Hendrickson Facsimile 1611 Edition (KJV) in Black Calf and Hardcover
I wrote about Hendrickson's leatherbound Facsimile 1611 back in September, or at least one aspect of it: the cross-grain folding that gives the paper such crinkly stiffness. The video captures the phenomenon particularly well. As I flipped through the pages, a cowlick of paper remained standing for quite some time — long enough for the image to look like a freeze frame, which it is not.
This happens. Complaints about crinkling gutters and stiff, wavy pages are nothing new at Bible Design Blog. Hopefully by spotlighting the problem, we can help publishers be more aware of the need to double check quality control. Having to replace a few duds that ship to customers is one thing; having hundreds of copies with the same problem is something else.
I've only seen one of the leatherbound Facsimiles, the review copy pictured here. So I have no idea how widespread the issue is. Caveat emptor, suffice to say. The calfskin edition is edge-bound in China. I haven't taken it apart or anything, but peaking under the spine, I can confirm there is bookboard there and not the goatskin material found in the curious Foundation edition highlighted in my article on cover styles.
Hendrickson offers a variety of interesting Bibles. I'm particularly fond of their loose-leaf editions, which are such a practical way of taking notes and integrating sections of Scripture into teaching material. They also have a strong offering of facsimile editions, including an excellent collaboration with the British Library on Tyndale's New Testament and a 1560 Geneva Bible.
Naturally, no collection of facsimiles would be complete without the original King James Version from 1611. Setting aside the paper issues, this facsimile is a faithful hand-sized reproduction of the most enduring English-language translation ever.
As a historical artifact, I find it fascinating. It is also perfectly usable today, although it requires some familiarity with early seventeenth century quirks of spelling and typography (the whole f for s thing). If you can get past the prophet Ifaiah having written under the heading "affhurs pride" that the Lord will "send among his fat ones leannesse, and vnder his glory hee shall kindle a burning," then you're good to go. The challenge is alleviated somewhat by the fact that these are reproductions of a nineteenth century reprint, which seems to have dropped in a proper 's' where the original had an 'f' in the body text.
This is one instance, where, given the paper issues, I find myself preferring the hardcover, which opens flat and pages through without a hitch. Both editions could use a little more space near the gutter, to prevent the marginal notes from being lost.
The 1611 Edition includes some features that may come as a surprise to modern(ist) fans of the translation, the most obvious example being, of course, the Apocrypha. I was delighted to discovery an elaborate reading schedule, worthy in its complexity of the Book of Common Prayer, and giving the lessons for both morning and evening prayer.
Above: Diggeth thou my reading planne?
Although I grew up in a church that used the King James Version and revered its (to us, nameless) translators as veritable saints, we somehow never managed to figure out which lessons were proper for the various Holy dayes. This chart would have helped immensely:
All kidding aside, the value of a facsimile like this is that it predates modern conceptions and misconceptions about the King James Version. As such, it can be a window into the past, offering much needed perspective. In that regard, I am particularly pleased to see "The Translators to the Reader" here, albeit in super-tiny text. "The best things," to quote those worthies, "have been calumniated," a process which continues to this day. Perhaps a more widespread familiarity with the translators and their true aim might suck some of the venom out of today's calumniating rhetoric.
Somewhere in my stack of dusty treasures, there's a leaf from a 1611 King James (at least, that's what the salesman claimed). It's from 2 Kings, recounting the speech of Rabshakeh before the walls of Jerusalem, chosen not because the scene is rousing (it is) but because the ol' King James uses some coarse language that wasn't permitted in my God-fearing boyhood home. "If it's good enough for Paul …," etc. I suspect my mother would have preferred that I commit other Bible passages to memory.
Language changes. What is frank today might sound a little obscene tomorrow, and vice versa. A facsimile like this offers insight into how much things have changed in four hundred years. At the same time, beneath that surface impression of difference, you discover an astonishing continuity. And that makes the antiquated spelling worthwhile.