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Title: Lectures on Bible Revision

Author: Samuel Newth

Release date: April 12, 2013 [eBook #42514]
Most recently updated: January 25, 2021

Language: English

Credits: Produced by The Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images
generously made available by The Internet Archive.)









With an Appendix






[All rights reserved.]



[Pg iii]


The following work is especially intended for Sunday-school and Bible-class teachers, and for such others as from any cause may be unable to consult many books or to read lengthened treatises. It has seemed to me to be of great importance that those who are engaged in the responsible service of teaching the young, and to whom the Bible is the constant source of appeal, should be able both to take up an intelligent position in regard to the new revision of the English Scriptures, and to meet the various enquiries that will be made respecting it by those about them. I have therefore endeavoured to provide for their use, in a compendious form, a survey of the general argument for revision, and of the facts which exhibit the present duty of Christian men in relation thereto. In the execution of this purpose it has been necessary to direct attention to the chief stages in the growth of the English Bible, but this has been done only so far as seemed to be requisite for the illustration of the main argument. Those who may desire to study this part of the subject more at length are referred to the full and interesting volumes of Dr. Eadie, or to the convenient manuals published by Dr. Moulton and by Dr. Stoughton. Such as may wish to investigate more minutely the internal history of the Authorized Version will find Dr.[Pg iv] Westcott’s General View of the History of the English Bible a most trustworthy and invaluable guide.

In the Appendix I have brought together the prologues or prefaces to the chief historical editions of the English Bible. Some of these are not of easy access to ordinary readers, while all are of deep and lasting interest. They will abundantly repay a careful perusal. The reader will thereby, more readily than in any other way, come into personal contact with the noble men to whose self-denying labours our country and the world are so deeply indebted; will learn what was the spirit which animated them, and what were the aims and methods of their toil; and, in addition to much wise instruction respecting the study of the word of God, will learn how the deepest love and reverence for the Bible are not only tolerant of changes in its outward form, but will indeed imperatively demand them whenever needed for the more faithful exhibition of the truth it enshrines.

It has formed no part of my purpose either to exhibit or to justify the changes which have been made in the revision in which I have had the honour and the responsibility of sharing. The former will best be learnt from the perusal of the Revised Version itself; the latter it would be unbecoming in me to undertake. The ultimate decision respecting them must rest upon the concurrent judgment of the wisest and most learned; and they who are the most competent to judge will be the least hasty in giving judgment, for they best know how difficult and delicate is the translator’s task, and how manifold, and sometimes how subtle, are the various considerations which determine his rendering. Nor indeed would any such attempt be possible within the limits I have here assigned to myself. To be properly done it would require an appeal to special[Pg v] learning which I have no right to assume in my readers, and to habits of scholarly investigation which I may not presuppose. To the bulk of my readers the one justification for the changes they will discover in the Revised New Testament must practically rest in the fact that those who have for more than ten years conscientiously and diligently laboured in this matter, and who have with such anxious care revised and re-revised their work, have been constrained to the conclusion that in this way they would most faithfully and clearly present the sense of the sacred Word. May He whose word it is graciously accept their service, and deign to use it for His glory.

New College,
April 26, 1881.

[Pg vi]



[Pg vii]


 [Pg viii]
(G.) THE REVISERS OF 1568 235
(H.) THE REVISERS OF 1611 237



[Pg 1]





There are probably devout persons not a few in whose minds the mere suggestion of a Revision of the Scriptures arouses a feeling of mingled pain and surprise. In that Bible which they received from their fathers in the trustful confidence of childhood, they have heard the voice of God speaking to their souls. Not from any testimony given to them by others, but from their own lengthened and varied experience of it, they know it to be the Father’s gift unto His children. It has quickened, guided, and strengthened them, as no human words had ever done, answering the deepest cravings of their nature, stimulating them to endeavours after a nobler life, and enkindling within them the confidence of a sure and blessed hope. That it is from heaven, and not from men, they know, not because of what has been told them, but from what they themselves have seen and learnt; and they need no further evidence of its inspiration than the fact that it has opened their eyes to a knowledge of themselves, and to a perception of the loveliness of Christ. That any should dare to meddle with a book so precious and so honoured, seems to them a sacrilegious act, and a Revision of the Holy Scriptures is to them a presumptuous attempt to improve upon the handiwork of God.

[Pg 2]In this feeling there is much with which every Christian man will warmly sympathize; but there is in it also something that calls for correction and instruction. There is need here, as elsewhere, of careful thought and self-discipline, lest, by confounding things that differ, we transfer our reverence for what is God-given and divine to what is only human, and therefore fallible. A little consideration will suffice to show that, in such a matter as this, it is peculiarly important to distinguish between substance and form, between what is essential and permanent and what is accidental and variable. By the substance of the Bible we mean the statements which, in various ways and diverse manners, it presents to our thoughts; the precepts and the promises, the histories and the prophecies, the doctrines and the prayers, the truths about God and about man, through which our minds are instructed, our consciences enlightened, and our hearts established by grace. By the form of the Bible, we mean the signs or sounds by which the various statements contained in the Bible are presented to us, and which are, as it were, the channel through which the truths it teaches are conveyed to our minds. It will be obvious upon the least consideration, that the kind and degree of reverence which it is right to entertain towards the form of Scripture, is very different from that which it behoves us to cherish for the substance of Scripture. Respecting the latter, it is fitting to watch with all jealousy that no man add unto it or take from it; it is precious for its own sake. Not so, however, with the former; its worth is not in itself, but only in that which it enshrines. The two sentences—

“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,”

“Gwir yw’r gair ac yn haeddu pob derbyniad, ddyfod Crist Iesu i’r byd i gadw pechaduriaid,”

are very different in form, whether judged by the eye or the ear, and yet the truth conveyed by the former to an Englishman, or[Pg 3] by the latter to a Welshman, is essentially the same. And although one who had learnt to prize that truth under either of the forms here given would naturally cherish also the very words by which it had been taught him, his reverence for the truth would impel him to adopt the other form in preference whenever that might be the better instrument for conveying it to another. Changes, therefore, in the form of Scripture may be lawful and right.

Moreover, as a matter of history, the form of Scripture has, from the very beginning, been passing through a continued succession of changes, and with this fact it is most important that the Bible student should familiarize himself. These changes may be arranged under two general classes.

One class of changes has arisen out of the perishable nature of the documents, of which the Bible at the first consisted.

It is scarcely needful to state that we do not now possess the original copies of any of the books of the Old or the New Testament. Even while these were still in existence it was necessary to transcribe them in order that many persons in many places might possess and read them. In the work of transcription, however careful the transcriber might have been, errors of various kinds necessarily arose; some from mistaking one letter for another; some from failure of memory, if the scribe were writing from dictation; and some from occasional oversight, if he were writing from a copy before him; some from momentary lapses of attention, when his hand wrote on without his guidance; and some from an attempt to correct a real or fancied error in the work of his predecessor. If any of my readers will make an experiment by copying a passage of some length from any printed book, and then hand over his manuscript to a friend with a request to copy it, and afterwards pass on the copy so made to a third, and so on in succession through a list of ten or a dozen persons, each copying the manuscript of the one before him in the list, he will, on comparing the last with[Pg 4] the printed book, have a vivid and interesting illustration of the number and kind of variations that arise in the process of transcription. In the case, therefore, of even very early copies of any of the books of the Scriptures, some sort of revision would become necessary, and the deeper the reverence for the book, the more obligatory would the duty of making such a revision be felt to be, and the more earnestly and readily would it be undertaken. So long as the original copies were in existence and accessible this work of revision would be comparatively easy and simple. It would call only for the ability to make careful and patient comparison. But when the originals could no longer be appealed to, and when, moreover, successive transcription had gone on through many generations, the work would become much more complex and difficult, calling for much knowledge and much persevering research, for a mind skilled in the appreciation of evidence, and able to judge calmly between conflicting testimony. At the same time, the need for revision would to some extent be greater than before. I say to some extent, because the natural multiplication of errors arising from successive transcription through many centuries, has in the case of the Scriptures been very largely checked. The special reverence felt for this book beyond other books led to the exercise of special care in the preparation of Biblical manuscripts, and special precautions were taken to guard them as far as possible from any variation. Owing to these and other causes a larger measure of uniformity is found in the later than in the earlier manuscripts now extant.

A second class of changes in the form of the Scriptures has arisen from the natural growth and development of language.

The earliest Bible of which we have any historical knowledge was in the form of a roll, made probably of skins, containing the five books of Moses, and written in the Hebrew language. This was described as “the Book of the Law of the Lord given by Moses” (2 Chron. xxxiv. 14); more briefly as “the Book of[Pg 5] the Law of Moses” (Joshua viii. 31; 2 Kings xiv. 6; Neh. viii. 1), or as “the Book of the Law of God” (Neh. viii. 8); and more briefly still as “the Book of the Law” (2 Kings xxii. 8), or as “the Book of Moses.” (Ezra vi. 18; Mark xii. 26.) Two other collections of sacred books were subsequently added, known respectively as the Prophets and the Holy Writings, the former comprising Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the twelve minor prophets; the latter comprising the Psalms, Proverbs, Job, the Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Chronicles. It is in this order, we may note in passing, that the books of the Old Testament are still arranged in our Hebrew Bibles.

Before the completion of the canon of the Old Testament the language of the Jews began to exhibit evidences of change, and through their intercourse with the various peoples of Mesopotamia (or Aram) the later books show a distinct tendency towards Aramaic forms and idioms. This tendency, already apparent at the time of the return from the Captivity, was accelerated by the political events which followed. During the hundred and eighty years and more which intervened between the Restoration of the Temple, B.C. 516, and the overthrow of Darius Codomannus, B.C. 331, Judæa was a portion of that province of the Persian empire, in which the Aramaic was the prevalent dialect. The ancient Hebrew gradually ceased to be the language of the Jews in common life, and, before the time of our Lord, had been supplanted by the language of their Eastern neighbours.

With the decline of the Hebrew language there arose amongst the Jews the class of men known as Scribes, whose primary function was that of preparing copies of the Scriptures, and of guarding the sacred text from the intrusion of errors. Owing to their great zeal for the preservation of the letter of Scripture, and to their natural tendency to hold fast to the honour and[Pg 6] influence which their special knowledge and skill gave to them, they did not, when Hebrew ceased to be intelligible to the common people, set themselves to the task of giving them the Bible in a form which they could understand; but, magnifying their office overmuch, assumed the position of authoritative teachers and expounders of the Law. Scholars might still study for themselves the ancient Bible, but for the people at large the form which the Scriptures now practically assumed was that of the spoken utterances of the Scribes.

How imperfect and unsatisfactory this must have been is obvious; and the more so as these teachers did not content themselves with simply rendering the ancient text into a familiar form, but intermingled with it a mass of human traditions that obscured and sometimes contradicted its meaning. It would have been a great gain for the people of Judæa if their regard for the outward form of their Scriptures had been less extreme and more enlightened, and if competent men amongst them had ventured so to revise the ancient books that their fellow countrymen might read in their own tongue the wonderful works and words of God.

This wiser course was adopted in that larger Judæa which lay outside of Palestine. The Jews scattered through Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt, and other parts of the empire of Alexander and his successors, were less rigidly conservative than were the residents of Judæa, and for their use a translation into Greek was made in the latter part of the third century before Christ. This is the version known as the Septuagint.[1] It is probable, both on general grounds and from internal evidence, that the Pentateuch was the portion first translated, and that subsequently, though after no very long interval of time, the other[Pg 7] portions were translated also. It is quite certain that the whole was in circulation in the middle of the second century before Christ. Various tales respecting the origin of this translation got spread abroad.[2] These are largely due to the vivid imagination of their authors. They may, however, be taken as evidence of the high esteem in which this version was held; and we shall probably not err in concluding from them that Alexandria was the city in which it originated. During, then, the two centuries that preceded the Advent, the Bible, as used by the great majority of its readers in various parts of the world, had assumed an entirely different form from that in which it at first appeared. It was in Greek, and not in Hebrew, and it included several additional works; those, namely, which are now called collectively the Apocrypha. The use of this translation amongst the extra-Palestinian Jews contributed largely to the spread of Christianity; and to many amongst the earliest Christian churches, and for many generations, it was still the form under which they studied the books of the Old Testament.

At the time of our Lord and His Apostles, Greek was the language which most widely prevailed through the Roman Empire. It was the ordinary language of intercourse amongst all the peoples that had formerly been subjugated by Grecian arms, and was read and spoken by many in Rome itself. It was in this language, and not in the sacred language of the ancient Church, that the books of the New Testament were written; and the lesson was thereby emphatically taught us that the Bible was for man, and not man for the Bible; that the form was subordinate to the substance, and should be so [Pg 8]modified, as occasions occur, that it may best minister to the spiritual wants of mankind.

As years passed on Christianity spread into the rural parts of the districts already occupied, where Greek was but little known, and into new regions beyond, where that language had never prevailed. This called for further changes in the form of Scripture, and in the second century of our era both the Old and New Testaments were translated for the use of the numerous Christians in Northern and Eastern Syria into that form of Aramaic which is known as Syriac. This language—the Syro-Aramaic—differs by dialectic peculiarities from the Palestinian Aramaic. In its earliest forms, however, we have probably the nearest representation we can now hope to obtain of the native language of the people amongst whom our Lord lived and laboured.

About the same time also the Scriptures began to be translated into Latin for the use of the Churches of North Africa, and there is good reason for believing that in the last quarter of the second century the entire Scriptures in Latin were largely circulated throughout that region. This was what is termed the Old Latin version. It was the Bible as possessed and used by Tertullian and Cyprian, and subsequently, in a revised form, by Augustine. In the Old Testament this version was made, not from Hebrew, but from the Greek of the Septuagint, and so was but the translation of a translation.

From Africa this Bible passed into Italy. Here a certain rudeness of style, arising from its provincial origin, awakened ere long a desire to secure a version that should be at once more accurate and more grateful to Italian ears. Various attempts at a revision of the Latin were consequently made. One of these, known as the Itala, or the Italic version, is highly commended by Augustine. In the year A.D. 383, Damasus, the then Bishop of Rome, troubled by the manifold variations that existed between different copies of the Latin Scriptures then in[Pg 9] circulation, used his influence with one of the greatest scholars of the age, Eusebius Hieronymus, to undertake the laborious and responsible task of a thorough revision of the Latin text. Hieronymus, or, as he is commonly termed, Jerome, at once set himself to the task, and his revised New Testament appeared in A.D. 385. He also once and again revised the Old Latin version of the Book of Psalms, and subsequently the remaining books of the Old Testament, carefully comparing them with the Greek of the Septuagint, from which they had been derived. In A.D. 389, when in his sixtieth year, he entered upon the further task of a new translation of the books of the Old Testament from the original Hebrew, and completed it in the year A.D. 404. Out of the various labours of Jerome arose the Bible which is commonly known as the Vulgate. Jerome’s translation of the Old Testament from the Hebrew was not made at the instance of any ecclesiastical authority, and the old prejudice in favour of the Septuagint led many still to cling to the earlier version. Only very gradually did the new translation make its way; and not until the time of Gregory the Great, at the close of the sixth century, did it receive the explicit sanction of the head of the Roman Church.[3] In the case of the Psalter, the old translation was never superseded.

The Vulgate is thus a composite work. It contains (1) Jerome’s translation from the Hebrew of all the books of the Old Testament, except the Psalms; (2) Jerome’s revision of the Old Latin version of the Psalms, that version being, as stated above, made from the Septuagint; (3) the Old Latin version of[Pg 10] the Apocrypha unrevised, save in the books of Judith and Tobit; (4) Jerome’s revised New Testament, which in the Gospels was very careful and complete, and might almost be termed a new translation, though he himself repudiated any such claim.

