Wednesday, 5 September 2012

RW Chambers on Tyndale and Coverdale and the Authorized Version of the Bible


From RW Chambers, Man's Unconquerable Mind, 1939.

It seems certain that the Bible as we now read it in the Authorized Version has has, and will continue to have, more influence upon the English Language and upon English prose than any other book. 

All the more important therefore is to realize that we owe it, not to the seventeenth but to the sixteenth century, to Tyndale, and to a less extent to his followers, especially to Coverdale. 

And these writers were not themselves innovators in style or language. They wrote the 'clean English' which had come down to them from an earlier day. 

So that the tradition of our English Language is an older one than we usually think. 


It is remarkable, therefore, that hardly anybody nowadays could recognize the names of William Tyndale or Miles Coverdale.



dearieme said...

They were covered in history lessons at my school, and that wasn't even in England. They got a smaller billing than Jan Huss and Wycliffe, but they got a mention.

bgc said...

@d - I did say *hardly* anybody, and you are not exactly typical...

(PS I've censored your sarcy sweary comment about the OT...)

sykes.1 said...

It is remarkable how readable the Authorized Version still is, despite 400 years of language evolution. The Douay-Rheims translation, its rough contemporary, has distinctly more archaic sound. Many modern readers prefer the Revised Standard Version (NOT the New Revised Standard Version) because its language is thoroughly modern.

All three are distinguished by accuracy and a concern to revere and transmit the Word of God. None of them has any of the corrupt, dishonest political correctness that has produced so many evil translations over the last half-century. Even the second edition of the Catholic New American Bible goes in for inclusive language at the expense of accuracy.

dearieme said...

"you are not exactly typical": but my school was. We studied the standard Scottish history syllabus of its day, I imagine. (That's European history as taught in Scotland, not history of Scotland.) It's amazing how much time you can dedicate to the interesting bits of history if you omit an account of centuries of Englishmen being untrue to their monarchs, or raping France.