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KJV, Language & Meaning

Adam Nicolson, in God’s Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible, contrasts the careful, rich use of language found in the King James with the more recent New English Bible.  I think he is absolutely right.

“The flattening of language is a flattening of meaning.  Language which is not taut with a sense of its own significance, which is apologetic in its desire to be acceptable to a modern consciousness, language in other words which submits to its audience, rather than instructing, informing, moving, challenging and even entertaining them, is no longer a language which can carry the freight the Bible requires.  It has, in short, lost all authority.  The language of the King James Bible is the language of Hatfield, of patriarchy, of an instructed order, of richness as a form of beauty, of authority as a form of good; the New English Bible is motivated by the opposite, an anxiety not to bore or intimidate.  It is driven in other words, by the desire to please and, in that way, is a form of language which has died.” (154)

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