‘At the inauguration was the true account, and this true account was with god, and god was the true account.” So Sarah Ruden begins her translation of John’s gospel, giving the famous first line of the prologue a new sound, which will disappoint readers who expect scripture to delight their ears. For us Anglophones, the verse as translated in the Douay-Rheims and then the King James Version (“In the beginning was the Word . . .”) has acquired the comforting familiarity of a school motto. Reading Ruden’s discussion of the passage, one wonders: Has that sonorous English always been a …
This article appears as “Rugged True Accounts” in the August 2, 2021, print edition of National Review.
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