[Ads-l] "If English was good enough for Jesus..." (New Yorker, 1926)

Joel Berson berson at ATT.NET
Mon Sep 7 17:02:54 UTC 2015

>From the subject line, I was hoping this was something Sarah Palin had said recently.  But I should have known -- given Ben's precision, he would have changed "English" to "American".  And apparently Palin didn't appeal to Jesus.

In passing, I note that for Palin "English" too is too alien.


      From: Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM>
 Sent: Sunday, September 6, 2015 5:00 PM
 Subject: [ADS-L] "If English was good enough for Jesus..." (New Yorker, 1926)
We talked about variations on the line "If English was good enough for
Jesus..." back in 2004:


In a 2006 Language Log post, I rounded up examples that Barry Popik
and I had collected:


At the time, the earliest known example of the "good enough for Jesus"
phrasing (as opposed to earlier variations involving St. Paul) was one
that appeared in the Apr. 27, 1927 Chronicle Telegram of Elyria, Ohio,
attributed to "a man in Arkansas" writing a "letter of denunciation"
to the Rockefeller Institute.

This item circulated in a number of newspapers, but the original
version evidently appeared in the Dec. 4, 1926 issue of The New

The New Yorker, Dec. 4, 1926, p. 27, col. 3
Old English.
A gentleman connected with the Rockefeller Institute discloses that,
among hundreds of letters of denunciation received by the institution
during the past year was one from a man in Arkansas who took the view
that all this modern education is dangerous and that the new-fangled
practice of grounding preachers in Latin and Greek is especially
pernicious. They ought to be taught English, and only English, he
said, adding in conclusion, "If English was good enough for Jesus,
it's good enough for me."

(This was an anonymous item in the "Talk of the Town" section.)


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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