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Why I Love the Bible

Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.

Saturday 22nd January 2011

The Archbishop writes in the Sun on the 400th anniversary of the Kings James Bible...

Many of you may know the King James Bible as the "Authorized Version".  Commissioned by England's King James 1 and completed in 1611 is it acknowledged as a masterpiece of English prose - and I am a great fan of this particular translation.
For me it is as relevant now as it ever has been. Personally, I love the language and the way the stories are told.


Some of our everyday speech and common turns of phrase owe much more to Biblical language than we realise. Some have lost their original meanings, like "law unto himself" or "sour grapes" - even "hypocrite" (play acting) has lost the subtleties of the word introduced to our dictionaries through the Bible. However, many other terms continue to convey not only the language but also the underlying principles of its usage. Consider phrases like "Good Samaritan", "Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth" and "lamb to the slaughter".  There are hundreds more! We have absorbed them into our national bloodstream and they continue to inform and shape our ideals. 

The translators of the Authorized Version of the Bible were in no doubt of their purpose - they wanted everyone to have access to the Scriptures in their mother tongue.

Nowadays, I can look at several different translations of the Bible on my iPhone. I can look at Hebrew and Greek texts at the press of a button. While the renowned scholars who translated the King James Bible didn't have the same technology, they used the same original texts in order to create a version of the Bible that people in Britain could more easily understand.
The desire to ensure the Bible is readily digestible to the modern mind and ear remains today and various newer versions continue to be written. While others may prefer a more modern Bible translation I will always go back to the language and imagery of the Authorised Version.


Whatever version you are reading it is wonderful to learn more about God. Keep reading and keep learning - and then tell other people about it!


It saddens me that many people do not know their Bible stories any more. They are great stories, historical teachings and rules for life which continue to inform and benefit so many people in the UK and across the globe. The Ten Commandments are God's promises of how to live a life of love, respect and peace.


Let us refresh our faith and continue to use the Bible as our main tool for teaching about Jesus of Nazareth. But let us also remember to have a generous attitude full of joy towards others, based on God's love.  Because God's love doesn't just stay on a page in a book.  It reaches out in practical terms to everybody around us - the same way it has for hundreds and hundreds of years  before, and will continue to do for hundreds and hundreds of years to come.

To read the published article in The Sun

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