November 22, 2011, by Sarah Colborne

Thoroton Society members view historic Bible

The Bishop and Thoroton Society officers viewing the bible in a glass case

The Bishop of Southwell inspects the King James Bible, with the Society’s officers Professor John Beckett (Chairman), Barbara Cast (Secretary), Dr Rosalys Coope (President). Photograph courtesy of Howard Fisher.

On Saturday 4 November, members of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire visited the University Park campus for their annual lunch.  The Bishop of Southwell was guest at the dinner and gave a brief talk about the King James Bible which was first published in 1611, four hundred years ago.  A copy of the 1613 printing of the Bible from the University’s Special Collections was on display.  It has a special link with the Thoroton Society, as it was one of two King James Bibles which were described by George Fellows in a brief notice in the Society publication Transactions (1902).  The article followed their recent discovery and rebinding.

It is not known how or when the Bibles came to Beeston, but the use of pages from the 1613 copy to record local baptism entries of 1648 suggests that it was by that date in the church. A parish inventory of 1735 mentions ‘Two large and great Bibles’.  It seems likely that by 1844, when the church was rebuilt, the volumes were already suffering physical decay and this led to their deposit in the church tower, where they were found in 1902.  Some years ago the Bibles were placed in the care of the University.

Early versions of the King James Bible are known to contain typographical errors, which bibliographers can use to distinguish them even when, as in this case, they are in imperfect condition. The Bible was opened for display at Matthew 26:36, where one of the notable errors of an early printing is found, in the substitution of the name ‘Judas’ for ‘Jesus’.

Posted in ExhibitionsFrom the collections