Thanks to the personal sacrifices of many great men and women, the King James Version of the Bible has endured for centuries and continues to have an immeasurable impact and influence on the world.
Yet few know the full story of its origin.
In celebration of the volume’s 400th anniversary, BYUtv will air a three-part documentary series titled, “Fires of Faith: The Coming Forth of the King James Bible,” beginning this Sunday.
The film was produced and directed by Lee Groberg, and written by screenwriter Mitch Davis. “Fires of Faith” chronicles the lives of central figures in the European reformation era, including John Wycliffe, Martin Luther, William Tyndale and King Henry VIII, as well as others, and the events that led to the creation of the King James Bible. The documentary and dramatic feature is told through the eyes of international scholars at prestigious universities and institutions such as Oxford, Notre Dame and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. Religious leaders from around the world, including Catholics, Evangelicals, Southern Baptist, Eastern Orthodox, Episcopalians and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, were all invited to share their perspectives and insights in the film.
Part 1 of the documentary airs Sunday (Oct. 16) and Wednesday (Oct. 19) on BYUtv. Part 2 airs Sunday, Oct. 23, and Wednesday, Oct. 26; and Part 3 airs Sunday, Oct. 30, and Wednesday, Nov. 2.
Groberg and others began working on the project three years ago. More than 130 re-enactments were filmed in eight different countries, many at the actual location where the original events took place.
“Fires of Faith” is likely the greatest project ever undertaken by BYU broadcasting, said Derek Marquis, executive director and managing director of BYUtv.
“This is huge. I don’t think I would be melodramatic or overstating anything if I said this is the greatest investment that BYU broadcasting has made in any single project,” Marquis said. “The investment that has been made and the time that has gone into this is a reflection of how important we felt about the topic and how important we felt that the story needed to be told to a national and international audience.”
Filmed in places like a fourth-century monastery, 800-year-old English castles and 500-year-old European churches, Part 1 is titled “Yearning for the Word” and follows the lives of reformers John Wycliffe, Martin Luther, William Tyndale and others who wanted the common man to have the word of God in their native English tongue.
In 1408, a decree known as The Constitutions of Oxford made translation of the whole Bible or any part of it into English illegal. To do so would result in imprisonment, torture and death. Still compelled to spread the gospel, Tyndale, a British religious scholar, spent his life translating the Bible into English and shared it with people under the table on the black market.
The English Reformation was brought about by King Henry VIII’s insatiable desire to father a male heir to the throne. When the church balked at his request to dissolve his sonless marriages, the desperate king ordered the execution of anyone who stood in his way. The film crisscrosses a tumultuous Europe at the birth of religious freedom during a time that seemed to consistently involve the burning of books or people.
Part 2, “Martyrs for a Book,” depicts how Tyndale was eventually betrayed, charged with heresy and condemned to death. He was strangled and burned at the stake in 1536.
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