The King James Bible in Scotland

The King James Bible in Scotland

While several early editions of the King James New Testament were published in Scotland it was not until 1633 that the first complete King James Bible was published. It coincided with coronation of King Charles I (1600-1649) in Edinburgh.  However, there was indignation due to the inclusion of images and illustrations reminiscent of Catholic piety. Also, its association with Archbishop Laud of Canterbury (1573-1645) and the royal policy of making the predominantly Presbyterian Church of Scotland more ‘English’ in form and ritual was not a selling point. The unpopular Laud – who became notorious for attempting to impose an Anglican liturgy on the Church of Scotland with a Scottish Book of Common Prayer (Laud’s Liturgy) – apparently urged that the King James Bible was to be referred to as ‘The [Arch]bishop of Canterbury’s  Bible’.

In time, the unadorned King James Bible prevailed in Scotland. This process took place very slowly but was probably complete by the 1660s with the complete restoration of episcopacy in the Church of Scotland. While the slow rate of adoption can be explained in part by continuing attachment to the Geneva Bible, it can equally be attributed to limitations in the supply of Bibles. Few printers were active in Scotland at the time, so abandoning other versions of the Bible in favour of the King James Bible would have resulted in an intolerable shortage of copies and an over-reliance on imports. It was not until 1660 that the King James Bible was mandated for Church use.

Along with the Geneva Bible earlier, the King James Bible contributed significantly to the anglicisation of educated speech and writing in Scotland, reinforced by the union of the crowns in 1603 and of the parliaments in 1707.

 

New Testament. Edinburgh, 1619.
New Testament. Edinburgh, 1619.
New Testament. Aberdeen, 1631.
New Testament. Aberdeen, 1631.
The Holy Bible containing the Old Testament and the New: newly translated out of the originall tongues ... Edinburgh, 1633.
The Holy Bible containing the Old Testament and the New: newly translated out of the originall tongues ... Edinburgh, 1633.
New Testament. Glasgow, 1666.
New Testament. Glasgow, 1666.
The family expositor: containing the Sacred Text of the Old and New Testament; illustrated with a commentary and notes historical, geographical and critical ... Dundee, 1763.
The family expositor: ... illustrated with a commentary and notes ... Dundee, 1763.

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