The King James Version – the end is in sight

king-james-bible-christ-church-jebel-aliIn September I ‘lost’ a week by not keeping up with my plan of daily reading. The last few weeks I’ve repeated that – partly life is busy somehow, but partly enthusiasm for the project is thin at the moment, don’t know why. Still, the end is in sight.

Another word King James’ team decided not to translate is ‘Tirshatha’ and I wonder why they didn’t (“And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe…”). I chuckle that the King was very dreadful (Esther 15.6)  and the roundabout style of the letter in Esther 16 is something any officialdom could be proud of. I wonder if this flowery style is a Greek thing or just officialdom the world over. I was also interested that Joshua’s name in Nehemiah has become Jeshua (8.17), the evolving to Jesus on it’s way.

John’s gospel was interesting in more places for the mixture of tenses in one story – said/saith, saw/seeth – it reminds me of a style of storytelling you hear sometimes where it’s all present in the mind of the narrator as he tells it and the tenses get mixed up: well this man he sits down see, and he took my arm, he tells me everything, so I said…and his face lights up and his hat fell off and I see it hit the table and…so on. John 13′s a good example of it.

Two words I’m surprised at is that Jesus is the Messias rather than Messiah, and Peter is not the Rock as I’d always thought, but the Stone (John 1). And the way he speaks to his mother at the wedding at Cana (‘what have I do to with thee?’) is a bit hard! I think that ‘spunge’ is better spelt the KJV way and can’t think how it evolved to sponge when we say spunge! I wonder under what circumstances the KJV decides to use Ghost or Spirit – in the Old Testament Ghost is excusively for ‘giving up the ghost’ but in the New it is almost exclusively for Holy Ghost, where in the Old and New Testaments Spirit is happily applied to God’s Spirit, except when it is attached to Holy when it becomes Ghost (Apart from the seven occurences of Holy Spirit here.) Can anyone tell me why?

Job was, as usual, interesting for it’s story, but I think I would answer the question ‘can the flag grow without water?’ (8.11) incorrectly, and I puzzle at ‘my days are swifter than a post’ (9.25) though I guess snail mail in those days was considered fast, but I puzzle even more at ‘He that is ready to slip with his feet is as a lamp despised in the thought of him that is at ease.’ (12.5) and Leviathan sounds a creature of interest indeed: ‘By his neesings a light doth shine, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning.’

I have just started the final section of the Old Testament with Isaiah. As with the language above you have to think deeper than surface images – when it says (1.8) that ‘the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers’ that sounds quite nice to me and I’d like to be settled somewhere like that I think,  but the finishing part of the phrase shows he intends a different meaning: ‘as a besieged city’ – a case of the good news really being bad news. In the opposite way, Isaiah 4.1 seems to be a sign of desperation and disaster and yet, given the rest of the chapter, it would appear to be good news. Whichever way I understand it I have questions: Even if you link it with the previous chapter, why does Isaiah jump so instantly from one to the other? And if it’s supposed to be linked with the end of chapter 3, why did Stephen Langton not number verse one as 3.27 and start chapter 4 with the new vision? Mind you, why did he make chapter 4 so short – did he go off for a tea break?

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