[Milton-L] KJV in NYTimes

Campbell, W. Gardner Gardner_Campbell at baylor.edu
Tue Jan 11 15:53:25 EST 2011

It's not relevant to the KJV per se, but I have long enjoyed many of the essays in Incarnation: Contemporary Writers on the New Testament. I remember with particular fondness the essays by John Updike, Gjertrud Schnackenberg, Reynolds Price, and Marilynne Robinson, but there are plenty of others in there worth reading. There's a companion anthology called Congregation: Contemporary Writers Read the Jewish Bible. I've not yet tracked that one down-it appears to be out of print.


On 1/10/11 8:17 PM, "Nancy Charlton" <nbcharlton at comcast.net> wrote:

 On 1/10/2011 2:49 PM, Jameela Lares wrote:


I am happy to see any discussion of the KJV in this its 400th year, as I am starting a Ph.D. seminar next week on Milton, Bunyan, and the King James Bible.

In the past for such classes, I have used F. F. Bruce's History of the Bible in English (Lutterworth, 2003), though this year I am using a trade book written by a Miltonist, Gordon Campbell's readable Bible: The Story of the King James Version, 1611-2011.  The UK amazon site has an entertaining video of of the author: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bible-Story-James-Version-1611-2011/dp/0199557594/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1294699561&sr=1-1.

I'll be having the students each choose a book and an article to report on.  I've already attached my selected bibliography to the syllabus, but if anyone wants to list a favorite title, I'm all ears.

I have two to suggest:

 Alter, Robert and Kermode, Frank, eds.  The Literary Guide to the Bible.  1987, Cambridge MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard U.P.  A collection of essays by scholars of various traditions on individual books of the Old and New Testaments, and a section called "General Essays."  I have found the essays on Lamentations and Job particularly useful, as well as Bernard McGinn's refreshingly non-doctrinaire approach to Revelation.  The essays have individual lists of references, and there is a general glossary and index.

 Manser, Martin H. ed. I Never Knew THAT Was in the BIBLE!: A resource of common expressions and curious words from the bestselling book of all time.  1999: Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc.  This book may now be out of print.  I found my copy at a supermarket remainder sale, took it home and ten minutes later went back to the supermarket to get another copy or two to give as gifts, but they were all gone!  A search of Amazon showed general unavailability, but I can only hope that this will mean a new edition will be forthcoming.  Despite the wild title, it is a serious and useful book  It consists of short essays on--opened at random--such topics as "as," "grief, grieve," "physician, heal thyself," "rude."  The essays strike a balance between scholarly and general; they never talk down to the reader but attempt always to clarify some very complex matters.  Sometimes this means filling in some background.  It often requires showing how meanings have shifted, which often necessitates quoting of Shakespeare (heavy on the Henry plays), Milton, Bunyan, Spenser, Byron, the Victorians.  Aspiring writers will appreciate the comparisons of various Bible translations.  A quick run-through of the 500-odd pages shows references to Lycidas, SA, PL PR,  and Tetrachordon . And did I mention that there is a bibliography and that it is full of cartoons?

 Both books use transliterated Hebrew and Greek.
 Nancy Charlton

Jameela Lares
Professor of English
The University of Southern Mississippi
118 College Drive, #5037
Hattiesburg, MS  39406-0001
601 266-4319 ofc
601 266-5757 fax
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Nancy Charlton [nbcharlton at comcast.net]
Sent: Monday, January 10, 2011 4:36 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: [Milton-L] KJV in NYTimes


This is the URL for a short and gracious appraisal of the place the King James Bible holds in literature and culture. The author Verlyn Klinkenborg, concludes:  "Its words are almost never Latinate, and its rhythms are never hampered by the literalism that afflicts other translations."

I've started and erased half a dozen sentences commenting on this and trying to bring it deliberately into the purview of Milton studies, but the most original thing I can think of, and I don't recall it ever being discussed here, is the question of verbal antiquity and archaism in Milton's works.

Many in our day are as ill-equipped as Tyndale's ploughboy to take on, say, PL XI.385-422, but few would not be touched by "...took their solitary way" or "Earth felt the wound." Milton was generally aware of himself as the author or narrator or any piece, but he was never preoccupied with his own responses. This he has in common with the Bible narrations and even where the poet pours out his soul and describes  physiological effects ("I wept") still focus on the reason ("...when I remembered Zion.")

Would this be worth a discussion, or a study?

Nancy Charlton

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