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Unifying a People

A Song of degrees of David. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore, Psalms 133:1-3.

A dead language is a language that no longer changes. Ancient Greek, Latin and Biblical Hebrew are three such examples. We can add another language to that list, King James English. It might seem strange that a defender of the King James Bible would classify King James English as a dead language, but it is immutable. It never changes. It is spoken by no one today and in fact never has been a spoken language.

As was discussed a couple of blog posts ago, Hebrew has two forms. It is like any other language currently being spoken. It is adapting and changing. Avi Gold, a lover of languages recently posted on Facebook that: "At the recent Hebrew Language Academy meeting it was decided that: Fake news in Hebrew is חַדְשׁוֹת כָּזָב Chocolate truffle in Hebrew is כְּמֵהוֹן שׁוֹקוֹלָד." He also reported that the academy is considering a word for "gamer". What never changes is Biblical Hebrew. It remains a touchstone throughout the world for Jews everywhere to make a common bond dispite how far out of touch their respective dialects become one from another.

Latin is a dead language but unbeknownst to most people it is still spoken in the world today. Bill Bryson in his book, English the Mother Tongue and How it Got that Way, tells us that when analysing the native tongue of hill people living on Sardinia off the Italian coast, researchers discovered that when they write it down, the language they speak turns out to be Latin. No doubt 2000 years of mingling with the various seafarers who have conquered, moved in and moved out again has significantly changed the language.

Latin has also evolved into many other languages such as French, Italian and Spanish to name a few. These are called Romance Languages having been formed from the language of Rome. It is right and proper to have translations in each of those languages. That is not an upgrade or retranslation of Latin, it is translating the word of God into a completely separate tongue than Latin.

Ancient Greek is a dead language, but it survives in a mutated form in Modern Greek. Dr. Ward in his book Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible: KJV; uses the divergence of the two languages as a good case study in why a translation should always be in the easiest dialect of any language. It is a terrible example in that the two languages are separated by 2000 years. He could not be more wrong if he tried. The Modern Greek is in constant flux and is sufficiently removed from its ancient counterpart as to be counted a different language. It is heavily influenced by Turkish, Balkan and English words.

Those growing up with Modern Greek and not having been specifically taught the ancient Greek cannot understand it. Modern Greek and Ancient Greek are as diverse one from another as, (if not more than), Chaucer and Agatha Christie. Here is John 4:1,2 written in Modern Greek then followed by ancient Greek.

Modern Greek

1. KAΘΩΣ, λοιπόν, ο Kύριος έμαθε ότι οι Φαρισαίοι άκουσαν πως ο Iησούς κάνει περισσότερους μαθητές, και βαπτίζει, παρά ο Iωάννης, 2(αν και ο ίδιος ο Iησούς δεν βάπτιζε, αλλά οι μαθητές του)·

Ancient Greek

1. Ὡς οὖν ἔγνω ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι ἤκουσαν οἱ Φαρισαῖοι ὅτι Ἰησοῦς πλείονας µαθητὰς ποιεῖ καὶ βαπτίζει ἢ Ἰωάννης 2. ñ καίτοι γε Ἰησοῦς αὐτὸς οὐκ ἐβάπτιζεν ἀλλí οἱ µαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ

You will notice that words such as Pharisee, Jesus and Baptize did not change. The same could be said for Middle English and Late Modern English, key nouns are often the same. Nevertheless, a Modern English reader could only pick through and find key words when reading a Middle English Bible. Similarly, a speaker of Modern Greek can only pick through the Ancient Greek and find key words. It is not the language he speaks and he could not be instructed by reading such a bible. Dr. Ward's use of the two Greek languages to justify retranslating the English Bible is foolish.

The same just cannot be said for the divergence of King James English and Modern English. Blog posts I-VI on the odd book dealt with that fact. The King James Bible is written in Early Modern English whereas Late Modern English is spoken today in its several forms. Language scholars list them as the same language. As in any divergence in language, there needs to be a standard for educational purposes. We don't advocate printing textbooks in different dialects for various regions of the country. We don't print text books saying ya'll for the South, you'uns for Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Eastern Tennessee, and you for the rest of us.

When the Wycliffe Bible was in flux between the late 14th century and the early 16th century, its various manuscripts are often written in widely different dialects. A country bumpkin traveling from the North of England to London found his dialect almost unintelligible during the reign of the Tudors and certainly before that. One of the great developments in the unification of England and the eventual superiority of the English Language was the gradual acceptance of the London dialect of English as the standard speech of England.

To advocate retranslating the bible into as many divergent dialects as possible to accommodate the slothful tendencies of today's youth does at least two things. It destroys a harmony that exists throughout the world in having a common touchstone with which to unite all English Speakers. It throws in the towel and relegates the modern reader to the dumbed down standards of today's education when in reality there is a perfect bible that only a little training can make the modern reader understand perfectly.

Long ago, the French developed an Academy to guard the French Language from change. Many 18th century Englishmen advocated the same thing. That has never been necessary, our King James Bible is the standard for the English Language. It unites all English speaking people.

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