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Sunday, July 16, 2006

The 1611 King James Text

Back in May I wrote about my interest in a 'neutral' translation. That was probably a bad choice of words. I was expressing the desire to have a Bible version that people hold in common, a translation that does not necessitate dealing with controversy.

I was reminded of this while listening to Mark Bertrand's podcast. Without adding any more to the discussion, I would like to mention the New Cambridge edition of the King James Bible and the Penguin edition of this text which will be available in August. Thanks, Mark.

Here is a recent article on the King James Bible in the The Wall Street Journal.
HT: Kenny Pearce.

    Because the KJV was so widely read for religious purposes, it had also become a source of public ideals. Because it was so central in the churches, and because the churches were so central to the culture, the KJV functioned also as a common reservoir for the language.

    Hundreds of phrases (clear as crystal, powers that be, root of the matter, a perfect Babel, two-edged sword) and thousands of words (arguments, city, conflict, humanity, legacy, network, voiceless, zeal) were in the common speech because they had first been in this translation. Or to be more precise, because they had been in the KJV or in the earlier translations, like those of John Wycliffe's followers (1390s) and William Tyndale (1520s), that King James' translators mined for their own version.

    But during the past half-century, we have come into a new situation. For believers who read the Bible because they think it is true, a welter of modern translations compete for the space once dominated by the KJV. For the public at large, the linguistic and narrative place that for more than two centuries had been occupied by the KJV is now substantially filled by the omnipresent electronic media.
This could be refering to blogging but I assume he really means televised soccer! And then this worthy thought,

    Yet if the KJV was sometimes abused, nearly universal use also meant that its spiritual themes of reproof and liberation, its stories of human sin and divine grace, also exerted a great influence for good. In the 1890s Elizabeth Cady Stanton and other aggrieved feminists published "The Woman's Bible" in an effort to counter interpretations of Scripture that had done women harm.

    When they asked others to comment, Frances Willard of the Women's Christian Temperance Union made a telling response: "No such woman, as Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, with her heart aflame against all forms of injustice and of cruelty . . . has ever been produced in a country where the Bible was not incorporated into the thoughts and the affections of the people and had not been so during many generations."
I haven't much feeling against the King James Bible myself since it contains verses like this. Galatians 5:13-14.

    For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
And Romans 12:10.

    Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
It is a great deal too bad to lose a good expression like 'kindly affectioned'! But it is very difficult to do justice to a verse like this in English.

    τῇ φιλαδελφίᾳ εἰς ἀλλήλους φιλόστοργοι τῇ τιμῇ ἀλλήλους προηγούμενοι
Note: But 'sisterly' kindness has also been on mind today since my friend swam across English Bay this morning to raise money for a women's shelter in India, run by Catholic sisters.


At Mon Jul 17, 12:00:00 AM, Blogger anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Mon Jul 17, 08:58:00 AM, Blogger lingamish said...

anon, I love that quote!

KJV is cryptic and poetic by turns:

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.


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