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Wednesday, June 12. 2019
Believer or not, the KJB is basic to understanding our civilization.
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So Agnostics, Buddhist, Jews et. al. do not understand our civilization?
Agnostics, Buddhists, and Jews are fully capable of understanding the cultural influence of the King James Version on American culture. There were nearly no Buddhists, and Agnostics, Jews, etc were not common, but many of them read the text on their own, and all others were exposed to its language and ideas. It was not only the central religious text of a largely religious country, it was the translation used most often, so that its word choice deeply influenced the common phrases used in English. In fact, minority cultures usually understand the majority better than the other way around.
The other great studied texts were the works of Shakespeare, which were also enormously influential, whether one thinks that a good idea or not. People who had little access to formal education- and African-Americans in particular, used these texts to self-educate. Those texts, plus newspapers and Pilgrim's Progress cover a lot of territory of what people had available to read.
My point is that it is biased, prideful, wrong and misguided to suggest that the Bible, in any version, is necessary to the understanding of our civilization.
I tried to put my point cheerfully that you are entirely wrong and just looking for a fight. Western Europe, the Anglosphere, and American are suffused with Christian ideas, often mangled or misunderstood, but still present. You may dislike that idea and wish the civilisation had developed otherwise, but that doesn't change the basic facts.
One also cannot understand our current civilisation without reference to science and technology, the interaction with previous pagans, and the discovery of the New World. Some things are so foundational and buried so deep that one encounters them at every turn - in the names of places, in the motives people claim, in their reasons for staying and moving.
What things do you think our culture is made of that are separable from Christianity spread over centuries?
You're making your case in the terms you have absorbed from Christian culture. Bias, pride, error and so on are fundamental Christian sins.
Another sin is dishonesty. You'd be far less dishonest if you came right out and admitted you hate Christianity and all that it stands for instead of your shadow-boxing.
I do not hate Christianity. Now the Catholic Church, that is something else.
"Believer or not, the KJB is basic to understanding our civilization. " is a false statement. People that have never heard of the KJB much less seen or read it can understand our civilization quite well.
We seem to be discussing different things, which perhaps accounts for our radically different views here. It is of course relatively simple to generally understand any culture without reference to its foundational texts, simply by growing up there. In that sense I would call your statement correct, that anyone growing up here or spending a lot of time here could understand Western culture, American culture. Nor would a person have to have more than a passing reference to the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution in written form to understand our culture. We absorb such things in our bones, from references others make, and of what we are able to do and not do,regardless of whether we have thought through them or not.
But the original statement is about "civilisation," which I think is a deeper task. To understand how our civilisation is different from others, an understanding of Christianity is necessary. That is not possible without reading some biblical texts, at least secondhand in the works of others. With specific reference to Anglospheric nations, the AV was the most-used translation for centuries, and its wording is inseparable from the changes in the language since it came out. English is simply a different language without it.
Additionally, since it was one of the few widely-known texts until very recently, say 150 years ago, it was what people actually did know in common, and so it was used in writing, speeches, and conversation.
You can read the works of Jefferson and Lincoln without knowing the KJV Bible. You may even understand them. But you won't know from where their ideas, rhetoric, and style came. Heck, Lincoln's famous "A house divided against itself cannot stand" is a direct quote. Patrick Henry's "I know not what course others may take, but give me liberty or give me death" deliberately echoes Joshua's "As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord." Even as recently as Reagan's "Shining city on a hill" alludes to it.
Ron, Western culture and civilization is built on the Judeo-Christian principles and the KJV was a huge torch tossed into the foundry fire building our civilization. It allowed the common man to read scripture, to discuss it and to implement scripture in daily life.
America was founded on Christian principles and that is reflected in the original charters for the colonies.
To say that the KJV was a huge influence on our culture is neither biased, prideful, wrong or misguided; but, rather it is an accurate statement. To say that it was not, is incorrect.
Today, a root cause of the problems in America is that we have a large number of citizens and others who are not aware of scripture because it is no longer taught and that leads to disruption of stable, peaceful life.
"our civilisation" is something quite different from "US culture".
You're equating US culture to the entirety of civilisation on earth with your statement, which is at the very least extremely short sighted and I'd call it an insult to every other culture (and yes, not all cultures on earth are civilised, but many are).
