By David Norton
A historical past of the English Bible as Literature (revised and condensed from the author's acclaimed background of the Bible as Literature CUP, 1993) explores years of non secular 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 experiences the Bible translators, writers equivalent to Milton and Bunyan who contributed loads to our feel of the Bible, and a desirable diversity of critics and commentators.
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Additional info for A History of the English Bible as Literature (A History of the Bible as Literature)
William L’Isle contrasts the Saxon versions of the Scriptures with the Rheims-Douai Bible (a text stuﬀed ‘with such fustian, such inkhorn terms’). The Saxon hath words for Trinity, Unity, Deity and persons thereof; for Co-equal, Coeternal, Invisible, Incomprehensible . . for Catholic and all such foreign words as we are now fain to use, because we have forgot better of our own. I speak not 28 The Civil Conversation of M. Stephen Guazzo (London, ), unfoliated. 29 The task of completing and revising Tyndale’s work fell to Myles Coverdale (–), a less scholarly but no less devout man.
Unless the scholars were translators or were critics of theological and ecclesiastical tendencies that they disliked, they had little interest in the precise language of the English Bible. Such an attitude has implications for the literary fortunes of the English of the Bible: as long as there is a weak sense of the English of the Bible, it can only be a linguistic inﬂuence in the vaguest way and can hardly be appreciated. On the other hand, unscholarly people were becoming closely familiar with the English of the Bible: for them it could be an imitable, admirable standard.
Henry VIII’s proclamation of warns lay readers that they should not ‘presume to take upon them any common disputation, argument or exposition of the mysteries therein contained, but that every such lay man should humbly, meekly and reverently read the same for his own instruction, ediﬁcation and amendment of his life’ (Pollard, p. ). The Great Bibles to which the proclamation applied were the ﬁrst authorised English Bibles, and they declared themselves ‘the Bible appointed to the use of the Churches’.
A History of the English Bible as Literature (A History of the Bible as Literature) by David Norton