King James Bible, first edition, to be displayed in Saudi Arabia

The bible being displayed is being loaned to the King Faisal Center by a private Saudi collector.

First edition of King James Bible (photo credit: FLICKR)
First edition of King James Bible
(photo credit: FLICKR)
A rare first edition of the King James Bible will be put on display early next year at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, according to Al Arabiya TV news.
The King James Bible, published in 1611, was an authorized English translation of the Christian Bible commissioned specifically for the Church of England.
The bible being displayed is being loaned to the center by a private Saudi collector.
King James authorized the translation during the Hampton Court Conference of 1604 because of complications in previous translations, questioned by Puritan leaders at the time, who represented a faction of the Church.
The rare version of the King James Bible to be showcased in Riyadh contains a well known mistranslation in the book of Ruth (3:15). The end of the verse says that “he went into the city” – which would refer to Boaz – as opposed to “she went into the city” since the verse is about Ruth herself. The translators made this mistake because there are instances where a Hebrew word is written one way but read another way, often changing the meaning. Here, the Hebrew word as written means “and he went” (vayavo) but is read and therefore really means “and she went” (vatavo).
This misprint makes it evident that the version being displayed is a first edition copy of the King James Bible. According to Bible at Beinecke website, “the error has drawn a great deal of attention” because of its connection to larger issues around gender – “despite the fact that the misprint seems to be a minor one in a larger text.” Therefore, according to the site, “King James Bibles from 1611 and 1613 are [still] named as either ‘He Bibles’ or ‘She Bibles.’”
“This Bible in Saudi Arabia, which is one of the ‘He Bibles’ of the King James Bible, is indeed rare: there are thought to be only about 200 of them,” said Yale University Prof. Bruce Gordon, according to Al Arabiya. He added that there are multiple printing errors in this particular example, which furthers validates it as being a first edition.
The book itself, well-preserved and bound in calf leather, contains brass ornamental plates and clasps to accentuate the book aesthetically, as well as clasps to help keep the book closed.
The first-edition Bible will go on display along with early versions of the Koran, in an exhibit that hopes to spotlight how “early printing technologies impacted religious studies” of the past.

Natan Rothstein contributed to this report.