February 8


Learn English with a bible, the “Our Father” prayer, psalm 23, archaic English, and names of the books of the bible

By Gordon

February 8, 2022

Learn English with a bible, the "Our Father" prayer, psalm 23, archaic English and names of the books of the bible

I always say to study English you are interested in and many students are interested in learning English with the bible. Usually they are curious about the meaning of some prayers and parts of the bible because they are written in an older style of archaic English that is not common today. 

We will look at the Our Father, which is also known as The Lord’s Prayer, Pslam 23, books of the bible, archaic English, and some tips to learn English with the bible.

Learn English with a bible: Our Father/The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father,

Who art in heaven,

hallowed be Thy name;

Thy kingdom come;

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread;

and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;

and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

This is known as the Traditional Ecumenical Version of the Our Father and is the version I am most familiar with.

Learn English with a bible: Archaic English

Prayers such as the Our Father are good examples of an archaic form of English. Let’s look at how English has changed since the time of the bible and the time of William Shakespeare by examining the Our Father/Lord’s Prayer.

Who art in heaven 

now we will say

Who is in heaven

The verb to be was not used back then and very different grammatical structures were also used.

Personal pronouns, that is my, your, his etc are also different, which we can see in the second line:

Hallowed be thy name

Now we would say:

Your name is holy

Thy = your

Thou = you 

This was very common in Shakespeare’s plays, which we will look at below, for example:


thou art

which is

you are

Hallowed means holy

And hallowed is sometimes still used in English, you hear about the hallowed turf of Wembley Stadium in London.

The English national football team plays at Wembley stadium and the finals of the FA Cup and League Cup as well as other important games are held there. It is similar to the Maracana for Brazilians, it is almost a place of worship, a holy place.

The last line:

lead us not into temptation

Now you would say:

don’t lead us into temptation

The structure of negative sentences has also changed since the bible was written.  The structure of negatives in older archaic English would be similar to Portuguese where there is just one negative word, which is not.

They don’t have:

don’t didn’t doesn’t etc

Nowadays you might see English in a similar style to this in very formal legal documents.

Give us this day our daily bread

Would probably be something like:

Give us our daily bread today

Another common example where you still see this style of archaic English today is in the works of William Shakespeare. Shakespeare wrote in Elizabethan English, from the time of Queen Elizabeth the first, who reigned from 1558-1603.

His plays, poems and other works are still studied by students around the world today. Movies made of his work usually keep the original text and don’t change them for modern audiences. Baz Lurhman’s Romeo & Juliet 1996 with Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes perhaps the best known example.

Learn English with the bible Romeo and Juliet

Perhaps the most famous line in Romeo and Juliet is:

Romeo, Romeo wherefore art thou, Romeo?

Now, we would say:

Romeo, Romeo, where are you, Romeo?

As you can see the language of Shakespeare is very similar to the language of the bible.

In Ireland, Shakespeare is studied by students doing the state exams called the Junior Certificate which you do at around 14/15 years of age,  and the Leaving Certificate which is similar to the vestibular in Brazil that you do as you leave school when you are around 17.

Learn English with the bible: Psalm 23

Perhaps the most famous Psalm of the bible is Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd,

I shall not be in want.

he restores my soul.

He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil, for you are with me;

your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

There are slightly different versions in different Christian religions, for example the Catholic version is:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil, for you are with me;

your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

And maybe people of a certain age will know all these lyrics from the number one song “Gangsters Paradise” by Coolio in 1995 with the opening lyrics:

As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I take a look at my life and realize there's not much left

The song was used in the film “Dangerous Minds”

Here is the famous official video with actress Michelle Pfeiffer, the lyrics are in the description.

This hymn is very common in Ireland and the UK, it is known as “The Lord is my Shepherd”. Its correct name is Psalm 23, again you can see Thou is used:

The Lord is my Shepherd

I shall not want

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures

He leadeth me besides the still waters

The Lord is my Shepherd

I shall not want

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures

He leadeth me besides the still waters

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death

I will fear no evil

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death

I will fear no evil

For you are with me

You will comfort me

You are with me

You will comfort me

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

All the days of my life

And I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever




Again it is similar to the Our Father.


I shall not want


I won’t want

Shall is still very common nowadays, and you can read more about here.

You can see the different structure for the past


he maketh


he leadth

nowadays we will say:

he made


he led

You can see they use:

you are with me

which is modern English they don’t use:

Thouest with me

and there is another use of shalI:

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me 

The dwell at the end is interesting.

dwell is an old word that means to stay or to live and you can still see it in English today when people talk about dwelling, which means a building where you live, a property, so a house, apartment etc.

In legal English when buying a house you might see a dwelling in the legal documents.

Tips on Learning English with the Bible

Students often want to learn English with the Bible and possibly the most important factor when learning a language is your motivation.

If you are motivated to learn and want to learn, then this is great and one of the best ways to be motivated is to enjoy your English study.

If you are interested in the Bible and it is something you really want to know then this is a very good way to improve your English.

I don’t think it is the most efficient way of learning English, I strongly believe that fixing your mistakes is more important for Portuguese speakers. Many common mistakes are formed when you use a Portuguese structure that does not exist in English.

