The author blog of C. J. Ivory

Tinkerer with words. Dresser-Upper. Adorer of Steampunk and VictoriaNoir fiction. Occasional Lawgineer.

January 18, 2011

Careful, You May Be Plagiarising God

Gentle Reader,

How many times have you quoted Bible Scriptures this week? You might be surprised. 

According to a recent book by linguist David Crystal, Christians and non-Christians alike could be unwittingly quoting the Bible when they invoke well-known but archaic phrases.

So profound has the effect of the King James Bible been on English, it seems, that a total of 257 phrases and forty new words were introduced thereby. This is in large part because the Bible was read aloud to churchgoers every Sunday, and may have been the only literature that the unschooled population had access to. Read the BBC article here.

Interesting stuff. Most of us can probably pull out a few phrases we know from the Bible (for example, my first novel attempt was called Sins of the Father, which is from the book of Exodus), but did you know about these ones:

Living off the fat of the land - Genesis 45:17-18
Like a lamb to the slaughter - Jeremiah 11:19 / Isaiah 53:7
Can a leopard change his spots? - Jeremiah 13:23
A man after my own heart - Samuel 13:14 / Acts 13:22
Letter of the law - 2 Corinthians 3:6
Apple of my eye - (I could have sworn Dean Martin came up with that one!) - Deuteronomy 2:10 / Zechariah 2:8
Twinkling of an eye  - 1 Corinthians 15:52
Out of the mouths of babes - Psalm 8:2
Bite the dust (even Freddie Mercury’s quoting the Bible) - Psalms 72: 9
At my wit's end - Psalm 107:27
Blind leading the blind - Matthew 15:14 / Luke 6:39
By the skin of our teeth - Job 19:20

(For a more comprehensive list, see Top 50 Most popular Phrases From The Bible)

So, Gentle Reader – when did you last quote Scriptures?

Feeling suddenly pious,



Carolyn said...

very interesting. In fact, I quote some in my writing such as 'vengeance is Lord's and he shall repay'. Meanwhile, the MC who was a former assassin for the Italian mafia. He takes retaliation into his own hands.

And I also used 'time and unforeseen occurrences befall us all' in that work.

I actually really like playing on the contrast between religion and the dark acts of the human family.

Charlotte Jane Ivory said...

Religion still captures the modern imagination in books and movies, doesn't it? Imagine if Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code had been based on, let's say, Aristotle instead of Jesus. I can't imagine it would have sold as many copies!