During many centuries the Vulgate was the only form in which the Bible was accessible to the people of Western Europe, and it was the Bible from which in turn the earliest Bibles of our own and other countries were immediately derived. It will thus be seen that the history of the Bible has from the beginning been a history of revision. Only so could they who loved the Bible fulfil the trust committed to them; only so could the Bible be a Bible for mankind.



[Pg 11]



The English Bible, more than any other of the forms in which the Scriptures have been used by Christian men, has been a growth. It is not the production of one man, or of one epoch. It has come down to us through a long series of transformations, and it is the result of the continuous endeavours of a succession of earnest labourers to give to their fellow-countrymen a faithful representation of the word of God.

At what date, and by whom, the Scriptures were first set forth in a form which was intelligible to the people of this country is not known. In the earliest period respecting which we have any clear information, the Latin Vulgate was the Bible of the clergy and of public worship. Some portions only were rendered into the language of the common people. Few of them probably were able to read, and this may explain why it was that the Psalms were especially selected for translation. They could be more readily committed to memory, and be more easily wedded to music. But whatever the reason, the Psalter is the earliest English Bible of which we have any definite knowledge. It was translated quite early in the eighth century, both by Aldhelm, sometime Abbot of Malmesbury, but at his death, in A.D. 709,[4] Bishop of Sherborne, and by Guthlac,[5][Pg 12] the hermit of Croyland, who died A.D. 714.[6] A few years later, A.D. 735, the Venerable Bede translated the gospel of John, dying, as related in the touching narrative of his disciple Cuthbert, in the very act of completing it. In the following century King Alfred greatly encouraged the work of translation, and it is to this period that we are probably to attribute those Anglo-Saxon gospels which have come down to us.[7] Towards the close of the tenth century, or early in the eleventh, the first seven books of the Old Testament were partly translated and partly epitomised by Ælfric, Archbishop of Canterbury. A verse from each of these two last-mentioned works will show of what sort was the form of these early English Bibles, and will at the same time illustrate one of the causes which from time to time have rendered the task of revision an imperative duty.

The Anglo-Saxon gospel presents Matthew v. 3 thus:

“Eadige sind ða gastlican þearfan, forðam hyra ys heofena rice.”

[Pg 13]And in Ælfric’s Heptateuch, Genesis xliii. 29 reads:

“Ða josep geseah his gemeddredan broþor beniamin þa cwaeþ he, is þis se cnapa þe ge me foresaedon and eft he cwaeþ god gemilt sige þe sunu min.”

In the course of time our language gradually changed from the form exhibited in these quotations to that seen in the writings of Chaucer and Wycliffe. During the earlier part of this transition period the Old English (Anglo-Saxon) Scriptures continued in use; but towards the middle part they seem to have become partially unintelligible, and attempts were consequently made to give the Scriptures to the people in the new form of language then prevalent, and which is known as the Early English. It has been asserted that the entire Scriptures were issued in this form; but for this there is no satisfactory evidence. We have certain knowledge only of a poetical version of the Psalms (the “Ormulum”), written about the close of the twelfth century; of a poetical narration of the principal events recorded in Genesis and Exodus, written about the middle of the thirteenth century; and of two prose verses of the Psalms, both belonging to the early part of the fourteenth century, one by William de Schorham, vicar of Chart-Sutton, in Kent, and the other by Richard Rolle, of Hampole, near Doncaster. In the version of the former the first two verses of Psalm i. are thus given:

“Blessed be the man that ȝed nouȝt in the counseil of wicked: ne stode nouȝt in the waie of sinȝeres, ne sat nouȝt in fals jugement. Ac hijs wylle was in the wylle of oure Lord; and he schal thenche in hijs lawe both daȝe and nyȝt.”

The year 1382 is the earliest date at which it can with any confidence be affirmed that the entire Scriptures existed in the English language.[8] During several years previous to this date[Pg 14] Wycliffe and his associates had in various ways been working towards the accomplishment of this result. But it was with some measure of secrecy, as of men who apprehended danger from the attempt. This renders it difficult to determine with precision the date when the work was completed, and what was the part which each of the joint labourers had in the common task. It is beyond controversy that the chief place of honour is due to John Wycliffe. His name is so closely and constantly associated with this Bible by those who refer to it in the times immediately succeeding, as to put it beyond all doubt that it is to his influence our country is mainly indebted for this unspeakable boon. The translation of the New Testament was probably in whole or in large part the work of Wycliffe himself. That of the Old Testament, down to the twentieth verse of the third chapter of Baruch, is credibly assigned, upon the authority of a MS. in the Bodleian library, to Nicholas de Hereford, one of the leaders of the Lollard party in Oxford. It is probable that this Bible was somewhat hurriedly completed, and that either the translators were prevented by circumstances from reviewing their work before issuing it, or, with the natural eagerness of men engaged in a first attempt, they did not allow themselves time for doing so. Possibly also they may themselves have regarded it but as a sort of first draft of their work, and the variations they had found to exist in their copies of the Vulgate had revealed to them the need of[Pg 15] further labour before they could satisfactorily complete the task they had undertaken.

Wycliffe died in December, 1384; but either before his death, or shortly afterward, a revision of this work was commenced by one of his most intimate friends, John Purvey, who, having resided with Wycliffe during the latter part of his life, may be reasonably credited with acting herein under a full knowledge of the wishes and aims of his honoured teacher.

The course pursued by Purvey, as described by himself in his prologue,[9] is interesting and instructive, setting forth, as it does, most distinctly the main lines upon which any work of Biblical revision must proceed. His first step was to collect old copies of the Vulgate, and the works of learned men who had expounded and translated the same; and then, by examination and comparison, to remove as far as he could the errors which in various ways had crept into the Latin text. His second step was to study afresh the text so revised, and endeavour to arrive at a correct apprehension of its general meaning. His third was to consult the best authorities within his reach for the explanation of obscure terms, and of specially difficult passages. His fourth was to translate as clearly as possible, and then submit the same to the joint correction of competent persons; or, to use his own words, “to translate as clearly as he could to the sentence, and to have many good fellows, and cunning, at the correcting of the translation.” By the co-operation of this band of skilful helpers the work was completed about the year 1388, and copies of it were rapidly multiplied.[10] It became, in fact, the accepted form of the Wycliffite version.

[Pg 16]By a comparison of the two verses of Psalm i., given above, with the forms in which they appeared in the two Wycliffe Bibles, the reader will be able in some degree to estimate the growth of our language, and will also understand how painstaking and reverent was the care taken by these “faithful men” that in this sacred work they might offer of their very best.

In the earlier Wycliffe version the verses read thus:

“Blisful the man that went not awei in the counseil of unpitouse, and in the wei off sinful stod not, and in the chaȝer of pestilence sat not. But in the lawe of the Lord his wil; and in the lawe of hym he shal sweteli thenke dai and nyȝt.”

In Purvey’s revised version they read:

“Blessid is the man that ȝede not in the councel of wickid men; and stood not in the weie of synneris, and sat not in the chaier of pestilence. But his wille is in the lawe of the Lord; and he schal bithenke in the lawe of hym dai and nyȝt.”

This Bible, so long as it remained in use as the Bible of English people, existed, it should be remembered, only in a manuscript form.[11] The chief point, however, to be noticed here is, that with all its excellences, and unspeakable as was its worth, it was but the translation of a translation. Neither Wycliffe nor his associates had access to the Hebrew original of the Old Testament; and although some copies of the Greek New Testament were then to be found in England, there is no reason to believe that Purvey or his friends were able to make any use of them. They were, indeed, aware that the Latin of the common text did not always faithfully represent the Hebrew; but their knowledge of this fact was second-hand, gathered chiefly from[Pg 17] the commentaries of Nicholas de Lyra, a writer whose works were held in high repute by Bible students in that age. They did not, therefore, venture to correct these places, but contented themselves with noting in the margin, “What the Ebru hath, and how it is undurstondun.” This, Purvey states, he has done most frequently in the Psalter, which “of alle oure bokis discordith most fro Ebru.”

The third stage in the growth of the English Scriptures is brought before us by the interesting series of printed Bibles that issued from the printing press in the reign of Henry VIII.

After the death of Wycliffe the efforts of the Popish party to crush the Lollards had increased in violence, and various enactments were passed proscribing the use of the Bible which bore his name. An act, passed in the second parliament of Henry V., went still further, and declared that all who read the Scriptures in their native tongue should forfeit land, cattle, life, and goods, they and their heirs for ever. Notwithstanding these repressive measures, copies of the Wycliffe Bible were still made and read in secret. This could be done only with great risk and difficulty, and none but persons of some wealth could afford the expense of a complete copy. Those in humbler positions deemed themselves happy if they could secure a single book, or even a few leaves. Moreover, through the growing changes of the language, many passages were becoming very obscure to ordinary readers. During the hundred years which followed after the issuing of the law just referred to, two important events had happened; namely, the invention of printing,[12] and the German Reformation.[Pg 18] Both of these had a large influence in stimulating the friends of the Bible to new efforts in revising it for popular use.

The leader of this movement in our own country was William Tyndale, who, in the year 1525, printed on the Continent, whither he had been driven by the opposition which beset him at home, the first edition of his New Testament, translated from the Greek. A second and revised edition, “dylygently corrected and compared with the Greke,” was printed at Antwerp, and published in November, 1534; and a third and final edition was published in the early part of 1535, in the May of which year he was arrested and committed to the castle of Vilvorde, near Brussels. Of other parts of the Scriptures Tyndale was able to publish only the Pentateuch (1530 or 1531) and the book of Jonah (1534). On the sixth day of October, 1536, he was led to the stake. He was there strangled and his body burnt.

Just twelve months before the martyrdom of Tyndale, the first printed edition of the entire Scriptures in the English language was issued from the press of Jacob van Meteren, at Antwerp. The privilege and honour of accomplishing this memorable work belongs to Miles Coverdale, at that time a poor scholar, dependent upon the patronage of Thomas Cromwell and others, though subsequently, for a short period in the reign of Edward VI., Bishop of Exeter. The first edition of his Bible was “prynted in the year of our Lord MDXXXV., and fynished the fourthe day of October.” Coverdale had been moved to the undertaking by his own deep sense of the needs of his country, and by the earnest appeals addressed to him by others. Through his modesty of disposition, and his lowly estimate of his own abilities, he would have declined the task, but the urgency of his friends prevailed. The expenses also of the preparation and publication of the work were met by the liberality of some of them. In his prologue he says, “It was neither my labour nor desire to have this work put in my hand; nevertheless it grieved me that other nations should be more plenteously provided for[Pg 19] with the Scripture in their mother tongue than we; therefore, when I was instantly required, though I could not do as well as I would, I thought it my duty to do my best, and that with a good will;”[13] and in the dedication to the king, prefixed to some of the copies, he says, “As the Holy Ghost moved other men to do the cost hereof, so was I boldened in God to labour in the same.” According to the statement on the title-page this was not a translation made from the original texts,[14] but was faithfully and truly translated out of the “Douche and Latyn in to Englishe.” In the dedication he states that he had, “with a clear conscience purely and faithfully translated this out of five sundry interpreters,” and in his prologue he explains further, that to help him in his work he had used “sundry translations, not only in Latin, but also of the Dutch interpreters;” and he is careful, further, to explain that he did not “set forth this special translation” “as a reprover and despiser of other men’s translations,” but “lowly and faithfully have I followed mine interpreters, and that under correction.” The five interpreters to whom Coverdale thus refers were probably the Vulgate, the Latin version of Pagninus, Luther’s translation, the Zurich Bible, and Tyndale’s New Testament and Pentateuch. Though the volume was dedicated to the king, and though Coverdale was backed by powerful patrons, this Bible was not published with a royal license. No direct attempt, however, was made to suppress it. In the following year (1536) it was virtually condemned by the members of Convocation, who prayed the king that he would “grant unto his subjects of the laity the reading[Pg 20] of the Bible in the English tongue, and that a new translation of it be made for that end and purpose.” But notwithstanding this two new editions of Coverdale’s Bible were printed in London in 1537, and on the title-page of both of these there appeared the words, “Set forth with the kynge’s moost gracious licence.”

In the same year, 1537, and probably in the earlier part of it, there was issued in London another Bible, which also bore upon its title-page the inscription, “Set forth with the kinge’s most gracyous lycence.”[15] This Bible, commonly known as Matthew’s Bible, was, it is now generally believed, prepared for the press by John Rogers, who suffered martyrdom at Smithfield, under the Marian persecution. In the New Testament and Pentateuch he agrees substantially with Tyndale’s version. Of the other books of the Old Testament, a portion is obviously taken from Coverdale, the remaining part, Joshua to Chronicles, has been thought with good reason to be the work of Tyndale. It is known that Tyndale, after the publication of his Pentateuch, continued to labour at the translation of the Old Testament. In a letter written during his imprisonment he prays to be allowed to have his Hebrew Bible, and his Hebrew grammar and dictionary; and it is by no means unlikely that the results[Pg 21] of his studies were committed to the care of Rogers. If this surmise be correct, then this Bible may be viewed as a compilation, two-thirds of it being due to Tyndale, and one-third to Coverdale. A sufficient reason for the adoption of the assumed name of Thomas Matthew is thus supplied, since Rogers could not claim the work as his own, and Tyndale’s name would have arrayed against it the opposition both of the king and of the Romish party.

Both of the last mentioned Bibles were open to certain obvious objections. Coverdale’s, in that it was derived from German and Latin versions; and Matthew’s, in that it was in part only made from the original texts. Matthew’s also was accompanied by a considerable number of critical and explanatory notes, many of which were of a decided anti-papal cast. Accordingly, at the instigation and under the patronage of Thomas Cromwell, Coverdale set himself to revise his former work with the aid of the valuable contribution supplied to him in Matthew’s Bible. The printing of this new Bible was completed in April, 1539, and from the circumstance that it was printed in the largest folio then used, 15 inches by 9, it was, and is, commonly described as the Great Bible. In the title-page it is declared to be “truly translated, after the veryte of the Hebrue and Greke textes by ye dylygent studye of dyuerse excellent learned men, expert in the forsayde tonges.”[16] By this, it is now tolerably certain, we are to understand, not that several living scholars took part with Coverdale in the preparation of the volume, but that he availed himself of the published writings of men skilled in the ancient languages, who had[Pg 22] translated and expounded the Hebrew and Greek texts of the Scriptures. His chief guides were Sebastian Munster for the Old Testament, and Erasmus for the New. The Bible appeared without notes, and had no dedication.[17]

In the same year (1539) there appeared also the Bible[18] edited by Richard Taverner, formerly of Cardinal College (now Christ Church), Oxford, afterwards of the Inner Temple, and more recently Clerk of the Signet to the King.[19] It may be briefly[Pg 23] described as a revised edition of Matthew’s Bible. Taverner had some reputation as a Greek scholar, but his work is very unequally executed, and before the formidable competition of the Great Bible it soon sank into obscurity. After its first year of issue this Bible seems to have been only once reprinted in its entirety; namely, in 1549.[20]

Not content with what he had already done, Coverdale persevered in the revision and re-revision of his work. A second edition was issued in April, 1540, to which was prefixed a prologue by Cranmer,[21] and its title contained the words, “This is the Byble apoynted to the use of the churches.” Two other editions appeared in the same year, and three in the following year.[22] (The edition of April, 1540, seems, however, to have been regarded as a sort of standard edition.) This Bible was the Bible read in churches in the reign of Edward VI., and in the early part of the reign of Elizabeth.

