posted August 17, 2011

Hope College Selected to Host King James Bible Exhibit

Hope College is one of a select group of locations nationwide, and the only site in Michigan, to be chosen to host a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)-supported traveling exhibition that highlights the creation and impact of the King James Bible in conjunction with the 1611 book's 400th anniversary.

The exhibition "Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible" will be featured in the college's Van Wylen Library from Wednesday, Feb. 29, through Friday, March 30, 2012. The library applied in partnership with Herrick District Library and Western Theological Seminary's Beardslee Library, and all three will be working together to highlight the exhibition and organize additional presentations by area scholars and guests that will expand on its themes.

Admission to the exhibition will be free.

"We are thrilled to be able to bring this exhibit to Holland and the West Michigan community," said Kelly Jacobsma, who is the Genevra Thome Begg Director of Libraries at Hope. "While most everyone is familiar with the King James Bible, few people understand the historic, cultural and literary impact that the King James Version has had over the course of 400 years since it was first printed in 1611. The partnership with the Herrick and Beardslee libraries will allow us to offer a wide variety of programs and venues. The exhibit will also allow us to highlight the Hope College and Western Theological Seminary rare book collections. Between the two institutions we have several Bibles and other works that led up to the printing of the King James Bible."

The Van Wylen Library has already been commemorating the anniversary of the King James Bible's publication with a small but significant exhibit of its own, displaying the 1611 edition that is a part of the college's Rare Books Collection. The college's Bible is from a printing known as the "She" Bible because a "he" pronoun in Ruth 3:15 in another of the 1611 printings was instead rendered as "she."

"Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible," a traveling exhibition for libraries, was organized by the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, D.C., and the American Library Association Public Programs Office.  It is based on an exhibition of the same name developed by the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, with assistance from the Harry Ransom Center of the University of Texas, to mark the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible.  The traveling exhibition was made possible by a major grant from the NEH.

The selection of Hope to host "Manifold Greatness," which includes a $2,500 grant for expenses, is through the NEH's Small Grants to Libraries program, which brings traveling exhibitions and other types of humanities public programming to libraries across the country.  Only 40 institutions nationwide were chosen to host the exhibition.

"Manifold Greatness" tells the story of the origins, creation, and impact of the King James Bible, including its influence on English and American literature, and its multifaceted impact on culture and society to the present day. Displayed on 14 panels, the exhibition consists of high-quality reproductions of rare and historic books, manuscripts and works of art from the Folger and Bodleian collections, combined with interpretive text and related images.

The local presentations being organized in conjunction with the exhibition will expand upon a variety of themes addressed in the exhibition, ranging from an opening lecture providing historical context, to the reason King James authorized the Bible, to a discussion of the printing process used for the first edition, to reflections on the edition's significance. The schedule will be announced nearer to the time that Hope hosts the exhibition.