152 thoughts on “Shakespeare”

    1. Congratulations!

      I want to say this up front: People have been updating, tweaking, and modernizing Shakespeare for centuries:
      Tales from Shakespeare, by Charles and Mary Lamb (1878 text)
      Kiss Me, Kate (1948 Play/Musical)
      The Family Shakspeare (1807 First Edition, Text) by Thomas Bowdler
      Henry IV, Part I and Part II (2012 films)
      Henry V (2012 film)
      Richard III (1995 film)
      West Side Story (1961 film)

      And that’s just to name a few! It doesn’t even get into the Japanese versions of Shakespeare, done as Samurai epics.

      And yet, with all these modernizations and adaptations, people who study Shakespeare can still identify the original and recognize its essential meanings. It’s a shame that KJVOers cannot do that with Scripture. But I forgot: these men don’t know the Scripture in the first place.

      1. Bowdler’s version was the most notorious, because he cut out everything he and his sister Henrietta thought could not “with propriety be read aloud in a Family.” Ever since, to Bowdlerize has meant “remove material that is considered improper or offensive from (a text or account), esp. with the result that it becomes weaker or less effective.
        ‘a bowdlerized version of the story'” (to quote the Google definition).

        Then there were all the editors who decided that King Lear, Macbeth, Hamlet, etc. should have happy endings …

        1. Perhaps fundies read Bowdler’s version, regarding it as God’s one true Shakespeare in the English language.

      2. Dear Bassenco:

        Moreover, our eternal salvation is not hinged on our knowing Shakespeare. Good thing, too! Especially for Americans. LOL!

        Christian Socialist

  1. “O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels. Now for a recompense in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged” 2 Cor 6:11-13

    I love the KJV so much because it’s so easy for my 5th grade grandson to read. Much easier than those modern perversions!

      1. Being straitened in your bowels is what we call constipation, right? And when you take a laxative, ye be enlarged in your own bowels.

        I know I’m right, because I graduated from 5th and 6th grades with flying colors.

        1. But “straitened” (as opposed to “straightened”) means narrowed or constricted, as in “Strait of Gibraltar,” or “He was in straitened circumstances.”

        2. I know what ‘straitened’ means. Just doing a play on words. I’ll bet this is just one word out of many that some KJV people don’t understand.

    1. Yes. My 7th grader asks for clarification when the good ole’ KJV is used. After reading other “perversions” for several years now, I pretty much need clarification too. πŸ™„

    1. These are folks who assume that the King James is the original. That’s the only way the comparison with changing Shakespeare makes sense.
      I guess the Greek and Hebrew texts were just early, unsuccessful attempts to reach the perfection of the KJV.

  2. This argument would be stronger if the KJV was, in fact, the original source manuscripts, and not itself a change (translation). Translations of books often change, because of linguistic shifts that make the old translations invalid. When translating, you want to find the best word in current use to match the meaning of the word you’re translating. As time passes, the word chosen may no longer be the best, and the translation becomes wrong.

    Yeah, you all know this, and the people who don’t know it will never understand it.

    1. My translation professor, who was one of the most prestigious translators in the country, used to say that every work has to be re-translated for each generation.

      1. And in fact even Shakespeare needs to be heavily annotated and noted today to be understood by most of us humans who are notshakespeare scholars. So the analogy breaks down all around.

    2. “Linguistic shifts” is where your average KJV-only fundamentalist will stick their fingers in their ears and call you Satanic. The idea that anything changes over time is a librul secular Satanic PLOT.

  3. I don’t call the KJV archaic, I call it inaccurate. Come with me, join my independent fundamental Presbyterian church where we will be NASB only. There will be beer, and cigars, too. You just can’t have any other fun.

        1. Wouldn’t Scotch Ale be more appropriate? mmmmm, a Scotch Ale would make the workday go by better.

        2. A friend of mine likes something called Old Peculiar that’s like Guinness, only heavier. Maybe Old Peculiar would be more appropriate here>

      1. Maybe I can join your group and then create strife over whether it’s acceptable to read the ESV electronically or whether one must have the Bible on paper.

