Student essays, projects invited for King James Bible contest

While the Bible is available in many translations and special editions today – Bibles for teens, surfers, women, etc. – The King James Bible, which was first published 400 years ago, endures, and still impacts our culture today.

Poets such as Emily Dickinson alluded to the Bible in their verse:

Abraham to Kill Him
was distinctly told-
Isaac was an Urchin’
Abraham was old-

John Steinbeck, in his novel “The Grapes of Wrath,” models the exit of the Joad family from Oklahoma on the Exodus story, and Toni Morrison borrows the title of a Bible chapter for her novel “Song of Solomon.”

Composers ranging from Handel to Bob Marley have set its words to music, and artists are inspired by its phrases.

The King James Bible even reached space, when the Apollo 8 astronauts orbiting the moon read from Genesis.

And, according to Charles McGrath, a writer for the New York Times, “The influence of the King James Bible is so great that the list of idioms from it that have slipped into everyday speech, taking such deep root that we use them all the time without any awareness of their biblical origin, is practically endless: sour grapes; fatted calf; salt of the earth; drop in a bucket; skin of one’s teeth; apple of one’s eye; girded loins; feet of clay; whited sepulchers; filthy lucre; pearls before swine; fly in the ointment; fight the good fight; eat, drink and be merry.”

ASU students are invited to write about the cultural impact of the King James Bible in a student essay/creative project contest sponsored by ASU Libraries and the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies.

The contest is the final event of an exhibit and lecture series hosted by ASU Libraries, “Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible.”

First place prize in the contest is $400; second place is $250; and third place is $100. Deadline is April 13.

The essay format is 1,500-2,000 words, to be submitted double-spaced in Times new Roman font, size 12. For the creative project, any format or media is welcome, such as artwork, dance or film. Contestants may submit three-dimensional works by e-mailing photos.

Essays and creative projects should be sent to Rachel Leket-Mor, project director, at

Students may visit the project website,, or the ASU Libraries guide,,for more information about the King James Bible.