Wednesday, March 27, 2013

King James Version of the Bible - 402 Years Old

This post originally appeared on sometime in 2011, but I thought it was worth another look.

Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility is not the only book having a big anniversary this year. The Authorized King James Version of the Bible beats Austen out by 200 years. This translation of the Bible sponsored by the Church of England was begun in 1604 and completed in 1611 in response to problems with earlier translations as detected by the Puritans, a cranky lot who found fault with everything. The translation was undertaken by 47 scholars, all of whom were members of the Church of England. The New Testament was translated from Greek, the Old Testament was translated from Hebrew, while the Apocrypha were translated from the Greek and Latin.

Now for the interesting part. The Authorized Version’s acceptance by the general public did not happen overnight. Biblical scholar, Hugh Broughton, the most highly regarded English Hebraist of his time (but who had been excluded from the panel of translators because of his uncongenial temperament), chimed in with his opinion of the completed work: “I would rather be torn in pieces by wild horses than that this abominable translation should ever be foisted upon the English people.” Fortunately, for him, no one could find any wild horses.

A primary concern of the translators was to produce a Bible that would be appropriate, dignified and resonant in public reading. Hence, in a period of rapid linguistic change, they avoided contemporary idioms, tending instead towards forms that were already slightly archaic, like “thee and thou,” “verily” and “it came to pass.” The translators also tended to enliven their text with stylistic variation, finding multiple English words or verbal forms in places where the original language employed repetition. In other words, they used a thesaurus.

There are so many phrases that we use in everyday language that come from this translation. Here are a few of them from Matthew:

Man shall not live by bread alone. (4:4)
The salt of the earth (5:13)
The light of the world (5:14)
Turn the other cheek. (5:39)
O ye of little faith (6:30)
Seek and ye shall find. (7:7)
Every kingdom divided against itself shall not stand. (12:25)
The blind lead the blind. (15:14)
The signs of the times (16:3)
Take up the cross. (16:24)
Suffer little children (19:14)
The last shall be first, and the first last. (20:16)
Out of the mouth of babes (21:16)
The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. (26:41)

As a Catholic, I did not grow up with the Protestant King James’ Version of the Bible, but I know a stylistic masterpiece when I read it. British Theologian, F. W. Haber, said it best:  [The King James Version of the Bible] lives on the ear, like music that can never be forgotten, like the sound of church bells, which the convert hardly knows how he can forego. Scholars may argue about the accuracy of the translation of the King James's Version, but it would be hard to find a more beautiful one. Happy Anniversary!

Compiled from on-line sources including Wikipedia as well as The History of the English Language by Professor Seth Lerer, The Teaching Company.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Darcy on the Hudson - Two Five-Star Reviews

Last week, I hit two home runs when Darcy on the Hudson received two five-star reviews. Here are excerpts:

Janet Taylor at More Agreeably Engaged - 5 Stars

"On more than one occasion, I laughed out loud. I even had 'a little water' in my eyes on others. I loved this book, and I thank you, Mary Simonsen, for a good and rewarding read."

To read Janet's entire review, please click here

Evie Cotton at The Lavendar Lady - 5 Stars

"One thing I love about Mary Lydon Simonsen is her attention to detail. Every time I open up one of her books I am transported to a time and place that I never knew that I never knew. For instance, I am a history buff and love war time stories. World Wars I and II are my favorites, but I have never contemplated what life was like in Great Britain during those times. I've really only heard these stories told from the American point of view. While reading 'Darcy Goes To War', I found myself constantly saying out loud (to my husband's irritation) "Huh!" and "Wow!" and "Gee Whiz!". The same is true for 'Darcy on the Hudson'. I learned so many things about the day to day lives of those living in 1811 New York that I hardly know where to begin. Its those day to day events, told in such a detailed yet easy manner that leave you with no question of how things transpired."

To read Evie's entire review, please click here.