        1. And in lieu of the Scofield, us paper-ESV-only types will idolize RC Sproul’s Reformation Study Bible. πŸ˜†

      1. “The Nazz is the coolest of cats. I dig it now, as it was dug before, and shall be dug evermore”, says I, as I table my espresso, and snap fingers with both hands…

  4. Of course there’s the whole “false comparison” thing. Shakespeare was originally written in the English of the time, not translated from multiple manuscripts written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin into the English of the time. Additionally, if you’re looking at the entire Bible as opposed to just a small subgroup of passages, I’d challenge that reading level claim. Finally, there were a number of translations prior to the King James translation (changes anyone?) and I’d bet whoever this is uses a KJV version that is or is based on the 1769 Oxford edition, not the original 1611 version.

    1. The reading level is usually based on a mathematical analysis. The shorter the words, the lower the vocabulary level. The shorter the sentences, the easier the perceived grammar.

      It’s the sort of thing that counts ‘shriven’ as a slightly easier vocabulary word than ‘confessed’ (since we’re discussing Shakespeare), thinks all poetry is easier to understand than all narrative, and pretty much completely ignores the role of content and maturity levels in reading comprehension.

      Because 5th graders can totally understand that incident with Judah and Tamar in 1611 English, and of course all fundy Bible Bookstores would permit that content in books aimed at the late-elementary market (yeah right)…

    2. How about pre – KJV
      This is Matthew 5:22 from Wycliffe’s translation(1395):

      But Y seie to you, that ech man that is wrooth to his brothir, schal be gilti to doom; and he that seith to his brother, Fy! schal be gilti to the counseil; but he that seith, Fool,schal be gilti to the fier of helle.

      Don’t you just love that old English spelling!

      1. Joe, the is _Middle_ English. Old English is also called Anglo-Saxon, and unless you’ve had the same course work that I have, you’ll need a full translation. Middle English is, by comparison, easy.

  5. Okay, I admit I like this argument, I mean they’re right, would anyone dare change one divine inspired word of the Bard of Avon. 😎
    …unless it really was Bacon who wrote the plays. 😈 πŸ˜›
    It’s just a rumor, but I always did like the idea that Shakespeare had a hand in the English translation; it would be the one thing that could redeem the Fundy obsession with the sacrosanct KJV. :mrgreen:

    1. Well, I think of it as a false comparison because 1) Shakespeare’s works were written in the same language (Elizabethan English) and always were- they weren’t translations of other works. And 2) They were written by the same guy, whether William Shakespeare, or one or more of the dozens of other suspected (no dice, I think it was WS, not someone else). The Bible, as it is the books that were chosen for it in the Council at Nicaea, was written by many hands over hundreds and hundreds of years. There’s distinct authorial voice and stylistic changes.

      The only similarity is the language. Shakespeare wrote some spiffy stuff. But we aren’t looking to him for doctrine.

  6. It’s ironic that this person chose that verse. Nobody in the last 100, even 200, years reads the word “quick” and thinks “alive.” In our world it only means “fast.” I can remember wondering exactly what that verse meant when it said the Word of God was fast. It wasn’t until I read another version for myself that I understood that my KJV was really saying that the Scriptures are alive, just in a way that made sense 400 years ago.

    1. Exactly. And when I cut up some meat for supper, if someone calls on the phone and asks what I’m doing, I don’t usually say “Oh, just piercing even to the dividing asunder of the joints and marrow.”

  7. I can’t remember ever hearing a man say Shakespeare was a joy to read. And I’d wager than most people who like Shakespeare wouldn’t say that his writings are easy to understand. I went to see Macbeth once and felt like I was watching a foreign film without subtitles.

    And…., here’s a link to one of the many modern versions of Shakespeare’s works currently available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Shakespeares-Midsummer-Nights-Dream-Inessential/dp/0948662034

    So, if your argument is “if people don’t change Shakespeare, then they shouldn’t change the KJV”, what happens to said argument if people do, in fact, update Shakespeare?

