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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Why was the King James Bible written in English? 


Followup.

Scotsgate.com links to two letters to the editor. Here's the first, from 6 October 2003:


THE LE’ER fae Doon the Toon shaws some o’ the problems wi the Dundee Dialect – it’s no easy tae read an even waur tae write, yit it’s the tongue of the man in the street an’ the pub, the wummin at the stair-heid and the lads an lassies in the playgrun.
It’s a tongue E’ve lissened tae and yased for ower echty years — tho no in the lecture rooms in Bell Street. No that lang sine, eh askit a yung lad tae fit a lamp tae meh car, an he, wha his niver kent me, sed “Ee’s geen ye the wrang een”. Dae ye ken whit that means?

Becis o a’ this, fower o us (no a’ as auld as me) fae Meadowside St Paul’s Church spent the last twalmonth translating St Mark’s Gospel inta the local dialect – we ca’ it The Dundee Gospel.

It’s ment fir them as canna get their heids roon the King James version o the Bible or some o they fancy new translations.

We’ve pit it on a CD so ye can lern beh yir lug whit ye canna lern wi yer ee. Ye can git it fae Wesley Owen in the Nethergate oo the Cornerstone Coffee Hoose nearbeh. Monney o ye wull be gey plaised wi it! — Ross Ingram, Kingsway, Dundee.



And here's the second, from the 15th of that same month:


LETTER WRITER Ross Ingram must be naive to expect us to learn the Gospel of St Mark from a Dundee dialect. There is no such thing as a Dundee dialect, only bad use of English.

The King James version of the Bible and other translations in the English language are there for all of us to read if we care to do so. — Ronald Smith, Reid Street, Dundee.



Ah, about that King James translation:


Until the political union with England in 1707, Scots was the language of state and education, but its literary heyday was coming to an end. The English army dealt it its first major blow at the Battle of Flodden in 1513, killing King James IV and many of his poet courtiers. After 1603, England and Scotland were governed by the same monarch, and the King and Court moved South to England. Overnight, Scotland became a provincial backwater. English spellings and words began seeping into Scots. The second major misfortune to befall the Scots language and its literature was the English Bible. The Protestant Church of Scotland did not commission its own Scots Bible, but relied first on the Geneva Bible and later the King James Bible. The people of Scotland read and prayed in English, were sermonized in English, and soon were filling their speech with English biblical quotations and allusions: “I am escaped with the skin of my teeth”—“As is the mother, so is her daughter”—“The apple of mine eye”—“All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”

The Royal Court moved to London. Scottish courtiers and men of fashion began affecting English comportment, and Scots deteriorated into a provincial vernacular. James Boswell, in London, struggled to erase all Scots influence from his speech and writing. The philosopher David Hume, on his deathbed, is supposed to have recanted not his sins, but his “Scotticisms.” The poet and philosopher James Beattie published a dictionary of Scotticisms—not to help revive the Scots tongue, but to warn his compatriots of expressions they should avoid when attempting to speak properly. The Golden Age of Scots literature was over.



But the Bible (or at least the four Gospels) was subsequently translated into Scots by, among others, William A. Smith:


William A Smith (1901). Born in Jedburgh in 1827, Smith was taken by his parents to the USA in 1830 and then to Canada in 1837. After work as a teacher, businessman and journalist, William Smith became a minister in the Congrgational Church in 1865 and published his Scots translation of the Four Gospels in 1901.


Here's Matthew Chaiptir Twintie-Aucht:


1, And at the hinner-end o' the Sabbath, as it begude to break to the first day o' the week, cam Mary the Magdalene, and the ither Mary, to see the tomb.

2. And see ! a great yirdin ! for an Angel o' the Lord cam doon frae Heeven and cam and row't awa the stane, and sat on't.

3. To look at him he was like the fire-flaught, and his cleedin was white as the snaw ;

4. And, cuisten doon afore him, the gaird did trimmle, and war as deid men.

5. But the angel, speaking to the weemen said, " Be-na ye fley't ! For I ken ye are seekin Jesus, the crucify't.

6. " He isna here ! for he is risen, e'en as he said ! Come, see the bit whaur the Lord was lyin.

7. " And gae quickly, and say ye till his disciples, " He is risen frae the deid ! And mark ! he gangs afore ye intil Galilee. Thar sal ye see him. See ! I hae tell't ye ! "

8. And quickly lea'in the tomb, in muckle fear and muckle joy, they ran to tak word to the disciples.

9. And look ! Jesus met them, and says, " All hail ! " And they cam forrit, and grippit him by the feet, and worshipp't him.

10. Than says Jesus to them, " Fear-na ! But gae tell my brethern, sae as they may gang intil Galilee ; thar sal they see me.

11. Noo, e'en while they war gaun, some o' the gaird cam intil the citie, and tell't to the Heid-priests a' that had been dune.

12. And whan they had foregather't wi' the Elders, and coonsell't thegither, they gied a rowth o' siller to the sodgers ;

13. And quo' they, " Say ye, ' His disciples cam in the nicht, and slippit awa wi' him whan we war sleepin. '

14. " And aiblins gin this come afore the Governor, we wull cajole him, and mak it siccar for ye ! "

15. Sae they liftit the siller, and did as they war tell't ; and this tale was spread abreid amang the Jews - ay, e'en to this day.

16. And the eleeven disciples gaed awa intil Galilee, to a mountain whaur Jesus had trystit them.

17. And, seein him, they adored him ; hoobeit, some swither't.

18. And Jesus, drawin nar, spak to them, sayin, " Thar has been gien to me a' pooer in Heeven, and on yirth !

19. " Gang ye tharfor, and mak ye disciples o' a' the nations, bapteezin them intil the name o' the Faither, and o' the Son, and o' the Holie Spirit ;

20. " Schawin them hoo till observe a' things, e'en as mony as I hae commandit ye. And tent ye ! I am wi' ye a' the days; e'en till a' time ! "



Here are some details about James VI heading to England:


In 1603, at the age of 36, he achieved his ambition and became James I of England upon the death of Elizabeth I.

James felt he had worked hard to become King of England and he planned to enjoy the privileges. He moved to London and made that his permanent home. The Union of the Crowns was the first break in Scotland's independence. The King no longer held court in Scotland and many of the Scottish nobles left Scotland to join him in London. Tradespeople suffered from this move and law and order began to break down in Scotland.

The people were pleased to see James as he traveled to London. Elizabeth had waited so long to name a successor that most were afraid there would be fighting among claimants. However, they now had James who was an experienced King and who had sons to follow him.

James was ignorant of English law and made mistakes before even getting to London, for instance, ordering a thief to be hanged without trial. As always, he had a tendency to claim more power for himself than he should. He also gave honors away freely and recklessly. He knighted 300 people alone on his way to London. "Within four months, he had knighted more people than Elizabeth did in the whole of her reign." This, of course, led to corruption and jealousy among the Knights.



From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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