The Cayman Islands Postal Service will be celebrating the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible with the release of its 2011 Christmas stamps. The five-set series features King James I, the monarch who was responsible for organising the translation of one of the most important works, and certainly the most published books of our time. A portrait of King James is featured on the 75¢ stamp. The 25¢ stamp depicts the cover of the KJB and illustrates the apostles Peter and Paul seated above the central text, flanked by Moses and Aaron. In the four corners, sit Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, authors of the four gospels, with their symbolic animals. The rest of the apostles (with Judas facing away) stand around Peter and Paul. At the very top is the Tetragrammaton, which refers to the name of the God of Israel used in the Hebrew Bible.
The 80¢ stamp features William Tyndale, who in 1526 translated the first version of the New Testament into English. He is considered to be the ‘Father of the English Bible’, but rather than being a hero, he was imprisoned and later tried, defrocked and sentenced to death. His last words were: “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.” With that he fell asleep. His limp body was then burned.
The $1 stamp depicts the printing of the King James Bible and the $1.60 stamp is of the translators, a group of 48 scholars. The translators were organised into six groups, and met at Westminster, Cambridge, and Oxford. The 10 who met at Westminster were assigned Genesis through 2 Kings; seven had Romans through Jude. At Cambridge, eight worked on 1 Chronicles through Ecclesiastes, while seven others handled the Apocrypha. Oxford employed seven to translate Isaiah through Malachi; eight occupied themselves with the Gospels, Acts, and Revelation. The translators were divided into teams that worked on different sections.
“The King James Bible is an enduring classic, and today, just about everyone who wants to own a Bible has one in the language they speak. However, 400 years ago this was not the case. The word of God was very closely guarded. The King James Bible changed this and this stamp issue commemorates this important historical milestone,” explained Postmaster General Sheena Glasgow.
She thanked Stamp Advisory Committee members and the Rev. Stanwyck Myles, who wrote the introduction on the leaflet, for this issue.
Deputy Premier and Minister of Administration, Works, Land and Agriculture Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said she was pleased with 2011 Christmas stamps and the timeliness of the release. “The King James Bible is still as relevant today as it was back in 1611. It is an extraordinary text and no other book has had the sort of influence on the world as much as the King James Bible.”