    1. Not only did we find Shakespeare had to understand in high school (almost 40 years ago), we rewrote a section into modern English, as an assignment, and then combined them into one play. It may not have been as well written, but we gained understanding. πŸ˜€

        1. Only if he did things ye olde-fashioned way and took the risk of Gertrude and Ophelia’s voices breaking in the middle of production.

          And nope, IMDB says there were women in that production, so even his production of Hamlet was not precisely as Shakespeare intended.

        2. I adore Ken’s _Hamlet_, but recently discovered the BBC do with David Tennant in the title role. Oy! Eye candy even! And Patrick Stewart as Claudius… very scary!

        3. I watched Tennant die (and/or regenerate) twice in DW. I don’t know if I could take watching him die again in Hamlet….

    2. Yep, I always marveled when the Shakespeare actors acted like they understood what they were saying, and expected me to laugh in turn. “hahaha…that was sooo funny…hahaha. Now, what did he say?”

      1. Actually, many of them do. My daughter was only a performance production tech, and she had to take Shakespeare. She said it was a requirement for the drama majors. And they study it a lot at RADA and RSC. For one thing, it’s easier to remember your lines if you know what they’re saying.

  8. “Men say: ‘One is a joy to read, while the other is hard to understand!'”

    Actually, I don’t know too many “regular Joes” who find Shakespeare a “joy to read.” Trust me — I’ve taught high school English. Some of us do, of course, but if he were so easy to read, why are there publications like “No Fear Shakespeare” which advertises this: “No Fear Shakespeare puts Shakespeare’s language side-by-side with a facing-page translation into modern Englishβ€”the kind of English people actually speak today”?

    People DO change Shakespeare. (Not that they should, but they do.)

    1. I enjoy Shakespeare, but I don’t find it easy to read. Of course, it was not originally meant to be read— it was meant to be seen and heard performed. What many people do enjoy about it are features that aren’t characteristic of Scripture such as the witty dialogue, the beauty of iambic pentameter, and the occasional bawdy humor. :mrgreen:

      1. The story of Sampson would be one hell of a play! They can’t put O.T stories on stage because they would be too violent and raunchy. Just like real life.

    2. After taking a Shakespeare course in which I had to read everything he ever wrote and teaching Shakespeare for 16 years, I do think it is a joy to read and I have very little problem understanding most of it. But it truly wasn’t meant to be read from a page. We read every word out loud, acted scenes out in the front of the room, and watched clips of multiple film versions in my classrooms. After all of that, the majority of my students learned to enjoy Shakespeare as well. And I have yet to go to our local Shakespeare festival and not run into at least one former student.

      1. I still think we are in the vast minority though.

        Often, if one discovers an adult who loves Shakespeare, it’s because that adult had a teacher like you who helped bring Shakespeare’s works to life in inventive and fun ways.

        1. I thought Shakespeare was incredibly funny. I also thought he was quite naughty — this, of course, feeds the humor.

    3. “Hello, my name is Sadie, and I enjoy Shakespeare.”

      I had to search out a lot of Shakespeare for myself, especially the sonnets, because I read Abeka’s Bowdlerized versions in high school. “Out, FOUL spot…” and missing most of the sonnets. lol. When we read Macbeth out loud in high school English, I read the part of Lady Macbeth. I wish to goodness I had just quoted the line as written, but I was too afraid of getting in trouble. I did purposely trip over the word “foul” to express my protest.

  9. Uh, yeah, Shakespeare can be rather hard to understand. I tried Hamlet one time, and it was like another language in places! I’ve read Midsummer’s Night’s Dream and Tempest, both were difficult too. My favorite is Charles and Mary’s Lamb’s childrens version.

  10. Hover text = spot on. There’s a good number of quotes from Shakespeare that I love, but the notion that I’m a huge fan of Shakespeare would be nuts. I don’t get Macbeth, let alone some of his lesser known work.

