The Burstow King James Bible Project
While new versions of the Bible have often replaced the 1611 text in the everyday lives of contemporary Christians, the KJB has by no means disappeared. The small village church of St Bartholomew’s, Burstow, in southern England offers an example. It possesses an interesting early printing of the KJB. Many questions remain surrounding the origins of this copy and the exact nature of the text.
The ‘Burstow King James Bible Project’ was set up to commemorate the 400th anniversary and is based in the History Department at the University of Canterbury. The project is an ongoing attempt to unravel the provenance and nature of the Burstow text, and to explore its context in both the history of Early Modern religion and the history of the book. The project is simultaneously exploring the provenance of Canterbury's own KJB.
St Bartholomew's parish church is located in southern England, on the border between the counties of Surrey and West Sussex. The fabric of the present church building dates back to at least the 12th century, although there has probably been a church on this site since the Anglo-Saxon period.
Recent research has revealed that the Burstow KJB contains elements from the 1615, 1616 and the 1619 printings. These appear jumbled together here and it remains unclear what edition the church's copy represents. One aim of the Burstow KJB project is to establish what version of the text the Burstow copy represents.
It is unclear when Burstow acquired its copy of the KJB. The church was almost certainly not the original owner, although who was - and who owned it before it came into the possession of the parish - remains at present something of a mystery. One of the key aims of the Burstow KJB project is to establish the history of this particular copy.
The Canterbury History Department is now offering students the exciting opportunity to participate in the Burstow KJB project via the dissertation that forms a part of its Honours year and its MA programme. History will also be seeking funding to support a UC Summer Studentship. Interested students should contact the Project Director, Dr Chris Jones. Students may also be interested in broader KJB research.