English Language Classics

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Re: English Language Classics

Post by costrel on Sun Dec 27, 2009 6:46 pm

Coming late to the party, English Literature scholars tend to see the King James Version as an English Classic. It is found not only in high school British Literature textbooks, but is still the authoritative version to quote from in scholarship (and is the version found in the Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces). This, of course, differs from scholars of Church history, etc., who either quote from a newer version (such as the New Revised Standard Version) or make their own translations.

That said, I should point out that the Bible in its entirety -- including the so-called Apocrypha (Tobit, Judith, etc., which were part of the original King James Version but are oftentimes left out in recent reprintings) -- is considered to be of importance, not just the truncated version of the Old Testament currently in use among many Protestant congregations (and among Jews, of course).

A number of interesting books have been written that focus on how particular authors use the Bible, such as Steven Marx's Shakespeare and the Bible (from Oxford University Press).
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Re: English Language Classics

Post by DotNotInOz on Sun Dec 27, 2009 7:15 pm

costrel wrote:...not just the truncated version of the Old Testament currently in use among many Protestant congregations (and among Jews, of course).

A correction is needed, IMO. The Christian OT is derived from the Jewish Tanakh, but they are not even similar in wording in many places, so dissimilar in fact that the meaning is frequently rather different.

Anyone suggesting to a Jew that the OT is akin to the Jewish scriptures would be disabused of that notion immediately.
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Re: English Language Classics

Post by costrel on Sun Dec 27, 2009 10:48 pm

DotNotInOz wrote:
costrel wrote:...not just the truncated version of the Old Testament currently in use among many Protestant congregations (and among Jews, of course).

A correction is needed, IMO. The Christian OT is derived from the Jewish Tanakh, but they are not even similar in wording in many places, so dissimilar in fact that the meaning is frequently rather different.

Anyone suggesting to a Jew that the OT is akin to the Jewish scriptures would be disabused of that notion immediately.

Yes, the Christian Old Testament is derived from the Hebrew Scriptures (though, at least from the perspective of Catholic and Orthodox traditions, from the fuller Greek version known as the Septuagint), yet the books -- with the exception of the so-called Apocrypha -- are the same, but often in a different order.

There are, as you mentioned, textual differences not only in English translation, but also in the ancient versions themselves, which modern English translations attempt to document in translation, particuarly through the use of footnotes. For instance, the New Revised Standard Version not only relies on the pointed and consonantal Masoretic Texts but also on the Greek Septuagint, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Syriac Peshitta, the Old Latin Itala, Jerome's Latin Vulgate, the Targum, the Samaritan Hebrew of the Torah, and for the Apocrypha, on Theodotian's Greek version for the Daniel texts and the Hebrew additions to Sirach. One can also find differences in translation when comparing the current Catholic English version, the New American Bible, with recent Protestant translations; at least one of the Catholic differences covers up an explicit sexual reference (i.e., a man taking delight in a woman's breasts in Proverbs 5.19).

So I would agree that the textual traditions do differ -- not only in translation, but also in the ancient versions, but I see no reason to assert that the Tanakh and the Old Testament are not akin to each other. One sees this in other texts, too: for example, in the radically-different textual traditions of the American and British versions of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick or The Whale. The British version contains a massive amount of differences, not only in phraseology, but in the absence of entire chapters, passages concerning criticisms of monarchical government, and expressions of Christian heterodox theological ideas. One could argue that these changes constitute two different novels (and the two versions even have two different titles), but I would argue that they are the same novel, regardless of these differences.
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Re: English Language Classics

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