    I do know enough about The Bard to know that the people putting this poster or whatever together would not approve of any Shakespeare play.

  11. But Shakespeare is constantly being revised and re interpreted. I saw an amateur production of Macbeth that had local references (I live in the East of England not Scotland) inserted. The text is edited by thr director every time that it’s put on stage. The choices made in casting, direction and even of costumes and sets puts a spin and interpretation on the plays. That’s before we consider films such as 10 Things I Hate About You and Baz Lurman’s (sp?) Romeo + Juliet. So his point really doesn’t stand scrutiny on his terms.

  12. “Reading level for the King James Bible is 5th-6th”
    “Reading level for Shakespeare is 7th to 8th”

    5th – 6th what? 7th to 8th what? Looks like they forgot a word. And why are the 5th and 6th separated by a hyphen and the 7th and 8th separated by the word to?

    Me thinks the writing level of whoever put this together is 1st – to – 2nd.

    1. The 5th-6th grade reading level claim is based, if I recall correctly, on word length. It should go without saying – though with KJVO nutcases, it clearly doesn’t – that word length is only one of many criteria that must be considered to determine the reading level of a text.

      1. I think it’s based on the average number of words per sentence.
        Which is one metric of reading difficulty, but it makes no sense to use it as the only one. I guarantee that I and most other SFL readers would find it much easier to read a 500-word sentence in English than a 15-word sentence in Chinese.

  13. Here’s the thing about Bill. He was a poet and a playwright. You can’t update his words because poetry’s force is in its art. His flow and dynamic are as important as the actual words!

    When it comes to scripture, I actually prefer a KJV when I read Psalms, Job, and Proverbs for just that reason. They are meant to be poetry. Thus, I think trying to hang onto some poetic form is important for comprehending them properly. They need to be properly felt as much as understood.

    However, for things like Romans or the gospels, I prefer a more modern translation because they aren’t meant to be poetry but informational and narrative.

    1. I had read Job several times through using the KJV and had absolutely no idea what it meant. When I read it in the ESV I finally understood what the book was about. It also made it clear to me that those that quoted portions of Job as a proof-text had absolutely no idea the context of the verse they were using.

    2. I know what you mean. I do love the majestic beauty of the KJV.

      However, I prefer a modern translation for Proverbs, especially when teaching my children the practical insights in that book.

      1. Yes, yes, yes! After so many years of Proverbs (including stints of “a Proverb a day”), I still didn’t get most of it. (Metaphor is largely lost on me even in modern English.) One reading in the ESV and it all made sense!

    3. I would just like to point out that the poetry of Psalms, Proverbs, and Job was originally Hebrew. Any art would supposedly have been lost in translation to English, whether modern or KJV.

      1. Particularly in that the way something was constructed so as to be called ‘poetry’- structure in a non-European language is _very_ different from our plodding iambs. When I was first studying the work of the Troubadours I was shocked to find poetry that wants in lovely rhymes on even feet. Odd numbers of syllables? And sometimes no rhymes? Yeah, middle-class, mid-century me was not ready for that. Then come to the Arabic poetry from the same time (Crusdaer era) and the structure is all over the place, and the rhyme is at the *beginning* of the line, not the end.

        And don’t start on the Latin stuff.

        The poetry in the KJV resembles the original like I resemble a Mack truck. And I think the KJV is the truck in this instance.

      2. Well yes of course it isn’t the same. I’m not saying that. But it has a poetic feel that I think is necessary on some level for understanding things. Poetry, art, and music need to be felt as much as understood. That’s all I’m trying to say.

