Toward a Lexicon of Common Figurative Units
6 THE BIBLE AS A SOURCE OF WIDESPREAD IDIOMS
6.1 Widespread Idioms and the Bible: Introduction Research on phrasemes of biblical origin (also called biblisms or biblicisms in a linguistic sense) has a long tradition. 1 Idioms and proverbs that can be traced back directly or indirectly to identifiable verses or passages of the Bible exist in great numbers in the European standard languages that we have examined so far. 2 These biblical idioms have been investigated by theo- logians, philologists, folklorists and linguists, and they are among the best described groups of phrasemes overall. In contemporary German, for exam- ple, approximately 150 biblical idioms are still in common usage. For a long period of time following the invention of letterpress printing, the Bible was the only book in many German households; biblical texts were read aloud every day, and many passages were learnt by heart. The Bible also had a strong influence on the Russian language, if through different culture- historical traditions. Church Slavonic, the liturgical language of the Russian Orthodox Church, played an important role in education and in classes. 3 The Russian language adopted many quotations from the Church Slavonic bibli- cal language, which in the course of time developed into phrasemes. Other languages, such as English or French, possess much fewer biblicisms, due to their different biblical and denominational traditions. As the debate about so-called internationalisms (cf. Section 1.4) has shown, biblical idioms tend to exist in many languages, and the Bible, essen- tial to the common cultural heritage of Europe, is often cited as...
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