The KJV and English

Friday, January 19, 2007


Today belongs to Murphy. If anything could go wrong, it went wrong. I came down with an upset stomach, and it turned my entire day upside down. It was nevertheless a busy day. I only got home at 9.00pm. I snuggled into bed to rest and read some.

Here is something I found interesting, in Alister McGrath’s In the Beginning, The Story of The King James Bible (p.263):

… the King James Bible possessed a penetrative force that could best be demonstrated by observing how its turn of phrase came to be absorbed, often unconsciously, within everyday English. Hebraic idioms that have crept into regular English usage include the following:

“to lick the dust” (Psalm 72:9, Isaiah 49:23, Micah 7:17)
“to fall flat on his face” (Numbers 22:31)
“a man after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14)
“to pour out one’s heart” (Psalm 62:8, Lamentations 2:19)
“the land of the living” (Job 28:13, Psalm 27:13, Psalm 52:5, Isaiah 38:11, Jeremiah 11:19, Ezekial 32:23-27)
“under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:3 and at least twenty other occurrences in this biblical book)
“sour grapes” (Ezekiel 18:2)
“from time to time” (Ezekiel 4:10)
“pride goes before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18)
“the skin of my teeth” (Job 19:20)
“to stand in awe” (Psalm 4:4, Psalm 33:8)
“to put words in his mouth” (Exodus 4:15, Deuteronomy 18:18, 2 Samuel 14:3, 2 Samuel 14:19, Jeremiah 1:9)
“to go from strength to strength” (Psalm 84:7)
“like a lamb to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7)

… phrases that owe their origins to the King James New Testament include:

“the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13)
“a thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7)
“to give up the ghost” (meaning “to die”: Mark 15:37, John 19:30)
“the powers to be” (Romans 13:1)
“and it came to pass” (Mark 1:9 and more than 400 other passages)
“the scales fell from his eyes” (based on Acts 9:18)

Just think – how much the King James Bible has shaped modern English.

Maeghan
Picture by Jef Geeraerts

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4 comment(s)

  1. Wow Meaghan, I never realized.

    Hope you are feeling better soon! I'm glad you felt well enough to read (and blog :))

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yeah ... neither did I.

    I have recovered, thankfully. I hadn't been able to blog because the connection has been bad. Good that I am able to finally go online now.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Maeghan,

    That is some really cool stuff. Thanks for the info.

    I am going to have to 'borrow' some of this with one of my next bible studies if you don't mind.

    God Bless
    Doug

    ReplyDelete
  4. Doug,
    Of course not, help yourself!

    ReplyDelete