Religion: Danger of Italics

The Christian Century published an exchange of learned letters last week on the niceties of biblical translating. One contributor, Steven T. Byington, took a stand against the practice, long common in printing the King James version, of italicizing all words not in the original texts. Byington's objection: the unpracticed reader is apt to infer emphasis where no emphasis is intended. For example, he said, take I Kings 13:27.

Since neither Byington nor the Christian Century bothered to quote I Kings 13:27, readers rushed to their Bibles. There they read: "And he spake to his sons, saying, Saddle me the ass. And they...

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