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tested that he never altered one syllable against his conscience. Moreover, he fully realised that the English language is peculiarly fitted to translate the Bible. “The Greek tongue agreeth more with the English than with the Latin. And the properties of the Hebrew tongue agree a thousand times more with the English than with the Latin.” Above all, he sought to serve the common people. In early manhood, speaking to one of his Cambridge friends, he said, “If God spare me life, ere many years I will cause the boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Scriptures than you do.” The spirit which inspired Tindale gave us the Authorised Version.

It is almost impossible to exaggerate the influence of that Version on the English language and on English thought. The Bible made English Puritanism; and the Puritan tradition has fostered in the British and American peoples most of their best and distinctive qualities. From the Bible Milton and Bunyan took the inspiration of their poetry and allegory. In the Bible Cromwell and the Pilgrim Fathers found that which made them honourable, self-reliant, and stedfast. Bible in hand, Wesley and Whitefield transformed their country. In England all the great Victorians, and in America men so diverse as Emerson and Walt Whitman, showed the direct influence of the Authorised Version. It fashioned the art of Browning and George Eliot, Ruskin and Watts. John Bright, supreme among English orators in the nineteenth century, was essentially a man of one book, the Bible. So, too, was Abraham Lincoln, genius alike in statecraft and speech.

The Bible is still the most precious part of the common heritage of the Anglo-Saxon races. The surface of our common culture is littered by transient enthusiasms, vulgar emotions, and moral wreckage; but below strong currents move steadily. In large measure these currents flow from the Bible, which now for four centuries has been the ultimate source of Anglo-Saxon idealism. The Bible has shaped the English language; but it has also been the supreme spiritually-creative force in the civilisation of the British Empire and the American Commonwealth.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

F. C. Burkitt: The Gospel History and its Transmission (1911).

R. H. Charles: Religious Development between the Old and New Testaments (1914).

J. G. Frazer: Folk-lore in the Old Testament (3 vols.) (1919).
J. Hastings: Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols.) (1900-4).
W. R. Inge: Essay on St. Paul in Outspoken Essays, First Series (1919).
R. A. S. Macalister: The Philistines (1913).

A. Nairne: The Faith of the Old Testament (1914) and The Faith of the New Testament (1920).

A. S. Peake: Commentary on the Bible (1920).
H. E. Ryle: The Canon of the Old Testament (1892).
G. Adam Smith: Historical Geography of the Holy Land (1896).
W. Robertson Smith: The Religion of the Semites (1889).
R. C. Trench: Notes on the Parables.

IV

THE ENGLISH BIBLE AS LITERATURE

VOL. 14-8

113

THE ENGLISH BIBLE AS LITERATURE

S

OME considerations of the Bible as literature may well be

added to Canon Barnes's scholarly description of its

history.

There are people who demur to the study of the Bible as literature on the ground that the Word of God should be spared this kind of examination. Although it is difficult to take the contention seriously it is necessary to answer it. The best reason for studying the Bible as literature is that it is literature. The books of the Bible have every characteristic of literature, and in the course of time they have been subject to all the adventures and misadventures which beset literary documents.

To consider the Bible as literature is not to neglect, much less to deny, its sacred character. Indeed, those who still accept the doctrine of literal inspiration should be the first to perceive that the Divine method of expression would be itself divine, and that it would consist in using the most beautiful and moving language known to the men to whom it was delivered. If that be so, then the study of the beauty of the Bible as literature is more than relevant to the general study of the Bible as the Word of God.

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The highest advantage of the study of the Bible as literature is that it enables us, in some real measure, to understand what

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