Hence it will be seen that of the four principal Bibles published in the reign of Henry VIII., namely, Tyndale’s New Testament and Pentateuch, Coverdale’s Bible, Matthew’s Bible, and the Great Bible, the last three form a group of closely related versions, of which Tyndale’s is the common parent, and the rest successively derived therefrom. And it is very noteworthy that these Bibles are mainly the result of the patient and devoted labours of two men only. The work done by such men as Rogers and Taverner, however important, is altogether of a subordinate kind. William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale[Pg 24] stand apart, and above all others, as the men who, in those days of religious awakening and of conflict with the papal tyranny, gave the Bible to our countrymen in a form that could reach at once their understanding and their heart. Remembering this, and remembering also in what difficult circumstances the work was done, the wonder is far less that room was left for improvement, and that further revision was felt by themselves and others to be an imperative duty, than that so much was accomplished, and so well, by the indomitable and self-denying labours of these noble men.



[Pg 25]



The accession of Elizabeth, November 17th, 1558, conveniently marks the date of a fourth stage in the growth of the English Bible. The former translations and revisions had been done in troublous times, in the midst of harassing opposition, and under circumstances which forbade the full use of such aids as the scholarship of the times could furnish. The versions now to be mentioned were carried on in open day, and with free access to all that was then available for the correction and explanation of the original texts.

Amongst the many earnest men driven into exile by the Marian persecution was William Whittingham, some time Fellow of All Souls’, Oxford, and subsequently Dean of Durham.[23] Along with others he found a refuge, first at Frankfort, and afterwards at Geneva. On the 10th day of June, 1557, there was published, in the last mentioned city, a small volume, 16mo, entitled “The Newe Testament of our Lord Jesus Christ. Conferred diligently with the Greke, and best approved translations. With the arguments aswel before the chapters, as for[Pg 26] every Boke and Epistle, also diversities of readings, and moste proffitable annotations of all harde places; whereunto is added a copious Table.” This translation, there is reason to believe, was the work of Whittingham alone. It may be noted, in passing, that it was the first English New Testament which contained the now familiar division into verses, and the first also to indicate by italics the words added by the translator in order to convey more fully or more clearly the sense of the original.

Three years afterwards (1560) there was published in the same city, “The Bible and Holy Scriptures conteyned in the Olde and Newe Testament. Translated according to the Ebrue and Greeke, and conferred with the best translations in divers languages. With moste profitable annotations upon all the hard places, and other things of great importance as may appeare in the epistle to the reader.” This is the celebrated Genevan version, which for nearly a century onward was the form of Bible most largely circulated in this country. It differed in several respects from its predecessors. It was a convenient quarto instead of a cumbrous folio. It was printed in Roman letters instead of the heavy Gothic or black letters. It marked by a different type all words inserted for the completion of the sense, and the chapters were divided into verses. But what was of more importance, it was, as stated in the title, compared throughout with the original texts. Both in the Old and New Testaments it largely reproduces the words of Tyndale. Sometimes it gives a preference to the version of Coverdale; but often it departs from both in order to give a more exact rendering of the Hebrew or the Greek. It seems that several of the Genevan refugees consecrated their enforced leisure to “this great and wonderful work,” as they justly term it, moved thereto by the twofold consideration that, owing to “imperfect knowledge of the tongues,” the previous “translations required greatly to be perused and reformed,” and that “great [Pg 27]opportunities and occasions” for doing this work were presented to them in the “so many godly and learned men” into whose society they had now been brought.

The names of Miles Coverdale, Christopher Goodman, Anthony Gilby, Thomas Sampson, William Cole, and William Whittingham are given as those who, with some others, joined in this undertaking. On the accession of Elizabeth most of the exiles returned home, conveying with them, for presentation to the Queen, the Book of Psalms as a specimen of the work on which they were engaged.[24]

Wittingham only, with one or two others, remained behind for a year and a half in order to complete the work. According to the statement given in the address to the reader, the entire period spent upon the preparation of this version was a little more than two years. It will hence be seen that whatever may have been the part taken in the work by Coverdale and others, by far the chief share in it devolved upon Whittingham and the one or two referred to, who were probably Gilby and Sampson. How weighty was the obligation which in the view of these self-denying men rested upon them to give the word of God to their country in the form that would best and most truly present it, and with what reverent care they laboured to attain[Pg 28] unto this, is shown by the fact that although Whittingham had so recently published his version of the New Testament, he is not content with a simple reproduction of this, but subjects it to a thorough and very careful revision. A comparison of the introduction to Luke’s gospel as it appears in the Genevan Bible of 1560 with the same passage in Whittingham’s version of 1557 will help our readers in some measure to realize the nature and extent of this revision.

In the earlier version the passages read thus:

“For asmuch as many have taken in hand to write the historie of those thynges, wherof we are fully certified, even as they declared them unto us, which from ye begynnyng saw them their selves, and were ministers at the doyng: It seemed good also to me (moste noble Theophilus) as sone as I had learned perfectly all thynges from the beginnyng, to wryte unto thee therof from poynt to poynt: That thou mightest acknowlage the trueth of those thinges where in thou hast bene broght up.”

In the version of 1560 the same passage is given thus:

“For as much as many have taken in hande to set foorth the storie of those thinges whereof we are fully persuaded. As they have delivered them unto us, which from the beginning saw them theirselves, and were ministers of the worde, It seemed good also to me (most noble Theophilus), as sone as I had searched out perfectly all things from the beginnyng, to write unto thee thereof from point to point, That thou mightest acknowledge the certaintie of these things, whereof thou hast bene instructed.”

It will be seen that in this short passage the changes made from the earlier form of the work are as many as ten in number. As this, however, may be deemed a somewhat exceptional passage, let us take an ordinary chapter in the Gospels, presenting no special difficulty, as for instance Matt. xvii. A collation of the two versions will show that in this chapter of twenty-seven verses the revision of 1560 departs from Whittingham’s[Pg 29] earlier work in no fewer than forty places.[25] Thus persevering was the endeavour of these faithful men to do their very best, and with what success may to some extent be seen in the fact[Pg 30] that of these forty changes twenty-six were confirmed in after years by the judgment of King James’ translators.

“So earnestly,” says Strype[26] in his Life of Archbishop Parker, “did the people of the nation thirst in those days after the knowledge of the Scriptures, that that first impression was soon sold off.” So earnestly also did the translators seek to perfect their work, that about the beginning of March, 1565, they had finished a careful review and correction of their translation in preparing for a fresh issue.

Popular as was the Genevan Bible amongst the mass of the English people, the decidedly puritanic cast of its annotations stood in the way of its universal acceptance, while its manifest superiority as a translation to the Great Bible made it almost an impossibility that the latter could be maintained in its place of pre-eminence as the Bible appointed by authority to be read in churches. Steps were accordingly taken by Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, to prepare a Bible, by the aid of “diverse learned fellow-bishops,” that would accord with the ecclesiastical sympathies of the party to which he belonged.[27] He[Pg 31] distributed portions to twelve of his episcopal brethren, and to other Church dignitaries;[28] one portion he took under his own charge. The completed work was presented to Elizabeth within a few weeks of the completion of the tenth year of her reign, October 5th, 1568.

The rules laid down by Parker for the guidance of his colleagues were these: 1. “To follow the common English translation used in the churches, and not to recede from it but where it varieth manifestly from the Hebrew or Greek original. 2. To use sections and divisions in the texts as Pagnine[29] in his translation useth; and for the verity of the Hebrew, to follow the said Pagnine and Munster specially, and generally others learned in the tongues. 3. To make no bitter notes upon any text, or yet to set down any determination in places of controversy. 4. To note such chapters and places as contain matter of genealogies, or other such places not edifying, with some strike or note, that the reader may eschew them in his public reading. 5. That all such words as sound in the old translation to any offence of lightness or obscenity be expressed with more convenient terms and phrases.” From the first of these rules it is clear that the work then undertaken was intended to be a revision of the Great Bible. Some of the revisers seem to have observed this rule in a most rigid manner, and have followed the Great Bible so closely as to retain its words, even in places which had been more correctly rendered in the Genevan. There appears to have been no co-operative action on the part of the several revisers, and to this cause we may attribute much of the irregularity that attaches to the execution of their work. In many respects they laid themselves open to adverse criticism, and a paper was sent to Parker by Thomas Lawrence, Head[Pg 32] Master of Shrewsbury School, and an eminent Greek scholar, entitled, Notes of Errors in the Translation of the New Testament out of the Greek.[30] He points out fifteen passages in which the words are not “aptlye translated,” eight in which “words and pieces of sentences” are “omytted,” two in which superfluous words are inserted, two in which, owing to mistranslation, an “error in doctrine” is involved, and two in which the moods and tenses of verbs are changed. These passages, except one from the Colossians, are all taken from the Gospels; and we may hence not unreasonably infer that the writer intended the passages named to be regarded, not as an exhaustive list, but as illustrations simply of the kind of defects which called for correction. Moved, as would seem, by these criticisms, Parker set on foot a revision of his former volume; and in 1572 this Bible was, as his biographer expresses it,[31] “a second time by his means” “printed with Corrections and Amendments and other improvements, more than the former Editions.”

Although this Bible received the sanction of Convocation, and every Archbishop and Bishop was ordered to have a copy in his hall or dining-room for the use of his servants and of strangers; and although some editions bear on their title-page the words, “Set forth by Aucthoritie” (meaning thereby the authority of Convocation), it never came into anything like general use, nor did it even establish itself as the Bible exclusively read in churches. The Genevan Bible was still used by many of the clergy in their sermons and in their published works; and in 1587, though nineteen years had then passed since its first publication, we find Archbishop Whitgift complaining that divers parish churches and chapels of ease had either no Bible at all, or those only which were not of the translation authorized by the Synods of Bishops. Between 1568,[Pg 33] when this Bible was first published, and 1608, when the last New Testament of this version was issued, there were sent forth altogether twenty editions of the Bishops’ Bible and eleven of the New Testament. In the same period there were published seventy-nine editions of the Genevan Bible, and thirty of the Genevan New Testament.[32]

Besides the Genevan and the Bishops’, another Bible made its appearance (so far, at least, as the New Testament was concerned) in the reign of Elizabeth. In the year 1582 there was printed at Rheims a translation of the New Testament,[33] made by certain scholars connected with the English seminary for the training of Catholic priests, formerly established at Douai, in Flanders. The translators, in their preface, candidly confess that they did not publish from any conviction “that the Holy Scriptures should alwaies be in our mother tonge,” or that they ought “to be read indifferently of all,” but because they had compassion to see their “beloved countrie men with extreme danger of their soules, to use only such prophane translations;” viz., as the Protestant Bibles previously referred to, “and erroneous men’s mere phantasies, for the pure and beloved word of truth;” and because, also, they were “moved thereunto by the desires of many devout persons,” and whom they hoped to induce to lay aside the “impure versions” they had hitherto been compelled[Pg 34] to employ. Quite apart from the polemical purpose thus distinctly avowed, this translation was a retrograde movement. It did not profess to translate the original texts, but only the “vulgar Latin;” and the translators justify their procedure by this plea, amongst others, that “the holy Council of Trent ... hath declared and defined this onely of al other Latin translations to be authentical, and so onely to be used and taken in publike lessons, disputations, preachings, and expositions, and that no man presume upon any pretence to reject or refuse the same.”

In the accomplishment of their work the Rhemish translators have very faithfully observed the rule which they laid down for themselves, to be “very precise and religious in folowing our copie, the old vulgar approved Latin; not only in sense ... but sometime in the very wordes also, and phrases;” that is to say, they have given a very literal and exact translation of the Vulgate, in many parts extremely Latinized in its diction. A considerable number of words they virtually left untranslated, boldly venturing to transfer the unfamiliar, and in many cases unintelligible, vocables into their English text. Some of these Latinized words have obtained a permanent place in our language, but the larger number have failed to commend themselves.[34]

Such then were the chief forms through which, at the close of the sixteenth century, the English Bible had passed. The devout and earnest scholars who from time to time sought to “open the Scriptures” to their fellow-countrymen were for the most part moved by a burning desire to give to God of their[Pg 35] very best. They grudged no labour to render their work more complete. They allowed no spirit of self-satisfaction to blind them to a perception of defects. They were too humble and too well convinced of the greatness and manifoldness of their work to fancy that they had reached perfection, but were persevering and self-denying in their endeavours to attain unto it. And they have left behind them for us to follow a noble example of patient continuance in well doing.

How in their hands the English Bible has grown, from the first attempt to set it forth in the language of our country to the form in which we are most familiar with it, can be fully learnt only by a careful comparison of the successive revisions to which it has been subjected. To aid my readers in forming some approximate idea of it I append Psalm xxiii., as it appears in the principal Bibles which have been mentioned in this and the preceding lecture.


1. WYCLIFFE’S, 1382. (?)

The Lord gouerneth me, and no thing to me shal lacke; in the place of leswe[35] where he me ful sette. Ouer watir of fulfilling he nurshide me; my soule he conuertide. He broȝte doun me upon the sties of riȝtwisnesse; for his name. For whi and if I shal go in the myddel of the shadewe of deth; I shal not dreden euelis, for thou art with me. Thi ȝerde and thi staf; tho han confortid me. Thou hast maad redi in thi siȝte a bord; aȝen hem that trublyn me. Thou hast myche fattid in oile myn hed; and my chalis makende ful drunken, hou riȝt cler it is. And thi mercy shal vnderfolewe me; alle the daȝis of my lif. And that I dwelle in the hous of the Lord; in to the lengthe of daȝis.

 [Pg 36]

2. PURVEY’S, 1388. (?)

The Lord gouerneth me, and no thing schal faile to me; in the place of pasture there he hath set me. He nurschide me on the watir of refreischyng; he conuertide my soule. He ledde me forth on the pathis of riȝtfulnesse; for his name. For whi thouȝ Y schal go in the myddis of schadewe of deeth; Y schal not drede yuels, for thou art with me. Thi ȝerde and thi staf; tho han coumfortid me. Thou hast maad redi a boord in my siyt; aȝens hem that troblen me. Thou hast maad fat myn heed with oyle; and my cuppe, fillinge greetli, is ful cleer. And thi merci schal sue me; in alle the daies of my lijf. And that Y dwelle in the hows of the Lord; in to the lengthe of daies.


3. COVERDALE’S, 1535.

The Lorde is my shepherde, I can want nothinge. He fedeth me in a greene pasture; and ledeth me to a fresh water. He quickeneth my soule, and bringeth me forth in the waye of rightuousness for his name’s sake. Though I shulde walke now in the valley of the shadowe of death, yet I feare no euell, for thou art with me; thy staffe and thy shepehoke comforte me. Thou preparest a table before me agaynst mine enemies; thou anoyntest my heade with oyle, and fyllest my cuppe full. Oh let thy louying kyndnes and mercy folowe me all the dayes off my life that I maye dwell in the house off the Lord for euer.


4. GREAT BIBLE, 1539.

The Lorde is my shepherde, therefore can I lacke nothing. He shal fede me in a grene pasture and lead me forth besyde the waters of cōforte. He shal conuerte my soule and bring me forth in the pathes of righteousnes for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walke thorow ye valleye of ye shadow of death, I wyl[Pg 37] feare no euell, for thou art wt me: thy rod and thy staff confort me.

Thou shalt prepare a table before me, agaynst them that trouble me: thou hast annointed my head wt oyle, and my cup shal be ful. But (thy) louing kyndnes and mercy shal folowe me all the dayes of my lyfe: and I wyll dwel in the house of the Lord for euer.


5. GENEVAN, 1560.

1. The Lord is my shepheard, I shall not want.

2. Hee maketh mee to rest in greene pasture, and leadeth me by the still waters.

3. He restoreth my soule, and leadeth me in the paths of righteousnesse for his Names sake.

4. Yea, though I should walke through the valley of the shadow of death, I will feare no euill, for thou art with me: thy rodde and thy staffe, they comfort me.

5. Thou doest prepare a table before me in the sight of mine adversaries: thou doest anoynt mine head with oyle, and my cup runneth over.

6. Doubtlesse kindnesse and mercy shall follow mee all the dayes of my life, and I shall remaine a long season in the house of the Lord.


