On the little table at the back of my parish, there’s an assortment of bulletins, prayer cards, and church raffle tickets. Meanwhile, on the little table at the back of St. Laurence Church in Hamilton, England, there is…an original King James Bible.
The ornate old Bible that had been sitting in plain view on a table near the last row of pews for longer than anyone could remember is an original King James Bible – one of perhaps 200 surviving 400-year-old original editions of arguably the most important book ever printed in English.
In fact, the Bible at St. Laurence Church in Hilmarton, England, was sitting right under a hand-lettered sign saying it was an original. . . .
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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Smith identified it thanks to a printing error – a place in the Gospel of Matthew that should say Jesus entered the Garden of Gethsemane and spoke to his disciples instead says that Judas, who betrayed Jesus, entered the garden.
That the St. Laurence Bible had that error, but not another one in the Book of Ruth, enabled Smith to pinpoint exactly when the book had been printed, Procter explained.
“We realized that this is quite an important find,” he said, and last month the church quietly announced the discovery in the diocese newsletter.
Most of the original King James Bibles still in existence are in institutions or private collections; St. Laurence might be the only church that still owns one and intends to keep it in use and on display — its rightful purpose, really.
It definitely pays to check those back pews…