Gods Secretaries. Adam Nicolson

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‘The Making of the King James Bible’

Fabulous book full of socio-cultural, historical, political, and economic insight. He paints very rich pictures of the characters and events that lead to the way the King James Bible was produced. Adams demonstrates incisive use of language with colourful illustrations of lost common knowledge. For example, did you know that the term ‘Stroke’ (apoplectic siezure) is a reference to a blow from an Angel?! Nicolson often quotes original Jacobean English from letters. Example

I was forcid at last to saye unto thaime, that if any of thaime hadde bene in a colledge disputing with thair skollairs, if any of thaire disciples hadde ansourid thaim in that sorte, thay wolde have fetchid him up in place of a replye & so shoulde the rodde have plyed upon the poore boyes buttokis”. p54

Other excerpts that caught my imagination:

Uniquely in England, an increasignly powerful state had made itself synonymous with a – more or less – protestant church… …It bridged the divisions which in the rest of Europe had given rise to decades of civil war” p.38

Jacobean England was an expressive culture (straight-laced continentals remarked on how often and warmly the English kissed)” p.45

Nicolson’s use of the English language is richly concise. It was also challenging. Here are examples of obscure descriptive words I double-checked in the dictionary….

Acquiesce, Agglutination, Amity, Anomolous

Cantankerous, Carapace, Circumlocution


Elision, Elysium, Emolliently




Largesse, Louche




ObsequiousnessPanoply, Parsimonious, PaterfamiliasRecalcitrant, Reprobates, Redolent, Riven




Gods Secretaries. Adam Nicolson
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