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The Biography of the Bible

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Author Topic: The Biography of the Bible  (Read 1079 times)
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« Reply #135 on: July 18, 2009, 10:24:00 pm »

in the King James version, but they went to the opposite extreme of adopting unconscionably long paragraphs even in conversational passages. The unreadability of these was increased in the American Version by the inclusion of the old verse numbers within the paragraphs, so that the reader often had to hurdle two or three of them in a single sentence. And whereas the British revisers had had the courage to remove the network of marginal notes enmeshing the text, the American edition dutifully restored this smothering parasitic growth.

It was left for an individual to do what the churches and the groups of organized scholars had signally failed to do—present the greatest literary work of all time in a literary form—one which should bring out the meaning, emotional as well as intellectual, instead of obscuring this meaning in conformity with dogmas of religion or pedantry. Professor Richard Green Moulton of the University of Chicago began in 1895 to publish the books of the Bible separately—thus calling attention to the distinctive character of each—in an edition named "The Modern Reader's Bible" in which the text of the British Revision was presented in an attractive form, with verse printed as verse, prose as prose, and the latter paragraphed with some regard to

p. 131

meaning. His work was a great improvement upon anything that had gone before, but it was still, like the English Revised Version on which it was based, a compromise. Professor Moulton was not quite willing to be so radical as to accord the Bible the full advantages possessed by other works of literature. His paragraphing was so heavy that today it already looks archaic; he seemed to share with previous editors a feeling that there was something profane in the use of quotation marks (although he did finally consent to introduce them in the Gospel of John); and he obstinately refused to recognize the conclusions of the Higher Criticism with the result that he was occasionally led into serious errors—such as his endeavor to reconstruct the Song of Songs as a connected drama. His edition, completed and published in a single volume in 1907 (unfortunately in a print so fine that it did not encourage reading), was the last important one to disregard, even partially, the Higher Criticism. The development of the latter has proved so fundamental not merely to individual translations and editions but to the entire understanding of the Bible that its story demands a separate chapter.
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