Saturday, February 11, 2012

Video Review: "KJB: The Book That Changed the World"

My family watched the video KJB:  The Book that Changed the World (Lionsgate, 2011) last evening.  It is an engaging film, lasting about 90 minutes, combining documentary style explanation, dramatic vignettes, and commentary from historians (including a few brief cameos from Dr. Carl Trueman of Westminster Seminary).

The film is carried by the narration of actor John Rhys-Davies, perhaps best known for his role as Gimli the Dwarf in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings films.  His resonate voice and passion for the subject holds the viewer's attention.

In the documentary sections, visits are made to key locations in the formation of the KJB, including the Church of the Holy Rude in Scotland, where James was made king,  and the Jerusalem Chamber at Westminster, where one of the translation teams labored.

In the dramatic portions, King James is given a more positive portrayal than is usual.  His marriage to Anne of Denmark is emphasized, rather than speculations about his sexual depravity.  Some of the best scenes are those of the Hampton Court Conference where he coursely chides both the Bishops and the Puritans, but finally accepts the suggestion of the Puritans to create a new Bible translation.  The thesis of the video is that James did this in an effort to unify these factions within the English church.  The video closes by emphasizing the fact that no ornate monument was left to James in Westminster Abbey, but the KJB is the lasting monument of his reign.

If you get the video (by purchase or Netlflix) , I would especially encourage you to watch the interview with John Rys-Davies in the special features.  We enjoyed this at least as much as the film itself.  Rys-Davies has a real love and passion for the KJV.  He answers questions about whether the KJV is still relevant today and forthrightly declares that Christianity is superior among the world's religions, noting that only among Christians did the move to abolition slavery triumph.  When asked whether he is himself a Christian, he demurs, but it seems obvious he is at least spiritually struggling with the demands of Scripture.  One of his final comments:  "As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD....Damn it! [BTW, this is the only expletive in the film]"


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