Episode 149: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

In the years following Martin Luther’s protest against the Catholic Church, small fractures soon turned into a major rift. The Protestant Reformation led to the break-up of the Western Church. Meanwhile in England, the marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon was also coming to an end.  Those two events came together in the 1520s to set the stage for the permanent break between the Church of England and the Catholic Church. This break-up also created an environment in which William Tyndale could produce an English translation of the Bible that served as the foundation of the King James Bible. It was a translation that coined many common words and idioms that are still used in Modern English.


13 thoughts on “Episode 149: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

    • Thanks! Coming up with a title is often one of the most difficult things to do when preparing an episode. That title came to me after most of the episode was written. It seemed perfect given the narrative.

  1. I know this isn’t a theology podcast but I wanted to point how problematic it is to quote Matt 7:1 on “judge not” out of its immediate and overall New Testament. I doubt that anyone would know what Jesus and later Paul teaches about judgement without that context.

    I understand that it is probably outside of the theme of the podcast to delve into this. I don’t really know what you should do about it. I just note how using Matt 7 as an axiom, while common, is in my opinion likely in the top 5 misquotations of the Bible out there.

    A good article explaining the wisder NT application–

    • The point of the episode was to note the Biblical origin of many common English idioms. Whether the modern interpretation of the idiom is consistent with the original Biblical intent is a discussion better suited for a podcast about Christian theology.

    • Kevin-
      I know this may get into weeds you are unfamiliar with but your comments remind me of a question that has long been in my mind.
      I have often wondered about the translation in Genesis that gave man dominion. Is it possible that the original word was something more akin to a word closer to our understanding of stewardship, or responsibility? I’ve been thinking of the destruction we can wreak on one another and Mother Nature, and it’s biblical “entitlement” also used by the atheist (anti-altruist) Ayn Rand to encourage the harvest of all of nature’s bounty. It seems to be the root of so many of today’s controversies (dominance over as ownership, control, and abuse). Going back to the source would clarify at least whether the original biblical text was a mistranslation. It’s hard to believe God would encourage the domination and destruction of his creations by his chosen people.

      • The word in Hebrew is generally translated as “ rule over” or “ have dominion over.” Shades of meaning in English are not really much in question. However, God is clearly in charge in this story, so the idea of humanity stewarding the earth for God, as a “steward” would work for an employer to care for a property (“You’re in charge.”) can be drawn from the broader context. This is far afield from the podcast, but hope it helps. I’m a pastor, if you’re wondering how I came by this information.

      • Not so difficult to believe when you think about it. It’s pretty consistent with the story of the god who commanded his worshippers to destroy the city of Jericho and slaughter the adults, children, babies and even the oxen, sheep and donkeys inside once god knocked down the city walls for them, despite the Canaanites allegedly being his ‘creations’ too

  2. Really interesting episode.

    One thing that has struck me about English, after studying some Danish, is we seem to be missing a modal verb. We have will/would, shall/should, can/could, but then we have may and must without an equivalent past tense form (mould?).

    Whereas Danish does has a single present tense verb that seems cognate with “may” (it sort of covers both “may” and “must”), AND a past tense form of it as well.

    • The reason is that ‘must’ is a past tense form of a verb that was phased out of modern English (it was moten – moste). A similar story is with ‘shall’ that declined in usage dramatically, while ‘should’ is doing fine. Also, ‘ought (to)’ is a past tense form of ‘owe’ that lost its modal meaning in present tense form. Other modals also shifted from past to present but saved both forms with different meanings (will/would, can/could).
      Why did this shift happen at all, I do not know. That’s an interesting question.

  3. Trevor

    If I’m not mistaken in your question – the past tense of may is might. As for must, that is the past tense form of an obsolete present tense ‘moten’. In dutch we have the corresponding ‘mogen’ and ‘moesten’, the latter of which sounds very close to must. I imagine that this is similar to Danish as well. As to why English dropped moten, I’d be interested to find out. Seems inefficient, but of course, we do have the fake modals of ‘need to’ and ‘have to’ and their corresponding forms to cover the bases.

  4. Pingback: The History of English Podcast – PGA Gameday

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