King Essay, Research Paper
Most Christians have not thought seriously about how Biblical writings were preserved. They can easily secure copies of the Bible and suppose that it has always been so. Like all other blessings, however, this one should not be taken for granted. Men have died so that the Bible might be preserved, translated, and published (Baugh and Cable 1993). Even in our day, in certain countries of the world, the Scriptures are scarce.
The history of the preservation of the Bible can be divided into two periods-before the invention of printing and after. During the 1400’s, three historical events were of inestimable benefit to the modern world. Columbus in 1492 discovered the New World. The introduction of printing press in England in 1476. And in 1493, Martin Luther, the founder of the Protestant Reformation, was born.
These three things had a profound effect on the English language and its development throughout the modern world. Colonization brought increased use of English as the native tongue. This increased the use of English which is important because a language is only as important as the power it has. William Caxton followed in the foot steps of Johann Gutenberg who invented the printing press in 1456, and brought it to England. This was of great influence to the English language because Caxton used the current speech of London in his numerous translations, and books. This helped stabilize the language and assured rapid adoption of London English throughout world (Baugh and Cable 1993). The Protestant Reformation challenged the Catholic Popes authority. Luther believed that people could be saved only through faith in Jesus Christ. His view on religion placed a person directly before God, trusting Him and relying on His forgiving grace. This doctrine of justification by faith in Christ alone was the heart of Luther’s belief’s. It contradicted the church’s teaching of grace and good works as a way to salvation. This brought great tension between the common people and their church leaders. The printing press increased this tension because it helped spread learning and as result, an increasing number of people outside the clergy gained an education.
The first translation of the whole bible from Hebrew and Greek was the Latin Vulgate of St. Jerome. Great names in the history of the English Bible are John Wycliff, whose name appears on two translations; William Tyndale, whose New Testament (1526-26) was the first translation to be printed; and Miles Coverdale, who published (1535) a translation of the entire Bible. The greatest English translation and one of the most influential English prose works is the King James Version. The King James version was first published in 1611 (Puckett 1995).
One of the main reasons we see a strong influence of Latin on the English language is through Bible translation. John Wycliff who translated the Bible from Latin to English borrowed over a thousand words, mainly because the words were not previously found in English (Baugh and Cable 1993). Wycliff translations were important because it allowed the commoners to listen or read the Bible and actually understand it. The middle English period also saw a huge change in the grammatical form of English. This was seen with the reduction of inflection and the use of Analogy, the desire for uniformity where there is similar function or use. Analogy changed various endings from -a, -u, -e, -an, -um to a single, -e. When we look at the changes from Modern to Middle English we see a shift in the vowel sounds. The shift was influenced by the different pronunciations of Chaucer English and Shakespeare English. When we move to early Modern English we begin to see the similarities in the English spoken today. Apart from extra vowels that have since been dropped because of spelling and pronunciation norms, the passage printed in 1611 is almost identical to what we would read in the King James Version of the Bible today (Woeger 1998).
“Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blinde, and dumbe; and hee healed him, insomuch that the blinde and dumbe both spake and saw (Matthew 12:22)”
“Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw (Matthew 12:22)”
As we see in blinde, dumbe, and hee, the spelling of unaccented syllables does not accurately represent the pronunciation today. During all periods of the language the vowels of unstressed syllables have had a tendency to weaken and then often disappear (Baugh and Cable 1993).
In Matthew 12:24 we see the use of “doeth” meaning does, in the Early Modern Translation of the King James Bible (Woeger 1998). According the Baugh and Cable this was a consistent use of verbs. The regular ending in the third person singular in the whole south and southeastern part of England was -eth all throughout the Middle English period.
By the end of the sixteenth century, -s is the ending for the third person plural.
The book of Matthew also use the pronoun Thy and Thou which according it Baugh and Cable have began to be substituted for you and your during the sixteenth century. According to The OED Thou and its cases thee, thine, thy are 14 century OE. used in ordinary speech. In ME. they were gradually superseded by the plural ye, you, your, yours, in addressing a superior and (later) an equal, but were long retained in addressing an inferior (please refer to the OED sheet for the Old and Middle English Spellings). The Quakers retained the usage in addressing a single person, though now less general. There are still in various dialects used by parents to children, and familiarly between equals, especially intimate relationships. In general English uses Thou and its cases in addressing God or Christ (OED online subscription). In Modern English the dual form of Thou is obsolete. According to Baugh and Cable by the sixteenth century the modern singular forms had all but disappeared from context in which the plural forms were deemed proper. The conjugation of Thou and You are as follows;
Thou for the singular nominative case ( subject ) and Ye or You for the plural nominative case. Thee for the singular dative case (indirect object) and You for the plural dative. The dative and accusative cases are the same ( direct and indirect object). The OE genitive case is the same as the possessive pronoun and adjective case. Thy and Thine for singular and Your and Yours for plural (OED online subscription).
The English language has developed from a broad history of different countries, traditions, language, and culture. Through the transition of formulating a language we can call our own, we have borrowed from great kingdoms throughout the world. Our language is richer and stronger because of that adaptability. With the maintenance of political power the English language will continue to flourish and transform through the next centuries.
Baugh, Albert C. and Thomas Cable
A History of the English Language . 4th Ed.
Prentice Hall, Inc.
Englewood Cliffs, New jersey 1993
Puckett, Rev. R.
Which Bible Should We Use
Simpson, J. A., and E. S. C. Weiner
Oxford English Dictionary
Robert Adam Woeger
Leaf from the King James Bible of 1611 (First Edition) Matthew 12:22-45
Robert Adam Woeger
Online Copy of the Bible- King James Version Translation