DVD Review - KJB: The Book that Changed the World

[amazon B004K6FS5W thumbnail]

2011 marks the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. The King James Bible has shaped the English language, inspired political and religious thought for generations and, arguably, changed the world.

The story behind the King James Bible has been told before. And several new books this year will aim to tell it again. 1A Productions and Lions Gate studio have created a first class documentary featuring John Rhys-Davies which puts this story on screen. And the result is almost as breathtaking as the powerful prose of the King James Bible itself.

KJB: The Book That Changed the World takes us on a historical survey of the years preceding 1611 and the political and religious landscape which confronted the new King. The story follows James I from his birth to his ultimate ascension to the English throne. Particular focus is placed on the role the King James Bible would play in James’ strategy to unify the landscape, politically and religiously.

Director and producer Norman Stone does a fantastic job of capturing the life of Jacobean England with all of its intrigue. The plot of Guy Fawkes is detailed in memorable fashion. Filmed on location in England and Scotland, the film takes viewers inside Westminster Abbey and Oxford College to some of the actual rooms where the translators labored over their charge. The photography and quality of the film is superb; countrysides and cathedrals alike are displayed in all their evocative power.

John Rhys-Davies exudes energy and vigor in his lively narration. His deep, booming voice adds to the grandeur of the story. At one point he climbs up into the pulpit of a centuries-old church to read from the pages of the King James Bible.

The documentary focuses almost exclusively on the historical setting and making of the King James Bible, only briefly explaining its lasting impact. While acknowledging the place the Bible has for Christians, the film aims at a wider audience. At times some historical license seems to be taken to make the story fit the producer’s goals. While Puritans and Anglicans worked together on the various translation committees, it should be noted the Puritans were a decided minority. More detail on translation techniques and practices could have been expected, too. Still the film does not disappoint. It brings to life the world of King James and the creation of his most lasting monument.

This documentary is available on DVD as well as Amazon Instant Video download for rent or purchase. Learn more about the film (and watch the trailer) at KJBtheFilm.com.

[node:bio/bob-hayton body]

4000 reads

There are 6 Comments

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

My first thought after reading the title was - why not just "The Bible - the book that changed the world".

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Darren Mc's picture

We got this from Netflix a couple of months ago (the disc came in the mail; they don't have it for streaming). Bob, your review is pretty well spot on. It is certainly not a classic documentary: actors play James I and several other important characters, and the dialog between the characters moves the story along in addition to the readings and location scenes with Davies. The movie's primary focus is James- his background, his world, and his motivation for developing his Bible- more so than any theological concerns (other than the fact that one of James' purposes was to supplant the Geneva Bible with its radical marginal notes). It also points out the inadequacies in the Bishop's Bible and quite fairly notes that the KJB was not widely accepted in England for about 50 years.

No wisdom, no understanding, and no counsel will prevail against the LORD. Proverbs 21:30

Bob Hayton's picture


I have the same thought, too. But from a literary, secular perspective, it was the KJB which was "The Bible" for the English-speaking world...

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

Bob Hayton's picture

Thanks, Darren. You bring up good points too, it really is about King James. That being said, it is very interesting and captivating and an excellent production. Definitely a quality film.

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

Rob Fall's picture

like they used Alister McGrath's book as their jumping off point.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Aaron Blumer's picture


Finally got to see this film this morning.
It's fascinating and very well done. It's kind of mistitled though. The film is more about the man King James than it is about the translation, though James' story is very much intertwined with the story of the KJB. The focus is more on the man and his times than on the translation process. But the times do provide insight into some remarkable features of the translation process as well.
I hadn't realized the Puritans were that involved.
... or that James was so young and so scholarly.

The footage of these historic places in Scotland and England left me very much wanting to go there.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Help keep SI's server humming. A few bucks makes a difference.