NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

May 12, 2014

A look at the King's English

(Continued)

To abbreviate a long and fascinating story, a not-wholly-pious king, King James, in response to a Protestant complaint, authorized the creation of a proper English Bible in 1604. He appointed 47 scholars representing a wide diversity of views to work on it. Divided into three committees meeting in three different places to address different parts of the revision, these men, amazingly, were able to come together, reach agreement, and produce a completed work in 1611.

The result was a document which deeply influenced English, “infusing its richness of texture, familiarity of phrasing, fund of imagery, force of simplicity into the very texture of our cultural heritage … informing much of our sense of community, of common language, [and] of belief …”.

Says one scholar, “… the ultimate standard of English prose style is set by the King James version of the Bible.” Charles Dickens’s statement that “The New Testament is the best book the world has ever known or will know” has been echoed in one form or another by scores of great writers and statesmen.

Johannes Gutenberg’s printed Latin Bible (1450) had paved the way for the KJV to be widely distributed to both churches and individuals. It is hard to imagine, but estimates of the number of copies of the KJV printed since its initial publication range into the billions.

In America, the first English Bible was printed in 1782 and widely distributed, influencing, said Noah Webster “[the] forming and preserving [of] our national American language.”

At least 250 phrases in common modern English usage came from or through the KJV. “Salt of the earth,” “Blind leading the blind,” “The skin of his teeth,” “The scales fell from his eyes,” “Give up the ghost,” “The grapes of wrath” and “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” are among many apt, colorful metaphors still in use.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

NDN Video
Train Collides With Semi Truck Carrying Lighter Fluid Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy Kanye West Tells-All on Wedding in "GQ" Interview Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Scarlett Johansson Set To Marry In August New Star Wars Episode XII X-Wing Revealed Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB' Adam Levine Ties the Knot Sebastian The Ibis Walks Beautiful Bride Down The Aisle | ACC Must See Moment NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Faces of Souls Lost in Malaysian Plane Crash 105-year-old woman throws first pitch Man Creates Spreadsheet of Wife's Reasons for Turning Down Sex 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success Rory McIlroy struggles, surges, wins British Open NOW TRENDING: Real life Pac-Man Explosions as hot air balloon crashes in Clinton DUI Driver Dragged to Safety by Officer After Walking Onto Busy Freeway
Special Features
NRA Waterfront Plans