambridge and Westminster–who, reportedly, lived holy lives. It is said that some of them prayed five hours a day.
What makes this film so involving is that a number of top British actors take on the roles of real historic figures, and it is filme, for the most part, where the action took place. Rhys-Davies visits landmarks, explains relics and sets up top-notch dramatizations of the events surrounding the translation of the book into the English language.
A superb actor and a magnificent host, Rhys-Davies weaves the story of King James, who was crowned King James VI of Scotland at the tender age of 13 months. James’ mother, Mary, was imprisoned in England by her cousin Queen Elizabeth, and 19 years later, in February 1587, executed for her part in a Roman Catholic conspiracy to assassinate Elizabeth.
The child grew up extremely isolated, with no friends. But in his later years he proved to be a very learned scholar, with a quick mind and a quick temper. We learn how he became king of the most powerful nation in the world at that time and how he took on the Catholic church to do so, not to mention the role he played as the founding monarch of the United States. The Virginia settlement of Jamestown was named for him.
For a man of such great accomplishments, I was surprised at how his fellow countrymen eventually celebrated his life although he was not greatly respected in life. In the end however, it didn’t matter how English history treated him. His contribution to the world may just be sitting on a table beside you right now.
The DVD also contains special features such as an interview with John Rhys-Davies, a “Words from the Wise” featurette, and more. “KJB: The Book that Change the World” hits the streets April 5.
Gail can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.