400-year-old King James Bible found in English church

Thu Mar 31, 2011 5:18pm EDT
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By Avril Ormsby

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A printing error helped a 12th century English village church realize it owned a rare 400-year-old King James Bible, the book that changed the world.

The edition that had been sitting on a ledge in the pretty Anglican church in Wiltshire, central England for the past 150 years, barely touched and much less read, is one of only a handful that still exists.

Although a sign above the book indicated it dated back to 1611, it was only after the parochial church council (PCC) of St Laurence in Hilmarton decided to get it authenticated during the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible that they made their discovery.

"I noticed it like everyone who uses the church noticed it as an old Bible that was sort of there, but no one was sure about its origins until very recently," PCC member Chris Mastin-Lee told Reuters.

St Laurence stopped using the Bible after the introduction of more modern versions, and fewer than 200 original printings of the 1611 King James version are believed to exist.

Although the church, which has about 60 parishioners, is not expecting coach loads of tourists to suddenly turn up, Mastin-Lee said he would not be surprised to see an increase in numbers wanting to take a look.

The St Laurence Bible, whose heavy handset Gothic script was printed on linen fabric, lacks any gold leaf or ornate illustrations, and was authenticated as a second edition because of a tell-tale misprint.

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