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King James English

January 17, 2011

This article from the BBC has some interesting things to say about the Grandfather of all English Bible Translations, the venerable King James. The main point is the lasting impact of the KJV on English usage, a fact that is repeated time and time again as Scripture is translated into languages for the first time.

From Tyndale to Luther to the present day, the impact of a mother-tongue Scripture on a language (and its speakers!) cannot be underestimated.

The sidebars in the article are also interesting, especially the last one: “Its impact on religious language.” The discussion of “thee” versus “you” is worth your time.

I can’t speak to the veracity all of the facts in this article, but a lot of what is talked about is still true in Bible Translation today – especially the caption, “The King James Bible was often read aloud.” That is still the case in many parts of the world, especially those with lower literacy rates than we have in the USA.

Of course, listening to the Bible is not a second-class thing – after all, “faith comes by hearing” (Romans 10:17). I usually find myself automatically interpreting that to “faith comes by reading,” – but isn’t it interesting that the prototypical way to interact with God’s Word through the ages has been to listen to it?

Take the chance to learn a little more about Bible Translation, and give thanks to God that we have his Word in so many different forms in the language of our hearts today.

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