The King James Bible and its everyday phrases
A challenge! Can you find another phrase that few realise is from the King James Bible?
Over 560 of these phrases are now available on line via this link: kjvsayings.com
How many of these phrases are there? This is an intriguing question. In the few years since the 400th anniversary of the 1611 publication of the King James Bible, there has been a growing interest in them. At first there was surprise at there being so many but now there is a quest to find more.
Internet searches reveal many lists of such phrases, some clearly derived from the King James Version (KJV) and earlier bible versions, but others come from later versions where the translators have utilised modern figures of speech that have nothing to do with the KJV. The latter are of no interest in this context.
In 2011, The Bible Society published an excellent little booklet, Famous Phrases from the Bible, which lists a around 300 phrases and sayings. The Introduction by Dr Paul Cavill is well worth reading for its description of the way these phrases pervade and enrich the English language. A Bible reference is given for each phrase, quoting the KJV text, with brief notes about the usage and context.
The Writing on the Wall was never intended as a source of such phrases but it contains an index of 150 and of these, 67 are nowhere to be found in the Bible Society's booklet. A recent phenomenon is the way various lists on the internet are being raided to find catchy titles for films and other media. Some examples from the last few years are listed below and half of them are extra to the booklet. Lesser known phrases that become well-known from popular titles may enter common speech from such usage.
2002 film: City of God (Psalm 46:4, 87:3)
2003 novel by Richard Ford: Multitude of sins (James 5:20)
2005 film: The face of the earth (Genesis 6:7)
2005 film: Our Daily bread (Matthew 6:11)
2005 film: God save the king (1 Samuel 10:24)
2005 film: Deliver us from evil (Matthew 6:13)
2006 drama film: The land of Nod (Genesis 4:16)
2006 music album: Locust years (Joel 2:25)
2007 book about medical Missions: A Drop in the Bucket (Isaiah 40:15)
2007 novel: World without end (Isaiah 45:17)
2007 New book of Walter de la Mare stories: Strangers and Pilgrims (Hebrews 11:13)
2009 film: God speed (2 John 1:11)
2011 film: Hold your peace (Exodus14:14)
2011 film: Tree of life (Genesis 3:22)
2012 film: All things to all men (1 Corinthians 9:22)
2013 Filipino film: A moment of time (Luke 4:5)
2013 short film: Nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes.1:9)
2014 3D computer animated film: Book of Life (Acts 4:3)
2015 film: Den of thieves (Matthew.21:13)
2015 TV movie: Fire and brimstone (Genesis 19:24)
2015 theme song for James Bond film, SPECTRE: The writing's on the wall (Daniel 5:5)
2015 film: I saw the light (Job 33:28, Luke 8:16)
Following publication of the The Writing on the Wall the author, Richard Noble, has identified many more phrases and his list currently stands at 562, an 87% increase on the Bible Society booklet noted above. These are now being tweeted on a daily basis. If you think you have discovered any more please email the following address.
Page last updated 11 November 2017
By clicking on the address above, a new message window will be opened in your email client (such as Outlook Express, Mail, Thunderbird etc)
You can follow us on Twitter @KJVsayings and see some of these phrases:
The full collection of sayings can be found on a dedicated website by clicking the link below. The site can be searched both by key words from each saying and by general themes: