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Why Old English?

Discussion in 'Exposition & Bible Study' started by Steveseo, Jun 29, 2004.

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  1. Steveseo

    Steveseo New Member

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    Why are most copies of the bible that I've read, still have words from old english?

    Surely this must be a traditional thing, applying only to English-speaking countries. As we all know, the original bible wasn't even written in English. Wouldn't it therefore make more sense if today's bibles were therefore written in modern English?

    Why do we still say the lord's prayer in old english? Or any prayers in old English? Do we really need "thee", "thy", "thall", etc? These words are now hardly used anywhere else in normal English speaking, not where I come from anyway.
     
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  2. G4m

    G4m Veteran

    +28
    Seeker
    Various reasons I guess. Tradition would be one. Also many hold that the KJV is the most accurate. The other great thing about the KJV is that there is no copyright requirements to worry about when quoting from it. It's also probably the most well know.

    There are many modern translations and even a New KJV, which I believe keeps the original translation but simply transfers it into modern english.
     
  3. Ainesis

    Ainesis Leaning on Him

    +100
    Christian
    Married
    I understand your point, but i actually prefer the old English versions. It just sounds poetic to me. Just call me sentimental! :pink:
     
  4. PaladinValer

    PaladinValer Traditional Orthodox Anglican

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    Most? Most aren't, unless you've only been reading the KJV or Geneva your whole life.

    Usually, it is because people think the language is beautiful. There are more sinful, idolatrous reasons too unfortunately, but most appreciate its beauty.

    We don't. The Episcopal perish I go to at home uses contemporary wording 99% of the time during the mass. We only recite the Lord's Prayer in the old fashion.
     
  5. zoomie71

    zoomie71 Shellback

    32
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    Minor historical nit-pick:

    The KJV Bible was not written in "old English" (unless you mean "old" only in terms of "older"). The most accurate term for the version of English being spoken during James I's reign is "early modern English." The revisions of the KJV in the 1700's that most of us are familiar with reading are in "late modern English."

    Old English is also sometimes called Anglo-Saxon, so I doubt seriously whether you're reading scripture in Anglo-Saxon. Apparently there are some portions in existance from the 10th century, but they're pretty rare. Old English started its decline with the arrival of William and the Normans and morphed into Middle English.

    The earlier English translations (Wyclif, et als) were in Middle English. Middle English (with all its irregular spellings and syntax) began to fade away by the end of Henry 7th's reign. The introduction of the printing press in the mid-1470's to England in hastened it.

    For those of you who find languages fun, here's a neat site with comparisons of the Lord's Prayer in various forms of English:

    http://www.georgetown.edu/faculty/ballc/oe/pater_noster.html

    Yours for historical accuracy,

    Zoomie :cool:
     
  6. pimorton

    pimorton Regular Member

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    Before the contemporary English versions came into wide popularity, most stores carried only the Authorized King James Version (which, as the name implies, was the first English translation authorized by the head of the Church of England, James I). Many people, including some who have posted here, prefer the poetic flow of the KJV; King James did hire some of the greatest poets of his time, including William Shakespeare to write the text.
    Personally I use the NIV for most things, but on Christmas morning every year I read the Christmas story from the first two chapters of Luke. I read the chapter 1 portion in NIV, but the chapter 2 portion from King James, because I think that is one portion of scripture that sounds better in Elizabethan English. "...the days were accomplished that she should be delivered" sounds better than "the time came for the baby to be born," and "sore afraid" sounds better than "terrified." I have it printed out so I can stick it in my Bible on Christmas morning and make it look like I'm reading directly from the Bible.
     
  7. PaladinValer

    PaladinValer Traditional Orthodox Anglican

    +1,108
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    False. It was the third official AV of my church. The Bishop's Bible (the 2nd) and the Great Bible (the 1st) were before it.

    William's name isn't on the list of the translators.
     
  8. christian-only

    christian-only defender of the rebirth

    686
    +34
    Christian
    Since Greek makes a distinction between plural-you and singular-you, words like these are necessary for the sake of accuracy.

    Here are the usages of these terms in the KJV:

    "Thou" is you-singular used to address someone.
    "Thee" is you-singular used as the object of the verb.
    "You" is you-plural used to address someone.
    "Ye" is you-plural used as the object of the verb.
    "Thy" is you-singular possesive.
    "Your" is you-plural possesive.

    Modern English equivalents of these KJV terms (based on Texan usage):
    "Thou" -> "You"
    "Thee" -> "You"
    "You" -> "Yall"
    "Ye" -> "Yall"
    "Thy" -> "Your"
    "Your" -> "Yall's"

    Unfortunately, even as easy as it is to render these in modern English, no modern translation even attempts to preserve the distinction between plural and singular yous. They just say "you" everwhere, which is WRONG. Observe:

    (John 3:7 KJV) Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

    (John 3:7 NKJV) "Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'

    (John 3:7 NAS) "Do not be amazed that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'

    (John 3:7 NIV) You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.'

    The best way to render that in modern English would be "Do not marvel that I said to you, Yall must be born again." But no modern translation even tries! They don't care about being accurate, just about making money!

    Of course, those who aren't from Texas may think retaining "thee" and "ye" is better. :)
     
  9. The Thadman

    The Thadman Well-Known Member

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    King James did not hire -any- poets, he hired Greek and Latin scholars. It only seems like poetry to us because of its antiquity :)

    William Shakespeare was not one of the translators. He did not have the proper training, nor the influence, to get on the committee, nor was he ever a candidate :)

    Peace!
    -Steve-o
     
  10. The Thadman

    The Thadman Well-Known Member

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    If one wants accuracy it would be best to learn the ancient languages, as every translation has its mistakes. :)

    Thee's and Ye's were neat things to have in English grammar, but they simply fell out of use as superfluous. English is one of the languages that relies upon the most idioms in common use. Patterns of words have meaning rather than individual words themselves, which also makes it one of the most expressive of natural languages.

    Aramaic, the language of our Messiah, has very similar properties allowing for a wide range of puns that play upon 3-letter roots, which we really can't do in English, and are impossible to translate into Greek. :)

    Peace!
    -Steve-o
     
  11. Bingley

    Bingley Regular Member

    259
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    Anglican
    How do you know this? Or, if you prefer, how knowest thou this? Are you somehow privy to the motivation of the translators in a way which the rest of us are not? Do you know for certain that they do not believe that a translation in more modern English would help in bringing people to God?

    You might want to ponder Romans 14:4 "Who are you to pass judgement on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall." (NRSV), or in your preferred translation: "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth."
     
  12. zoomie71

    zoomie71 Shellback

    32
    +5
    Non-Denom
    Well, actually, the KJV wasn't the first English Bible authorized by the head of the CofE. Our old buddy (and often reprobate) Henry VIII authorized Thomas Cranmer, then Archbishop of Canterbury, to hire Miles Coverdale to publish an English Bible (called the "Great Bible) for public use in churches. Coverdale finished the translation work on some Old Testament portions of the work that Tyndale had begun.

    Isn't history fun?

    Zoomie :cool:
     
  13. christian-only

    christian-only defender of the rebirth

    686
    +34
    Christian
    Just think about it. Why does (wherefore doth) each new translation differ so much from the last? They are forced to change things in order to be able to get copyright, and they need copyright so they can make money. So, they change for the sake of change, so they can make money.
     
  14. Bingley

    Bingley Regular Member

    259
    +16
    Anglican
    I'm sure most publishers who issue the KJV make money off it. I don't dispute that those issuing new translations make money. But you implied that that was their only motivation.
     
  15. PaladinValer

    PaladinValer Traditional Orthodox Anglican

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    Actually, the KJV was made not out of accuracy either, so christian-only's argument dies with that.
     
  16. The Thadman

    The Thadman Well-Known Member

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    Most new Bible translations come about because a group of people do not think that the translations that they have available are adequate to represent the nuances of the language that they wish to emphaisize.

    For example, the YLT focuses on a literal translation, where the NIV focuses on an idiomatic translation, where the NKJV wants to focus on making the KJV readable in modern English, see?

    Every translation has errors, or could reflect something differently or more accurately. The easiest way to solve this is to actually learn the languages , but then lexographers and linguists also have their bias.:)

    Peace!
    -Steve-o
     
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