6. BISHOPS, 1568.

1. God is my shephearde, therefore I can lacke nothyng: he wyll cause me to repose myselfe in pasture full of grasse, and he wyll leade me vnto calme waters.

2. He wyll conuerte my soule; he wyll bring me foorth into the pathes of righteousnesse for his name sake.

3. Yea, though I walke through the valley of the shadowe of death, I wyll feare no euyll; for thou art with me, thy rodde and thy staffe be the thynges that do comfort me.

[Pg 38]4. Thou wylt prepare a table before me in the presence of myne aduersaries; thou has annoynted my head with oyle, and my cup shalbe brymme full.

5. Truely felicitie and mercie shal folowe me all the dayes of my lyfe: and I wyll dwell in the house of God for a long tyme.


7. DOUAI, 1610.

1. The Psalme of Dauid.

2. Our Lord ruleth one, and nothing shal be wanting to me: in place of pasture there he hath placed me.

3. Upon the water of refection he hath brought me vp: he hath conuerted my soule.

He hath conducted me upon the pathes of iustice for his name.

4. For, although I shal walke in the middes of the shadow of death, I will not feare euils: because thou art with me, Thy rod and thy staffe, they haue comforted me.

5. Thou hast prepared in my sight a table, against them; that truble me.

Thou hast fatted my head with oyle; and my chalice inebriating how goodlie is it!

6. And thy mercie shal folow me al the dayes of my life; And that I may dwel in the house of our Lord, in longitude of dayes.



[Pg 39]



At the accession of James I. the Genevan Bible and the Bishops’ Bible were, as we have seen, the Bibles in current use, the latter being the Bible upheld by ecclesiastical authority, the former the favourite Bible of the people at large. The Book of Psalms also in the version of the Great Bible survived, as it still does, in the psalter of the Prayer Book, and probably in some few parish churches old and worn copies of the Great Bible still maintained their place.

The state of religious parties at that date rendered it almost an impossibility that either of the two first-named versions should become universally accepted. The close connection of the Genevan Bible with the Puritan party, and the decidedly puritanic cast of some of its notes, created an insuperable prejudice against it in the minds of the more zealous advocates of Episcopal authority; while the inferiority[36] of the Bishops’ Bible as a version effectually barred its claim to an exclusive use. The need, then, for a new version was obvious, and a desire for it was probably felt by many of all parties.

[Pg 40]Public expression was first given to this desire on the second day of the Hampton Court Conference, January 16, 1604, by Dr. John Rainolds,[37] the leading representative of the Puritans in that assembly. It was not brought forward as one of the matters which he had been deputed to lay before the Conference; it seems rather to have been mentioned by him incidentally in connection with certain suggested reforms in the Prayer Book. “He moved his Majesty that there might be a new translation of the Bible, because those which were allowed in the reign of King Henry VIII. and Edward VI. were corrupt, and not answerable to the Truth of the Original,”[38] referring in illustration to the renderings given of Gal. iv. 25,[39] Ps. cv. 28,[40] and Ps. cvi. 30.[41] It is somewhat curious that no direct reference was made to the Bishops’ Bible; the reason, probably, was that this Bible was not one of those which had been “allowed” by royal authority. Of the three mistranslations quoted by Rainolds, the first only is found in the Bishops’ Bible; the other two occur in the Prayer Book Psalter.

The suggestion of Rainolds met with no opposition. The king himself expressed his approval of it, not, however, without an ignorant and disingenuous fling at the Genevan version; and “presently after,” say the translators in their preface, the king[Pg 41] “gave order for this translation” to be made. In the course of a few months a scheme for the execution of the work was matured, and in a letter to Dr. Richard Bancroft, then Bishop of London, the king informed him that he had appointed fifty-four learned men to undertake the translation. He even seems to have contemplated the possibility of securing the co-operation of all the biblical scholars of the country; and in a letter to Bancroft, dated July 22, 1604, directed him “to move the bishops to inform themselves of all such learned men within their several dioceses as, having especial skill in the Hebrew and Greek tongues, have taken pains in their private studies of the Scriptures for the clearing of any obscurities, either in the Hebrew or the Greek, or touching any difficulties, or mistakings in the former English translation, which we have now commanded to be thoroughly viewed and amended; and thereupon to write unto them, earnestly charging them, and signifying our pleasure therein, that they send such their observations to Mr. Lively, our Hebrew reader in Cambridge, or to Dr. Harding, our Hebrew reader in Oxford, or to Dr. Andrewes, Dean of Westminster, to be imparted to the rest of their several companies; that so our said intended translation may have the help and furtherance of all our principal learned men within this our kingdom.”[42] Directions to a similar effect were sent also to the Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge, who was empowered in the king’s name to associate with those already appointed any “fitt men” he might be acquainted with; and we may infer that a corresponding communication was sent to Oxford.

To what extent this comprehensive scheme was carried out we have no means of determining. The names of the fifty-four[Pg 42] learned men referred to are not given, and we are consequently left in uncertainty whether those who ultimately engaged in the work[43] were all men included in that list, or whether other scholars, chosen by the universities or recommended by the bishops, formed part of the number.

The rules laid down for the guidance of the translators were as follows:

1. The ordinary Bible read in the church, commonly called the Bishops’ Bible, to be followed, and as little altered as the Truth of the Original will permit.

2. The Names of the Prophets and the Holy Writers, with the other Names of the Text to be retained, as nigh as may be, accordingly as they were vulgarly used.

3. The old Ecclesiastical Words to be kept; viz., the word Church not to be translated Congregation, &c.

4. When a Word hath divers significations, that to be kept which hath been most commonly used by the most of the Ancient Fathers, being agreeable to the Propriety of the Place, and the Analogy of the Faith.

5. The division of the Chapters to be altered, either not at all, or as little as may be, if necessity so require.

6. No Marginal Notes at all to be affixed, but only for the explanation of the Hebrew or Greek Words, which cannot without some circumlocution, so briefly and fitly be exprest in the Text.

7. Such Quotations of Places to be marginally set down, as shall serve for the fit reference of one Scripture to another.

8. Every particular Man of each Company, to take the same Chapter or Chapters, and having translated or amended them severally by himself, where he thinketh good, all to meet together, confer what they have done, and agree for their parts what shall stand.

9. As any one Company hath despatched any one Book in[Pg 43] this manner, they shall send it to the rest, to be considered of seriously and judiciously, for his Majesty is very careful in this point.

10. If any Company, upon the review of the Book so sent, doubt or differ upon any Place, to send them word thereof; Note the place, and withal send the Reasons; to which if they consent not, the difference to be compounded at the General Meeting, which is to be of the chief Persons of each Company at the end of the Work.

11. When any Place of special obscurity is doubted of, Letters to be directed, by Authority, to send to any Learned Man in the Land, for his judgment of such a Place.

12. Letters to be sent from every Bishop, to the rest of his Clergy, admonishing them of this Translation in hand; and to move and charge, as many as being skilful in the Tongues; and having taken pains in that kind, to send his particular Observations to the Company, either at Westminster, Cambridg, or Oxford.

13. The Directors in each Company to be the Deans of Westminster and Chester for that place; and the King’s Professors in the Hebrew or Greek in either University.

14. These Translations to be used, when they agree better with the Text than the Bishops’ Bible; viz., Tindall’s, Matthew’s, Coverdale’s, Whitchurch’s,[44] Geneva.

15. Besides the said Directors before mentioned, three or four of the most Ancient and Grave Divines, in either of the Universities not employed in Translating, to be assigned by the Vice-Chancellor upon conference with the rest of the Heads, to be Overseers of the Translations as well Hebrew as Greek, for the better observation of the 4th rule above specified.[45]

[Pg 44]Besides these rules, some others of a more definite nature seem to have been adopted by the translators themselves. At the Synod of Dort, held in the years 1618 and 1619, the question of preparing a new Dutch translation came under consideration, and for the guidance of its deliberations upon this point the English Delegates[46] were requested to give an account of the procedure observed in the translation recently made in England. In a matter of such grave importance the Delegates felt that they ought not to give any off-hand statement, and accordingly, after careful consideration, prepared a written account, which was presented to the Synod on its seventh Session, November 20th, 1618. In this account eight rules are given, the first three of which embody the substance of the first, sixth, and seventh of the rules given above. The others direct:

That where the Hebrew or Greek admits of a twofold rendering, one is to be given in the text, and the other noted in the margin; and in like manner where an important various reading is found in approved authorities.

That in the translation of the books of Tobit and Judith, where the text of the old Latin Vulgate greatly differs from that of the Greek, the latter text should be followed.

That all words introduced for the purpose of completing the sense are to be distinguished by a difference of type.

That new tables of contents should be prefixed to each book, and new summaries to each chapter.

And lastly, that a complete list of Genealogies[47] and a description of the Holy Land should be added to the work.[48]

From various causes, which cannot now be discovered, a period[Pg 45] of three years elapsed before the revisers commenced their labours. One reason may have been that no provision was made for meeting the necessary costs of the undertaking. With a cheap liberality the king directed Bancroft to write to the bishops, asking them, as benefices became vacant, to give him the opportunity of bestowing them upon the translators as a reward for their service; and as to current expenses, the king, while professing with much effusiveness his readiness to bear them, cleverly evaded the responsibility by stating that some of “my lords, as things now go, did hold it inconvenient.”[49]

The revision was completed, as the revisers themselves tell us, in “twice seven times seventy-two days and more;” that is to say, in about two years and three-quarters; and if to this be added the nine months spent in a final revision and preparation for the press, we have then only a period of three years and a half. The new Bible was published in 1611; the work, therefore, could not have been commenced before 1607.

Although the men who engaged in this important undertaking are called “translators,” their work was essentially that of revision. This is clearly shown both by the rules laid down for their guidance, and by the statement of the translators themselves, who say in their preface, “Truly, good Christian reader, wee never thought from the beginning that wee should need to make a new translation, nor yet to make of a bad one a good one,” “but to make a good one better, or out of many good ones, one principall good one, not justly to bee excepted against; that hath beene our indeavour, that our marke.”[50]

Further, this revision was a more extensive and thorough revision than any which had been heretofore undertaken. In former revisions, either the work had been done by the solitary labours of one or two, or when a fair number of competent men[Pg 46] were engaged in it no sufficient provision had been made for combined action, and but few opportunities had been given for mutual conference. In this revision a larger number of scholars were engaged than upon any former, and the arrangements were such as secured that upon no part of the Bible should the labour of fewer than seven persons be expended. The revisers were divided into six companies, two of which met at Westminster, two at Cambridge, and two at Oxford. The books of the Old Testament, from Genesis to 2 Kings inclusive, were assigned to the first Westminster company, consisting of ten members; from 1 Chronicles to Song of Solomon, to the first Cambridge company, consisting of eight members; and from Isaiah to Malachi, to the first Oxford company, consisting of seven members. The Apocryphal books were assigned to the second Cambridge company, which also consisted of seven members. Of the books of the New Testament, the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Apocalypse were given to the second Oxford company, in which as many as ten members were at different times associated; the Epistles were entrusted to the seven scholars forming the second Westminster company.[51]

The portions assigned to each company were not again subdivided amongst its members; but, in accordance with the eighth rule, “every particular man of each company” translated and amended by himself each successive portion, and the company met from time to time to confer upon what they had done, and to agree upon what should stand.[52] Of the mode of procedure[Pg 47] followed at the meetings of the several companies, we have no other information than the brief statement given by Selden in his Table Talk—that “one read the translation, the rest holding in their hands some Bible, either of the learned tongues, or French, Spanish, Italian, &c. If they found any fault they spoke; if not, he read on.”

One interesting and touching picture of the translators at work, which however seems to have escaped the notice[53] of all writers upon the history of the English Bible, is given us by Dr. Daniel Featley in his account of the Life and Death of John Rainolds, and which is probably the substance, if not the very words, of the oration delivered by him at the funeral of the latter, when, on account of the large number of mourners, “the Chapell being not capable of the fourth part of the Funerall troupe,” a desk was set up in the quadrangle of Corpus Christi College, and a brief history of Rainolds’ life, “with the manner of his death,” was thence delivered to the assembled company. Dr. Rainolds was one of the Oxford scholars to whom the difficult task was assigned of revising the prophetical books of the Old Testament; and Featley tells us that “for his great skill in the originall Languages,” the other members of the company, “Doctor Smith, afterward Bishop of Gloster; Doctor Harding, President of Magdalens; Doctor Kilbie, Rector of Lincolne Colledge; Dr. Bret, and others, imployed in that worke by his Majesty, had recourse” to him “once a[Pg 48] weeke, and in his Lodgings perfected their Notes; and though in the midst of this Worke, the gout first tooke him, and after a consumption, of which he dyed; yet in a great part of his sicknesse the meeting held at his Lodging, and he lying on his Pallet, assisted them, and in a manner in the very translation of the booke of life, was translated to a better life.”[54] Rainolds died May 21st, 1607.

In the discharge of their responsible task the translators made use of all the aids accessible to them for the perfecting of their work. Not only did they bring to it a large amount of Hebrew and Greek scholarship, and the results of their personal study of the original Scriptures, they were careful to avail themselves also of the investigations of others who had laboured in the same field. Translations and commentaries in the Chaldee, Hebrew, Syriac, Greek, Latin, Spanish, French, Italian, and Dutch languages were laid under contribution. “Neither,” they add, “did we disdaine to revise that which wee had done, and to bring back to the anvill that which wee had hammered; but having and using as great helpes as were needfull, and fearing no reproch for slownesse, nor coveting praise for expedition, wee have at length, through the good hand of the Lord upon us, brought the worke to that passe that you see.”

When the several companies had completed their labours there was needed some general supervision of the work before it finally issued from the press. There is no evidence that the six companies ever met in one body (though possibly the two companies in each of the three centres may have had some communication with each other); but having spent almost three years upon the revision, “at the end whereof,” says the[Pg 49] writer of the life of John Bois,[55] “the whole work being finished, and three copies of the whole Bible sent from Cambridge, Oxford, and Westminster to London, a new choice was to be made of six in all, two out of every company,[56] to review the whole work, and extract one copy out of all these to be committed to the press, for the dispatch of which business Mr. Downes and Mr. Bois were sent for up to London, where,[57] meeting their four fellow-labourers, they went daily to Stationers’ Hall, and in three-quarters of a year fulfilled their task, all which time they had from the Company of Stationers thirty shillings[58] each per week duly paid them, though they had nothing before but the self-rewarding, ingenious industry.”[59] “Last of all Bilson, Bishop of Winchester, and Dr. Miles Smith, again reviewed the whole work, and prefixed arguments to the several books.”

And thus at length, as Thomas Fuller quaintly puts it, “after long expectation, and great desire, the new translation of the Bible (most beautifully printed) by a select and competent number of Divines appointed for the purpose, not being too[Pg 50] many, lest one should trouble another, and yet many, lest in any things might haply escape them. Who, neither coveting praise for expedition, nor fearing reproach for slackness (seeing in a business of moment none deserve blame for convenient slowness), had expended almost three years in a work, not only examining the channels by the fountain, translations with the original, which was absolutely necessary, but also comparing channels with channels, which was abundantly useful.” “These, with Jacob, rolled away the stone from the mouth of the Well of Life, so that now Rachel’s weak women may freely come, both to drink themselves, and to water the flocks of their families at the same.”[60]



[Pg 51]



On the title-page of the first edition of King James’s Bible there appeared as now the legend, “Appointed to be read in Churches.” Whence this originated is unknown; it is even uncertain what meaning is to be attached to the words. Some contend[61] that they mean nothing more than that the book contained the directions in accordance with which the Scriptures were “appointed” to be read in public worship, such as are now given in the Book of Common Prayer. But, however this may be, there is no evidence that this Bible was ever formally sanctioned, either by the king, or by Parliament, or by Convocation. The king, as we have seen, encouraged the making of the revision, but that the revision when made was, by any public act on his part, invested with any special authority, is a fancy [Pg 52]altogether unsupported by fact. Its designation as the Authorized Version has been due simply to common parlance; the claim which that designation seems to assert is absolutely baseless.

