King James Bible's 400th anniversay.
Protestant's/Anglican's often criticise the Catholic Church for keeping the Bible fom ordinary people, I don't really mind that, though it isn't exactly true. ALS points out rightly the King James version was preceded by the Catholic Douai version, and vernacular texts of the Gospels and Epistles existed in Catholic England from the dawn of printing. It was the absence of technology more than obscuring clerics that kept the Bible out of people's hands, though the clerics were concerned about the accuracy and the political or theological manipulation of vernacular translations.
Our pre-Reformation ancestors seemed to have had a highly developed biblical sense, just look at the complexity of some pre-Reformation wall painting schemes or read sermons from the period.
It is important to realise the King James version was indeed that, the King's book, his translation. It was there to remind people the Bible, the Word of God, was translated and given to the Church by the King. In a sense the Word of God was subject to the King.
In a multi-lingual kingdom the Bible itself was a weapon of oppression, it was used to extend the use of the King's English, notably in Wales and Cornwall until the time of Wesley's became a religious desert, the same could be said for those areas where there was a strong regional dialect.
Eamon Duffy has dealt well and at some depth with the decline in literacy in post-Reformation England. Before the Reformation, he says that the great army of chantry priests spent most of their time not praying for their particular dead teaching the young to read and write using liturgical texts, principly the Vulgate Bible. With our, even lamer than the old ICEL Missal texts, Jerusalem Bible lectionary I often joke that everyone ought learn Greek. This was precisely what happened before the Reformation with the teaching of Latin, it was done so the Vulgate could be understood. It was a matter of bringing the people to the Bible, rather than giving the State approved text to the people.
Martin Luther observed, "There was a time when there was one Pope on the seven hills of Rome, but now there are seven popes on every dunghill in Germany." It was precisely to stop this that the King's Book was carefully produced and carefully distributed. Even then one can assume it was precisely King James' Book that led to the bloody Civil War between Roundheads and Cavaliers, which could also be seen as a war between the Puritan's and King's own Anglican Church which led to Charles, James's son and heir, having his head cut off.