The King's English
Updated: Jun 10, 2022
In describing the Bible as a Revelation from God, Clarence Larkin in his 1918 book on Dispensational Truth noted that, "it was not written in a superhuman or celestial language. If it were we could not understand it. Its superhuman origin however is seen in the fact that it can be translated into any language and not lose it virility or spiritual life giving power, and when translated into any language it fixes that language in its purest form." (emphasis mine).
The King James Bible is the purest form of English yet there has never been a time when anyone spoke King James English. In Dr. Bobby Adams book, Why Can't I understand My King James Bible?, his chapter on Biblical English is easily the best summation of that fact. He quotes Dr. A.T. Robertson's Grammar of the New Testament. "No one today speaks the English of the King James Version, or ever did for that matter, for, though like Shakespeare, it is the pure Anglo-Saxon, yet, unlike Shakespeare, it reproduces to a remarkable extent the spirit and the language of the Bible. As Luther's German Bible largely made the German language, so the King James Version has greatly affected modern English (both vernacular and literary).
Victor Hugo said, “England has two books, the Bible and Shakespeare. England made Shakespeare, but the Bible made England.” The Bible made more than England. It made Canada, The United States, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and many other little enclaves of freedom and fresh thought. I understand that each of these nations is in cultural and spiritual decline, but I also understand that that same decline is in exact proportion and measure to their respective abandonment of the King James Bible.
A common witticism commonly attributed to George Bernard Shaw said of England and the United States that they were "two nations separated by a common tongue". A world traveler will find many forms of English, but throughout the world he can make himself understood using English. English is a multifaceted language that has become the language of finance, science, philosophy and travel. There are more people in China proficient in Business English than in all North America. The common tether of all English is the King James Bible. It is the pinnacle and the ideal of the language.
Oddly enough, it is the silly little teeny bopper Neo-Evangelicals who have labored harder and longer to undo the influence of the King James Bible on all of English speaking culture. They tend to vote as conservatives, they tend to argue for traditional moral values, but in their madness they cut and slash at the very threads that hold the fabric of the English speaking world together, and the fabric that once emblazoned English thought with a virtue rarely equaled in other cultures.
Regardless of which form of English a people may speak, it is the King James Version of the Bible that will always be the pinnacle to which those people can and should aspire to keep their thought process fresh, and keep their grip on the spiritual life that so enlivened the English speaking culture. I have become convinced that King James English represents the highest form of thought to which the human mind can attain.