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Biblical knowledge
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Shaker
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:30 pm    Post subject: Biblical knowledge  Reply with quote

No, not that sort of knowledge.

Richard Dawkins has spoken in glowing terms of the Authorized/King James Bible as one of the cornerstones of the English language, explicitly stating that nobody can really understand the phrases and idioms of English and get to grips with English literature without some familiarity with it. There are 122 such phrases here. This site claims upwards of two hundred.

Philip Pullman has described himself as a "King James Bible" atheist - a firm unbeliever, but one who loves the Jacobean language of the book.

Even amongst convinced atheists the Authorized/KJV (specifically: it really doesn't apply to other translations in any way) is held up as an exemplar of English literature and culture. So:

(1) Will this knowledge eventually be lost, gradually dwindling and fading until at some point in the not very distant future it will become all but extinct, the literary equivalent of words now known predominantly to literary specialists; and

(2) Would that be a good thing (an improvement, a plus), a bad thing (a loss), or somewhere in between?
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Jim
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:38 pm    Post subject: Re: Biblical knowledge Reply with quote

Shaker wrote:
No, not that sort of knowledge.

Richard Dawkins has spoken in glowing terms of the Authorized/King James Bible as one of the cornerstones of the English language, explicitly stating that nobody can really understand the phrases and idioms of English and get to grips with English literature without some familiarity with it. There are 122 such phrases here. This site claims upwards of two hundred.

Philip Pullman has described himself as a "King James Bible" atheist - a firm unbeliever, but one who loves the Jacobean language of the book.

Even amongst convinced atheists the Authorized/KJV (specifically: it really doesn't apply to other translations in any way) is held up as an exemplar of English literature and culture. So:

(1) Will this knowledge eventually be lost, gradually dwindling and fading until at some point in the not very distant future it will become all but extinct, the literary equivalent of words now known predominantly to literary specialists;
-
No...
Because, strangely enough, the KJV is viewed as the only, perfect translation of Scripture by certain fundamentalist Christians...despite it haveing gon through at least twenty four revisions, each one 'correcting' errors in the so-called 'perfect' 1611 edition. As early as 1623, a team of Christian scholars were complaining about its' innaccuracy. The Church of Scotland rejected it on the grounds of it being in archaic language" (They were forced to use it by Charles 1, but stopped following the first 'Bishops War" and returned to the Geneva Bible. Only under Charles II and James VI was the Kirk forced to use it - by law.
-

(2) Would that be a good thing (an improvement, a plus), a bad thing (a loss), or somewhere in between?

-
If you like Jacobean language, it's a good thing.
If you want an accurate translation, forget it!
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Shaker
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That seems to be thing, though, Jim.

A great many people - categorical atheists among them - love the language because of the language and not the actual content. The way it's said, not what's said, basically. Balls put beautifully thereby becomes "beautiful balls", as Philip Larkin remarked after somebody challenged him to read the Bible.

I declare an interest: I'm sympathetic to this point of view because as well as the KJV, as a teenager and in my early twenties I grew myself up on Francis Bacon, Jeremy Taylor, Robert Burton and Sir Thomas Browne amongst others. So it's my niche.

Your reply gives rise to the question: OK, so you say an accurate translation - but accurate according to what/which/whose definition? Accurate implies a standard of correctness and truth against which something else (like the KJV) is being judged.
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Jim
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="Shaker:116494"]That seems to be thing, though, Jim.

A great many people - categorical atheists among them - love the language because of the language and not the actual content. The way it's said, not what's said, basically. Balls put beautifully thereby becomes "beautiful balls", as Philip Larkin remarked after somebody challenged him to read the Bible.  
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Not a bad thing. Even for atheists, there's a whole treasury of poetry there, and the Jacobean language goes down a treat with Psalms and Proverbs...but stumbles badly over the Pauline Epistles.
-


I declare an interest: I'm sympathetic to this point of view because as well as the KJV, as a teenager and in my early twenties I grew myself up on Francis Bacon, Jeremy Taylor, Robert Burton and Sir Thomas Browne amongst others. So it's my niche.

-
I'm not a real Shakespeare fan...mainly because of Macbeth.
Some of his poetry - assuming it WAS his poetry - is readablee, though.
I love Bacon, Brown, Sheridon, though.
-
Your reply gives rise to the question: OK, so you say an accurate translation - but accurate according to what/which/whose definition? Accurate implies a standard of correctness and truth against which something else (like the KJV) is being judged.

-
Because the material the KJV translators had to work with was very limited. Only earlier English translations, such as the Geneva, plus the Latin Vulgate, and a very few ninth century MSS from Oxford University.
The earlier Greek MSS in Rome and Constantinople, even in France, were denied them, and the Oxford MSS was somewhat incomplete and flawed.
Modern versions rely on the aforementioned MSS, plus recent (19th and 20th century) finds at St Katherines Monastary, Sinai, (Codex Sinaticus and Codex Bezae) plus the Dead Sea Scrolls, which contain virtually all the Old Testament canon.
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Shaker
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 1:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I posed this question because it's taken as axiomatic amongst a great many people, many convinced atheists among them, that the dwindling of Biblical knowledge is A Very Bad Thing and its disappearance would be an absolute catastrophe.

