From papyri pages to the King James

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – From ancient manuscripts to early printed books, the history of the Bible’s text spans nations, peoples and languages.

The full range of that complex history is showcased in “From Papyri to King James: The Evolution of the English Bible,” an exhibit prepared by the Special Collections Library and showing at the University of Michigan through Jan. 31.

Bibles and other religious works dating from the year 119, including the earliest known copy of the letters of St. Paul, demonstrate the evolution of works on papyrus, parchment, and paper that led to the English translation of 1611 known as the King James Bible.

Fragments on papyri from Deuteronomy and Matthew, portions from several of the letters of Paul, and writings of early church leaders, such as Melito the Bishop of Sarids, and Hermas of Rome, are all a part of the exhibit.

Also included are medieval versions of Jerome’s Latin translation of the Bible of 404, some of the first appearances in print of Greek and Latin biblical texts, and early translations of the Bible into English.

Many of the Bibles on display are opened to the same passage, providing an opportunity to compare translations and to observe developments in languages, handwriting, and type designs.

The exhibit illustrates how the manuscripts of the English Bible developed, and chronicles the struggle over the Bible that took place in 16th-century English with the inclusion of the Tyndale, Coverdale, Geneva, Douay, Great and Bishops’ Bibles.

The exhibit is located on the seventh floor of the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library on the Ann Arbor campus. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. until noon on Saturday. Admission is free.

Guided group tours are available by arranging an appointment. For further information or to arrange a tour call the library at 734-764-9377.

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