  14. What planet do these people live on?

    Shakespeare in the original language:

    “Pros. ‘Tis time
    I should informe thee farther: Lend thy hand
    And plucke my Magick garment from me: So,
    Lye there my Art: wipe thou thine eyes, haue comfort,
    The direfull spectacle of the wracke which touch’d
    The very vertue of compassion in thee:
    I haue with such prouision in mine Art
    So safely ordered, that there is no soule
    No not so much perdition as an hayre
    Betid to any creature in the vessell
    Which thou heardst cry, which thou saw’st sinke: Sit downe,
    For thou must now know farther”

    http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/2270/pg2270.html

    The King James in the original:

    For the word of God is quicke and powerfull, and sharper then any two edged sword, pearcing euen to the diuiding asunder of soule and spirit, and of the ioynts and marrowe, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

  15. The KJVO position is hearsay…uh…a heresy!

    And to prove my point beyond any doubt, I’ve referred to a trusted source…Wikipedia:

    “Heresy is usually used to discuss violations of religious or traditional laws or legal codes, although it is used by some political extremists to refer to their opponents. It carries the connotation of behaviors or beliefs likely to undermine accepted morality and cause tangible evils, damnation, or other punishment.” πŸ‘Ώ

  16. I will say that was one positive of being raised hearing & reading the KJV – Shakespeare was just more of the same type of flowery language. In 5th grade, I was reading MacBeth & A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream for enjoyment.

    Yes, I was the class nerd. How’d you guess? πŸ˜›

  17. One thing the King James Version and Shakespeare have in common is that many more people refer to them and praise them than actually read them.

  18. First thought was “False analogy, man. Totally false analogy.”

    Then I tried to remember how many times I’d heard that line from Hamlet, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be…” mis-quoted as being from scripture. So maybe there’s more to this. Hmmmm.

    Final thought was that that other line from Hamlet, something about “I could be bound in a nutshell and count myself the king of infinite space…” has to be the ultimate fundy Shakespeare line of all time. :mrgreen:

  19. Many KJVO do indeed believe that the KJV is inspired and as such replaces the original inspired manuscripts as a superior text. They now use the KJV to “correct” the Textus Receptus and Masoretic texts. In fact, more and more KJVO Bible COlleges (if they merit such a title) have done away with the study of Greek and Hebrew as being entirely unnecessary in light of the superior KJV textual accuracy and inspiration for English speaking people. Many will seriously argue that the original manuscripts forever kept in Heaven are KJV manuscripts; that the 10 Commandments came from the KJV; that Jesus and Paul quoted from the KJV . . . simply because the KJV is inspired. Go figger.

    1. I gots me a Bible collij duhgree. What are you trying to say bout my duhgree? It ain’t good enuf?

      Seriously though, in retrospect I am saddened that my Fundy U training included no training in the ancient languages.
      For that matter my Christian school and Fundy U English classes never once taught Shakespeare.

      As I have gotten older I have realized just how inadequate my education was. I have taken it upon myself to fill in the gaps as much as possible. Since I am by nature an autodidact this doesn’t present me with the problems it does others.

      Shakespeare is my project for next year.

      1. Enjoy!

        I was just able to see a Shakespeare in the Park production in a nearby city — really delightful. Events like that bring the written word to life.

        1. Thanks PW. I have no idea how to go about it. I just feel that as an English-speaking adult I should be familiar with Shakespeare.
          I am looking forward to it.

  20. Shakespeare is 7-8 grade reading level? If that means that Shakespeare is “easy to read”, then why did the plays that I read have so many darn footnotes explaining what different words meant?? No offense to Shakespeare lovers, but I hated Shakespeare, even though I am a good reader, due in great part to the fact that I had to constantly look at footnotes to understand the dialogue.

  21. Oh yeah…and for the record, even people who aren’t KJVO can rightly call the KJV “classic”, and many DO. Just go on Amazon, and you’ll see that there are more than a few books BY NON-KJVO folks (Alister McGrath comes to mind) praising the merits and influence of the KJV.

  22. I left fundystan when the MOG proclaimed that there are no words in the KJV that we don’t use and/or understand today (I wanted to stand and shout out “pric*, as*, pis*, coc*, etc) and then went on to explain to the groundlings that an alabaster box is a small box made out of wood. DAM! This b*stard HAC, GSBC, WCBC copycat “Dr.” is acting like he knows stuff and sheeple are following his every syllable.

