T e s t i m o n i e s . . .
Dr. James Sightler, M.D., pediatrician and author, from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the nations #1 medical school, prompted by his 36 year career observing linguistic development, highly recommends the linguistic and historical research in In Awe of Thy Word. He writes:
My wholehearted endorsement is given to Dr. Gail Riplinger's new book, In Awe of Thy Word. Its subtitle, Understanding the King James Bible, Its History and Mystery, Letter by Letter, tells us that it is concerned with the smallest elements of language as it is conveyed by the Bible, with the alphabet itself and simple phonemes. The book expounds the use of these in the Bible as no other book has ever done. The very smallest of these elements, letters, vowels, consonants, and syllables, were given to us by God. The nature of the letters and syllables and their arrangement into sequences are crucial to making the meaning of words and passages intelligible to us, so that they stand alone without need of lexicon or commentary.
There is an important word which applies to these small elements of language and to their combination into understandable syllables and words. That word is prosody. The dictionary definition is "the art of versification and the study of metrical (rhythmic) structure, rhyme, and stanza forms." The word is from the Middle English, prosodie, and, before that, from an ancient Greek word, prosodi, which means song sung to music and has the connotation of accent. Remember that the entire Old Testament, given in Hebrew in metrical form, was meant to be sung, and that the notation of the singing is specified in the accents embedded in the Hebrew text. The versification of the Old Testament is also embedded in the text. God intended His words to be given to us in a poetic and musical form. Why?
Ordinary prose writing, the dull voice of man's wisdom, cannot match the richness of speech that we find in preaching or the beauty of poetry and cannot duplicate their effect on our hearts. A speaker can communicate meaning and message by stress, pitch, meter, and pauses, melodic speech if you will. Therefore, in order to achieve, in writing, the richness and full meaning of speech, prosody and meter, which are poetic, must be made intrinsic to the writing. That kind of writing, because it is memorable and naturally suited to our minds, has the power to stabilize and preserve language. The greatest richness, beauty, poetry, and power in all literature is given to us in the inspired King James Bible and only in that singular revelation.
An infant hears its mother speak while it is still in the womb. Its rearing begins before it is placed in its mother's arms. By at least one month of age the child can recognize the voice of its own mother as different from that of other women. The effortless and natural building of language by infants is made possible by a vocal scaffold. That scaffold is the universal sing-song "baby talk" or "motherese" by which mothers, the world over, with biblical natural affection, speak to their infants. Motherese is characterized by a high pitched voice, trochaic rhythm with accent on the first of two syllables, and an increase in duration of the first syllable. Mothers "speak comfortably unto" their children, in a "soft answer," and in so doing give them peace and rest. They give them "vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope." Fathers also do this in a different and more authoritative, but still important, way. Both father and mother are required for successful teaching and rearing of infants.
Prosody in the speech of the mother and father gives cues to the infant which it can recognize and retain, certainly before the age of 9 months. Prosodic cues enable the infant to organize and encode what is heard, and they serve as a basis for later acquisition of syntax, that is, the arrangement of words into phrases and sentences. Upon these prosodic "pegs" are later "hung" the syntax that the infant naturally acquires and the meanings of words and their proper placement in sequence in a phrase or sentence.
God made us, alone among all His creatures, with minds and vocal anatomy meant for language. It develops naturally and without formal teaching. At a very early time, before the age of two years, a child can combine words into meaningful phrases and sentences which are not simply copied but are used properly to express things the child has not heard before.
But even though we grow to maturity and may think ourselves free from needing the simple comforts of prosody and poetry, we still must have them, as much as children and as long as life lasts. We who think ourselves wise must become as little children and be spoken comfortably unto; we also need vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope; we need the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort to heal the brokenhearted.
In this new book Dr. Riplinger ingeniously, with both text and graphics, illustrates many examples of the precise and metrical combination of syllables and words in the King James Bible into poetic orders which naturally capture and hold our attention and are sublime in character. She has shown with many previously unreported quotes exactly what Wycliffe, Tyndale, and Coverdale believed about the vernacular nature and inspiration of the Bible. There is a complete recounting of the true thought of Erasmus, his feelings about vernacular Bibles, and his attitude toward the Roman Church. The breadth of information supplied is truly remarkable, and we are greatly indebted to her for her work.
Greer, South Carolina
July 1, 2004
James H. Sightler, M.D.
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Class of 1968
Diplomate, American Board of Pediatrics