This entry represents a continuation of the post of April 6, 2008, in which we discussed Holmes’ use of the phrase “Possess our souls in patience”. (You can see the post lower on this page. They are listed chronologically with new ones at the top.) Back in April, we did not know the origin of the phrase, but suggested it sounded Biblical. Turns out that is correct.
We have not spent three months looking into this by any means, but were tripped up for a while by the various versions and translations. The Bible in common use in Holmes’ time in the Church of England was the King James Version, which we should have remembered. Here is the phrase as used in a sampling of the several Bible versions. It is Luke 21:19, and is included in statements made by Jesus Christ following the parable of the widow’s mites.
King James Bible: In your patience possess ye your souls
New International Version: By standing firm you will gain life
New American Standard Bible: By your endurance you will gain your lives
Douay-Rheims (R.C.): In your patience you shall possess your souls
American Standard Version: In your patience ye shall win your souls
Living Bible: By standing firm, you will win your souls
World English Bible: By your endurance you will win your lives.
Where does this all lead? Sherlock Holmes did not seem particularly religious, yet it turns out there is more than one instance in which Holmes quoted the Bible. “Possess our souls in patience” is just a start. We are currently working on finding more, and hope to present additional information here in the not-too-distant future. In the mean-while, remember this statement of Holmes from The “Gloria Scott” :
” . . . was the only man I knew, and that only through the accident of his bull terrier freezing on to my ankle one morning as I went down to chapel.” Maybe Holmes picked up a couple of Bible verses while in chapel.