A message from: Bill Curnutte, lay, All Saints', Portsmouth, CurnuttB@somc.org

Andy (and the rest of the AAC, should you choose to pass this on),

On the lighter side of things (I get so tired of the strife sometimes), my daughter bought me a book for Father's Day that is great entertainment and education at the same time. The book is titled, "God's Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible," by Adam Nicolson.

To quote from one of the editorial reviews, "The King James Bible remains the most influential Bible translation of all time. Its elegant style and the exalted cadences of its poetry and prose echo forcefully in Shakespeare, Milton, T.S. Eliot and Reynolds Price. ... however, the path to the completion of the translation wasn't smooth. When James took the throne in England in early 1603, he inherited a country embroiled in theological controversy. Relishing a good theological debate, the king appointed himself as a mediator between the Anglicans and the reformist Puritans, siding in the end with the Anglican Church as the party that posed the least political threat to his authority. As a result of these debates, James agreed to commission a new translation of the Bible ... (this book) deftly chronicles the personalities involved, and breezily narrates the political and religious struggles of the early 17th century."

The author doesn't overlook the shortcomings of the King James Bible. Even in its own time, it was known by scholars on the Continent that the Geneva Bible, translated earlier, used several older, less corrupt, texts than the KJV. It was known in it's own time that the Translators were excellent scholars of the classical Greek of Homer and Plato, but that they struggled with the Koine Greek of Paul. But it's fascinating to read how this Bible became God's word to most of the English speaking world for 250 +/- years, and still is for many denominations. It even became the Bible of the Puritans in the United States, even though they were more politically and theologically in tune with the agenda of the Calvinist Geneva Bible, and even though they hated the KJV when it was originally published.

In speaking about how the language of the KJV (a language that was never actually spoken) has shaped our thought and literature since it was published, and how many (most?) succeeding translations have fallen short of the mark, the author also deals with a problem we are dealing with today in other venues. (Guess what I'm talking about.) Nicholson says,

"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." (Emphasis pointing to one of our current problems is mine.)

This is a great read. It's entertaining and educational. It will also assure you that in spite of controversies that could get one hanged, drawn and quartered in the 17th century, the Anglican Church has survived. I'm sure it will survive the current controversies too.

Peace and good my friend,

"Whoever offers me the sacrifice of thanksgiving honors me." Psalm 50

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