Every language changes over time. English has changed much over its long history. Many have noted the profound impact the English of our traditional English Bible translations has had upon the English language. Shakespeare used some phrases from the Bible. It used to be that the KJV Bible was the only English Bible that most people used. And that state of affairs existed for several centuries (some, of course, wish it were still the case). It used to be that people were much more biblically literate than they are today.
Many of the expressions, including idioms and other figures of speech have come into the English language and been so widely used that they would be considered natural language. At least this was true as long as people were familiar with Bible English. That kind of Bible literacy (familiarity, particularly with the KJV) has decreased significantly among English speakers. Yet some expressions which were literally translated to English from the biblical languages persist in English today. I would consider that a high enough percentage of English native speakers understand these biblical expressions that they could still be considered natural language.
Often a figure of speech which comes into English from literally translated Bibles has been customized by English speakers so that it no longer has exactly its biblical meaning. Take this sentence as an example:
“John escaped by the skin of his teeth.”
“To escape by the skin of (one’s) teeth” is an English idiom. Its meaning has nothing to do with the meaning of the words that make up the idiom, nothing to do, for instance, with skin or teeth. But English scholars generally recognize, I think, that this English idiom was brought into English from Job 19:20 where Job says:
“I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.”
This probably means that Job got away with nothing at all, not the same meaning as the English idiom which has to do with barely escaping.
Literal translations of idioms and other figures of speech which came from the Bible and are used by most native English speakers would be considered natural language for them. I think this is a very fascinating area of study, what biblical language has become natural English language.
Other literal translations of figures of speech in the Bible are not widely understood by native speakers of English. These have not become natural language and probably will not, given the poor state of biblical literacy today. If we want our Bible translations to communicate as accurately and clearly as possible to the most number of English speakers (and not everyone agrees with me that it is appropriate for English Bible translations to do so), then translation teams should avoid using literal wordings from the Bible which have not become natural English.
What are some other idiomatic expressions you can think of which come from the Bible and have become natural English? Please try to include the biblical reference for it if you can.