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Learning the Language

The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned, Isaiah 50:4.

Back in the 1970s I was stupid enough to read books and watch movies like The Exorcist. I have been told that by today's standards it's not very scary. At the time it scared me. What makes fiction good and gives it a presence in the consciousness of its readers is the author's ability to wind true to life circumstances into the fabric of the plot. The Exorcist did so quickly. When the poor child who was to be so grievously possessed first met the offending devil, that devil called himself Captain Howdy.

As I watched one of silly Mark Ward's YouTube Videos titled God Never Said Thou shalt Not Kill, I couldn't help but see Captain Howdy at work. If hell ever had a "Golly-Gee-all-American type of guy to be a front man for demonic idiocy, this man is it. Mark Ward, paid minion for FaithLife (formally Logos Software) is an open advocate of giving the word of God the tongue of the unlearned.

The video maintains that what God really said was, "You shall not kill". It would have been so simple for him to have explained that the Hebrew commandment used the singular form for the second person pronoun used as the subject of the sentence. 400 years of English speaking people were able to grasp that the commandment Thou shalt not kill was directed at each individual who heard Moses say it. It was not a group commandment. Each and every person listening was commanded in their individual capacities to not kill.

It has been so easy for me as a pastor laboring among a crowd salted with unlearned people to explain the difference between "thou" and "you". By the grace of God, one more generation of Americans is being given the tongue of the learned. By the grace of God, one more congregation laden with many former drunkards, dope heads, fornicators, thieves, and generally unlearned people has become able to discern the difference between group responsibility and individual responsibility because someone took a little bit of time and showed them the difference between singular and plural pronouns in Early Modern English.

One of the greatest civic catastrophes of our day is the inability of modern progressives to understand the difference between society's responsibilities and an individual's responsibilities. You can be sure your children will never be taught the difference in the public schools. For 400 years our King James Bible has clearly stated those differences. It availed much as long as pastors and teachers took the 15 minutes or so it takes to explain that the pronouns that start with a "t" are singular and pronouns that start with a "y" are plural.

Captain Howdy (silly Mark Ward) whose living is enhanced by obfuscating that simple fact, spent a mind numbing 9 minutes and 5 seconds attempting to confuse people that words such as "thou" are only used to create a sense of religious aura. He then warps historical fact to make his point that we need to give the bible the tongue of the unlearned. He takes Tyndale's much quoted intention to make the English Plowboy know the scriptures and alleges that Tyndale wrote in their language and that the King James Bible was written in language for 17th century plowboys. Wrong, wrong, wrong!

The England of William Tyndale was linguistically divided into many competing dialects of what would eventually become Modern English. Those of you who are familiar with the similar but divergent dialects of the Philippines, India, and Africa would understand that. It was the dialects of London and of the South of England that were to eventually merge and become the dominant language of the government and literature.

When Tyndale applied himself to learn Hebrew, he marveled at the similarities between Hebrew and English. For those who speak Modern Hebrew and Modern English that must appear as a strange statement. What Tyndale did was to introduce the pronoun system and verb ending system used by the learned of London and Southern England to express in English what he read in Hebrew. It worked then. It worked in 1611 and it still works today.

In Tyndale's day, in 1611, and throughout the last 400 years, English Plowboys have needed to be given the tongue of the learned to be able to speak a word in season to him that is weary, Isaiah 50:4. Throughout the length and breadth of the British Isles plowboys spoke the unlearned dialects of their isolated rural areas. In his book, The Adventure of English: The Biography of a Language, Melvyn Bragg, a contemporary British writer explained how that when he went to school he had to learn the English Language of the government and of literature. His village had a distinctive dialect.

The King James Bible is written in the tongue of the learned. With minimal effort, any pastor or teacher can train his people in the distinctives of Early Modern English and open their minds to a lifetime of joy, wonderment, holiness, awe, and intellectual exercise. I have watched it elevate far too many people to ever be convinced otherwise. The problem with that is that Captain Howdy and his ilk make their livings by upending the greatest educational system and tool that God ever gave the English Speaking world.

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