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About the Conference

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This conference, timed to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the 1611 King James Bible, will look at the reception of the Bible in the early modern era. It will bring together an impressive range of scholars from a variety of disciplines, to assess the significance of the scriptures to cultural, political, theological and philosophical history throughout the long seventeenth century.

The conference aims to clarify the uses to which the Bible was put in the period. It is premised on the notion that the biblical culture of the seventeenth century was vibrant and pervasive, including, for example, interpretation of politics and social revolutions, distinctive forms of philosophical and scientific thought and a discursive language of biblical characters, figures and typologies, the implications of which remain very much under-explored.

The conference will address the significance of the King James Bible itself, its translation, its function as an important cultural entity, as well as the biblical scholarship that flourished over the century in the wake of the text. However, the remit of the event is broader, encompassing both the reception and use made of the scriptures well beyond the scholarly and editorial impact of the Authorised Version itself.

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While a good deal of scholarly attention has been paid to the Bible in the era, by historians, literary critics and in the field of historical theology, such studies are frequently dislocated, subsidiaries of political histories, the history of doctrinal dispute or church government, or of Spenser, Milton or radical studies. The conference will aim to bring these diverse fields together, looking at, for example, the history of reading, early modern sermon culture and women's readings of the Bible. While the focus will be on England, the European deployment of the scriptures will also be considered, and the conference will specifically aim to elicit an understanding of the Catholic use of the Bible, notwithstanding the frequently voiced seventeenth century fear that the Papal aim was the suppression of the vulgar scriptures altogether.

The location of the event in York, with its ecclesiastical centrality to events of the seventeenth century and its rich architectural heritage also lends an important historical dimension to the conference.


This conference is being hosted by English and CREMS, University of York.

The conference is receiving the support of the following organisations:

Other Information on Events of Interest


Images on this website are taken from the book collections of York Minster. Thanks to the York Minster Library for permission to use images, to the library staff and Prof. Bill Sherman for taking the photographs.

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