The Transatlantic Bible and Anglican Identity in Colonia North America
Jeremy Gregory, University of Manchester
Given that it was not until the 1782 that an English language version of the complete Bible was printed in North America, the English-speaking colonial world was totally dependant on bibles imported from England. Very soon after its initial publication, the KJV acquired a transatlantic identity as settlers took treasured copies with them to British North America and by the mid seventeenth century it was the Bible of choice not only for members of the established Church in Virginia but also increasingly for Congregationalists in New England. At one level, then, the KJV can be viewed as a point of contact between different Protestant denominations in the New World. But more significantly, perhaps, the ways in which the KJV was used could become a mark of difference, and a point of friction, between the various transatlantic Protestant traditions. This paper will explore distinctively Anglican uses of and ways of reading and hearing the KJV in America. In so doing, I will suggest that the context in which the KJV was used shaped people’s experience of, and relationship to, it, as much as its content. In particular, I will explore the ways in which Colonial Anglicans used and experienced the KJV in tandem with the Book of Common Prayer and will argue that this distinctive pairing created a specifically Anglican mode of encountering the KJV.