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First, let me clarify that I do not intend right now to write in Early Modern English, although I tend to use some words uncommon in ordinary prose, such as "whereof", etc. However, being inspired by the lengthy sentences in the KJV Bible, particularly in the book of Ephesians, the Book of Colossians, and the Book of 1 Peter, the question that comes to my mind concerns sentence unity, especially since, in the past I have written certain writings, containing long sentences that move from one topic to another.

My questions then, not for the sake of prose analysis, but for the sake of application, although requiring analysis of prose, is this: Are there any sentences in these books in the KJV Bible that violate sentence unity? If not, what exactly do I not understand concerning sentence unity, which the translators do understand? An understanding of this will allow me to apply it to my own writing.

What I do understand about sentence unity is this: A sentence must pertain to a single topic; however, I do not see how very long sentences can pertain to a single topic, because, in order for them to be so long, many propositions must be contained in them. But it may be possible that, although a sentence may be long, and contain many propositions, those propositions all relate to one subject which unifies the sentence. My question, then, is this: Does the KJV always adhere to this principle, or does it deviate from it? And is there something about sentence unity I do not understand, which is understood by the KJV translators?

Now one passage of which I speak is Colossians 1:3-17.

3 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,

4 Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,

5 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;

6 Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:

7 As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;

8 Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.

9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Thank you.

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    You have forgotten to mention what you understand about sentence unity. It is hard to say what exactly you did not understand about it without a frame of reference.
    – NofP
    Jan 9, 2022 at 8:53
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    Also, for your own reference, KJV Bible seems to have 30000+ sentences. It would be perhaps more helpful to narrow down the question to some specific group of verses.
    – NofP
    Jan 9, 2022 at 8:53
  • I don't think this is on topic here, primarily because it's mainly about the KJV, not your own writing. And I doubt it would be on topic elsewhere for various reasons, including that it's opinion based (some people see the KJV as being put in the mouths of the translators by god, others see it as extremely conservative with its language at best as it's not using the same language people used when it was written). Plus, what does "sentence unity" mean?
    – Laurel
    Jan 9, 2022 at 13:38
  • NofP, okay. I amended the question so that it now contains sufficient information for an answer, according to your feedbac.
    – garbus
    Jan 9, 2022 at 14:55
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    It may help to remember that the translators of the biblical text, in this case from the Greek, had to make do with a text containing only one case (no uppercase/lower case) and no punctuation marks.
    – Steve
    Jan 10, 2022 at 23:35

1 Answer 1

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While I can neither comment on the unity of sentences in the KJV, nor on the number of sentences in which propositions (rather than wishes, beliefs, exclamations, or orders) are set out, I can see that in your example, you have a long sentence with quite a few related subclauses in it which gives the passage its unity, but other passages exist which are punctuated as single sentences, although they're made up of several linked clauses, and in the case of 'stream-of-consciousness' passages, the unity is either in the implied (but mysterious) connections which the thinker sees or in the lack of them, in which case the unity is simply structural rather than a unity of content. (And that is a 115-word unified declarative sentence outlining a number of propositions).

There are some excellent examples of long sentences of different types and different levels of unity compiled by John Fox on the BookFox website here.

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