By David Norton
A background of the English Bible as Literature (revised and condensed from the author's acclaimed heritage of the Bible as Literature CUP, 1993) explores years of spiritual and literary rules. At its middle is the tale of the way the King James Bible went from being mocked as English writing to being "unsurpassed within the complete diversity of literature." It reports the Bible translators, writers comparable to Milton and Bunyan who contributed rather a lot to our feel 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 (A History of the Bible as Literature)
This is from Foxe’s first edition. 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.
The next major Bible was the Geneva Bible, but the direct successor of the Great Bibles was the Bishops’ Bible of . 1 The 11 The best study of the text is Gerald Hammond’s, and his verdict is unfavourable: ‘for the most part the Bishops’ Bible is either a lazy and ill-informed collation of what had gone before, or, in its original parts, the work of third-rate scholars and second-rate writers’ (The Making of the English Bible, p. ). Official Bibles translators were instructed to revise where ‘it varieth manifestly from the Hebrew or Greek original’.
Pp. –) Tyndale considered the matter of varying vocabulary on linguistic grounds, but Coverdale confines himself to the religious motive of ‘knowledge and understanding’. 30 Ultimately this is an expression of a translator’s diffidence, and it directs the reader, if not exactly away from, certainly beyond the words. Coverdale’s exhortations on the proper use of the Bible are full of religious earnestness. Like Erasmus, he wants the Bible to be everyone’s constant occupation, but there is no suggestion of singing or humming or lightening the weary way: Go to now, most dear reader, and sit thee down at the Lord’s feet and read his words, and .