Friday, October 22, 2010

Two First Additions, The King James Bible & The Book of Mormon

It’s not everyday that one get’s to see a true relic, a relic that has changed the world. Today in a corner room of the Church History Library together with a few of my associate docents (which included my Dad) we got to see an original, 1611 King James Bible, first edition. It was incredible. The cover had been taken off leaving the beautiful rag paper pages displayed for easy viewing. We could see how the archivists are repairing some warn pages with Japanese paper, a fibrous material that to me resembled interfacing used in garment making. I was surprised at how big the book was, this was no small item that someone would have carried around with them. It would have been cumbersome for a large man to move about. It was very large and thick, easily thicker and wider than the span of my hand. The beauty of the lettering stunned me, and the artwork that cradled the beginning letter of each chapter, surely it was something to behold in any age. It was a masterpiece of art not to mention the immeasurable gift of the written word that it brought to the world!

We also had the privilege of seeing a copy of the 1830 first printing of the Book of Mormon. On the inside of the cover in a bold cursive hand writing with dark wide ink strokes the book had been given to Vienna Jaques, and dated with the month and year 1833. Just below that in a different hand with petite, dainty penmanship small thin lines it described that Joseph Smith had given this book to her. What a wonderful gift, to be given a book that is signed by the man that translated it!

Seeing these two books in the same setting was not lost on me today. Both books were brought to the world only after great trials to the translators. William Tyndale died as a martyr after dedicating most of his life to translating the bible so that the simple and common folk could read the bible in their common tongue, English. He died with the great hope that his work would make a difference, and it did! The King James Bible was produced and the world was changed forever. Michael Wilcox said in his book Fire in the Bones,

“In 1523 Tyndale made this comment to a cleric:” If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plough, shall know more of the scripture than thou dost” Tyndale’s words proved to be precisely prophetic. Because of his work, in 1820, the young Joseph Smith, a boy who “drove the plough,” read captivating words about prayer and faith from Tyndale’s translation of the New Testament.”

Joseph Smith did became a prophet and translated The Book of Mormon from an ancient record that is a second witness of Jesus Christ. He also was martyred after a life of trials. Both William Tyndale and Joseph Smith are mighty men in the eyes of the Lord and I'm so grateful to know about each of them.

It was a great gift for me to see these two books together in their first printings. Oh, what a day. God is good to me.

"I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High. " Psalms 9:1&2