By David Norton
A background of the English Bible as Literature (revised and condensed from the author's acclaimed historical past of the Bible as Literature CUP, 1993) explores years of spiritual and literary principles. At its center is the tale of the way the King James Bible went from being mocked as English writing to being "unsurpassed within the complete variety of literature." It stories the Bible translators, writers corresponding to Milton and Bunyan who contributed a lot to our experience of the Bible, and a desirable variety of critics and commentators.
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Extra resources for A History of the English Bible as Literature (2000) (A History of the Bible as Literature)
The work went into committee, and the last one hears of it is a list of Latin words which Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, ‘desired for their germane and native meaning and for the majesty of their matter might be retained as far as possible in their own nature or be turned into English speech as closely as possible’ (Pollard, p. ). Clearly Gardiner would have preferred these meaningful and majestic words to remain untouched. As one surveys the list, two things become apparent: many of the words are theologically important, and many are now familiar parts of English vocabulary.
22 In The Confutation More develops the linguistic point, arguing that ‘Tyndale must in his English translation take his English words as they signify in English, rather than as the words signify in the tongue out of which they were taken in to the English’ (VIII: ; see also VIII: ). Thus in almost playful mood, he writes, ‘though I cannot make him by no mean to write true matter, I would have him yet at the least wise write true English’ (VIII: ). He demonstrates his ideas of true English by discussing the appropriate use of certain words, and points of grammar: More has a clear sense of English as a language with its own proprieties.
Later editions such as the one I have used turn this passage into reported speech (V: ). Creators of English phrase, ‘proper English’. In his ‘Epistle to the Reader’ at the end of his NT, he reviews ways in which the work might be improved: In time to come . . we will give it his full shape: and put out if ought be added superﬂuously: and add to if ought be overseen through negligence: and will enforce to bring to compendiousness, that which is now translated at the length, and to give light where it is required, and to seek in certain places more proper English, and with a table to expound the words which are not commonly used, and show how the Scripture useth many words, which are otherwise understood of the common people: and to help with a declaration where one tongue taketh not another.
A History of the English Bible as Literature (2000) (A History of the Bible as Literature) by David Norton