A few evenings ago, I caught the sanitized TV version of the movie Jerry Maguire, one of the more quotable movies of recent times. “You had me at hello;” “Help me help you;” “You complete me;” and, of course, “Show me the money” are the most notable quips that emerged from this blockbuster 1996 film. A decade earlier, another Tom Cruise movie, Top Gun, also inspired many enduring quotes like “I feel the need…the need for speed;” “I hate it when it does that;” “Son, your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash;” and “You can be my wingman any time.” Recently I discovered the American Film Institute’s web site where numerous movie top 100 lists are posted. Among them is the list of the top 100 movie quotes from the 100 years the American Film Institute has been in existence. You can view the list by clicking here. As you may have guessed, Clark Gable’s infamous insult in Gone With the Wind (“Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn”) ranks as number one.
A casual reading of the list of quotes reveals just how much Hollywood has influenced the way we speak. In fact, if you are like me, you may read through the list and find out you have been quoting, unknowingly, movies all your life. For example, I didn’t know the expression “You ain’t heard nothin’ yet” was a line from The Jazz Singer. This is probably because I have never watched the original 1927 version, but this goes to show how movie quotes have become embedded in our public consciousness.
In 2011, Bible enthusiasts celebrated the 400th birthday of the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. The Bible is the top selling book of all time, and the KJV is the most published version. It is estimated that just over 1 billion copies of the KJV have been produced. The influence of the KJV is undeniable in our western culture and, like quotable movie lines, phrases from the KJV have thoroughly saturated our language. In fact, I think it is indisputable that adages directly or derived from the Bible are far more prolific than quotes from any other source. You can judge for yourself by viewing the list on this web site. Did you know the expression “see eye to eye” came from the Bible? How about the phrase “The powers that be?” Many people think that Abe Lincoln coined the line “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” but he was quoting from the book of Matthew when he said this in an 1858 senate campaign speech. And, of course, the cliche “Money is the root of all evil” is actually a misquote from the New Testament. The actual verse reads “The love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).
The fact that many enduring expressions come from the Bible provides evidence that it is arguably the most influential piece of literature in the history of the world. There is no denying that the Bible shaped western culture, and it’s teachings provide the moral basis of our nation’s heritage. And rightfully so. It is the Word of God that is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12 ESV). David, the psalmist, said:
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
(Psalm 119:11 ESV)
God’s word may be, unknowingly, on the lips of most English speaking people, but His word stored in our hearts will change us forever.