It was not in virtue of any privileges conferred upon it by those in authority, but by its intrinsic excellence, that this version made its way into general use, and at length supplanted all previous versions. Its chief, if not only, competitor was the Genevan. So strong was the attachment of many to the latter that two editions of it, one a folio and the other a quarto, were published by the king’s printer in the very year in which the new version was issued, and during at least five years after that date[62] various other editions were issued from the same source. After 1616 the Genevan ceased to be printed in England, but the demand for it still continuing, various editions were printed on the Continent, and thence introduced into this country. A folio edition, printed at Amsterdam, bears so late a date as 1644. In 1649, in order to win the favour of those who still clung to their old favourite, an edition of the new version was issued with the Genevan notes. After this date the revision of 1611 may be said to have gained for itself universal recognition, and for more than 230 years it has been the accepted and cherished Bible of almost all English-speaking people.

We should, however, form a very erroneous opinion both of the spirit and of the learning of King James’s translators, if we were to suppose that they would have claimed finality for their work. They were too well acquainted with the state of the original texts not to know what need there was for further research after the most ancient and trustworthy authorities. They were too keenly sensitive to the difficulties of translation not to feel that they must often have failed to convey the exact meaning of the words they were attempting to render. They were too conscious of the merits of their predecessors, and of the[Pg 53] extent to which they had profited by their labours, to hesitate to acknowledge that others might in like manner profit by what they themselves had done. And they were too loyal in their reverence for the Scriptures, and too devoutly anxious that every imperfection should be removed from the form in which they were given to their fellow-countrymen, to offer any discouragement to those who should seek to remove the blemishes that might still remain. They would strongly have deprecated any attempt to find in their labours a plea against further improvement; and they would have emphatically proclaimed that the best expression of thankfulness for their services, and of respect for themselves, was in the imitation of their example, and in the promotion of further efforts for the perfecting of the book they so profoundly loved.

In the case of such a book as the Bible, however perfect the translation which may at any time be made, the duty of revision is one of recurring obligation. The necessity for it is inevitable, and this from two causes in constant operation. (1) By the imperfection that attaches to all kinds of human labour various departures from the standard form became gradually introduced in the process of reproduction; and (2) by the natural growth of language, and the attendant changes in the meaning of terms, that which at one time was a faithful rendering becomes at another obscure or incorrect.

No long time elapsed before blemishes arose in the version of 1611 from the first of these causes, and, to use the language of the translators themselves, their translation needed “to be maturely considered and examined, that being rubbed and polished it might shine as gold more brightly.” The invention of printing, although it has largely diminished the liability to error in the multiplication of copies, has not, as everyone knows who has had occasion to minutely examine printed works, altogether removed them. Various typographical errors soon made their appearance in the printed copies of the Bible, and these[Pg 54] became repeated and multiplied in successive editions, until at length no inconsiderable number of variations, sometimes amounting to several thousands, could be traced between different copies. Most of these it is true were unimportant variations, but some of them were of a more serious nature. The following instances will serve to illustrate this. The dates attached are the dates of the editions in which the errors may be found:

Exod. xx. 14. “Thou shalt commit adultery,” for “Thou shalt not.” 1631, Lond., 8vo.[63]

Numb. xxv. 18. “They vex you with their wives,” for “their wiles.” 1638, Lond., 12mo.

Numb. xxvi. 10. “The fire devoured two thousand and fifty men,” for “two hundred and fifty.” 1638, Lond., 12mo.

Deut. xxiv. 3. “If the latter husband ate her,” for “hate her.” 1682, Lond.

2 Sam. xxiii. 20. “He slew two lions like men,” for “two lion-like men.” 1638, Lond., 12mo.

Job xxix. 3. “By his light I shined through darkness,” for “I walked through.” 1613, Lond.

Isaiah xxix. 13. “Their fear toward me is taught by the people of men,” for “by the precept of men.” 1638, Lond., 12mo.

Jer. iv. 17. “Because she hath been religious against me,” for “hath been rebellious.” 1637, Edin., 8vo.

Jer. xviii. 21. “Deliver up their children to the swine,” for “to the famine.” 1682, Lond.

Ezek. xxiii. 7. “With all their idols she delighted herself,” for “she defiled herself.” 1613, Lond.

Matt. xxvi. 36. “Then cometh Judas with them unto a place called Gethsemane,” for “Then cometh Jesus.” 1611, Lond.

[Pg 55]Acts vi. 3. “Look ye out among you seven men of honest report ... whom ye may appoint,” for “whom we may appoint.” 1638, Camb. fo.[64]

1 Cor. v. 1. “And such fornication as is not so much as not among the Gentiles,” for “not so much as named.” 1629, Lond., fo.[65]

1 Cor. vi. 9. “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall inherit the kingdom of God?” for “shall not inherit.” 1653, Lond., 32mo.

2 Tim. iv. 16. “I pray God that it may be laid to their charge,” for “may not be laid.” 1613, Lond.

Titus i. 14. “Now giving heed to Jewish fables,” for “not giving heed.” 1636 Edin., 8vo.

James v. 4. “The Lord of Sabbath,” for “Sabaoth.” 1640, Lond., 8vo.

1 John i. 4. “That our joy may be full,” for “that your joy.” 1769, Oxf.

These facts will serve to show how soon some kind of revision became needful, and that a true reverence for Scripture is shown, not by opposition to revision, but by a desire, and even demand, that it should be undertaken. This necessity became all the more imperative in the case of the revision of 1611, because there existed no standard copy to which appeal could in all cases be made as evidence of the conclusions reached by the translators. It is a curious and remarkable fact, that two[Pg 56] editions, differing in several respects, were issued by the king’s printer, Robert Barker, in 1611, and competent judges are not agreed as to which of these two priority in time belongs. Nor even if this point were satisfactorily settled, would it suffice to reproduce that one of the two texts which might be proved to be the earlier. For excellent as was the main work done by the translators, the final revision and the oversight of the sheets as they passed through the press were not so thorough as was to be desired. In the most carefully prepared edition of this revision that has ever been issued, viz., the Cambridge Paragraph Bible, edited by Dr. Scrivener, the learned and laborious editor has seen it right to depart from the printed text of 1611 in more than nine hundred places.[66] It will be manifest that such corrections, whenever called for, ought not to be made in any haphazard way, and that it is in the interest of all that careful revisions of the printed texts should from time to time be made, and that they should be made by men thoroughly competent for the task.

The second cause to which reference has been made is, of course, much slower in its operation, but though slow it is certain; and sooner or later every version, whensoever and by whomsoever made, must call for revision, because of the changes to which all language is subject. Words which were once in common use pass altogether out of currency, and are utterly unintelligible save to a learned few. Other words change their meaning, and give to the sentences in which they occur a different and sometimes an alien sense to that which they formerly conveyed. Others again, while retaining [Pg 57]fundamentally their original sense, become limited in their range of application, and when used in other connections than those to which they are thus confined by custom, become grotesque and disturb the mind of the reader by the strange associations which they suggest.

How many words found in our Bibles have, since 1611, passed out of general use the following list will show. Most of these are wholly without meaning, even to an educated reader; a few survive as local provincialisms, and a few also are still employed in the technical vocabulary of certain arts or professions. All are out of place in a book intended for universal use.

Assay. Deut. iv. 34; Job iv. 2; Acts ix. 26, &c.

Attent. 2 Chron. vi. 40.

Bestead. Isa. viii. 21.

Blain. Exod. ix. 9, 10.

Bolled. Exod. ix. 31.

[Brickle. Wisd. xv. 13.]

Brigandine. Jer. xlvi. 4; li. 3.

Bruit. Jer. x. 22; Nah. iii. 19.

Calamus. Exod. xxx. 23; Cant. iv. 14; Exek. xxvii. 19.

Camphire. Cant. i. 14; iv. 13.

Causey. 1 Chron. xxvi. 18.

Chanel-bone. Job xxxi. 22, marg.

Chapiter. Exod. xxxvi. 38, &c.

Chapman. 2 Chron. ix. 14.

Chaws. Ezek. xxix. 4.

[Cithern. 1 Macc. iv. 54.]

Cockatrice. Isa. xi. 8, &c.

Collops. Job xv. 27.

Confection. Exod. xxx. 35.

Coney. Lev. xi. 5, &c.

To Convent. Jer. xlix. 19, marg.

Cotes. 2 Chron. xxxii. 28.

To Couch. Dent, xxxiii. 13.

Countervail. Esth. vii. 4.

Daysman. Job ix. 33.

[Dehort. 1 Macc. ix. 9.]

Delicates. Jer. li. 34.

Dredge. Job xxiv. 6, marg.

Dure. Matt. xiii. 21.

Earing. Gen. xlv. 6.

Endirons. Ezek. xl. 43, marg.

Flue-net. Hab. i. 15, marg.

Gier eagle. Lev. xi. 18.

Gorget. 1 Sam. xvii. 6, marg.

Habergeon. Exod. xxviii. 32; xxxix. 23, &c.

Helve. Deut. xix. 5.

Hough. Josh. xi. 6, 9.

Implead. Acts xix. 38.

Jewry. Dan. v. 13; John vii. 1.

Knop. Exod. xxv. 31, &c.

Leasing. Ps. iv. 2; v. 6.

Makebate. 2 Tim. iii. 3, marg.

Muffler. Isa. iii. 19.

Neesing. Job xli. 18.

Ossifrage. Lev. xi. 13.

Ouches. Exod. xxviii. 11, &c.

Pilled. Gen. xxx. 37.

[Pg 58]Prelation. 1 Cor. xiii., heading.

Purtenance. Exod. xii. 9.

Ravin. Gen. xlix. 27.

Rereward. Num. x. 25, &c.

Scall. Lev. xiii. 30.

Scrabble. 1 Sam. xxi. 13.

A Settle. Ezek. xliii. 14, &c.

Silverling. Isa. vii. 23.

Sith. Ezek. xxxv. 6.

Tabering. Nah. ii. 7.

Tache. Exod. xxvi. 6.

Throughaired. Jer. xxii. 14, marg.

Thrum. Isa. xxxviii. 12, marg.

Viol. Isa. v. 12.

Wimple. Isa. iii. 22.

A still larger number of words or phrases, though still finding a place in our current speech, have wholly or partially changed their meanings. Amongst these are the following:

All to brake. Judges ix. 5.

Base. 1 Cor. i. 28; 2 Cor. x. 1.

Botch. Exod. ix. 9.

Bought of a sling. 1 Sam. xxv. 29, marg.

Bravery. Isa. iii. 18.

Bray. Prov. xxvii. 27.

By and by. Matt. xiii. 21; Luke xxi. 9.

Captivate. 2 Chron. xxviii.; Jer. xxxix., headings.

Careful. Dan. iii. 16; Phil. iv. 6.

Carriage. Judges xviii. 21; Acts xxi. 15.

Cast about. Jer. xli. 14.

Chafed. 2 Sam. xvii. 8.

Champaign. Deut. xi. 30.

Charger. Matt. xiv. 8; Mark vi. 25.

Charity. 1 Cor. xiii. 1, &c.

Churl. Isa. xxxii. 5, 7.

Cieling. 1 Kings vi. 15.

Clouted. Josh. ix. 5.

Cockle. Job xxxi. 40.

Comfort. Job ix. 27.

Confectionary. 1 Sam. viii. 13.

Contain. 1 Cor. vii. 9.

Conversation. Gal. i. 18; Phil. iii. 20; Heb. xiii. 5.

Convince. Jno. viii. 48; Jas. ii. 9.

Cunning. Ps. cxxxvii. 5.

Curious. Exod. xxviii. 8; xxix. 5.

Damnation. 1 Cor. xi. 29.

Delicately. Lam. iv. 5; Luke vii. 25.

Discover. Ps. xxix. 9; Mic. i. 6; Hab. iii. 13.

Doctrine. Mark iv. 2.

Duke. Gen. xxxvi. 15.

Ensign. Num. ii. 2; Isa. v. 26.

Fast. Ruth ii. 8, 21.

Fetch a compass. Acts xxviii. 13.

Flood. Josh. xxiv. 2, 3, &c.

Footman. Jer. xii. 5.

Fret. Lev. xiii. 55.

Grudge. Ps. lix. 15.

Hale. Luke xii. 58; Acts viii. 3.

Harness. 1 Kings xx. 11; xxii. 34.

Indite. Ps. xlv. 1.

[Pg 59]Jangling. 1 Tim. i. 6.

Kerchief. Ezek. xiii. 18, 21.

Lace. Exod. xxviii. 28.

Latchet. Isa. v. 27; Mark i. 7.

Let. Exod. v. 24; Isa. xliii. 13; Rom. i. 13; 2 Thess. ii. 7.

Lewd. Acts xvii. 5.

Lewdness. Acts xviii. 14.

Man-of-War. Exod. xv. 3, &c.

Maul. Prov. xxv. 18.

Minister. Josh. i. 1; 1 Kings x. 5; Luke iv. 20.

Napkin. Luke xix. 20; John xi. 44; xx. 7.

Naughtiness. 1 Sam. xvii. 28; Prov. xi. 6; James i. 21.

Naughty. Prov. vi. 12.

Nephew. Judges xii. 14; 1 Tim. v. 4.

Observe. Mark vi. 20.

Occupy. Exod. xxxviii. 24; Judg. xvi. 11; Ezek. xxvii. 9; Luke xix. 13.

Painfulness. 2 Cor. xi. 27.

Palestine. Exod. xv. 14; Isa. xiv. 29.

Pap. Luke xi. 27; Rev. i. 13.

Parcel. Gen. xxxix. 19; Josh. xxiv. 32; Ruth iv. 3; John iv. 5.

Peep. Isa. viii. 19; x. 14.

Poll. Num. i. 2, &c.

Pommel. 2 Chron. ix. 12.

Port. Neh. ii. 13.

Prefer. Esth. ii. 9; Dan. vi. 3; John i. 25.

Presently. Matt. xxvi. 53; Phil. ii. 23.

Prevent. Ps. lix. 10; cxix. 147; 1 Thess. iv. 15.

Proper. Acts i. 19; 1 Cor. vii. 7; Heb. xi. 32.

Prophesy. 1 Cor. xi. 5; xiv. 3, 4.

Publican. Matt. v. 46, &c.

Purchase. 1 Tim. iii. 13.

Ranges. Lev. xi. 35.

Refrain. Prov. x. 19.

Riot. Titus i. 6; 1 Peter iv. 4; 2 Peter ii. 13.

Rioting. Rom. xiii. 13.

Riotous. Prov. xxiii. 20; Luke xv. 13.

Road. 1 Sam. xxvii. 10.

Scrip. 1 Sam. xvii. 40; Matt. x. 10, &c.

Secure. Judges viii. 11; xviii. 7, 10; Job xi. 18; xii. 6; Matt. xxviii. 14.

Set to. John iii. 32.

Shroud. Ezek. xxxi. 3.

Sod. Gen. xxv. 29.

Sottish. Jer. iv. 22.

Table. Hab. ii. 2; Luke i. 63; 2 Cor. iii. 3.

Target. 1 Sam. xvii. 6; 1 Kings x. 16.

Tire. Isa. iii. 18; Ezek. xxiv. 17, 23.

Tired. 2 Kings ix. 30.

Turtle. Cant. ii. 12.

Vagabond. Gen. iv. 12; Ps. cix. 10; Acts xix. 13.

Venison. Gen. xxv. 28.

