A great many Biblical phrases are used as ordinary household words. Here is a list of phrases that used in modern English to spoil the Egyptians, a still small voice, the eleventh hour, of the earth, earthly, the shadow of death, to hope against hope etc. After the Wiclif movement the Bible in English has been forbidden but growing Protestantism has revived the demand for it. In 1526 William Tyndale (a Protestant) published an excellent English translation of the New Testament. This version of the Bible is based on the Greek original, though with influence from Wiclif and from the German (Luther’s) version.

The Bible

In 1535 Miles Coverdale, bishop of Exeter issued in Germany a translation of the whole Bible in a gracious style than Tyndale’s’. Still two years later appeared a version compounded of those of Tyndale and Coverdale and called from the name of its editor the Matthew Bible. In 1539 under the direction of Archbishop Cranmer, Coverdale issued a revised edition officially authorized for use in churches. This version of the Psalms (sacred church hymns) still stands as the Psalter of the English church. Expression like loving, kindness, tender mercy, had come from Coverdale’s version of the Bible when Tyndale gave us peacemaker, beautiful and long-suffering. In 1560 some Puritan refugees at Geneva brought the Geneva Bible which is a long-continued version among the Puritan’s in England. The Bible has suddenly studied in England more than any other Christian country.

Eight years later under Archbishop Parker published a large volume of Bible, especially for churches the Bishop’s Bible is named because the majority of its thirteen editors are bishops. This completes the list of important translations of The Authorised Version of Bible 1611. The Book of Common Prayer now used in the English Church coordinate with Bible and Psalter is from the reign of Edward VI.

Of the influence of these translations of the Bible on English literature it is impossible to say that the Bible influenced the later writers too strongly. Milton and Browne both wrote on anti-biblical matters.


Hi, I am Vikram, a friend of you! I would like to take this opportunity of personally welcoming you to my blog! You can read my book “The Alchemist A Mystery In Three Acts” Available now on Amazon.com : http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005IDUD4C Always love, Vikram Roy

21 responses »

  1. hodgepodge4thesoul says:

    Great post, I learned a lot! Thank you for sharing this.

  2. thebeadingpost says:

    Nice post! It is interesting how the phrases translators have created have been incorporated into our language. I am an English: Literature and Writing major and a Christian. It is such a blessing to have grown up reading the Bible because literature echos it everywhere.

  3. narhvalur says:

    Interesting info! Ann

  4. thomag1 says:

    A real informative post, Vikram. You have to wonder how much was ‘lost’ or added through all the translations in all the different cultures. Some of this I was unaware of. Thanks.

  5. Enlightening! It is well! Thanks for sharing!

  6. What would also be interesting is to see how much pseudo -biblical* “church” vernacular or “christianeese” as some people put it, has formed/been formed by different theologies/doctrines.

    I say pseudo-biblical becasue although a great deal of it phrases from the Bible some of it is made up, or has been rephrased over time, thus no longer being technically “actual biblical phrases”

  7. Very interesting post! I give you another new (I’ve reported it in a post I wrote on WP some months ago). It is referred to Abbadia San Salvatore, an ancient medieval village in Tuscany (Italy), where till XIX Century the monastery hosted the famous “Bibbia Amiatina” – “The Amiata Bible” – which is considered the oldest latin version ever known. The Amiata Bible – a real art masterpiece, written in England by amanuensis monks – is now kept in Florence, but we may see a photo-reproduction in the Abbadia San Salvatore ‘s Monastery Museum.

  8. hodgepodge4thesoul says:

    Reblogged this on Hodgepodge 4 the Soul and commented:

  9. V- Really interesting and educational! Thx for sharing

  10. Much of the New Testament has been edited to fit the theology of the early church by the 4th century and we base faith on these amended versions. Esp role of women in early church has been deleted.

  11. willowdot21 says:

    This is full of so much information thank you Vikram

  12. All in one: Review says:

    hope against the hope….. couldnt find anything better than this…

  13. interesting information Vikram!
    wish there were more illustrations. please do cover them in another post!

  14. Red says:

    I want to echo Carl’s comment. Much of the New Testament is altered, but the Old Testament was also edited for content.

    Some of the vernacular of today is much different than the Biblical text, even different from the English translations. My favorite example (and one about which I have written and with which I am readily identified) is “Spare the rod and spoil the child.”

    Despite hundreds of years worth of Christians claiming it is in the Bible, alas, it is not.

    Great history, V.

  15. A wonderful post, Vikram! I enjoyed it very much. I agree with Red, Christians receive so many different versions of the Bible as “The Bible” without ever considering it’s many revisions made by the human hand. So much is lost when a new revision comes out, and I believe confusion ensues between churches and their doctrines. Again, wonderful information!


  16. You sound pretty knowledgable about this kind of stuff but if you want a great read on the history of the English language try anything by english writer and radio presenter Melvin Bragg, I’m reading his book on the King James Bible at the moment and loving it. I also adored his book “The Adventure of English” which looks at everything from old english to modern slang. It sounds kind of heavy but it’s incredibly readable, if you’re a lover of liguistics.
    Thanks for the great post.

  17. Doris Lessing once wrote an essay about the fact that once it was common for people (Westerners) to attend church every Sunday. Almost everyone did it. And so every week we were exposed to beautiful, complicated, rich language. Thank you for talking about some of the specifics of that language.

  18. as a lover of the bible, and an enthusiast of language, i quite enjoyed this post. amazing to see how the words have entered into daily speech – although sometimes misquoted. “money is the root of all evil” is such an example. the scripture says ‘the love of money is the root of all evil …’
    i find when reading my bible, that a strongs concordance with the hebrew and greek dictionaries, to learn the original word used, is of great help. i am frequently amazed at what i find there, vs what is sometimes taught in mainsteam churches. this also sheds some interesting light on the way biblical quotes are used.

  19. granbee says:

    Vikram, bless you for reminding us of the earliest translations of The Holy Bible into English. I and many of my church friends in weekly Bible studies find that reading as many different translations, side by side, of each verse examine really allows a much fuller understanding of Holy Scripture. And my daughter, a Latin student in high school, and very fluent in Spanish, tells me even more shades of meaning are gained by reading Scriptures in these languages. My son, fluent in Korean and learning German, also tells me of other shades of scriptural meanings gained in these other languages. I was coached in reading from a French Bible by a great uncle of mine, who was a Methodist minister. Incredible but understandable because Holy Scripture is a LIVING set of words, after all!

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