Where do these everyday expressions come from?

Have you ever wonderedwhere we get everyday expressions such as ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth’ or ‘how are the mighty fallen’ from?

Gloucester Cathedral
Gloucester Cathedral

The answer is these expressions are all found in The King James Bible (or, Authorized Version) – the best-known version of the book that has topped the list of bestsellers for centuries.

*A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
*A fly in the ointment
*A labour of love
*A thorn in the flesh
*A wolf in sheep¹s clothing
*All things to all men
*Am I my brother’s keeper?
*An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth
*As old as the hills
*At his wits end
*Bald as a coot
*Baptism of fire
*Bite the dust
*By the skin of your teeth
*Eat drink and be merry
*How are the mighty fallen
*In the twinkling of an eye
*Lamb to the slaughter
*Love of money is the root of all evil
*Love thy neighbour as thyself
*My cup runneth over
*No rest for the wicked
*Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings
*Pearls before swine
*Red sky at night shepherds¹ delight
*Sour grapes
*Spare the rod and spoil the child
*The blind leading the blind
*The powers that be
*The salt of the earth
*The writing is on the wall

For nearly 300 years this was the only Bible approved for use in the Church of England, and it helped to put the Word of God in a form people could
understand.

Its poetic English has been heard and treasured for generations. The story of its ascent includes executions, protests, civil war and propaganda. Its importance today is partly the result of politics, colonization, and the slave-trade.

As the broadcaster and writer Melvyn Bragg says: The King James Bible has a fair claim to be the greatest single force in shaping the English-speaking world.

Now, the poetic English of the King James Bible can be heard and seen at Gloucester Cathedral from October 1st to November 14th.

The Cathedral’s very own copy of the 1611 King James Bible – a first issue of the first edition – will be on display, alongside panels explaining the history of the book that changed the world and the very special Gloucestershire connections through William Tyndale and Bishop Miles Smith.

During the six weeks of the exhibition the Authorized Version will also be used for the readings at Evensong.

Dean of Gloucester, the Very Revd Stephen Lake commented: It will be good to use the King James Bible in public worship whilst the exhibition is in the Cathedral. The blending of old and new in worship illustrates the vibrancy of the daily offering of worship in England’s cathedrals.

William Tyndale (1494-1536), thought to have been born at North Nibley in Gloucestershire, was the first to undertake a translation of the New Testament from the original Greek, printed in English.

And Miles Smith, one of the leading translators of the King James Bible, was Bishop of Gloucester from 1612 until his death in 1624. He is almost certainly buried in the Lady Chapel of Gloucester Cathedral. His Preface to the King James Bible remains one of the most accomplished pieces of prose writing in the English language.

One of the treasures of Gloucester Cathedral Library is a Coverdale Bible of 1536, once owned by Oliver Cromwell. It is used on important occasions in the life of the Cathedral. The Very Revd Stephen Lake swore his oath on the Coverdale Bible when he was installed as the 38th Dean of Gloucester on 12 June 2011.

For more details of the free-to-visit exhibition, visit Gloucester Cathedral

For all visitor information, meanwhile, visit http://www.cotswolds.com

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