September 23, 2011 to January 16, 2012
Monday through Saturday, 10am to 5pm
Sunday, Noon to 5pm
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.