By David Norton
A historical past of the English Bible as Literature (revised and condensed from the author's acclaimed background of the Bible as Literature CUP, 1993) explores years of spiritual and literary rules. At its center is the tale of ways the King James Bible went from being mocked as English writing to being "unsurpassed within the complete diversity of literature." It stories the Bible translators, writers comparable to Milton and Bunyan who contributed lots to our experience of the Bible, and a desirable variety of critics and commentators.
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Extra info for A History of the English Bible as Literature (A History of the Bible as Literature)
That he had a mischievous mind in the change’ (Works, VI: ). In particular he comments of ‘senior’ that in English it ‘signiﬁeth nothing at all, but is a French word used in English more than half in mockage’, that it misrepresents the Latin and in fact in English signiﬁes an alderman. His primary point is that Tyndale will use any word rather than call a priest a priest. Tyndale accepted the linguistic point only: ‘of a truth senior is no very good English, though senior and junior be used in the universities; but there came no better in my mind at that time.
The acknowledgement of a customary linguistic form is important, but of special interest is the invitation to think of the English text as unﬁxed, and the encouragement to the learned reader to adjust it as he thinks ﬁt for ‘the ﬁnding out of the truth’. This is an eﬀort to destabilise the translation in the search for truth. Most scholarly users of the Bible until, roughly, the middle of the seventeenth century did indeed treat the English text as unﬁxed and were not much concerned to cite a particular version accurately.
About the time Tyndale was working, ‘a certain boorish English priest’ was discovered to be mis-reciting in the Mass, ‘quod in ore mumpsimus’. 23 Whether or not this proves anything about clerical ignorance, it is true to people’s attitudes to the familiar, if incomprehended, sound of their religious formulae. The old priest’s adherence to ‘mumpsimus’ was more than mere conservatism: to have changed ‘mumpsimus’ to ‘sumpsimus’ would have been, for him, to undermine the accepted magic of his religious devotion without enlightening him in any real way.
A History of the English Bible as Literature (A History of the Bible as Literature) by David Norton