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Rare Bible draws crowds to Lancashire church

Crowds have been flocking to see one of the earliest known copies of the King James Bible – worth at least £50,000 – at a village church in Lancashire ...

Huge crowds flocked to Gisburn in Lancashire last weekend to see a rare 400 year-old Bible worth at least £50,000 which was recently uncovered in the village church.

Members of the public got a chance to view the find for the first time when St Mary’s Parish Church in Gisburn put it on display on Saturday during the local ‘scarecrow festival’.

Printed in 1611 by Robert Barker in London and known as the ‘Great She Bible’, it is one of the earliest known copies of the famous King James Version (KJV) Bible.

It is called a ‘She Bible’ because in Ruth chapter 3 verse 15 it says 'She went into the city’. This verse was changed from another edition of the KJV which said 'he'. It was thought to be a typographical mistake.

The story of the Bible find hit the local, regional and national media following the announcement by The Church of England in Lancashire.

Coverage helped boost visitors to the church beyond all expectations and 1200+ people are reported to have passed through the medieval building on Saturday. Local businesses also reported increased trade.

The book was discovered when Rev Anderson Jeremiah and Rev Alexander Baker (pictured above right) began exploring the nooks and crannies of the medieval parish church after starting work there in August 2014.

After initially discussing their find with the British Library the Bible was assessed and authenticated by Neil Summersgill, a member of the Antiquarian Bookseller’s Association based in Blackburn.

Rev Baker said: “We were delighted the coverage of the Bible’s rediscovery led to this amazing interest which was much greater than we expected.

“People made the pilgrimage to view the Bible from far and wide, including Scotland, the North East; Cardiff, London and even Cornwall! Many were visibly moved at seeing such an important relic of Christian history in the intimate setting of our parish church.

“There are a handful of She Bibles left but most of them are in the hands of the great universities or cathedrals, not small churches like this one, so it was a unique opportunity for many people to see it.”

Rev Anderson Jeremiah added: “This English language version of the Bible was created to encourage ordinary people to discover the Good News of Jesus Christ for themselves and it is likely that it was the book that first took God’s word into many people’s homes in this part of Lancashire.

“We hoped to encourage the people of Lancashire and elsewhere to visit our church and discover this Bible for themselves, but the numbers who did so exceeded all our expectations.”

“The Bible is now being kept at a safe place but in the future we hope to identify other opportunities to allow people to view it.”

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