Thursday, August 28, 2003

God's Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible
Adam Nicolson

Good book. Considering the politics and intentions boiling around the KJV it is surely a (capital "M"!) Miracle. It crystalizes a lot of translation issues and examines them through the lens of the KJB effort. A fascinating time, if you weren't Catholic or Puritan - then it was horrid. He makes interesting comparisons between 9/11 and the Gunpowder plot.

I enjoyed a moment where he looked at the KJV compared to a 1760 attempt:

At the Transfiguration... The King James Tranlators had [Peter] say simply, "Lord, it is good for us to be here." [The eighteenth century translator], reaching high for propriety and perspicuity, managed to turn the apostle into a frock-coated, ewigged and slightly obsequios 1760's estate agent, exclaiming "Oh, sir! what a delectable residence we might establish here!"

My only quarrel is that I don't agree with the author's snobbery that decries the "flatness" and poverty of the modern translations, versions. It is a marvel, and wonder that this work exists and has persisted through the centuries. It is (to me) the Linux of Bibles, considering the vast array of public domain resources orbiting it. HOWEVER... a note that tells you to flee from a burning building, or find food when you are starving, does not need to be calligraphed or written on vellum. A crayon scrawl on butcher paper is all you need. The Biblical message is full of beauty and majesty, but it comes from the core, the meaning, not the embellishments and linguistic talents of its translators.

Still, as much as I read and use paraphrases - even memorize from them, the KJV *sticks* in my memory much better. I think because of the slightly unnatural and archaic sound. Good verse I came across the other day, preface to one of my favorite memory passages:

This I recall to my mind; therefore have I hope. Lamentations 3:21

My own modest effort at Biblical Translations...:

I've been contacted by the American Bible Society regarding a CD of Bible software they are putting together for the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) annual conference in Atlanta this November.

I'm sharing my UTA software and "Bible translator," and this prompted me to go nuts with my relexification methods, and now I have a complete Klingon Language Version of the World English Bible:
Click for screen shots of this
integrated in the Crosswire Bible Society's "Sword Project"which you can find at