Wealth. 2 Chron. i. 12; Ps. cxii. 3; 1 Cor. x. 24.

Witty. Prov. viii. 22.

[Pg 60]If, in reading these passages, we attach to the words here mentioned the meaning that they ordinarily bear, the resulting sense will in each case be very different from that intended to be conveyed by the translators. In some of the passages the sense thus given will be so manifestly inappropriate that the reader is necessarily driven to seek for some explanation; but in others of them no such feeling may be awakened, and the reader is undesignedly betrayed into error. Through no fault of the translators, but by the inevitable law of change in language, the words which once served as stepping-stones, by whose aid the reader could rise to a clearer perception of the truth of God, have become stumbling-blocks in his path, and cause him to wander from the way. Respect, therefore, for the translators, as well as loyalty to the Scripture, constrain the demand that these rough places be made plain.



[Pg 61]



The two reasons for further revision which were illustrated in the last lecture are, as will have been seen, of universal application, and must sooner or later apply to every version of the Scriptures, however perfect that version may have been when it was first made. But whatever the skill with which King James’s translators fulfilled their labours (and it is universally acknowledged to be worthy of the highest praise), it would be a vain fancy to imagine that theirs was a perfect work. They themselves would never have claimed such an honour for it, and already in their own day some of their renderings were called in question by competent men. Even if they had never failed in applying the means at their command for the interpretation of the Hebrew and Greek originals, they knew that the knowledge then possessed of these ancient tongues was far from complete, and that by further study and advancing research it would be possible to attain to a more accurate and extensive acquaintance with them.

The progress made in the knowledge of Greek and Hebrew during the last two centuries has, in fact, been such as the revisers of 1611 could have little anticipated. A long list might easily be drawn up of eminent scholars who have given themselves to the investigation of the grammar of the two sacred languages, and of others who have laboured in illustrating[Pg 62] the meaning of their terms. In the case of Hebrew, large additions to our knowledge, both of its grammar and its vocabulary, have been won from a source almost entirely unexplored in former times; namely, the study of Arabic and other cognate languages; and in the case both of Hebrew and Greek, much has been gained by the labours of those who have given themselves to the investigation of the general principles of language, and to the study of the relations which different languages sustain to each other. The knowledge of Hebrew and Greek thus attained has been from time to time applied by a still larger number of eminent men to the elucidation of the several books of the Bible, and an immense amount of valuable material for their interpretation has thus been stored up. The meaning of obscure and difficult passages has been elaborately and independently discussed by men of different nationalities, and of different types of theological opinion, and in this way the sense of many passages formerly misunderstood has been satisfactorily determined. And such being the case, it is clearly the incumbent duty of all who truly reverence the Scriptures to desire that these imperfections and obscurities shall be removed, and the more so that some of these erroneous renderings have been used by the opponents of the Bible as their weapons of attack.

That the reader may be able to form some definite judgment upon the matter here presented to him, his attention is called to the following selection of passages from different parts of the Bible, in which it will now be generally acknowledged by competent judges that the translators of 1611 have failed to give a faithful representation of the meaning of the original texts:

Gen. iv. 15 is rendered, in the version of 1611, as in previous versions: “And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him,” and no small amount of ingenuity has been wasted in the endeavour to decide what this supposed[Pg 63] mark upon the body of Cain might be. The rendering moreover altogether misrepresented the import of the passage. The “mark” or “sign” was not something intended for the warning of others, but was given to remove the fears of Cain himself, expressed in verses 13, 14: “The Lord set a sign for Cain [to assure him] that whoever found him would not kill him.”

Gen. xx. 16. Here Abimelech is made to say to Sarah, “Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver; behold, he is to thee a covering of the eyes, with all that are with thee, and with all other; thus she was reproved,” a statement which is both misleading and obscure. It was not Abraham, but the present of money, that was to be for Sarah a covering of the eyes, that is, a testimony to her virtue, and by this act of the king she was not reproved for her conduct, but was cleared in her character. The latter part should be rendered, “Behold, it shall be to thee a covering of the eyes ... and thus she was righted.”

Exod. xvi. 15. “And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna, for they wist not what it was.” To the ordinary reader this seems to involve a contradiction; but the stumbling-block is at once removed by the more faithful rendering, “They said one to another, What is it? for they wist not what it was.” Further on, in verse 31, it is stated that from this cry, “What is it?” the bread from heaven thus given to them was called Manna, or more correctly Man (the Hebrew word for What?).

Josh. vi. 4. “And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns.” This is a very unfortunate rendering; for not only are rams’ horns solid, and so also unsuitable for wind instruments, but also it is only by the merest fancy that any reference to rams can be brought in at all. The word rendered “rams” is “jubilee,” the same as that given to the great Year of Release. It denotes either some kind of trumpet, and is so used Exod. xix. 13, or the sound or[Pg 64] signal given by a trumpet. The Year of Release derives its name, the Year of Jubilee, from the solemn sounding of trumpets throughout the land with which it was inaugurated. The original term should here be kept, and the verse should read, “And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of jubilee.”[67]

Judges v. 7. “The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel.” Here the translators first of all misunderstood the word which they have rendered “villages,” and were then driven to introduce the words “the inhabitants of,” for which, as the italics show, there was nothing in the Hebrew. The picture really drawn in the verse is not that of the depopulation of the country, but of the defenceless and disorganized condition of the people through the absence of judges or rulers. The Septuagint gives the true sense: “The rulers ceased, they ceased in Israel.”[68]

Judges xv. 19. “But God clave an hollow place that was in the jaw, and there came water thereout.” A strange misrepresentation of the meaning of the original. The hollow place was not in the jaw-bone with which Sampson had slain the Philistines, but in some cliff in the neighbourhood, and which derived its name, Ramath-lehi, or more briefly Lehi, from this memorable exploit. The words should be rendered, “But God clave the hollow place which is in Lehi.”

1 Sam. ix. 20. “And as for thine asses that were lost three days ago, set not thy mind on them, for they are found. And on whom is all the desire of Israel? Is it not on thee and on all thy father’s house?” A needless difficulty is here created by suggesting that already the hearts of the people had been set[Pg 65] upon Saul for their future king, whereas his future elevation to that office was as yet known to Samuel only. This is removed by the right rendering: “Whose are all the desirable things of Israel? Are they not for thee, and for thy father’s house.”[69]

2 Sam. v. 6. “Except thou take away the blind and the lame thou shalt not come in hither;” a statement to which the reader finds it difficult to attach any appropriate sense. The verse is correctly rendered by Coverdale, who reads, “Thou shalt not come hither, but the blynde and lame shall dryve thee awaie.”

2 Sam. xiv. 14. “For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person: yet doth he devise means, that his banished be not expelled from him.” The statement that God doth not respect any person, however true in itself, has here no relation to the context. The natural meaning of the original words is very different, “God doth not take away life,” that is, as shown by what immediately follows, does not at once and without mercy inflict punishment as soon as guilt is incurred, but “deviseth means,” &c.

2 Kings viii. 13. “And Hazael said, But what, is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing?” Thus read, the words imply that Hazael shrank indignantly from the actions described in the preceding verse; whereas the sense of the passage is that he viewed himself as too insignificant a person to do what he clearly regarded as a great exploit. “But what is thy servant, the [or this] dog, that he should do this great thing?”

1 Chron. xvi. 7. “Then on that day David delivered first this psalm to thank the Lord into the hand of Asaph and his brethren.” This conveys the impression that the psalm which follows is the first psalm that David published, whereas the[Pg 66] statement is that on this memorable day—the day on which David brought up the ark from the house of Obed-edom—he formally appointed Asaph and his brethren to the office of superintending the service of praise. (Compare verse 37.) “Then on that day David first gave the praising of the Lord into the hand of Asaph and his brethren.”[70]

Job iv. 6. “Is not this thy fear, thy confidence, thy hope, and the uprightness of thy ways?” By the insertion of “this,” a wrong complexion is given to the passage. Eliphaz, in reference to Job’s fainting under his sufferings, calls attention to the confidence he had formerly professed on the ground of his fear of God and of the uprightness of his conduct; and so indirectly suggests that Job’s piety and uprightness had been unreal. “Is not thy fear [i.e. thy fear of God, thy piety] thy confidence; and thy hope, is it not even the integrity of thy ways?”

Job xix. 26. “And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” As the italics show, the original contains nothing corresponding to the words “though,” “worms,” and “body.” Their insertion does not indeed change radically the meaning of the verse, but they weaken its force, and in a measure alter its imagery. The picture presented by the original is a very vivid one. The patriarch, pointing to his body wasting away under disease, says, “After my skin is destroyed thus, yet from my flesh shall I see God.”

Job xxiv. 16. “In the dark they dig through houses, which they had marked for themselves in the daytime; they know not the light.” Here the meaning of the second clause has been altogether missed, and the whole passage is thereby greatly obscured. The writer is describing the deeds of those who rebel against the light and love the darkness: as with the murderer (v. 14) and the adulterer (v. 15), so is it with the robber. “In[Pg 67] the dark they dig through houses; in the daytime they shut themselves up; they know not the light.”

Job xxxi. 35. “Oh that one would hear me! behold, my desire is, that the Almighty would answer me, and that mine adversary had written a book.” Job, having asserted his innocence, expresses his strong desire that the charges against him might be brought for decision before the divine tribunal. He, on his part, is quite prepared for the trial; there, he says, is his statement, signed and sealed; let the adversary in like manner present his indictment; he would then be sure of a triumphant issue. “Oh that I had one who would hear me! Behold my mark! May the Almighty answer me, and that I had the accusation that my adversary had written. Surely, I would carry it on my shoulder, I would bind it as chaplets upon me.”

Ps. xvi. 2, 3. “Thou art my Lord; my goodness extendeth not to thee. But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight.” Every reader of this psalm must have felt how obscure, if not unintelligible, are these words. A more faithful rendering gives a clear and appropriate sense, “Thou art my Lord, I have no good above thee. As for the saints on the earth, and the excellent, in them is all my delight.”[71]

Ps. xlii. 4. “When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me, for I had gone with the multitude. I went with them to the house of God.” The words of the Psalmist are not, as this rendering makes them to be, a mere statement of what happens whenever he remembers the sorrows of the past, and the mockery of his adversaries. They are a declaration of his purpose to remember, with lively emotion and gratitude, the privileges and mercies with which he had been[Pg 68] blessed. “I will remember these things [i.e. the things he is about to mention], and I will pour out my soul within me, how I passed along with the multitude, how I went with them [or how I led them] to the house of God.”

Ps. xlix. 5. “Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about?” This, though seemingly an exact rendering of the Hebrew, wholly misleads the English reader. The phrase, “iniquity of my heels,” can only suggest to him the iniquity which the man himself has committed, a sense which is altogether unsuited to the passage. The Psalmist would never say that his own personal transgressions were not to him a ground of fear. The word, which in Hebrew means “heel,” is that also which, by a slight modification, forms the name of the patriarch Jacob, the “Heeler,” or supplanter of his brother. In the opinion of many scholars, the simple form here used admits of the same meaning, and they render, “when the iniquity of my supplanters [or the iniquity of those who plot against me] compasseth me about.” Whatever be the true explanation of the Hebrew phrase, it is quite certain that it is the iniquity of others, and not of the speaker, which is referred to. Some change, therefore, in the rendering is clearly called for.

Ps. xci. 9, 10. “Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee,” &c. The earlier English translations, the Bishops’, the Genevan, the Great Bible, and Wycliffe’s, have all kept nearer to the original than this. The most ancient version of all, the Septuagint, renders it correctly. The psalm is one of those which are intended to be sung by two singers, or two companies of singers, responding one to the other, and hence arises the frequent change of person that occurs in it. In the first clause of this verse we have one of the singers chanting, “For thou, O Lord, art my refuge.” In the second clause we have the response of the other singer, “Thou hast made the[Pg 69] Most High thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee,” &c., down to end of verse 13.

Eccl. iv. 14. “For out of prison he cometh to reign; whereas, also, he that is born in his kingdom becometh poor.” The meaning attached by the Revisers of 1611 to the second clause seems to be, that the old and foolish king referred to in the previous verse, who was “born in his kingdom,” that is, who succeeded to the kingly power by inheritance, becomes, through his obstinacy, a poor man. This sense can only be got from the words by much straining, and has led to the introduction of the word “becometh,” which represents nothing in the original.[72] The correct rendering gives a plain and suitable sense: “For from the house of prisoners he goeth forth to reign, although in his kingdom [namely, the kingdom over which he now rules] he was born poor.”

Isa. lxiii. 19. “We are thine: thou never barest rule over them; they were not called by thy name.” The sense of this passage is entirely changed by the introduction of the word “thine.” The verse is the penitential acknowledgment of the depressed condition into which the nation had fallen in consequence of its sins. They are no longer as the chosen inheritance (v. 17), they are as an alien people. The Genevan translators give the true sense of the passage, “We have been [better, We are become] as they over whom thou never barest rule, and upon whom thy name was not called.”

Jer. iv. 1, 2. “If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the Lord, return unto me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove. And thou shalt swear, The Lord liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.” This as it stands is hopelessly obscure. The passage is an emphatic announcement of the blessings that[Pg 70] would come to the nations from the penitent return of Israel to its faithful allegiance. If Israel will return, will put away all its abominations, and no longer swearing by idols, as if they were the highest objects of reverence, should make in truth and uprightness their appeals to Jehovah, then the nations would share in the blessedness of the kingdom. “If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the Lord, wilt return unto me, and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, and wilt not go astray, and wilt swear, ‘The Lord liveth’ in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness, then the nations shall bless themselves in him,” &c.

Ezek. x. 14. “And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.” This conveys a wrong impression. The prophet is describing, not as he is here represented, the four faces of all the cherubim, but one face only of each. The Bishops’ Bible gives the true sense by rendering, “Every one of them had four faces, so that the face of the first was the face of a cherub, and the face of the second was the face of a man, and of the third the face of a lion, and of the fourth the face of an eagle.”

Ezek. xxii. 15, 16. “And I will scatter thee among the heathen, and disperse thee in the countries, and will consume thy filthiness out of thee. And thou shalt take thine inheritance in thyself in the sight of the heathen, and thou shalt know that I am the Lord.” The dark phrase, “thou shalt take thine inheritance in thyself,” is commonly explained to mean, that whereas aforetime they were God’s inheritance, they shall now be left to find their inheritance by themselves. A more lucid and more suitable meaning is given to the words by the rendering adopted by most modern commentators, “thou shalt be profaned through thyself in the sight of the nations.”

Dan. iii. 25. “Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the[Pg 71] fourth is like the Son of God.” It is clearly misleading to attribute to Nebuchadnezzar any such exalted conception as that which we attach to the phrase, “the Son of God,” and so to render the clause misrepresents the original. The correct translation is “one like to a son of the gods.” A similar error occurs in vii. 13, where “one like the Son of man,” should be “one like a son of man.”

Hos. vi. 3. “Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord;” thus making the prophet to declare that the attainment of knowledge is dependent upon our perseverance in the search after it. This is an important truth, but is not the meaning of the verse, which is simply an emphatic exhortation to know God and to persevere in knowing Him. “Yea, let us know, let us follow on to know, the Lord.”

Hosea xiii. 14. “O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction.” Though there is some difference of opinion respecting the right rendering of the earlier part of this verse, all are agreed that these should be rendered as they are quoted in 1 Cor. xv. 55, “Where are thy plagues, O death? Where is thy destruction, O grave?”

Matt. vi. 16. The rendering “they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast,” misleads the reader by conveying the impression that the Pharisees were endeavouring to obtain credit under false pretences—were seeming to fast when not doing so in reality; whereas the conduct condemned is that of parading, and calling public attention to, their religious observances. “They disfigure their faces, that they may be seen of men that they are fasting.”[73] So also in verse 18.

Matt. xi. 2. “Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples.” Here the true force of the passage is missed. “Christ,” as used by us, is a proper name, designating the person, and not simply the office of[Pg 72] our Lord. It was not because John had heard of certain works done by Jesus of Nazareth that he sent his disciples to Him, but because he recognized in the accounts which were brought to him deeds characteristic of the Christ, the promised Messiah. “When John heard in the prison the works of the Christ.”

Matt. xv. 3. “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” The commandment of God might indeed be transgressed by compliance with the traditions of men, but this is not the meaning of our Lord’s words. The Pharisees had asked why the disciples did not observe the traditions of the elders respecting washing. Our Lord justifies them by calling attention to the wrong doing of those who so exalted these outward observations, in themselves mere matters of indifference, as on their account to make void the commandments of God. “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?”[74]

Mark vi. 20. “For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him.” This erroneous rendering has come down through Tyndale, the Great Bible, and the Genevan, the last of these, however, giving it in the less obscure form, “and did him reverence.” The passage is rightly given by Wycliffe, “and kept him;” i.e. kept him in safety.

Luke i. 59. “And they called him Zacharias.” The form employed in the Greek expresses that the action here spoken of was attempted only, not completed, “they would have called him Zacharias.”

Luke xxi. 19. “In your patience possess ye your souls,” a translation which altogether misses the meaning. The clause is not an exhortation to the maintenance of a calm composure in trouble, but is an exhortation to the acquirement of a higher and nobler life through the brave endurance of suffering. “In[Pg 73] your patience win ye your lives.” In the better texts this is given in the form of an assurance: “In your patience ye shall win your lives.”

Luke xxiii. 15. “No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him.” Words unto which an intelligible sense can be put only by straining them to mean that nothing had been done to our Lord to show that in the judgment of Herod He was worthy of death. All obscurity is removed by the more faithful rendering, “nothing worthy of death hath been done by him.”

John iv. 27. “And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman.” The surprise of the disciples was not occasioned by the fact that our Lord was conversing with this particular woman; they were surprised that He should talk with any woman. The correct rendering is, as given by the Rheims, “and they marueiled that he talked with a woman.”

John v. 35. “He was a burning and a shining light.” Though this, by frequent quotation, has passed into a sort of proverbial phrase, it is a most unfortunate rendering, and gives an entirely wrong impression of the meaning of the passage. As thus read it sets forth the pre-eminence of John, whereas its true import is to emphasize the subordinate nature of his office and work. Christ, as stated in the first chapter of this Gospel, was “the Light.” In comparison with Him, John was only a lamp which, in order that it may give light, must first be kindled from some other source. “He was the lamp which is kindled and [so] shineth.”

John xv. 3. “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you,” thus representing the word to be the instrument through which the cleansing was wrought. But though this be true, it is not the truth here set forth. It was not “through,” but “on account of” the word, i.e. because of its virtue and its cleansing power, that they were clean. Here,[Pg 74] again, Wycliffe is free from the error into which all the later translators (except the Rheims) have fallen. He renders, “Now ye ben clene for the word that I haue spokun to you.”

Acts ii. 23. “Ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” The ordinary reader naturally takes the “wicked hands” to be the hands of the Jews, whereas the reference is to the Romans, through whose agency the Jews brought about the crucifixion of Christ, “and by the hands of lawless men, ye crucified and slew.” Wycliffe, Tyndale, Coverdale, the Genevan, the Bishops, and the Rheims, all render this clause correctly.

Acts xi. 17. “Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.” This is incorrect, and suggests a false contrast between “us” and “them,” as if the latter were not believers. Faith in Christ is the ground upon which, in the case of both parties, the gifts referred to were received. The verse is thus given by Tyndale: “For as moche then as God gave them lyke gyftes, as he dyd unto vs when we beleved on the Lorde Iesus Christ.”

Acts xxvi. 23. “That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.” This both needlessly suggests a difficulty to many readers, and altogether conceals one main point of the passage; namely, that the resurrection of Christ was the great source from which illumination would come both to Jews and to Gentiles, “and that He first by His resurrection from the dead should proclaim light to the people and to the Gentiles.”

Rom. ix. 3. “For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” Such a wish it is impossible that the Apostle could have entertained. His words are the expression of his strong affection for his fellow-countrymen. “I could have wished,” &c.; i.e. if such a wish had been right or possible.

[Pg 75]Rom. xiii. 11. “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” This is ambiguous English, and though a very careful reader might gather the true sense from this rendering, it is very liable to be taken as if meaning that our salvation is nearer than we anticipated; nor is the ambiguity removed by the Genevan, which reads, “nearer than when we believed it.” The reference is to the time of their first exercise of faith in Christ, “nearer than when we first believed.”

1 Cor. i. 21. “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” This rendering has been a fertile source of error, as if preaching was in itself, or as viewed by the Corinthians, an inappropriate means for the diffusion of the Gospel, a thought altogether at variance with the tone of the context, and with the facts of history. The Greeks were, of all the peoples of antiquity, the least disposed to think lightly of oratory, and the whole tenor of the passage shows that their tendency was to overrate, not underrate, the power of speech. What was foolishness to them was not the act of preaching, but the doctrine preached—salvation through a crucified Christ. The Rheims here clearly enough gives the true sense, “it pleased God by the folishnes of the preaching to saue them that beleeue.”

1 Cor. ix. 5. “Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles?” This mode of speech implies that some only of the other apostles were married. What the Greek states is that all or most of them were. Here again the Rheims correctly renders, “as also the rest of the Apostles.”

2 Cor. v. 14. “Because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead,” thus seeming to imply that the death of Christ upon the cross is a proof that all men were in a state of spiritual death; whereas the conclusion which the Apostle draws from the death of Christ is, that all who truly believe in[Pg 76] Him die to their old fleshly sinful life, “because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then all died.”

Eph. iii 10. “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.” It would only be after much careful consideration that the reader of these words would discover that they cannot mean that the manifold wisdom of God is to be known by the Church. What the Apostle really states is, that it was in the Divine purpose that through the Church the manifold wisdom of God was to be made known to the angelic powers. Of all the ancient versions the Rheims, though here, as usual, disfigured by its offensive Latinisms, most clearly expresses the sense of the verse; its rendering is, “that the manifold wisdom of God may be notified to the Princes and Potentates in the celestials by the Church.”

Phil. iv. 3. “And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel.” This leaves it quite uncertain who are the women referred to, whereas in the original it is plain that they are the two women previously referred to, Euodia, and Syntyche; and the reason why it is urged that assistance should be given to them, is that they had bravely shared with Paul in the toil and conflict of the Christian service. “Help them, for they have laboured with me in the gospel.”

1 Tim. iv. 15. “Meditate upon these things.” This wholly fails to express the apostle’s meaning. His exhortation goes beyond the region of thought; it passes into the sphere of active life, and he urges Timothy to give himself to the diligent practice of the several departments of labour previously referred to. Of the old translators, Tyndale gives it correctly, “These thynges exercyse.”

1 Tim. vi. 2. “And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of[Pg 77] the benefit.” The last clause of this passage has, in all probability, grievously puzzled many a reader; but with the fuller knowledge of the Greek syntax now possessed, all obscurity passes away. No scholar would now hesitate in rendering, “do them service because they who partake of the benefit are faithful and beloved.”[75]

1 Tim. vi. 5. “Supposing that gain is godliness.” Here again an unnecessary difficulty is introduced; for it is hard to see how any sane person could consider “gain” to be “godliness.” On the other hand, it is unhappily no uncommon experience to meet with persons who treat religion as a means of worldly advantage, and it is to such the Apostle refers. The correct rendering is, “supposing that godliness is gain.”[76]

Heb. iv. 2. “For unto us was the gospel preached as well as unto them,” a rendering which at once raises the objection that “the Gospel,” in the sense which ordinary readers attach to the term, was not preached to the Israelites in the wilderness; nor does any reference to “the Gospel” occur in the immediate context, but simply to the promise of entering into a rest. The plain sense of the passage is, “unto us were good tidings preached as well as unto them.”

Heb. viii. 5. “Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things.” The introduction of the preposition “unto” almost entirely obliterates the meaning of the clause; namely, that the Mosaic priesthood were the ministers, not of the true sanctuary, but of that which is only its copy and shadow. The Rheims correctly renders, “that serve the examplar and shadow of heavenly things.”

Heb. xiii. 7, 8. “Whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation: Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day,[Pg 78] and for ever.” Here there is a double error; first, the connection of the last clause with the preceding, as if it were intended to affirm that Christ was the end of the conversation of their faithful pastors; and secondly, the wrong sense thus given to the word “end,” which here denotes the “outcome” or issue. The Hebrew Christians are urged to imitate the faith of their pastors, considering the blessed issue of their Christian cause. Then follows, as an independent statement, the assertion of the unchangeableness of Christ, which, though not altogether disconnected in thought with what precedes, stands in still closer connection with what follows: “Considering the issue of their way of life, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.”

Such are some of the passages from which it may be said, that through the emphatic unanimity of Biblical scholars all obscurity and doubt have been removed. Their true meaning may now be affirmed with a confidence that closely borders upon moral certainty. Through numerous commentaries and other expository works, these results of scholarship are made widely known, and they whose duty it is to expound these passages to others are constrained to point out the imperfection that attaches to the renderings given in the English Bible now ordinarily used. It is obviously a most undesirable thing that the teacher or preacher should be placed under such a necessity. It is not at all times easy so to discharge the duty as that he shall give no offence even to educated hearers; while the simple-minded and unlearned are painfully perplexed; and, unprepared as they are to estimate the limits of possible error, seem to themselves to be launched upon a boundless sea of uncertainty. Revision, therefore, becomes imperative, both for the sake of removing acknowledged blemishes, and also for reassuring the anxious that they are trusting to a faithful guide, and for showing to them how little, comparatively, there is in their beloved Book that needs to be changed.



[Pg 79]



Another, and distinct, class of reasons for the further revision of the English Bible, arises from the more abundant material now possessed for the determination of the original text of Scripture than was within the reach of the Revisers of 1611.

Even if these honoured men had perfectly fulfilled their work, and had never erred in their interpretation of the sacred books, the result of their labours would still be open to correction because of the less perfect form of the texts which they set themselves to translate. The exact words used by the inspired writers are, as was stated in the first lecture, not now to be found in any one book or manuscript. They have to be gathered from varied sources, by long and careful labour, demanding much skill and learning. These sources, moreover, are so numerous that the investigation of them can be accomplished only by a large division of labour, no one life being long enough for the task, and no one scholar having knowledge enough to complete it alone. Nevertheless, it is well that our sources are thus extensive. Had one copy only of the books of the Old and New Testament come down to us, then, indeed, we should have been freed from the necessity of this manifold and laborious research, but unless this were the original copy itself, we should have had no means whereby to detect and to remove the errors which had crept in from the human imperfections[Pg 80] of the transcribers. And though none of these errata might in any serious degree have affected the great truths which the Bible conveys to us, or have diminished our estimate of its surpassing worth, they would have been as blots upon its pages which our love and reverence for it would long to see removed. The greater the number and variety of our resources, the greater is our ability, by the examination and comparison of their differences, to remove these blemishes; and the greater also is the confidence we are able to feel in the absolute correctness of those far more numerous and extensive passages in which our authorities agree. And hence, though the toil imposed upon us is so largely multiplied thereby, we cannot but rejoice in the number and extent of our authorities, and we gather therefrom a fresh illustration of the saying, that “in all labour there is profit.”

The sources, whence our knowledge of the original texts is chiefly derived, are three in number: (1) Manuscripts containing one or more of the books of Scripture; (2) Ancient Versions of the Bible; and (3) Quotations of Scriptural passages found in the works of early Christian writers.

Respecting our Manuscript Authorities, the first fact claiming emphatic notice is, that while in the case of the classic poets, philosophers and historians, the extant manuscript copies are numbered by tens and sometimes even by units, those of the Scriptures are numbered by hundreds. Of the New Testament alone nearly eighteen hundred manuscripts have been catalogued and more or less carefully examined. Of these 685 are manuscripts of the Gospels, 248 contain the Acts and Catholic Epistles, 298 the Pauline Epistles, and 110 the Apocalypse; 428 are Lectionaries or service books of the Greek church, 347 of which contain passages from the Gospels and 81 passages from the Acts and the Epistles. Thus while our knowledge of the interesting narratives of Herodotus is dependent upon five[Pg 81] or six authorities only, and the history of Livy upon eight or nine only (and none of these contain the whole even of the portions extant),[77] our knowledge of the life and words of our Lord is drawn from over a thousand manuscript authorities, and of which the larger part contain the whole of the four Gospels.

In antiquity again the manuscripts of the New Testament far surpass those of classical authors. Few, if any, of the latter are older than the ninth or tenth century, while of the former we have copies belonging to the fourth and fifth centuries. The oldest manuscripts are written in capital letters, and on this account are called uncial[78] manuscripts, or briefly uncials. Later manuscripts are written in a smaller character, and in a style approaching to what we call a running hand, and are hence named cursives. Of uncial manuscripts, containing portions of the New Testament, one hundred and fifty-eight have been examined and catalogued. Some of the most valuable of these have been published under the superintendence of careful editors. Others have been thoroughly examined, and their variations so faithfully noted and recorded, that a private student is, for most practical purposes, placed in the same position as the possessor of the manuscript itself. This work is technically described as collation, and the amount of painstaking labour spent upon the collation of Biblical manuscripts during the past two hundred years, and especially in the last forty or fifty years, is simply enormous. To one who has never examined a document written many centuries ago it is difficult to convey any adequate notion of the amount of time and labour involved in the collation even of a single manuscript. The unusual and varying forms of the[Pg 82] letters, the indistinctness of the characters, the various contractions employed by the scribe, and, as is the case with our most ancient documents, the non-separation of word from word, and the absence of stops, render the mere task of deciphering the manuscript very difficult and painfully wearying to the eyes.[79] Much watchful attention is also demanded, as well as a good knowledge of the language, in making the proper separation of the words, and in judging aright of any peculiarities of spelling that may attach to the writer. In making the collation of any Biblical manuscript—say of the New Testament—the course generally pursued is as follows: The collator procures a printed copy of the Greek text, commonly of some well-known edition, and in the margin of this he marks all the variations of the manuscripts from the printed text before him, whether of omission, addition, or otherwise, including even variations in spelling. He also marks carefully where each line and page of the manuscript begins and ends, what corrections or alterations have been made in it, whether these were made by the original writer or by a later hand; and where several handwritings may be detected, he specifies and distinguishes these. All this is done with so much minuteness that it would be possible for the collator to reproduce the original manuscript in every respect save in the shape of the letters and the appearance of the parchment or paper.

Of the uncial manuscripts of the New Testament, the most ancient and important are the Sinaitic,[80] written in the fourth century, and now deposited in the Imperial Library of St.[Pg 83] Petersburg; the Vatican,[81] also of the fourth century, and preserved in the Vatican Library at Rome; the Alexandrine,[82] of the fifth century, now in the British Museum; the Ephraem Codex,[83] of the fifth century, in the National Library at Paris; Beza’s Codex,[84] of the sixth century, in the University Library, Cambridge; and the Claromontane,[85] also of the sixth century, which formerly belonged to Beza, but is now in the National Library at Paris. As will be seen presently, only two of these most ancient manuscripts were available for the preparation of the text from which the translators of 1611 made their revision. The Alexandrine was not brought to light until 1628, when it was presented to Charles I. by Cyril Lucar, patriarch of Constantinople. Although the Ephraem Codex was brought to Europe in the early part of the sixteenth century, it was not known to contain a portion of the New Testament until towards the close of the seventeenth century, and was not collated until the year 1716. The Sinaitic was discovered by Dr. Tischendorf, in the Convent of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai, so recently as February 4th, 1859. And the Vatican, though deposited in the Library at Rome in the fifteenth century, was, during a long time, so jealously guarded by the Roman authorities, that little use could be made of it. Now, however, all these six important manuscripts have been edited and published, some in the ordinary style of printing, and some in quasi fac-simile. At the present time, by the application of the processes of photography, an exact copy of the Alexandrine is in course of preparation, and the New Testament portion has been successfully completed.

