A Shakspearian Glossary For Our English Bible -- By: Lemuel S. Potwin

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 019:75 (Jul 1862)
Article: A Shakspearian Glossary For Our English Bible
Author: Lemuel S. Potwin


A Shakspearian Glossary For Our English Bible

Rev. Lemuel S. Potwin

There are but two books, we believe, in the English language, which have been honored with a complete concordance. These books—Shakspeare and our English Bible—happily originated at nearly the same time; and the comparison of their words, therefore, for which we have such facilities, is a valuable means of clearing up the language of both.

The immense range of Shakspeare’s vocabulary, and the fact that his writings were finished, though but just finished, before the version of 1611, make his works peculiarly useful as a standard to which to bring the language of the Bible. His topics are indeed largely unlike those of scripture, but this, while it diminishes the number of words used in common, enhances the value of the rest; for it shows that the words thus employed were not technically religious, but used in every-day life.

Our Bible, does not admit of a perfectly satisfactory collation, in respect to vocabulary, with other works of its time. For this there are two prominent causes:

1. It is a translation; and no translation represents with correctness and copiousness the language in which it appears. E. g. “Judge,” in the sense of rule, is not English, but Hebrew masked as English, and must therefore not be looked for in indigenous English works. In some instances, however, a translation contains the best possible clue to a successful collation of its words, for the original serves as a kind of Glossary for that age. E. g. “Take no thought” as a version ofμὴ μεριμνᾶτε, never could have meant “take no reflection” Nothing in the Greek word would have suggested “thought” to the translator, unless thought familiarly

meant “anxiety.” Carry the word thus explained to contemporary authors, and numerous parallel passages are brought to light.

2. This translation is affected in its vocabulary by previous translations. The discussions of our time respecting “Bible Revision,’ show how the religious mind will tolerate only those deviations from a “received version “which are imperatively required. Many a word continues to flourish in the sheltered seclusion of religious fervor, when no trace of it can be found in the cold worldliness without. We know that our translators were cautioned against making unnecessary changes.

These two causes bring to us a large number of words which find their parallels only in an uncertain age or in a foreign tongue.

Let us now just glance at the peculiarities in ...

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