The King’s English

“You can’t appreciate English literature unless you are to some extent at least steeped in the King James Bible.”

C. S. Lewis? G. K. Chesterton? Hannah More?

Try Richard Dawkins.

A celebrated atheist Dr. Dawkins is, but he’s also a lover of deep turns of phrase, made richer by years of repetition in the Anglophone culture. It was not Heinlein’s Valentine who was the original stranger in a strange land, but Moses (Exodus 2:22). James Dean was not exiled east of Eden before Cain was (Genesis 3:24). And long before Aesop’s fox rejected the sour grapes, it set the Israelite’s teeth on edge in Ezekiel 18:2.

The list goes on. A stumbling block; a drop in the bucket; the valley of the shadow of death; no rest for the wicked; eat, drink, and be merry; turn the other cheek; and go the extra mile all come verbatim from the Bible (specifically, the King James Version). Only Shakespeare comes close to providing so many common English turns of phrase.

In a past article, some of you claimed it made life no richer to know why Achilles’ heel was weak or how and by whom the Gordian knot was finally undone. To you “barbarians” (Dawkins’ word, not mine), riddle me this: are you your brother’s keeper? If you are cast into the lion’s den, do you hope against hope or weep and gnash your teeth? Did David beat Goliath? Did Solomon split the baby?

Still not convinced? He that has ears, let him hear:

Otto E. Mezzo