Radio 4 to celebrate King James Bible’s anniversary

BBC Radio 4 is set to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible by devoting a Sunday to readings from its text.

The commemorative event, which is due to take place next January, will last for seven hours, broken up into 28 readings each of which will be 15 minutes long.

According to reports the readings will be selected from “the most powerful stories in the Bible”, and each of them will begin with an introduction explaining its literary significance.


The radio station will also be broadcasting a three-part documentary series, entitled The Story of the King James Bible, the week before the readings take place.

The series will explore how the translators who worked on the King James Bible approached their work and what impact their translation continues to have.

The scriptural readings will be arranged so that the station’s most popular Sunday programmes, such as The Archers, can still be heard.


The names of those reading the passages have yet to be confirmed but Gwyneth Williams, Radio 4’s new controller, is hoping to recruit Shakespearean actors.

Work on the King James translation began in 1604, at the request of James I of England, and carried on until 1611.

A team of 47 of the best Bible scholars of the day worked on translating the text into English, and the King James translation became the version read by many English speaking nations.

Royal Mail

Earlier this year it was revealed that the Royal Mail is planning to commemorate the anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible with a series of special stamps.

The commemorative stamps, which are due to be produced next year, have been prompted by numerous requests from members of the general public.

The move was welcomed by Mervyn Storey, MLA for North Antrim, who was one of those who petitioned.


Mr Storey said: “The Authorized or King James Version of the Bible, is the most influential piece of literature in the English Language.

“However the King James Version didn’t just influence our literature and language. It also had a beneficial influence upon political and constitutional affairs.”

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