Let your light so shine/Via lumo lumu antaŭ homoj

Every Sunday Catholics and many Protestants hear the same set of Bible readings, all over the world.  This is from the readings for today, in two languages. (Don’t worry, the second one is in English.)

Esperanto,

13  Vi estas la salo de la tero; sed se la salo sengustiĝis, per kio ĝi estos salita? ĝi jam taŭgas por nenio, krom por esti elĵetita kaj piedpremita de homoj.

14  Vi estas la lumo de la mondo. Urbo starigita sur monto ne povas esti kaŝita.

15  Kiam oni bruligas lampon, oni metas ĝin ne sub grenmezurilon, sed sur la lampingon; kaj ĝi lumas sur ĉiujn, kiuj estas en la domo.

16  Tiel same via lumo lumu antaŭ homoj, por ke ili vidu viajn bonajn farojn, kaj gloru vian Patron, kiu estas en la ĉielo.

English, King James Version

13  Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

14  Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

15  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

16  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.


The King James translation is one of the greatest works in the English language. It contains the full text of the Bible, not just an abbreviated version of the Old Testament like many modern Protestant translations have. I have read that if all the copies of the King James Bible vanished, it could be reconstructed almost completely from the Bible quotations in other English works.

Many proverbial expressions that are well used in the English language originated in the King James Bible.  There are three of them in this passage alone: Salt of the earth, light of the world, let your light so shine before men. As writers, it is well to know the origin of these common phrases.

In the phrase “Let your light so shine before men,” the word ‘men’ is used in its meaning of “men and women.” In 1611 when the KJV Bible was published, modern feminist jargon had yet to be invented, and so the translators were free to use “men” instead of the ugly and less effective feminist jargon alternatives like “personkind” or “humankind.” (In English, words of one or two syllables pack more of a punch than words of three or more syllables.)

The best writers in the world ‘let their light so shine before men.’  That is, they don’t hide their ‘light’— their knowledge, both spiritual and secular, and their very selves— in order to seek popularity by being just like all the other writers. Hiding your ‘light’ makes your writing seem bland and boring and just like every other second-rate writer. The writer who shares his ‘light’ and his self with readers is going to be a one-of-a-kind writer and can stand out from the crowd.

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