By: Janlyn Thaxton and Kristen Harris
Editor: James Stone
Published in “The Logsdon Letter” ed. Winter 2011
Designed to highlight the 400-year impact of the King James Version of the Bible, Logsdon Seminary partnered with Hardin-Simmons University in hosting The King James Version@400: A Celebration on September 12-13 in Logsdon Chapel.
“As the best-selling book in world history,” says Dr. Bob Ellis, professor of Old Testament and associate dean at HSU’s Logsdon Seminary, “the King James Bible has had an incalculable impact on the English-speaking church.”
While the King James Version is lauded but some as the most recognized and accurate among all Bible translations, it is neither the oldest nor the first to be translated into English. Still, in terms of impact, the King James Version is one of the most significant.
There have been more allusions, more references to the King James Version than any other literary work. It’s central to any understanding of English literature,” says Dr. Larry Brunner, HSU professor of English.
Conference presentations utilized scholars from a wide array of disciplines, with topics ranging form the historical and cultural circumstances leading to the production of the KJV, to the influence of the version on English literature, business and music, graphic design, and of course, ecclesiology.
According to Ellis, the topical diversity was intentional.
“Our goal was to provide an opportunity for collaborative effort across the university,” said Ellis of the efforts to involve faculty members from across the HSU campus.
In addition to reflecting and celebrating the contribution of the King James Version upon Western Civilization, the conference also allowed students, faculty, area ministers, and other guests the opportunity to get up-close with four-first edition King James Bibles. These extraordinarily rare King James Version are included in the Tandy and Kelly Bible Collections now housed at HSU.
“Because we have these two remarkable Bible collections, the 400th anniversary of the KJV provided an ideal context for celebrating the rich history of the Bible in English,” Ellis said.
“I love to think about whose hands have held these books,” said Mrs. Teresa Ellis, Theological Librarian for HSU and Logsdon Seminary, “Where they have been, how they have touched the lives of those people who have encountered them through the ages, and how we may use them now and in the years to come to continue to touch lives.”
Teresa Ellis continued, “It is an honor for me to be able to share these incredible treasures with our students, faculty and other constituencies of the University. We are all indebted to the Tandys and Kelleys for not only entrusting us with these Bibles but also for giving us the mandate to share them. It is a humbling thing.”
The Bible collections and the original KJVs house at Hardin-Simmons come from two donors, Mrs. Inez Kelly and her late husband Dr. Doyle Kelley, and Dr Charles Tandy along with his wife Roena.
Dr. Bob Ellis feels as if the conference served a very important purpose. “The KJC is a major piece of our history. It is important for us to look at and think about in terms of not only what the contribution has been, but also what that ongoing contribution might be,” said Ellis.