Letter: King James version rich with idioms

Dunia Garcia-Ontiveros, head of Bibliographic Services at the Dunia Garcia-Ontiveros, head of Bibliographic Services at the London Library, studies a copy of the King James bible in the library in central London. Photo Credit: AP, 2011

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As the author of the reference work "Idioms in the News," I'd like to add a secular point to Rabbi Marc Gellman's defense of the King James Bible ["Why do I use the King James Bible? It's old," Act 2, Sept. 29].

The King James translation has had more influence on the English language than any other single source. Shakespeare is a distant second.

When we say or write, "after my own heart," "bite the dust," "cup runneth over," "feet of clay," "half-hearted," "in the flesh," "lift a finger," "put words in your mouth," "sacrificial lamb," "a stone's throw," and countless other phrases, we are using language that was invented or made popular by the King James Bible.

As Gellman pointed out, that version isn't always the best translation of original texts. And newer versions of some passages may better serve one's faith. But the words in the King James Bible are not only old and quaint. They live on in much of our modern language and thought.

Peter Bengelsdorf, Port Washington

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