Scrapping the King James version, in the well-meaning way of the well-educated classes, had a number of effects, the most decisive and the most disastrous of which was to destroy for ever an ordinary, everyday connection with 400 years of the English language. In my northern mill town, many working men studied Shakespeare at the Mechanics’ Institute or the Workers’ Extension lectures. No one thought the language difficult because it is the language of the King James, and we had grown up with that. Shakespeare, like the Bible, was written to be heard; like Shakespeare, the Bible is theatre.

King James does not use sub-clauses or dependent clauses; it is a direct English, and one you can still hear, even now, in northern speech, the kind we celebrate in Alan Bennett. The language is grammatically uncluttered, but rich in vocabulary and image.

There is a difference between “obscure” and “difficult”. I accept that, by now, the King James version seems more difficult than it is, but its rewards are greater than its difficulty.