University of South Carolina

USC marks 400th anniversary of King James Bible

The University of South Carolina is marking the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, the most widely reprinted English-language Bible in history, with an exhibit that showcases some of its most treasured and historic materials.

“Four Hundred Years of the King James Bible” is on display in the Hollings Special Collections Library through late August.

The exhibit tells the story of the Bible’s translation into the English language beginning with protestant reformers John Wycliffe and William Tyndale and continuing through the 16th-century, when other English translations emerged from the Puritan faith and the Catholic Church.

It also charts the impact of the King James Bible in America and explores its influence on literature, politics and culture.

The King James Bible “has had greater influence on literature and public discourse in the English-speaking world than any other translation,” said Dr. Carl Evans, a USC religious studies professor.

All the items on display in the new exhibit come from the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections.

Highlights of the exhibit include:

a folio printing of the King James Bible dated 1611; 

leaves from the Coverdale Bible, 1535, the first complete Bible in English; 

a Geneva Bible, the major Puritan translation, dated 1595, donated to the South Carolina College library by Governor John Drayton; 

a 1608 Bible believed to have been brought to America by one of the Pilgrim Fathers; 

a first edition of the Rheims New Testament, the major Catholic translation, from 1582; 

the 1685 edition of John Eliot’s Indian Bible; and 

a copy of the first American printing of the King James Bible (Philadelphia,1782).

“Many libraries worldwide are celebrating this anniversary, but they don’t have our resources,” said Patrick Scott, director of the Irvin Department and curator of the exhibit. “We already have a great collection that deserves to be seen by a new generation of students and by members of the community.”

Other sections of the exhibit trace the influence of the King James Bible in literature, from Milton and Bunyan to modern writers, and show how it has inspired printers and illustrators. The display includes fine editions such as the Doves Press Bible from 1903-1905 and Eric Gill’s Golden Cockerel Press “Four Gospels.”

The materials have been collected gradually during the past 200 hundred years. The newest additions on display are leaves from historic American Bibles, recently donated by USC alumnus Dr. Alex Pappas.

The Hollings Library is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call the Hollings Library desk at 803-777-3847 or go to and


By Office of Media Relations

Posted: 05/20/11 @ 4:45 PM | Updated: 05/20/11 @ 5:03 PM | Permalink