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Manifold Greatness

The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible

September 23, 2011 to January 16, 2012

Monday through Saturday, 10am to 5pm
Sunday, Noon to 5pm

Free admission


Hannibal Hamlin and Steven Galbraith, curators

Through materials from the year 1000 to 2011, Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible offers a "biography" of one of the world's most famous books, the King James Bible of 1611, which marks its 400th anniversary in 2011.

Beginning with tenth-century Anglo-Saxon biblical poems, the exhibition moves swiftly to the dramatic story of the early English Bibles, for which translators sometimes risked and even lost their lives. Rare books, manuscripts, and portraits then tell the stories of the tense conference at which James I agreed to a new Bible, and the four dozen or more top English scholars who created it over several years.

A look at the centuries-long "afterlife" of their famous text in public life, literature, entertainment, and the arts takes up the second half of the display—including, among numerous other items, the Folger first edition of the King James Bible, seventeenth-century family Bibles and lavishly bound editions, Handel's Messiah (based largely on the King James Bible), King James Bibles owned by Frederick Douglass and Elvis Presley, and the voices of the Apollo 8 astronauts as they read verses from Genesis on Christmas Eve 1968 as they orbited the Moon. 

Exhibition Highlights
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Related Programs
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Curators' Conversation

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For Kids and Families

Kid-friendly resources from our website!
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Audio Tour
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Blog and Social Media
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Curator Hannibal Hamlin
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Curator Steve Galbraith
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Video & Audio
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Exhibition Item List
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Folger Institute Scholarly Conference
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The Manifold Greatness exhibition is at the center of an ambitious project partnering the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Bodleian Library of the University of Oxford, which recently produced a related exhibition, Manifold Greatness: Oxford and the Making of the King James Bible. The project also includes a website and blog, a Bodleian Library publication, Manifold Greatness: The Making of the King James Bible, and a traveling panel exhibition (on tour through summer 2013), inspired by the Folger exhibition and produced by the Folger in partnership with the American Library Association (ALA). After the Folger exhibition closes in January 2012, it travels to the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, which assisted in the production of the website.

This exhibition was made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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