So you should beware of any teacher who would treat the Bible or any part of it as ‘fine writing,’ mere literature.
Let me, having said this, at once enter a caveat, a qualification. Although men do not go to the stake for the cadences, the phrases of our Authorised Version, it remains true that these cadences, these phrases, have for three hundred years exercised a most powerful effect upon their emotions. They do so by association of ideas by the accreted memories of our race enwrapping connotation around a word, a name—say the name Jerusalem, or the name Sion:
And they that wasted us required of us
Sing us one of the songs of Sion.
How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget
It must be known to you, Gentlemen, that these words can affect men to tears who never connect them in thought with the actual geographical Jerusalem; who connect it in thought merely with a quite different native home from which they are exiles. Here and there some one man may feel a similar emotion over Landor’s
Tanagra, think not I forget....
But the word Jerusalem will strike twenty men twentyfold more poignantly: for to each it names the city familiar in spirit to his parents when they knelt, and to their fathers before them: not only the city which was his nursery and yet lay just beyond the landscape seen from its window; its connotation includes not only what the word ‘Rome’ has meant, and ever must mean, to thousands on thousands setting eyes for the first time on The City: but it holds, too, some hint of the New Jerusalem, the city of twelve gates before the vision of which St John fell prone: