King James Bible

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Four hundred years
of the King James Bible.
The blood sweat and tears
Of six writing panels
Produced a text
Which united a kingdom
To post-Elizabethan revival.
Still read today,
Words of great majesty
Hell, fire and brimstone
Meet faith, hope and charity
A piece of England’s history
And linguistic gift to the world.
Can’t vouch for the science
But there’s power in the words.

Having read an interesting article about the origins of the King James Bible, I’ve decided to give it a proper read. Aside from its obvious religious role, it is the origin of so many phrases and sayings we still use today.

The skin of my teeth
How are the mighty fallen
Be horribly afraid
From time to time
As a lamb to the slaughter
Beat their swords into ploughshares
Turned the world upside down
A thorn in the flesh
Fell flat on his face
Get thee behind me
A man after his own heart
Set thine house in order

It’s interesting to read passages which are completely familiar, and not. Also to note things which myth, custom and the Disneyfication of culture have added to popular folklore but aren’t actually there – no unicorns perish in Noah’s floods, just a lot of un-named things which ‘creepethed on the earth’.

It’s also remarkable how little time, and how few words, are spent on massively significant and controversial topics – creation for example. The language though is rich, terse and magisterial.

A life’s work. For a disputed King and his ecclesiastical writing panels, quite literally.

This entry was posted in Language, Life, Odysseus, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to King James Bible

  1. Jim says:

    Interesting that a camel is described as a horse designed by a committee yet a religious text designed by several committees is called the King James Bible and is considered to be one of the greatest works of English literature. Is it the result of collective divine inspiration or are we just in awe of the language and consequently uncritial of the detailed content?

    Jim

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