Friday, September 23, 2011

Let no Man put asunder...

I have been following a very interesting blog that goes through the King James Version of the bible and blogs on key phrases from that translation that still grip the modern language of English, though more modern translations have long since abandoned such turns of phrase. This morning's reflection was quite interesting, as it involved one of my favorite phrases from the KJV, as well as a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer. 

This is one of my favorite lines from the traditional wedding ceremony, though if you use the modern language from the Wedding rite in the 1979 prayerbook, the language the priest is suppose to use is the more politically correct, "Those whom God has joined together let no one put asunder." Even more contemporary wedding services I have attended use the wording, "Those whom God has joined let no one separate."

What I found interesting (and I had to look this up in my King James bible) is that technically the quote in question is, "“What therefore God hath joined together let not man put asunder”  (Matthew 19:6).  I checked back through all the prayerbooks starting with the 1662 BCP, and they all say, "let no man put asunder."

 The original Greek in question for the liturgical uber-nerds like myself is, " οὖν  θεὸς συνέζευξεν ἄνθρωπος μὴχωριζέτω." 

My initial reaction to this was to believe that the wedding ceremony in the prayerbook had actually slightly misquoted the King James version all these years, but then I looked at the very first Book of Common Prayer from 1549, and the language was thus, " ¶ Those whome god hath joyned together: let no man put a sundre." Seeing as the King James Version did not appear until 1611, the English translation of  "let no man put asunder," predates the King James Version. 

My next thought was that Cranmer must have been looking at the Wycliffe Bible, upon which many of the King James' turns of phrase are based. Actually, Wycliffe translated this verse as, "Therfor a man departe not that thing that God hath ioyned." I also checked the Latin Sarum Rite, and that doesn't seem to be the case either. 

St. Jerome's Latin Vulgate renders the phrase thus, "ergo Deus coniunxit homo non separet."That must have been what Cranmer was looking at. Without further research, I am not certain but I believe that particular turn of phrase might actually be original to Archbishop Cranmer and his Prayerbook and not the King James' Version or any other major English translation of the bible at that time.

Food for thought...

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