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Shakespeare But Not The Kjv Bible


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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

Shakespeare but not the KJV bible.

I was meditating about the word of God this weekend and suddenly an idea just crossed my mind, “Research the work of Shakespeare and the language used”. With all the debates surrounding the KJV bible and the modern versions mostly about archaic words, hidden meaning, etc., I was surprise not to find any issues concerning the language used on the work of Shakespeare. People have problems with the KJV (and earlier Bible versions) but not with Shakespeare's sonnets, first published in 1609. Why?

Here are some links with interesting information on Shakespeare and how to handle the language:

  1. Language Arts: Shakespeare's Sonnets

Quote: “One of the difficulties teachers face when they teach Shakespeare is language accessibility. Twenty-first century students simply have difficulty understanding the words, and so they miss the meaning of his plays and sonnets. This is no small loss. Thus, it is a teacher's responsibility to help students not only understand the language but also to empower them, so that when faced with difficult texts they feel as if they can, with a little effort, appreciate what Shakespeare is saying”.


  1. How to Understand Shakespeare


  • Choose several of Shakespeare's numbered sonnets to read. They are typically available in some form online--purchasing a book of the sonnets is not necessary.
  • Recite the poems aloud. Underline words you do not understand. Look up the definitions to these words.
  • Explore stylistic critiques of Shakespeare's sonnets.
  • Select a play of Shakespeare’s to read: Othello, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Midsummer Night's Dream are all popular choices.
  • Purchase a copy of the play that contains a history of the play and footnotes. Peruse the history of the play before you begin reading the actual play.
  • Place the character list somewhere that you can easily reference it as you decipher the play.
  • Interpret the play in small sections, underlining and making notes in the margins. Look up any words that you do not understand. Use the footnotes to help you with words that are no longer in popular usage.


 3. Tips for Understanding Shakespeare Style

Extracting Meaning

While Shakespeare's plays and sonnets remain popular today, they can be somewhat difficult to read as the modern reader is confronted with unusual sentence structures, wordplay and poetic compressions and omissions. While you are struggling to decipher Shakespeare, remember that more than 400 years have passed since Shakespeare wrote these great works. Although a lot of his vocabulary is still in use, there are some words that are no longer in use, or their meanings have evolved.

A good way to decipher what Shakespeare was saying is to read the sonnets or plays line by line. It helps to have a dictionary at hand to help decode unknown words or phrases.



4.  Reading Shakespeare’s Language

Quote: “Don’t begrudge the difficulty of the language—the language is the point! In the words of Vladimir Nabokov’s fictional poet John Shade, the reader should “get drunk on the poetry of Hamlet or Lear” and learn “to read with his spine and not with his skull.””



I think it is incredible and sad that people (including Christians) are protecting the work of Shakespeare but not the KJV (or Tyndale, Coverdale, Matthew, Great Bible, Geneva, and Bishop’s). Translators of these bibles were using the best manuscripts and gave their all to make the word of God available in English during a difficult period of time when many lost their lives for this cause. We cannot say the same about modern translations.


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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

Well, of course the world of Shakespeare is likewise divided, with those who update the language and setting of the plays, and those who defend the sanctity of the original language.

However the defenders of the language seem to be far more robust and larger in percentage terms than those who defend the language of the KJV.

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

Shakespeare's quotes came from the Geneva Bible as the KJV wasn't around or widely accepted yet.

I think in fact the point is that Shakespeare wrote in the time of the production of the KJV and the support for keeping the language of Shakespeare original is generally far more vehement than those who fight for the KJV.
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The finger pointing to me with the caption beneath it is... "Dave, you better understand the words and sentence construction in the KJB which might be difficult for others to understand."

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

Dave, you are exactly right. Same era, same language, but different argument. That's what irritates me. Like Jerry said, the attack is against God's Word not the language, even thought they use the language as a reason to reject the KJV or any other bible before that.

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

My belief is that the English language had reached it's pinnacle of development at the time of the King James Bible. What we have today is vulgar and degraded, by comparison, and continues to degrade with time..

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