A 400-year-old King James Bible traveled through time and ended up at Oklahoma Christian University.
This 1613 historical artifact is currently in the process to be displayed at Oklahoma Christian.
According to Chris Rosser, associate professor of library science and theological librarian at Oklahoma Christian, Dr. Harold Fletcher Sr. brought the Bible to Oklahoma Christian approximately 40 years ago.
This copy of the King James Bible was first discovered by Fletcher’s daughter through family friends.
“The next time she visited the family, she came home with the old Bible in a paper grocery bag and put it on the table,” Rosser said. “As he started looking at it he realized what it was.”
Rosser said Fletcher asked if the family would be willing to let the school keep the Bible for protection and keep it in a place where people could study and appreciate its value.
“The family thought this was a good idea so they sold it to the school,” Rosser said. “These types of Bibles are so rare and it is pretty amazing that we have one here.”
The first King James Bible was printed in 1611.
“The fact of the artifact itself is the existence of this thing is 400-years-old,” Rosser said. “It is amazing that it has survived, somehow, and found its way from England to the Oklahoma Christian library.”
Rosser said, to his understanding, the Bible was passed down through a family line until its arrival in Oklahoma.
“The fact of its existence itself is kind of interesting,” Rosser said. “The historical value of an old Bible like this is that these kind of old artifacts, they carry memory and history with them, and testify the historical events out of which they were born.”
Rosser said the Bible is a political document that carries an abundance of history. According to Rosser, the Bible witnesses the power struggle politically at the time of its origin.
“You can’t see it because its figurative, but the cover and pages of the Bible are charred with flame and fire because this King James version of the Bible itself was born out of a really tumultuous and fiery time in the history of England and the Church of England,” Rosser said.
Rosser said while he does not know the current value of the King James Bible at Oklahoma Christian, it is understood that the Bible is worth more than its acquired price.
“We are currently having the Bible appraised by the folks at the Museum of the Bible, who the library has now been working with for a year,” Rosser said.
Rosser said the Oklahoma Christian library is working towards acquiring a display case for the Bible. However, it could potentially be problematic, because without a proper display it could deteriorate more over time.
Along with the 1613 King James Bible, Fletcher donated a facsimile, or reproduction, of the 1611 Bible to be put on display.
“It is enormous: a two-foot by a foot-and-a-half massive volume that is going to be put on display so people can actually look and flip through a physical copy,” Rosser said. “The 1613 Bible will be on display nearby where you can see it, but not touch.”
Rosser said he is excited for people to know Oklahoma Christian has this historical artifact.
“All of us in the library hope that more interest will be generated by people coming in contact with something that really is so old and has survived the fires of time, and has somehow mysterious made its way to Oklahoma Christian,” Rosser said. “If that inspires people to want to learn more about Christian history, or the history of the Bible, we are excited about it.”