1. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    The Mystery of Rhythms in the King James Bible

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by waitingforzion, Aug 21, 2014.

    I would like you to assess the quality of the following piece, as well as give an answer for what it says.

    By: Guido Arbia

    Had the language of the King James Bible not been clear, we might have been able to set forth an explanation for the majesty of its rhythms. We could have postulated the use of rhetorical devices like parallelism. We could have postulated the careful arrangement of its words so as to conform them to a pattern of feet. But we know that the most direct arrangement of words, the kind of arrangement we find in the King James Bible, when put to use by a modern author to express any thoughts of his own, always results in the prose of a mortal, which contains neither the fluidity nor the power we find in the biblical text. For this translation not only achieves the prose of the divine, but conveys the divine message in the plainest of words. Though the syntax is more complex in some passages than others, the language is always direct.

    To illustrate the majesty of the biblical prose being conveyed through its plainness, let us look at passage from the book of Psalms, which reads as follows: "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork." Hearing the sound these words, those of us who are skilled in meter might assume that we can imitate the rhythm ourselves, or at least write a passage in the same voice by making use of agreeable rhythms, but we must take into account that this passage achieves its voice through the natural sound of its words without any special arrangement. In contrast, the words, "I went to the barber shop the other day", though just as direct, are completely void of that voice. What other word could have been chosen than "heavens" that would have been more clear? Or what other word than "declare"? One might argue that the translators had a choice between "God's glory" and "the glory of God", but that choice is so trivial that it renders the argument useless.

    It seems then, that the Creator of the universe has preserved for Himself not one, but several majestic voices through His hand in the evolution of the English language, which He designated to His prophets, and to His apostles, and appointed to all others the natural tendency of words.
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    The original KJB didn't have any apostrophes in it at all. That's because apostrophes weren't very common back then and were only used for very specific things. So translators didn't really have a choice because apostrophes weren't used for contractions (though contractions were still used). Just thought I'd point that out.

    Also, the language and style of the Bible isn't anything special when you compare it to poets like Milton. For example, take this passage from Paradise Lost:
    Milton stuck to a strict meter throughout the poem. There's no such meter in the KJB. However, I do see evidence that the KJB was influenced by such poetic patterns. Some of the passages in the Bible are absolutely beautiful. But I don't think the writing in the Bible is near the quality of Milton's writing. One last thing: by today's standards, this style of writing is archaic; while it's OK to admire it, trying to copy it exactly isn't a good idea IMO (for a modern treatment of the Biblical style, see Cormac McCarthy's works, especially something like Blood Meridian).
     
  3. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    I think your religious screeds should be posted in a different part of the forum, maybe The Lounge. This doesn't really have anything to do with word mechanics.
     
  4. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    Maybe a moderator could move it there if they would be so kind, but I thought that my piece had much to do with word mechanics, becaause it pertained to the usage of words in the King James Bible, and how, following the best of its rules, the King James Bible achieves rhythm almost as if without effort on the part of the translators. I also expected a discussion from others on the way such prose might be achieved today, or whether they thought it was at all possible.
     
  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Again, your focus is entirely on rhythm, with barely a side thought for the words. The rhythm is not the key.
     

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