Norwich link to 'book that changed the world'
2011: Norwich has a special link with this year's worldwide celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the Authorized King James Bible - often called 'the book that changed the world.' Mike Wiltshire reports.
Even today, the Bible in many versions remains the world's best seller with more than 100 million copies sold each year.
In 1604, a brilliant 45-year-old Latin scholar, Dr John Overall (pictured right), who had been born in East Anglia and was later to briefly become Bishop of Norwich, was chosen to have a leading role among a group of biblical revisers in Westminster. Dr Overall was then Dean of St Paul's, London.
In all, it took seven years for 54 scholars translators in the UK to complete the historic Authorized Version (AV).
Encouraged by the radical Puritans, King James 1, son of Mary Queen of Scotland, strongly believed the Bible should be available in English for ordinary people, not just the clergy. They were turbulent times: the 1611 Bible appeared six years after the Gunpowder Plot to blow up the King and Parliament and five years before the death of Shakespeare in 1616. James 1 died in 1625.
But there is a poignant twist in the story of Dr John Overall (1559-1619), who was admired for his saintly life and great scholarship as a professor of divinity at Cambridge. He is considered one of the early fathers of the Anglican Church and, in his day, 'the most scholarly divine in England'.
During the translating of the Bible, Dr Overall's beautiful wife, Anne Overall, ran off with a Yorkshire courtier, Sir John Selby. John Overall was a chaplain to Queen, and the scandal became well-known.
For Dr Overall, who loved the Bible and was fond of quoting the Psalms, it was a bitter blow.
In 1614, he was made Bishop of Litchfield and Coventry. Then in 1618, he was elected Bishop of Norwich and died, aged only 60, in Norwich Cathedral, just a year later. He was buried in the south choir aisle.
Many believe that it was William Tyndale's first printed translation of the New Testament in 1525 that prepared the way for the King James Bible in 1611. This in turn, became a major influence on the English language.
The English AV Bible quickly spread worldwide as British influence extended across the globe, adding richness to the English language with many phrases in common use today such as "scapegoat", "let there be light", "the powers that be", "my brother's keeper", "broken hearted", "fight the good fight", "a man after his own heart", "signs of the times", "ye of little faith", and "eat drink and be merry".
Today, the Bible has been translated into more than 3,000 languages. It remains a unique book, having been written over a period of 1,600 years, by more than 40 authors of every sort, ranging from kings to fisherman, and poets to prophets, as they were 'moved by the Spirit of God'.
Many churches in the UK are organising extended public readings of the King James Bible as a celebration of its 400th anniversary. Popular newer versions of the Bible include the New International Version
and the New King James Version, the New Living Translation
and The Message.
Click here to read a modern-day Norwich link to the King James Bible.