By David Norton

ISBN-10: 0521778077

ISBN-13: 9780521778077

A historical past of the English Bible as Literature (revised and condensed from the author's acclaimed historical past of the Bible as Literature CUP, 1993) explores years of spiritual and literary principles. At its center is the tale of the way the King James Bible went from being mocked as English writing to being "unsurpassed within the whole 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 diversity of critics and commentators.

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Additional info for A History of the English Bible as Literature (A History of the Bible as Literature)

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He presents ‘such songs as edify and corrupt not men’s conversation’ (p. ). The right use of singing these is to comfort a man’s heart in God, to make him thankful and to exercise him in his word, to encourage him in the way of godliness and to provoke other men unto the same. By this thou mayest perceive what spiritual edifying cometh of godly Psalms and songs of God’s word, and what inconvenience followeth the corrupt ballads of this vain world. (p. ) Coverdale seems to have loved such songs.

She stoopeth down and boweth herself to thy humility and lowness’ (p. ). Erasmus returned to this idea in his Paraclesis which prefaces his  edition of his Greek and Latin NT. It adds one important element to his sense of the nature of the Bible by beginning with a desire for eloquence. This eloquence is to be ‘far different than Cicero’s’ and ‘certainly much more efficacious, if less ornate’;19 it is to be modelled on the Bible, and Erasmus believes that the Bible, for all its lowness, is the most moving of writing.

Coverdale’s exhortations on the proper use of the Bible are full of religious earnestness. Like Erasmus, he wants the Bible to be everyone’s constant occupation, but there is no suggestion of singing or humming or lightening the weary way: Go to now, most dear reader, and sit thee down at the Lord’s feet and read his words, and . . take them into thine heart, and let thy talking and communication be of them when thou sittest in thine house, or goest by the way, when thou liest down and when thou riseth up .

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A History of the English Bible as Literature (A History of the Bible as Literature) by David Norton


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