London: Robert Barker, 1611
Produced by a committee of fifty-odd scholars who labored for about seven years at the special commandment of James I, the Bible known today as the King James Version was first published in 1611. It originated in the King’s desire to bring religious unity to his realm and was conceived as a revision of the so-called Bishops’ Bible released during the reign of his predecessor, Queen Elizabeth, in 1568. It remained the most beloved English translation of the Bible for more than 300 years.
The general title page of the King James Bible is a beautiful engraving designed and executed by the Flemish artist Cornelis Boel (c1576-c1621). Its upper part has a representation of the Trinity consisting of the Tetragrammaton (the four Hebrew letters that transcribe the name of God), the Dove of the Holy Spirit, and the Agnus Dei (the Lamb of God bearing a banner and a cross), surrounded by the Sun and the Moon and a group of Apostles. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, James’ original kingdom, is shown in a prominent place hugging his X-shaped cross. On the three sides of the title page, the artist represented the four Evangelists, Moses and Aaron, and the pelican feeding her young with her blood, a medieval symbol of Jesus’ Passion.