Bible or Bard?
23 April, as every schoolchild knows, is probably the birthday, and definitely the deathday, of England’s most famous writer: William Shakespeare, often known simply as the Bard. (We don’t know his exact birth date, but he was baptized on 26 April, and it lends his life an appropriately poetic balance to assume he was born and died on the same day.)
What we do know is that Shakespeare was born in 1564 and died in 1616. Which means that he was alive when another very influential book was published, in 1611: the King James Bible, also known as the Authorized Version.
There is a rather unlikely theory that Shakespeare was involved in the translating of this tome (it partly rests on the enjoyable, but academically somewhat spurious, evidence that the 46th word in Psalm 46 is ‘shake’, the 46th word from the end is ‘spear’, and that Shakespeare was 46 when the King James Bible was published. It might have been easier simply to include his name among the 40+ translators and writers.)
While there is no real evidence that Shakespeare helped create the King James Bible, there is certainly a connection between them: quotability.
Although Shakespeare’s plays and the Bible were written/translated with very different purposes, they have both proven to enrich the English language to an extraordinary extent. Hundreds of expressions in everyday use find their provenance in Shakespeare’s First Folio or the King James Bible. It’s likely that you will recognize most of the thirty quotations in this quiz – but can you identify whether they are Bible or Bard?
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