My course shows you all the very important structures that you need to eliminate and how to fix the correct structures in your mind.  

The video course on sale on Udemy for €29.99/69.99R$ "Eliminate the Mistakes that Portuguese Speakers Make in English". 4 hours of video exclusively for people that speak Portuguese. You can read more about it and watch free videos here.

Our original eBook from 2016 "Eliminate the 63 Most Important Mistakes that Portuguese Speakers Make in English" is on sale here for €6.99, you can read more about the book and its method here and read a free sample here.

Learn English with the bible: Versions of the bible

There are many different versions of the bible you can find today and it is important you choose the one that is best for you.

For example there is the King James, William Tyndale, The Revised Version, New American Standard, New International Version, New Living Translation, etc.

The most common and traditional version for most English speakers is the King James version and this was translated word-for-word. It was commissioned by the British King James in 1604 and was completed in 1611.   The New American Standard version was also translated using the word-for-word style.

The English used in this bible is different from English today. As I have shown above in the Our Father and Pslam 23 many words in it are not used today, for example, thy, thee, giveth, maketh, hath, furtherance, etc.

Also grammatical structures such as word order and even verbs that were used when it was written are not used that often in everyday speaking today. 

If you do have a copy of the King James bible, it is essential that you have a good dictionary to help you.  You can read about the best book dictionaries and online versions in a blog post coming soon.

Learn English with the bible King JAmes Bible

The bible is the most important book you can purchase for a lot of people. It is a special book and that’s why something like this beautiful imitation leather bound King James bible is a very popular purchase.

The bible is small and compact so it is perfect to take with you but it means that the text may be too small for some people but the main thing to consider is if a King James bible is the best one for you as it can be difficult to understand.

Although the King James bible is probably the most famous version, It can be difficult to understand, even for native speakers, that’s why many will choose a different version of the bible that is easier to understand, for example, the New Living Translation.

This version is translated using a phrase-by-phrase translation instead of word-by-word. This phrase-by-phrase method makes it easier to understand and this bible is suitable for children and teenagers who are native speakers.

This makes it ideal for students studying English as a second language, I don’t see the benefit in studying obsolete English, it feels like a waste of time to me.

Another beautiful imitation leather bound bible with the obvious advantage that the English is easier to understand.  It is not only the bible text, but there is also an outline, background and history to each section to help you understand it even better.

The objective is to make the bible easy to understand instead of directly translating it which makes sense to me, languages are evolving all the time.

Another interesting version to learn English with the bible is this:

Aramaic was the language spoken at the time of Jesus and was used by Mel Gibson in his movie “The Passion of the Christ”. 

It has a total of 609 pages although there are isolated complaints of the cover becoming loose or people not happy with some of the translations of people’s names form Aramaic to English although he tries to keep the book authentic by keeping the names in Aramaic.

Names of books of the bible in English

These are the books of the bible in chronological order, numbers in bold represent the traditional English order, for example #2:

Old Testament:

Years written 1440 - 1400 B.C.

Genesis #1
Exodus #2
Leviticus #3
Numbers #4
Deuteronomy #5

1400 - 1000

Joshua #6
Judges #7

1000 - 586 B.C. (pre-exile - mid-exile)

Period of David and Solomon (ca. 1000 - 931):

Psalms #19
Ruth #8
1st Samuel #9
2nd Samuel #10
Job #18
Proverbs #20
Ecclesiastes #21
Song of Solomon #22

Period of Rehoboam to Hezekiah (931 - 686):

Isaiah #23
Hosea #28
Joel #29
Amos #30
Obadiah #31
Jonah #32
Micah #33

Period of Hezekiah to the exile (686 - 586):

Nahum #34
Habakkuk #35
Zephaniah #36

1st Kings #11
2nd Kings #12
1st Chronicles #13
2nd Chronicles #14

Jeremiah #24
Lamentations #25
Ezekiel #26
Daniel #27

516 - 400 B.C. (post-exilic)

Ezra #15
Nehemiah #16
Esther #17

Haggai #37
Zechariah #38
Malachi #39

New Testament

Again numbers in bold represent the traditional New Testament English order; parenthetical bold numbers are the traditional order in the Bible overall):

40 - 45. A.D.

Matthew: #1 (#40 )

45 - 50 A.D.

1st Thessalonians #13 (#52)
2nd Thessalonians #14 (#53)
1 Corinthians #7 (#46)
2 Corinthians #8 (#47)
Romans #6 (#45)
Luke #3 (#42)

50 - 55 A.D.

Galatians #9 (#48)
Ephesians #10 (#49)
Philippians #11 (#50)
Colossians #12 (#51)
Philemon #18 (#57)
Acts #5 (#44)

1st Timothy #15 (#54)
2nd Timothy #16 (#55)
Titus #17 (#56)
Hebrews #19 (#58)

55 - 60 A.D.

James #20 (#59)
Jude #26 (#65)

60 - 68 A.D.

1st Peter #21 (#60)
2nd Peter #22 (#61)
Mark #2 (#41)

John #4 (#43)
1st John #23 (#62)
2nd John #24 (#63)
3rd John #25 (#64)
Revelation #27 (#66)

Do you use the bible to study English? You write your tips and comments below.

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