Begat: The King James Bible and the English Language

ISBN : 9780199695188

David Crystal
336 ページ
131 x 209 mm

What do the following have in common? Let there be light - Whited sepulchres - A rod of iron - New wine into old bottles Lick the dust - How are the mighty fallen - A thorn in the flesh - Wheels within wheels They're all in the King James Bible. This astonishing book has 'contributed far more to English in the way of idiomatic or quasi-proverbial expressions than any other literary source.' wrote David Crystal in 2004. In Begat he returns to the subject: he asks how a work published in 1611 could have had such an influence on the language and looks closely at what that influence has been. He comes to some surprising conclusions. No other version of the Bible however popular (such as the Good News Bible) or imposed upon the church (like the New English Bible) has had anything like the same impact. David Crystal shows how its words and phrases got independent life in the work of poets, playwrights, novelists, and politicians, and how more recently they have been taken up by journalists, advertisers, Hollywood, and hip-hop. He reveals the great debt the King James Bible owes to its English forebears, especially John Wycliffe's in the fourteenth century and William Tyndale's in the sixteenth. He also shows that the revisions and changes made by King James's translators were crucial to its universal success. "A person who professes to be a critic in the delicacies of the English language ought to have the Bible at his finger's ends," Lord Macaulay advised Lady Holland in 1831. David Crystal shows how true this is. His book is a revelation.


Prologue 1
Prologue 2
1. In the beginning
2. Let there be light
3. Be fruitful and multiply
4. My brother's keeper?
5. Two by two
6. A coat of many colours
7. Fire and brimstone
8. Begat
9. Thou shalt not
10. Manna, milk, and honey
11. Eyes, teeth, and loins
12. What hath been wrought
13. Bread alone
14. How are the mighty fallen!
15. The skin of one's teeth
16. Out of the mouths of babes
17. Pride goes before a fall
18. Nothing new under the sun
19. Fly in the ointment
20. No peace for the wicked
21. Be horribly afraid
22. Seeing the light
23. Eyes, ears, cheeks
24. Speaking, shouting, wailing, writing
25. Shaking, turning, moving
26. Many and few, first and last
27. Fights, foes, fools, friends
28. Praising famous men
29. Sheep, goats, swine
30. Money, wages, pearls, mites
31. Blessed are the servants
32. Heal thyself
33. Times and seasons
34. Birth, life, and death
35. Countries, kingdoms, Armageddon
36. Building houses, mansions, sepulchres
37. Millstones, crosses, yokes, pricks
38. Sowing seeds
39. Salt and wine
40. The law, judges, thieves, swords
41. Love and charity
42. Peace and patience, wrath, whore


David Crystal, the world's greatest authority on the English language. His books include Linguistics, Language and Religion, The Stories of English, The Fight for English, and Just a Phrase I'm Going through: my Life in Language. He is Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor. He has written extensively on religious language, including 'Linguistics and Liturgy' for Church Quarterly and 'Language in Church' for The Tablet.