Seriously? You think "our civilization" refers to human civilization and not to American civilization or more generally to Western Civilization?
American civilization is most definitely a Christian civilization, specifically a Protestant civilization. I've often referred to Martin Luther as the first American, a pioneer in expressing the idea of the sovereignty of the individual.
Interesting that you bring up the KJV and Shakespeare. There is a theory, and supposedly the dates and social contacts allow for it, that the bard himself was brought in to help "punch-up" some of the psalms and make them sound more "poetical" in English.
As to its influence, for much of the 18th and 19th centuries, the most rudimentary of Gentleman's educations would consist of Euclid's Elements, Plato's Republic, and the KJV. everything else was pretty much thought to be elaborations on these three.
My last comment would be that the KJV is meant to be real aloud (maybe back to the Shakespeare connection). the words that can seem stilted and awkward on the page come alive when you can hear the rhythms in language.
Given that the KJV was commissioned in 1604 and published in 1611, Shakespeare could have been involved. He did not retire to Stratford until around 1613 when he was 49.
It was an amazing flowering of language, rather sudden. If you read English from the 14th through the middle of the 16th century, it can be pretty foreign and hard to follow. Then the language takes more or less its modern form, but in a glorious version. Yes, Shakespeare was incomparable, but he was right in the middle of a broad tradition of excellence of language, his works and the KJB being two of the most brilliant exemplars.
It would be a shame if hostility to Christianity barred people from experiencing this seminal vein of English culture. (A literary shame, to say nothing of the other effects.) Academic trends should expand our education, not stunt it. Imagine trying to read most English literature of the last several centuries without understanding where a huge fraction of the allusions come from--just because you resent the people associated with the source.
It's an unforced error. When I was an atheist, I mistakenly judged many ways Christian assumptions needed to be rooted out of public life, because I was tired of having them thoughtlessly imposed on me. At least I didn't feel the need to make this purely literary blunder. It makes as much sense as to refuse to enjoy the literature, art, or music of dead white males because you're mad at men, white people, or both.
with respect to idiom and allusion, I once had to explain to a Chinese colleague what it meant when an article stated that Bill Gates had had a "road to Damascus conversion" with regard to the Internet in the mid-1990s.
It took more than a twinkling of an eye to explain it, though I didn't have to go all the way through the valley of the shadow of death, since from context he was within a stone's throw of the idea.
They do if they understand basic Judeo-Christian values.
You'd have to go back pretty far to be fully removed from those values. In fact, you have to go back to ancient Greek or Roman, but that would still be understood within the framework of a Judeo-Christian structure.
It's as simple a fact as saying that you cannot understand Eastern Civ without at least a working knowledge of Confucius.
The United Methodist Church seems to have given up on the KJ version. Much to our dismay we have great difficulty understanding the dumbed down modern day versions of the Bible. The first time I heard our assistant pastor tell the Christmas story saying there was no room at the hotel, I almost screamed. They may be trying to bring in the young and stupid, but are losing many of us older members. Not church any more.
I get that they're trying to remove mistaken or mischievous translations, but it's beyond me why they go out of their way to use the clunkiest, dullest phrasing imaginable, about like stereo instructions. Every year or two someone comes out with a new translation of the Iliad or the Odyssey that manages to combine good scholarship with at least basically competent and pleasing English. We know it's possible.
What the Methodist church has done in the last few years is proof positive that our enemies are not of this world.
The KJV isn't that good a translation. Because of how deeply it is buried in our culture, it is the most poetic and emotionally-moving translation. For that reason, I think it is excellent for ceremonial occasions. For instruction, not so much.
As for "hotel," BTW, "inn" is equally wrong. "Guest room of a private house" would be more accurate.
real modern idiom and practice would be something on the order of "They fixed up the attached garage because there wasn't enough space in the guest room."
God’s Secretary's” is very good.
For a thoughtful look at the impact of English translations generally try The Word of God in English
I read that. It's still in my Kindle library. When I finished I thought the title should have been:"God's Editors" instead of Secretaries. From the beginning man/men have assumed they understood and have created a religion that has contributed greatly to the civilization of the human animal.
It is my belief that God is unknowable and man can only hope that his specific concept is at least partially correct.