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Melvyn Bragg says kids should read the King James Bible. But is it too graphic?

Oct 4, 2017 by

Image result for King James Bible photosThe writer and broadcaster thinks the 1611 Authorised Version should be taught in schools. Teachers might struggle with its visceral violence, though

Andrew Brown –

Melvyn Bragg has said that it is a disgrace that the Bible is no longer read or taught in schools – but what would it mean if it were? Bragg’s interest in the Bible is not that he thinks it is true, but that the language of the Authorised Version of 1611 is beautiful – which, in parts, it undoubtedly is.

Bragg compares the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer to Shakespeare and this captures something very important. They are all texts written to be read out loud, indeed to be acted. Both the priests and the congregation have their parts to play and it is only by reciting the words, or by listening to them as a collective action, that they can do their work.

This is what the law still more or less says that schools ought to do. There is a requirement for a daily act of worship of a “wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character” in all state schools. In Bragg’s childhood this would have meant readings, or performances, from the Bible every morning. But that law is a dead letter nowadays.

It’s not just schools: few churches today teach the Bible translation that Bragg loves. The old version contains many words whose meaning has changed drastically over four centuries. In 1613, “suffer” meant “allow”, “let” meant “prevent” and “prevent” meant “come before”. “Ass” of course meant “donkey” and “to know a woman” meant “to have sex with her”.

Contemporary translations avoid all those pitfalls but they also cast a veil of ordinariness over the stark horror of many of the stories.

The Bible in the raw is not in the least bit like a Disney version. The story of Samson and Delilah is even more disturbing in the original: Samson first demands a Philistine wife and then, when she tricks him into losing a bet, kills 30 men for their clothes to pay it off. This casts a pall on the festivities and Samson storms off home.

Source: Melvyn Bragg says kids should read the King James Bible. But is it too graphic? | World news | The Guardian

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