And so it may well be: I'm not necessarily saying that that's right or wrong. Clearly without an awareness of the Bible so many idioms, phrases, proverbs and sayings don't make sense and untold references and allusions in English literature for the past four hundred years are going to go over your head. We'd all be the worse for that.

But how much worse?

There's a precedent here, it seems to me. Until well into the twentieth century it was the norm for upper middle class and upper class young men (and it was pretty well exclusively men) to receive a classical education: they would learn the rudiments of Latin and often Greek as well. Familiarity with Roman and Greek myth was a given. Being able to decline your Latin verbs - amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant: yes, I taught myself - was about as fundamental in a young man's education as it got.

That has all but died out by now, though. Anybody who wants to learn about Roman and Greek myth has to capitalise on their own interest in the subject and teach themselves, as I did there as well. General awareness of the stories of Baucis and Philemon, Jupiter and Ganymede, Leda and the swan, Ariadne, Perseus has died out in the population. Few people stopped in the street would be able to say what the Augean Stables were. Next to nobody could tell you who Clytemnestra and Penelope were. A vanishingly small segment of the population could explain what the phrase 'to be/act as a Cassandra' refers to.

It's easy enough for me to say that I think we're the poorer for not knowing these things because it's always easy to regard something that you yourself like and enjoy and find interesting as indispensable. I would say that anybody who doesn't listen to Sibelius or Gerald Finzi is missing out on something precious and beautiful - but then I would, wouldn't I? Not everybody has the same tastes and interests. Knowledge of Greek and Roman language/myth and legend/art/culture are, let's face it, very much a luxury these days: a pastime for those fortunate enough to have not just the inclination but the time to pursue that inclination. If you want to read Robert Graves's Greek Myths or Bullfinch's Mythology to pieces, as I did as a teenager, you have to do so under your own steam, and as I say, this is a luxury item not suited to anybody whose primary concern is getting and spending, simply trying to earn enough to keep a shirt on their back and food on the table.

So it may well be unfortunate and sad and to be lamented if Biblical literacy goes the same way as Graeco-Roman myth and legend from my perspective; but we've lost as much of a treasurehouse of imagination before and we've survived.
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Ketty
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But then, and I don't knock it, you're only reading it for the beauty (or otherwise) of the particular tongue it's written.  That's an esoteric exercise, a poetic exercise, an academic exercise, an artistic exercise - in themselves no bad things.  I guess if it's being read for whatever the reason, one hopes that the Gospel message plants a seed.
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Derek
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 3:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="Jim:116497"]
Shaker wrote:
That seems to be thing, though, Jim.

A great many people - categorical atheists among them - love the language because of the language and not the actual content. The way it's said, not what's said, basically. Balls put beautifully thereby becomes "beautiful balls", as Philip Larkin remarked after somebody challenged him to read the Bible.  
-
Not a bad thing. Even for atheists, there's a whole treasury of poetry there, and the Jacobean language goes down a treat with Psalms and Proverbs...but stumbles badly over the Pauline Epistles.
-


I declare an interest: I'm sympathetic to this point of view because as well as the KJV, as a teenager and in my early twenties I grew myself up on Francis Bacon, Jeremy Taylor, Robert Burton and Sir Thomas Browne amongst others. So it's my niche.

-
I'm not a real Shakespeare fan...mainly because of Macbeth.
Some of his poetry - assuming it WAS his poetry - is readablee, though.
I love Bacon, Brown, Sheridon, though.
-
Your reply gives rise to the question: OK, so you say an accurate translation - but accurate according to what/which/whose definition? Accurate implies a standard of correctness and truth against which something else (like the KJV) is being judged.

-
Because the material the KJV translators had to work with was very limited. Only earlier English translations, such as the Geneva, plus the Latin Vulgate, and a very few ninth century MSS from Oxford University.
The earlier Greek MSS in Rome and Constantinople, even in France, were denied them, and the Oxford MSS was somewhat incomplete and flawed.
Modern versions rely on the aforementioned MSS, plus recent (19th and 20th century) finds at St Katherines Monastary, Sinai, (Codex Sinaticus and Codex Bezae) plus the Dead Sea Scrolls, which contain virtually all the Old Testament canon.


Then what a blessing it was that God was helping and inspiring them, and his knowledge supersedes all of the man inspired sources you mention. The KJV is translated according to what God wanted it to read. Anything else questions the power of God and puts mans knowledge above Gods knowledge. KJV is all we need to draw near to the word of God. His actual translation and not mans arrogance in thinking he can do better then God.

