Contributions of the King James Bible to the English Language
Many factors shape the language we speak. All languages grow and change over time. Sometimes the change is brought about by exposure to a new language and culture. In other cases, change is the result of new cultural experiences or technologies. For words or phrases to gain a foothold and become a consistent part of our lexicon, they must be used often.
The King James Bible (also known as the King James Version, KJV, or Authorized Version) is the most often printed book in the world. Since it was first published in 1611, experts estimate that billions of copies have been sold. It is the best selling book of all time and still sells by the millions each year. That level of exposure and the rich use of language which rolls off the tongue have made the King James Version of the Bible the biggest single contributor of phrases to the English language. Over 350 phrases used in everyday speech come from the King James Bible 1 corinthians 15 58 kjv.
King James of England and Scotland commissioned this translation for the Church of England in 1604 and set up a committee of 54 distinguished scholars to do the translation. In the end, 47 scholars actually participated. The ground rules were: no contentious notes in the margins (an earlier English-language bible called the Geneva Bible had distinct anti-royal notations), language must be accessible to the common people, and a true and accurate text based on the best scholarship available. Final editing of the text was done in an unusual way. Instead of reading the text and annotating changes, suggested versions were read aloud in Stationer’s Hall in London. The goal was to create a text that sounded right.
There were a few problems with early printings of the King James Version. In 1631 a version called the Wicked Bible was printed where the word “not” was left out of the commandment “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” The printer was fined and all the books were pulled from the market. He died in debtor’s prison for that omission.
Up to the 16th century, Bibles included a section called the Apocrypha between the Old and New Testaments. By 1769, when a version with standardized capitalization, grammar, spelling, punctuation, and italicization was released, both commercial and charitable printers publishing the King James Bible were regularly omitting the Apocrypha in order to cut printing costs. Other information included in the original translation including tables for the reading of Psalms at matins and evensong, for holy days and observances, a calendar and an almanac are also omitted from current editions.
The King James Bible introduced 18 classic phrases. According to National Geographic, Google searched 2.4 million of its English-language books to determine how often these 18 phrases were used. The first in the list that follows is the most frequently used. A citation is provided, however, some of these phrases are used multiple times in the Bible. I have provided explanations or examples are given of how these phrases might be used in a sentence.