King James Bible history at EP Library

By Lynn Leissler

Most of us would feel privileged to hold something once belonging to a great grandparent, or even a great-great grandparent. Terry Pruett, however, owns a Sumerian Cuneiform tablet from the land of Ur in the time of Abraham, circa 2050 B.C.

While Terry spends most of his time working with InFaith, overseeing churches and missionary families in the area, as well as teaching at Pacific Bible College, another passion draws him. He has always been fascinated with history, and when he had an opportunity to purchase an antique Bible leaf (page) for a mere $14.26, he says, “I couldn’t pass it up.” The page came from a remnant of a Geneva Bible printed in London in 1611, the same year the King James Bible was first published.

Terry’s fascination with history obviously goes beyond just reading about it. Like many people who treasure old books, he likes the feel of sturdy cotton paper, as well as the grammar and spelling of bygone days. Even the dented corners and musty old book smell seem to tell a story. He marvels at the thrill of actually holding a literary antiquity. One of his oldest bible leaves dates to the 11th century, handwritten in Arabic and Coptic. His collection includes over 150 books, leaves, or documents, a few of which are facsimiles, ranging from the 21st century B.C. through 1965 A.D.

The Eagle Point Friends of the Library host Terry Pruett as he shares his collection and knowledge. Anyone who knows this kind man knows he is in for a treat with the retelling of the history of the King James Bible—the history of earlier translations, including the Latin Vulgate, and the source of conflict that led to that particular version. The presentation will include history, amusing anecdotes, and give the listener a sense of being part of the bigger picture of history.

The King James Bible, a book that has helped shape the history of English speaking people, is currently celebrating its 400th anniversary. The language used was already outdated when the KJV was first printed, yet its majestic cadence and poetic flow have found their way into our lives and literature ever since. Incidentally, the King James Bible is still the most widely published book in all of history and in the entire world.

The current display at the Eagle Point Library features a sampling of Terry’s extensive collection. Among these items are a folio page salvaged from a first edition of the King James Bible, two complete 17th century King James bibles, examples of early writing, and a Gregorian chant from 1504. He created a working 1:10 scale model of the Guttenberg Press, the 1455 invention that introduced moveable type and made it possible to quickly produce documents. Well, quickly for that time.

Join Terry Pruett on Jan. 12, from 4-5 p.m. to hear more about this fascinating book, The King James Bible. When he tells the history of the English Bible, his audience’s most frequent comment is, “I had no idea!”

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