In the beginning was the Word…
Bath Literature Festival and St Michael’s Without celebrate the 400th anniversary of The King James Bible with a continuous Bible reading challenge;
and we need your help!
In March we at St Michael's, together with the Bath Literature Festival 2011, in collaboration with The Observer Newspaper have plans for the ambitious Bath Bible Challenge as part of a series of events to celebrate the literary significance of the 1611 King James Bible.
Due to start on Tuesday 1 March, a non-stop read of the King James Bible will continue day and night until Saturday 5 March. Taking place at St Michael’s Without on Broad Street, the church will be open to ALL members of the public to participate and join a number of high profile readers, local celebrities and LitFest authors in this extraordinary commemoration of arguably the singularly most influential piece of literature in the English language.
Volunteers can sign up for one hour slots throughout the five day period, during which they will take it turns to read for approximately fifteen minutes. Teams of volunteers are encouraged, as are those looking for a personal challenge and might want to sign-up for an all-nighter! Event managers will be onsite to ensure the smooth running of the event, so countless volunteers are needed. For those who feel they need any coaching before their reading, theatre director Hannah Drake will be on hand with professional tips and techniques.
For more information and to offer your services to this reading marathon of Biblical proportions please send your name, email address and available dates to firstname.lastname@example.org
Bath Literature Festival’s ‘Bath Bible Challenge’ is a tribute to the cultural importance of the King James Bible and its remarkable impact on our language, literature, politics and wider social affairs.
Artistic Director James Runcie explained why Bath should be celebrating the four hundredth anniversary of the King James Bible: “With its 66 books, 1,189 chapters, and 800,000 words, The King James Bible is, along with the plays of Shakespeare and the poetry of Chaucer and Milton, the lifeblood of our literature. It was written to be read aloud; and there is no more appropriate way of commemorating the four hundredth anniversary of its creation than doing just that; savouring the richness of the vocabulary and the poetic rhythm of the prose. This ambitious project, featuring 365 readers (one for each day of the year) will celebrate the Bible as literature, marking its profound influence on the way we think, speak, read and write.
Whenever we put words into someone's mouth, or see the writing on the wall, or go from strength to strength, or eat, drink and be merry, or fight the good fight, or bemoan the signs of the times, or find a fly in the ointment, or use words such as "long-suffering", "scapegoat" and "peacemaker" we are unconsciously quoting the King James Bible.
To rise to the challenge of reading the complete text in one marathon session is one of the most important tasks a Literature Festival can undertake and I am both proud and delighted that Bath is the first in the country to do so.”
Martin Lloyd Williams, Rector of St Michael’s, echoed these sentiments: “When the opportunity to host this important event came up, we were delighted as it underlines our belief in both the historic and contemporary relevance of the Bible. We are confident that it will be a very meaningful experience to everyone involved.”
So far, the writers Alexander McCall Smith, Kate Mosse, Amanda Vickery, Adam Nicolson and Bel Mooney, the pianist Joanna MacGregor, the film director Roger Michell, the celebrity chef Valentine Warner, the broadcasters Daisy Goodwin and Sheena McDonald, the actor Bill Paterson, and the Chief Executive of English Heritage Simon Thurley have all agreed to take part.
The reading will be completed by the actor Timothy West. It will then be marked by a special peal of church bells that will ring out across the city.