Just in time for Thanksgiving, the Manifold Greatness website published an article today asking if the John Alden Bible, now on display at the Folger exhibition, was The First King James Bible in America. Hannibal Hamlin, associate professor of English at The Ohio State University and co-curator of the Manifold Greatness exhibition at the Folger Shakespeare Library, writes:
As we approach Thanksgiving, perhaps thinking of those Pilgrims who came over on the Mayflower and feasted with the Indians, we might think about the English Bibles they brought with them. (We ought to note, though, that despite the popular myth about the Pilgrims founding Thanksgiving, it was actually Abraham Lincoln who fixed the official November date after the Civil War. The Pilgrims had a feast of “thanksgiving” in 1621, but it was hardly the state holiday we know today.)
As the hotter, more godly variety of Protestants, the Pilgrims used the Geneva Bible. It was far the most popular English Bible until the mid-seventeenth century, but especially so among those termed Puritans, given its associations with Calvinist Geneva. John Alden, however, brought a copy of the King James Bible printed in 1620. Though Alden became a prominent member of the Plymouth Colony, he wasn’t originally am member of the Pilgrims, but rather the ship’s carpenter on the Mayflower. This may explain why he carried the KJV.
Alden’s 1620 KJV may be the first copy of this translation on American soil, but it’s impossible to be certain.
To read the article in its entirety, click this link: The First King James Bible in America?