The King James Version Vs. Shakespeare

The influence of the King James Bible is greater than that of of Shakespeare, and it is the reason why the King James Bible is easier to read among members of today’s audiences. It is responsible for many of today’s idioms and phrases, and has had a huge audience since its publishing in 1611. The popularity of the King James Bible has caused its language to become familiar to us because it has influenced the English language itself.

The language of the King James Version (or KJV) is extremely eloquent, and has come down to us through the ages, more so even than Shakespeare. According to David Crystal, the King James Version is responsible for around 257 common idioms used in the English language. This number is double that of Shakespeare. In the modern world people do quote or reference the works of Shakespeare, but these people tend to have studied it to a certain degree. However, idioms from the King James version abound in common everyday language. Phrases such as “a broken heart” (Ps. 34:18), “a two edged sword” (Prov. 5:4), “go the extra mile” (Matt. 5:41), “see eye to eye” (Isai. 52:8), and many more are well-known to almost all English-speakers. One has a greater probability of encountering a King James phrase in everyday life than encountering a phrase from Shakespeare. This is all not to say that Shakespeare has not had a great influence on the English language. Shakespeare has had an absolutely tremendous influence, but the influence of the King James Bible has been greater.

The eloquence of the King James Version has been lost on other more recent publications, such as the English Standard Version of 2001, but the KJV still is more recognizable. In the King James, the extremely well-known verse, Matthew 7:6, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.“, is reworded in the English Standard Version as follows: “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” Which version seems more familiar? “cast ye your pearls before swine”, or “throw your pearls before pigs”? This is but one of the many examples of the eloquence of the King James Bible which has been lost in later versions. However, the eloquence of the KJV has lasted beyond the modern versions in the simple facet that “pearls before swine” is more recognizable than “pearls before pigs”.

The King James version has had a greater audience than the works of Shakespeare. While Shakespeare has been watched and read by many people for pleasure and for academic study in the English-speaking world, the King James version was read to nearly every single citizen who went to church. Shakespeare was a form of entertainment, while the King James Bible was a necessity. Up until recently, the King James Version was the most widely used Bible in protestant churches. The extensive exposure to this version by the general public has lead to the familiarity that we have with its language.

The reason it is easier to understand the language of the King James Bible over the language of Shakespeare is simply the fact that the King James Bible has had more overall influence. It has given around 257 idioms to the English language, whereas Shakespeare has given roughly half that number. The King James was widely read across protestant circles over the world among common people, while Shakespeare was read for entertainment and study among, at least these days, by the intellectual elite. The King James Version has enjoyed enormous popularity over the centuries, but as its influence wanes in the future, so will the quality of the English language.

The Importance of Covenant Sanctions in Selected Sections of the Bible

In certain sections of the Bible, we find examples of the threat or promise of sanctions, and in some cases the fulfillment of these sanctions. These sanctions can be either positive or negative, bringing benefits or curses. They are incurred in a systematic manner by either the breaking or the keeping of the covenant with God. In Deuteronomy 28, Moses tells of the positive sanctions that will come from obeying this covenant. In the book of Ruth, positive sanctions are provided to a woman who enters into the covenant with God. In Lamentations, there is shown the outcome of negative sanctions incurred from breaking the covenant. These are all examples of the sanctions that can (and in some cases are) incurred by acts contrary to or in accordance with the covenant. Sanctions are very important in these selections form the Bible.

Deuteronomy 28 through 34 are referred to sometimes as the Farewell of Moses. The first chapter of the farewell deals with positive sanctions if the commandments of God are upheld: “Now if thou wilt hear the voice of the Lord thy God, to do and keep all his commandments, which I command thee this day, the Lord thy God will make thee higher than all the nations that are on the earth.” (Deut. 28:1). However, also in this chapter negative sanctions are promised to those who fail: “But if thou wilt not hear the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep and to do all his commandments and ceremonies, which I command thee this day, all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee.” (Deut. 28:15), and then a bunch of curses were listed. This chapter is an example of covenant sanctions, both positive and negative, being proclaimed.

In the Book of Ruth we not only see the promise or threat of sanctions, but the fulfillment of these sanctions. Ruth was a woman from Moab who married a man from Juda who was escaping a famine. The man died eventually, along with his father and brother, leaving only Ruth’s mother-in-law. The mother-in-decided to travel back to Juda, but the widowed Ruth refused to stay behind in Moab and traveled back to Juda with her. She offered to join the covenant of the Israelites and accept their God as her God, saying to her mother-in-law: “For whithersoever thou shalt go, I will go: and where thou shalt dwell I also will dwell. Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.” (Ruth 1:16). According to Mosaic law, a widow shall marry her husband’s closest relative so as to carry on his name. Therefore, she sought out and decided to marry Boaz, a man she had also been gleaning (collecting the extra of a harvest) from. She was encouraged by her mother-in-law, who told her to go to his room and offer him marriage. He accepted, and she was married to him and received the positive sanctions associated with it. He was a wealthy man, and she was very happy, in addition to having her husband’s name carried on through his relative. In contrast to Deuteronomy 28, this section shows positive sanctions received from the entry into God’s covenant in action.

The Book of Lamentations is just the opposite of the Book of Ruth in that it shows the negative sanctions incurred from breaking the oath with God. It is told by Jeremias, who laments the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. This is precisely the warning that was given by Moses in his farewell, and is the fulfillment of the negative sanctions threatened if the covenant oath was broken.

These sections of the Bible are heavily reliant on the idea of covenant sanctions, positive and negative. The Farewell of Moses laid down the sanctions associated with either keeping or breaking the covenant. The Book of Ruth showed positive sanctions that came from joining the covenant, and the Book of Lamentations showed what would come of disobeying and breaking the covenant. These sections of the Bible all focused on the issue of sanctions, and gave accounts of why and how they were incurred, and what they entailed.