Wednesday, May 4, 2011
This year marks the 400th birthday of the King James Bible, a masterpiece whose elegant wording and figures of speech pervade our modern language. At the beginning of the 17th century, James I brought together Anglican and Puritan scholars in hopes they would devise a translation of scripture that would be acceptable to all. Although there have been many translations since, the phrasing of the King James version gives it a special place in our culture.
Many expressions in the King James Bible share a beauty that is quickly recognized as the language of the Jacobean period. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters…;” (Ps 23:1) “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land where no water is. (Ps 63:1) “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.” (Ps 42:1) “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Ps 119:105) “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts…” (Ps 139:23) “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters…” (Isa 55:1)
Phrases from this translation are integrated into the language of our everyday speech:
“to fall flat on his face” (Num. 22:31), “a man after his own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14), “the land of the living” (Job 28:13), “to pour out one’s heart” (Ps. 62:8), “sour grapes” (Ezek. 18:2), “pride goes before a fall” (Prov. 16:18), “like a lamb to the slaughter” (Isa. 53:7), “the salt of the earth” (Matt. 5:13), “a thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7), “to give up the ghost” (John 19:30), and “the powers that be” (Rom. 13:1).
For more information, please see this article from the Christian Post blog.