Monday, April 4, 2011

Christopher Hitchens on the King James Bible

For all his calculated attacks, misplaced facts, overwrought rhetoric, unswerving dogmatism, and unappetizing politics, I rarely miss a chance to read Christopher Hitchens. For a wonderful instance of all the above in full force (and so marked by a characteristically compulsive readability), see his recent article for Vanity Fair on the anniversary and history of the King James Bible.

I'm interested to know which historical facts (if any) he has wrong; but more, I'm intrigued by the questions he raises for biblical scholarship and modern translation practices. What do we lose when we trade literary beauty (and so rhetorical power and lasting impact) for the simplicity of a lowest common denominator readership?

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