WREXHAM, Wales (Christian Examiner) – The pastor of an historic church in Great Britain was cleaning out a cabinet in recent weeks when he stumbled upon a book most often found only in museums – a rare first edition of the 1611 King James Bible.
It was a big surprise to Vicar Jason Bray of St. Giles Parish Church in Wrexham, Wales, who serves in a church building that was built in the late 1400s and early 1500s, more than a century prior to King James authorizing the translation.
"We basically found it when we were going through the cupboards," Bray told The Telegraph newspaper. "We didn't know it was a first edition, but we sent photographs to the National Library of Wales and they confirmed that it was, dating back to 1611.
"It has been authenticated, and as far as we know, has always been here."
Fewer than 200 are thought to be in existence, The Telegraph said.
The King James Bible wasn't the first English translation -- versions such as the Tyndale Bible and the Geneva Bible preceded it -- but it did become the most popular English version.
The King James Bible found in St. Giles isn't fully intact, and there are a few pages missing, the newspaper reported.
"King James wanted everybody to use the same Bible and have it put in all the churches," Bray said. "What he was trying to do was create some sort of uniformity."
The goal now is to give the Bible a property display so that everyone can see it.
"I have absolutely no idea of its value," he said. "I don't know how many there are in existence and you can buy pages on the Internet for about ($760) each."