Official Blog of the Bishop of Durham

Are the Italicized bits in the KJV for emphasis?

Posted by NT Wrong on October 10, 2008

The King James Version of the Bible italicizes words which don’t appear in the Hebrew text, but which are necessary to include so it makes sense in English translation. Here’s an example, where there is no “it was” in Hebrew:

“And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.”
– Genesis 1.4

Unfortunately, this guy thought that the italics must be for emphasis. Finding this a bit silly, he has decided to read out the King James Version chapter-for-chapter on YouTube, emphasing the italicized passages.

I’d tell him — but as he was trying to be a bit of a smart alec, and it’s backfired on him, I think I’ll let him continue for a while and make a complete arse out of himself. He’s already up to Genesis 17, after three days.

On the other hand, I kind of like it. The unpredictable emphasis keeps it kind of surreal.

5 Responses to “Are the Italicized bits in the KJV for emphasis?”

  1. David Ker said

    What do you mean by this:

    I’d tell him — but as he was trying to be a bit of a smart alec, and it’s backfired on him

    My assumption is that he is joking around with the italicized parts but if so how has that backfired?

    And may I ask where in the world you dig up this stuff?

  2. ntwrong said

    I very much doubt that he understood how the italics work. I mean, he doesn’t get it. He’s obviously a non-religious person, or at least non-Christian and non-Jewish, who thinks he’s taking the piss out of the funny ’emphasis-italics’ he’s found in the Bible. I can see why he might read out the KJV chapter-by-chapter if he thought the emphasis he found there was just wacky, but not why he might do this intentionally if he properly understood what the italics were for. As a result, the joke’s on him.

    Where do I get this stuff? Ah – that would be telling.

  3. agathos said


    This kid is setting a new standard for stupidity. I made it a buck thirty into the video and I had to stop. I honestly could not take another second of that drivel.

    Someone please make him stop.

  4. ntwrong said

    I couldn’t stop laughing, once I figured out why he was giving ridiculous emphasis to certain words.

  5. David Ker said

    Well, reading the Bible in the KJV can be a pretty moving experience so maybe it will become increasingly meaningful to him. The psychology of why someone would do this without some sort of devout motivation escapes me. A clip for his hair would really be appreciated.

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