Monday, November 15, 2010

Shakespeare or Scripture: Can you tell which is which?

King James and Shakespeare How close is the language of the King James Version of the Bible to the language of the works of Shakespeare?

Very close.

Shakespeare wrote his great works during the reigns of Queen Elizabeth I and King James VI (of Scotland) and I (of UK). In fact, King James became a patron of the bard who renamed his acting crewing “The King’s Men.”

This is, of course, the same King James who authorized a new translation of the Scriptures into Elizabethan English. Wild speculative rumours suggest that William Shakespeare even helped in the translation. Did the bard encode his name into his translation of Psalm 46? (Count to the 46th word, “shake,” then count from the end of the psalm back to the 46th word, “spear,” then tell me what you make of that.) Personally, I doubt it. There is a lack of any solid historical evidence for Shakespeare being on the KJV translation team. But, still, since the King James Version of the Bible was composed during the same era as the great plays of Shakespeare, it can be hard discern whether a particular phrase is from Shakespeare or from the Scriptures. Don’t believe me? Try this quiz: The Bible or the Bard?The Bible or the Bard? 
Be sure to post your score in the Comments section! I scored 90% ;)  See what you can do. You might be surprised as just how tough it is!

And there’s the point I want to make… There’s a lot to be said for clarity. The King James Version is too old to be useful today. We need to hear God speak to us clearly through his Word and thus we need a good contemporary translation written in today’s English. We should not expect God to speak to us today in the 400 year-old language of Shakespeare which most of us had a tough enough time with in high school English! God has called able men and women to produce good contemporary translations of the Scriptures. I look forward to the updated NIV. In the meantime, take the quiz and post your score! :)

1 comment:

  1. 60% - Not much more than chance, but that's not a surprise since I haven't read the Bible for fifteen years, and I haven't read Shakespeare for about twenty!



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