    1. the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother. Your post hath freshened and straightened my bowels greatly. Wherefore my bowels shall sound like an harp for Moab…β™«fraaaaappp 😳 oops, pardon me.

      1. Has he seen a statue? hmmmm Some of them show unholy nakedness of the naughty bits, so probably not. My question was, “doesn’t this guy have a dictionary?”

  23. Jesus loves only me this I know,
    for my King James Idol tells me so..
    Little minded ones to him belong,
    you liberals are weak but we KJVO’ers are super strong!
    Yes, my version of Jesus Loves only me
    Yea, my King James version loves me
    Yes, my 1611 Jesus loves only me
    My King James Bible tells me so.

      1. Forsooth! Yea, verily!
        A pox upon me, I have sinned a great sin by modernizing and not King James-eth-ing my response. Forgivest thou me for the lazy lout I am? πŸ˜‰

    1. The “Shaft-polishing” classic came (sic) in at 3.2. One reason was that there were so many words in that one run-on sentence. I don’t know if “oh, God” repeated over and over helped or not…. but in watching the tape, it seemed to help with the delivery.

  24. You could have a lot of fun with KJV verbiage… I know a missionary who decided to remain a single woman while serving in Honduras. Her response, when asked why she never married, was a KJV one liner; “For I would not have you, ignorant brethren…” (Comma added for emphasis)

  25. Well, to begin with Shakespeare was written in English. Even so, the editions that sell now have more and more space devoted to sidenotes explaining the archaic words and difficult phrases. I might add that, notwithstanding the existence of the First Folio, there is some considerable editorial back and forth on the “correct” text of some of his works.

    The Bible, on the other hand, is translated from other languages. Ancient languages. Languages we are still finding stuff out about. And found in ancient manuscripts – unlike the First Folio of Shakespeare – a lot of different manuscripts …. with differences. And most people don’t care to have their Bibles cluttered up with sidenotes explaining the meanings of words.

    When Shakespeare is published in other languages, the work is, obviously, translated into those languages. There may be some foreign translations that, in their own languages, sound sufficiently stately and poetic to be attractive in their own right, but usually in every generation, or oftener, someone is translating Shakespeare anew.

    Now, quite frankly, most people don’t (or, perhaps, shouldn’t) read the Bible for its stately diction but to understand the word of God. To understand it. To my tiny mind this means that, from time to time, it may be necessary to produce a new edition that clarifies the language to a new generation. Surely, I am not alone in thinking this way.

    1. Just as a side note, a friend of mine (retired English professor) has a tshirt that say “Chaucer: Because Shakespeare Was Too Easy.” I suggested one that says “Beowulf: Because Chaucer Was Too Easy.”

      Yeah, we have a grand old time in the back office…

    2. Speaking of tanslating Shakespeare, there were some famous (notorious?) translations for the Yiddish theater where Hamlet had a happy ending, Romeo and Juliet lived happily ever after, and so on. Give the people what they want, eh?

    1. *Nobody* on this site is mocking the KJV. This site mocks those who think the KJV is the the *only* perfect infallible Word of God and those do not believe that God can speak through other translations.

      1. Ok there are some on this site who are honest enough to admit they personally have difficulty accepting the Bible as being infallible, but they have s right to their opinions and the right to express the very real doubts they struggle with (something that is not permitted within Fundamentism) If you are not permitted to express your doubts, how can anyone help you work through them?

      2. Ok there are some on this site who are honest enough to admit they personally have difficulty accepting the Bible as being infallible, but they have s right to their opinions and the right to express the very real doubts they struggle with (something that is not generally permitted within Fundamentalism) If you are not permitted to express your doubts, how can anyone help you work through them?

  26. Because how many people read Greek or Hebrew? It has to be “changed” (read: translated) in order to understand it.

    These people are so stupid they think the bible was written in English. And BTW, it a grand work of fiction, so who cares anyway?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.