Subject: Shakespeare and the KJV It seems i've been called upon again to drag out my books

---
Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

From: cindy@solan10.solan.unit.no (Cynthia Kandolf) Subject: Shakespeare and the KJV It seems i've been called upon again to drag out my books one more time before the holidays... so here is a summary of what i was able to find about the King James Version: The only connection Shakespeare has to the KJV is that he was alive when it was published in 1611. (No connection to the KGB has ever been proven.) He had no part in the preparation of it. Now for a surprise: the men who worked on the KJV depended more on previous English translations of the Bible than on the texts those translations had come from, despite the fact that most of them read Latin and Greek. Also, they were told to consider readability and literary merit to be as important as scholarly accuracy, to make the Bible accessible to the common man (a radical concept at the time). I find it somewhat humorous, based on this point, that some people claim the KJV is the only "inspired" translation of the Bible into English - but i digress. Anyway, most of the English Bibles in existence then had been published between 1535 and 1568, when no less than five versions were first printed. However, versions as early as William Tyndale's 1525 translation were used in the preparation of the KJV. (Ironically, Tyndale was put to death for translating the Bible.) Tyndale's Bible in fact was extensively used as the pattern for the KJV, and it is because of this that we say the KJV was written using language that was old-fashioned already at the time. Normally, one century makes a noticeable though not large difference in a language (provided you know what you're looking for, of course!) At this time, however, English was undergoing a period of rapid change, and much of the change was grammatical. So much of the language Tyndale used in 1525 already sounded old-fashioned in 1611 - not archaic, but somewhat out of fashion. The use of "thou", for instance, was common in 1525, but by 1611 was falling out of use - but it was used in the KJV none the less, mostly because it sounded good. As far as the "archaicness" of Shakespeare vs. the KJV, i don't want to sound snobby here but... you can't just take two pieces of literature and say "they both sound equally archaic to me, therefore they are equally archaic." Scholars that work on this sort of thing have to have a deep and broad knowledge of the history of the language they're working on. They look at individual words and grammatical structures, to find ones that can be dated - either when they came into use, or when they largely dropped out of use. It's not the sort of thing that can be done simply be reading them to see which one sounds older. Sources used: McCrum, Robert, William Cran, and Robert MacNeil. The Story of English (American Edition). New York, NY, USA: Viking Penguin Inc. (c) 1986. Strang, Barbara M.H. A History of English. London, UK: Methuen & Co, Ltd. (c) 1970 -Cindy Kandolf cindy@solan.unit.no Trondheim, Norway

---

E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank