The Authorized Version (or King James Version) of the Bible turns 400 this year. Here’s an interesting video that has been floating around the Internet for a couple of weeks at least, in which a clever poet works a hundred phrases from the KJV into a three-minute poem, thereby demonstrating how deeply the KJV has influenced the English we speak every day.

This video comes from a website called that examines some of the most well-known phrases from the KJV and talks about how those phrases get variously used and misused, understood and misunderstood in our daily speech. It’s worth a few minutes of your time.

  • Jess
    3:10 PM, 19 May 2011

    Neat! I read the KJV myself. And wow has it helped me with Shakespeare. After reading a bit of old English every morning for… I think it’s three years now, well, now I can understand the lines in Macbeth when nobody else can, and I know when to use “thee” and when to use “thou,” when to use “my” and when to use “mine” (in the old English context), etc. And I didn’t even realize I was learning that much as I read. Cool, huh? I think we should all learn our foreign language grammar by reading the Bible in that language. 😉 Anyway, it’s kind of funny that you should post this today. I officially finished the Old Testament yesterday and started on Matthew today. Oh, whoops, I only meant to write a quick note. Sorry. 😉
    P.S. I guess it’s not really “old” English, rather Elizabethan English (or nearer that era), but I suppose you know what I meant.

  • Loren Warnemuende
    3:46 AM, 20 May 2011

    Fascinating! This would be a fun, challenging poem to unpack with the English as a Second Language Bible study I’ve helped out with this year. We’ve looked at a lot of cultural idioms that are originally from the Bible (and we’re just “In the beginning…”).

    • Jonathan Rogers
      10:29 AM, 20 May 2011

      Loren, I ran across a transcript of this poem at some blog or other (though a 45-second search didn’t turn it up just now). Might be worth looking for if you’re going to use it with your ESL students. I think that’s a great idea.

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