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But we still speak King James

Ancient rendering of Lambeth Palace (L) and St. Mary-at-Lambeth (R) Credit: Boston Public Library/Flickr/Creative Commons

Ancient rendering of Lambeth Palace (L) and St. Mary-at-Lambeth (R) Credit: Boston Public Library/Flickr/Creative Commons

Workers doing renovations at the Garden Museum in London, England accidentally broke through the floor and discovered a large chamber.

When they lowered a mobile phone through the hole they saw 30 lead coffins, some piled on top of each other, that had been hidden from view for centuries.

The Garden Museum is located in an ancient medieval church, St. Mary-at-Lambeth, found next to the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury (Lambeth Palace) – the head of the Anglican Church.

St. Mary-at-Lambeth is considered a ‘deconsecrated’ church. This is a ceremony Anglicans perform on a church when it is no longer to be used for religious service. They essentially remove the religious blessing rendering it fit for secular purposes.

St Mary-at-Lambeth today now home to the Garden Museum Credit: kotomi_/Flickr/Creative Commons

St Mary-at-Lambeth is now home to the Garden Museum Credit: kotomi_/Flickr/Creative Commons

The Anglo Saxons constructed the first church at the site in 1062, but over the centuries it has undergone major renovations and rebuilds.

Perched on top of one of the coffins was an old gold-painted archbishop miter or crown indicating this was the burial chamber of some of the Anglican church’s long-lost archbishops.

Realizing the enormity of their discovery, the area was opened up and they discovered coffins with the nameplates labeling the final remains of Archbishop Richard Bancroft (1604-1610) and Archbishop John Moore (1783-1805).

If St Mary-at-Lambeth’s records are correct, there are probably three other archbishops down there as well.

Perhaps the most famous of the archbishops buried at the site is none other than John Bancroft, the man responsible for the publication of the King James Bible.

Though Bancroft did not actually write it, in 1604 he headed a group of 41 Hebrew and Greek scholars who would eventually create it. The first version of the King James bible would not be published until 1611, a year after Bancroft died.

Though the King James Bible is no longer widely used because of its archaic ‘thees’ and ‘thous,’ its successor the New King James Bible, that modernized the language, continues to be popular.

Though many of us stumble on the old English, many of the sayings in popular use today are taken from the King James Bible — some estimate as many as 200.

One of the more intriguing ones is “saved by the skin of my teeth” referring to a close call. It was taken from the book of Job as he described his suffering and how close to death he was:

20 My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth. (Job 19:20 KJV)

The phrase “drop in a bucket” referring to a thing’s unimportance comes from the Book of Isaiah as the prophet describes the insignificance of the nations compared to God:

15 Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. (Isaiah 40:15 KJV)

The term “scapegoat” is used to describe someone being blamed for another’s transgression. On the Day of Atonement, Israel’s high priest used two goats. He sacrificed one for the sins of the nation and on the second, the scapegoat, the high priest placed Israel’s sins and then drove the goat into the wilderness.

10 But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness. (Leviticus 16:10 KJV)

Other phrases based on the Bible still in use today include:


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