The problem lies in the Holy Ghost. If you have never had the HG testify to your soul then you tend to rely upon the arm of flesh as opposed to the arm of God. Man is of greater authority then God is. Hence the ridiculous claim that they did not have the same learning when God is omniscient. Sound a little contradictory doesn't it?
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cyberman
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ralph2 wrote:
The KJV is translated according to what God wanted it to read. Anything else questions the power of God and puts mans knowledge above Gods knowledge. KJV is all we need to draw near to the word of God. His actual translation and not mans arrogance in thinking he can do better then God.


But why is the KJV, formed as it was by scholars and committees and other fallible humans, any less an act of human arrogance than any other translation?
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Shaker
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cyberman wrote:
But why is the KJV, formed as it was by scholars and committees and other fallible humans, any less an act of human arrogance than any other translation?


I think Ralphie is of the mindset of the (possibly apocryphal, possibly not) American politician who is said to have remarked that if English was good enough for Jesus it was good enough for him.
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Jim
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shaker wrote:
I posed this question because it's taken as axiomatic amongst a great many people, many convinced atheists among them, that the dwindling of Biblical knowledge is A Very Bad Thing and its disappearance would be an absolute catastrophe.
-
From the dim and distant past of my memory, I remember, among other things, being 'made' to learn KJV verses by rote.
I still know them.
Problem is, though, we were never asked to interpret them, put them in context, or relte them to everyday life. It's all very well having an exhaustive store of quotes - a parrot can do that - but using thos quotes as part of faith?
Actually, it was the 'thee's' and 'Thou's' that helped me on the road to atheism!
-

And so it may well be: I'm not necessarily saying that that's right or wrong. Clearly without an awareness of the Bible so many idioms, phrases, proverbs and sayings don't make sense and untold references and allusions in English literature for the past four hundred years are going to go over your head. We'd all be the worse for that.  
-
Er....There's Scots literature as well!
Would we REALLY be the worse without Shakespeare?
I mean - apart from the travesty or Macbeth, I've read most of his plays...and enjoyed a few. But I like literature.
Until the advent of JK Rowling,how many kids wewre force fed the bard, and as soon as they ditched English, they also ditched reading anything more intellectual than the Sun?
-

But how much worse?

There's a precedent here, it seems to me. Until well into the twentieth century it was the norm for upper middle class and upper class young men (and it was pretty well exclusively men) to receive a classical education: they would learn the rudiments of Latin and often Greek as well. Familiarity with Roman and Greek myth was a given. Being able to decline your Latin verbs - amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant: yes, I taught myself - was about as fundamental in a young man's education as it got.
-
Yep.
I took a crash course in Latin for my higher year (A level). I was considered wierd in the process (after all, I'm working class, born and bred.)  When I took Greek at Uni (1979), it was confined basiclly to Divinity and ancient history geeks...I fell headfirst into both camps.
-

That has all but died out by now, though. Anybody who wants to learn about Roman and Greek myth has to capitalise on their own interest in the subject and teach themselves, as I did there as well. General awareness of the stories of Baucis and Philemon, Jupiter and Ganymede, Leda and the swan, Ariadne, Perseus has died out in the population. Few people stopped in the street would be able to say what the Augean Stables were. Next to nobody could tell you who Clytemnestra and Penelope were. A vanishingly small segment of the population could explain what the phrase 'to be/act as a Cassandra' refers to.
-
Actually, I'm glad to say I disagree, here.
My secondary school Latin department closed in 1982...and reopened in 2006! Uptake in Latin as a gateway language to the "Romance" languages in Ayrshire is very encouraging. In 2012, there were over three hundred sixth form Latin scholars.
Greek is virtually non-existant in state schools, though.
-

It's easy enough for me to say that I think we're the poorer for not knowing these things because it's always easy to regard something that you yourself like and enjoy and find interesting as indispensable. I would say that anybody who doesn't listen to Sibelius or Gerald Finzi is missing out on something precious and beautiful - but then I would, wouldn't I? Not everybody has the same tastes and interests. Knowledge of Greek and Roman language/myth and legend/art/culture are, let's face it, very much a luxury these days: a pastime for those fortunate enough to have not just the inclination but the time to pursue that inclination. If you want to read Robert Graves's Greek Myths or Bullfinch's Mythology to pieces, as I did as a teenager, you have to do so under your own steam, and as I say, this is a luxury item not suited to anybody whose primary concern is getting and spending, simply trying to earn enough to keep a shirt on their back and food on the table.  
-
I think coming on the classics - whether translations from the original texts, or music - by accident (don't knock Classic FM; it's made a few converts) is better than dragging semi-reluctant pupils down roads they don't want to go...this leads them into a mindset where they shun anything they perceive as 'highbrow'.
-

So it may well be unfortunate and sad and to be lamented if Biblical literacy goes the same way as Graeco-Roman myth and legend from my perspective; but we've lost as much of a treasurehouse of imagination before and we've survived.



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