In these and other ways, by the laborious efforts of many English and Continental scholars, an immense amount of material for the determination of the sacred text has been[Pg 84] gathered together and safely garnered; and knowledge which aforetime could be attained only by slow and wearisome effort, by many long journeys to distant places, and by much personal search amongst the books and papers stored away in national and other libraries, can now be attained with comparative ease by the solitary student in his study. At the time when King James’s translators entered upon their work a small fraction only of this mass of material was available, and even that fraction was but imperfectly used. The means were not then possessed for correctly judging of the relative value of the several documents, nor had experience given the skill to discriminate wisely between varying testimony.

The translators of 1611 have left on record no statement respecting the Greek text from which they translated, but as far as can be gathered from internal evidence they contented themselves with accepting the forms of it which they found ready at hand. Of these the two then held in highest repute were those connected with the names of Theodore Beza and Robert Stephen. These, in their turn, were based upon the two primary editions of the printed text, the Complutensian and Erasmus’s, editions which were made quite independently of each other. The Complutensian was the first printed, though not the first published.[86] It formed the fifth volume of the splendid Polyglot prepared under the munificent patronage of Cardinal Ximenes, at Alcala, in Spain, from the Latin name of which city (Complutum) it derives its designation, and was completed January 10th, 1514. It is not now known from what manuscripts the text of this edition was derived, but it may be confidently affirmed that none of our most ancient authorities were used. They were probably not many in number, and were all what in this connection is termed modern; that is to say, not earlier than the tenth century. The first published edition of the Greek[Pg 85] New Testament was that edited by the celebrated Erasmus, and sent forth from the press of Froben, in Basle, February 24th, 1516. This was derived from six manuscripts, five of which are now in the public library of Basle, and one[87] in the library of the Prince of Oettingen-Wallerstein. Of these one, and the most valuable, contained the whole of the New Testament except the Apocalypse, but of this Erasmus made but little use. Of the rest, one contained the Gospels only, two the Acts and the Epistles only, one the Epistles of Paul only, and one the Apocalypse only. It will thus be seen that in the Gospels the text given by Erasmus rested almost entirely upon the authority of a single manuscript; in the Acts and Catholic Epistles upon that of two only; in the Epistles of Paul upon three; and in the Apocalypse upon one only, and that an imperfect one. The last six verses were wanting, and these Erasmus supplied by translating them into Greek from the Latin of the Vulgate. The work too was hastily done. The proposal to undertake it was made to Erasmus April 17th, 1515, so that less than ten months were given to the preparation of the volume, and this, too, at a time when Erasmus was busied with other engagements; an unseemly haste that we may probably ascribe to the publishers’ eager desire to get the start of the Complutensian. Revised editions were published in 1519 and 1522, in the preparation of which the aid of a few additional manuscripts was obtained. These, again, were further revised by the aid of the Complutensian, which then became available, in an edition which Erasmus published in 1527.

The next stage in the history of the printed text of the Greek New Testament is marked by the publication at Paris, in 1550, of the handsome folio of the celebrated and learned printer, Robert Stephen.[88] He tells us in his preface that in the[Pg 86] preparation of this edition he made use of the Complutensian and of fifteen manuscripts. Two of these were ancient, one that is now known as Beza’s Codex, which had been collated for him by a friend in Italy, and another, a manuscript in the National Library of Paris, written in the eighth or ninth century, and containing the four Gospels;[89] the rest were modern, and all were but imperfectly collated.[90]

After the death of Robert Stephen (1559)[91] the work of revision was carried on by Theodore Beza, who, like the former, had embraced the Protestant cause, and like him also had found a home in Geneva. His first edition was published in this city in 1565, a second in 1582, a third in 1589, and a fourth in 1598. In the preparation of these he had in his possession the collations made for Robert Stephen, and, in addition, the ancient manuscript of the Gospels and Acts which now bears his name; and for the Pauline Epistles, the equally ancient Claromontane. Beza’s strength, however, lay rather in the interpretation, than in the criticism, of the text, and he made but a slight use of the materials within his reach.

It will thus be seen how small, comparatively, was the manuscript authority for the text used by King James’s translators. In the main they follow the text of Beza; sometimes, however, they give the preference to Stephen’s; in some few places they differ from both. By what principles they were guided in their choice we do not know. They do not appear to have set on foot any independent examination of authorities, and when they forsake their two guides they commonly follow in the wake of some of the earlier English versions.

But, as already stated, manuscripts are not the only source[Pg 87] whence we derive our knowledge of the original texts. Translations of the Scriptures were made at an early date; some at an earlier date than that of the oldest manuscripts now extant. Two of these were referred to in the first lecture; namely, the old Latin and the old Syriac, both of which belong to the second century, and give, therefore, most important testimony as to the words of Scripture at that early period. Next to these in point of age may be placed the two Egyptian versions, one in the language of Lower Egypt, and called the Memphitic (or Coptic), and the other in that of Upper Egypt, and called the Thebaic (or Sahidic). In the opinion of competent judges, some portions, at least, of the Scriptures must have been translated into these dialects before the close of the second century; in their completed form these versions may be referred to the earlier part of the third century. A Gothic version of the Scriptures was made in the fourth century by Ulphilas, who was Bishop of the Moeso-Goths 348-388; and of this some valuable portions are still extant. Two other ancient versions, the Armenian (cent. 5), and the Æthiopic (cents. 6 and 7), though of inferior importance, are not without value. During recent years a large amount of labour has been spent, first, in securing as accurate a knowledge as possible of the text of these various versions, and then in investigating the evidence they supply respecting the original texts from which they were severally made. From this source much valuable material has been obtained supplementary to that furnished by Biblical manuscripts.

The works of early Christian writers contain, as might be expected, large quotations of Scripture passages. Some of these works are elaborate expositions of various books of the Old and New Testament, and others are controversial writings in which there is a frequent necessity for appealing to Scriptural authorities. Although not a few of the writings of the earliest Christian authors have perished, we have still a [Pg 88]considerable collection of writings belonging to the second and third centuries, whose pages supply us with valuable evidence concerning the text of the New Testament, of a date earlier than the oldest of our manuscripts. We have also a still larger collection of writings belonging to the same age as that of our most ancient manuscripts, and from them are able to gather a further mass of testimony in confirmation or correction of that given by these venerable documents.

The writings of Irenæus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen, belonging to the latter part of the second century, and the beginning of the third, contain a large body of quotations from the Gospels and Epistles. The works of Origen alone may, with scarcely any exaggeration, be said to be equivalent to an additional manuscript of the New Testament. He died about A.D. 253 or 254, and during his entire life gave himself with a most indomitable perseverance to Biblical studies. In addition to an elaborate revision of the Greek text of the Septuagint, upon which he spent eight and twenty years, but of which unhappily some fragments only have reached us, he composed expositions or homilies upon the larger part of the books of the Old and New Testaments. Of these some very considerable portions have come down to us, and as his expositions on the Old Testament abound in quotations from the New, the number of passages from the latter found in his writings is very large.

Of writers belonging to the fourth century we have commentaries in Greek by Chrysostom and Didymus, and in Latin by Hilary of Rome, and Jerome; and, in addition, extensive theological treatises, involving numerous appeals to the Scriptures, by Athanasius, Ambrose, Basil, Epiphanius, and the two Gregorys.

In the following century we have the Greek commentaries of Theodore of Mopsuestia and Theodoret; the commentary of Pelagius on the Epistles of Paul; and the voluminous writings[Pg 89] of Augustine, including commentaries on the Psalms, the Sermon on the Mount, John’s Gospel and Epistles, and Paul’s Epistles to the Romans and Galatians, together with a large number of Homilies on various parts of Scripture. These numerous writings form a mine of wealth to the Biblical critic; but it is a mine that has only been diligently worked in comparatively recent years. Much wearisome toil has been necessary in bringing to light its treasures, and these were either overlooked or neglected by the earlier editors of the Greek New Testament.

It may perhaps be thought that, inasmuch as the documents from which these Christian writings are obtained are themselves of a later date, the testimony they give to the text of Scripture is of no higher worth than that of Biblical manuscripts of the same age. The scribes, it may be said, would be influenced by the form of text then current, and in copying these writings would naturally, when Scripture quotations occurred, give them in the form with which they were familiar. To some extent this may have been the case, and the testimony of these writings is of less weight when they simply reflect the form of text which prevailed at the date when they were copied. But then, on the other hand, their testimony is for the same reason proportionally the stronger whenever they do not agree with the current form, but give a different reading. Moreover it must be remembered that in many cases the authors comment minutely upon the Scripture text, and that here their testimony is quite unaffected by any tendency on the part of the copyist to use a familiar form, the comment itself showing beyond all doubt what was the form of the text which the author was expounding. In all such places the testimony of these early writers is especially valuable.

From this mere outline of the manifold researches which scholars have made during the years that have passed since the Revision of 1611 was issued, some notion may be gathered of[Pg 90] the extent to which our resources for the satisfactory determination of the sacred text have been multiplied. It will hence be seen how great is the confidence with which we are thereby enabled to affirm the verbal correctness of that far larger portion of the text in which our numerous and varied authorities are all agreed, and with what confidence also we can place our finger upon certain blemishes, and say that here an error has crept in through the inadvertence, or carelessness, or ignorance of the transcriber. If then there were no other reasons for the revision of the English Bible, this alone would be a sufficient ground for it. When it is in the power of any one to say that there are passages in our common Bibles which, as there given, are found in no Greek manuscript whatever, as is the case in Acts ix., the latter part of verse 5, and the beginning of verse 6; 1 Peter iii. 20; Heb. xi. 13; and Rev. ii. 20; and when there are other passages, respecting which the evidence is greatly preponderating, that they ought to have no place in the text, as is the case with Matt. vi. 13; Matt. xvii. 21; Matt. xxiii. 35 (last clause); Mark xv. 28; Luke xi. 2, 4 (the last clause of each verse); John v. 3 (last clause), and 4; Acts viii. 37; Acts xv. 34; Acts xxviii. 29; Rom. xi. 6 (last clause); 1 Cor. vi. 20 (last clause); 1 Cor. x. 28 (last clause); Gal. iii. 1 (second clause); Heb. xii. 20; and 1 John v., from “in heaven,” verse 7, to “in earth,” verse 8. When these things can be said, and can be truly said, then all true lovers of the Bible will earnestly demand that they be forthwith removed.



[Pg 91]



It has not been left to the present generation to be the first to recognize the force of the various considerations presented in the previous lectures. The duty of providing for a further revision of the English Bible has been handed down as a solemn trust from generation to generation. Every new discovery made of Biblical manuscripts, and every fresh field of research opened up, has at once made the need of revision more apparent, and given intensity to the desire that it should be undertaken; and, in their turn, this quickened desire and this increase of material have prompted to renewed efforts in obtaining all possible subsidiary helps. In this way it has come to pass that the whole period which has elapsed since the publication of the Revision of 1611 has been in effect a time of preparation for another and further revision, and here, as elsewhere, the divine law of human discipline has been verified, that every work accomplished is but the starting-point for fresh endeavours.

In this work of preparation four distinct stages may be clearly traced: the first, that of unfriendly criticism; the second, that of premature attempts at correction; the third, that of diligent research and patient investigation; and the fourth, that of widespread conviction of the desirableness of further revision, and the discussion of the plans by which it may best be accomplished.

From the very first the new version had to undergo an ordeal[Pg 92] of criticism, springing sometimes from personal pique, sometimes from party prejudice, sometimes from a one-sided attachment to a favourite doctrine, the evidence for which seemed to be obscured by the rendering given to certain passages. Almost immediately upon the publication of the volume, a violent attack was made upon it by Hugh Broughton, who, though a man of immense erudition, and one of the best Hebraists of the day, was of so overbearing a temper that his offer to aid in the revision had been declined. Broughton declared that the version was so ill done that it bred in him a sadness which would grieve him whilst he breathed. “Tell his Majesty,” he passionately said, “that I had rather be rent in pieces with wild horses than any such translation by my consent should be urged on poor churches.”

In the sharp controversies of the Commonwealth period the slight indications given by the version of a certain ecclesiastical bias were unduly exaggerated. Charges of a direct prelatic influence were freely made, and various rumours were circulated, as if upon good authority, that Archbishop Bancroft had taken upon himself to introduce alterations in opposition to the judgment, and even the protest of the translators. Influenced probably by the feeling thus awakened, though not sharing it, Dr. John Lightfoot, in a sermon preached before the Long Parliament on August 26th, 1645,[92] expressed the hope that they would find some time among their serious employments to think of a “review and survey of the translation of the Bible.” “And certainly,” he added, “it would not be the least advantage that you might do to the three nations, if they, by your care and means, might come to understand the proper and genuine reading of the Scriptures by an exact, vigorous, and lively translation.”

In 1653 the charge that the New Testament “had been[Pg 93] looked over by some Prelates, to bring it to speak the Prelatical language,” was formally repeated in the preamble of a Bill brought before the Long Parliament, which proposed the appointment of a committee “to search and observe wherein that last translation appears to be wronged by the Prelates or printers or others.”[93] In 1659 a folio volume of 805 pages, entitled, “An Essay toward the Amendment of the Last English Translation of the Bible, or a Proof by many instances that the last Translation of the Bible into English may be improved,” was published by Dr. Robert Gell, “Minister of the Parish of St. Mary, Alder-Mary, London.” Dr. Gell was a man who stoutly maintained the doctrine that it is “possible and attainable through the grace of God and His Holy Spirit that men may be without sin,” and his book is an elaborate attempt to show that this doctrine “was frequently delivered in holy Scripture, though industriously obscured by our translators.” An attack of another kind was made a quarter of a century later, by a Roman Catholic writer named Thomas Ward, who, repeating many of the charges made against the earlier English versions by Gregory Martin, one of the authors of the Rhemish version, charged the translators with corrupting the Holy Scriptures by false and partial translations, for the purpose of gaining unfair advantage in the controversy with the Church of Rome.[94]

These hostile criticisms, though made in a spirit of partisanship and marred by much uncharitableness and unfairness, were nevertheless of service. They forced upon all, though in a rude and unpleasant way, the recognition of the fact that the new version, with all its excellences, was still the work of fallible men; and despite their passion and their hard words, they did[Pg 94] undoubtedly hit some blots that here and there disfigured the sacred page. To this extent they served to prepare the way for further revision.

A second stage in the process of preparation is seen in the various attempts which have been made to produce a version which should remove acknowledged blemishes, and more faithfully convey the meaning of the holy Word. Some of these have been based upon a well-conceived plan, and have sought to accomplish the desired end by the united efforts of a band of fellow-labourers; others have been the work of individual scholars, and were for the most part of a tentative character, intended simply to show what ought to be attempted, and how it might be done; others, again, have been the unwise labours of men who worked upon false principles, and with insufficient knowledge; but all have in their own way helped on the work, the former two classes by their felicitous renderings of some passages, and the light they have thrown upon the meaning of others, and the last mentioned class by their clear demonstration of what a translation of the Scriptures ought certainly not to be.

The first[95] serious attempt at a further revision was made by[Pg 95] the Rev. Henry Jessey, M.A., pastor of that greatly persecuted Congregational Church in Southwark, which had been gathered by Henry Jacob in 1616. In the time of the Commonwealth proposals were made by Jessey, that “godly and able men” should be appointed by “public authority” “to review and amend the defects in our translation.” Pending their appointment, he set himself to secure the co-operation of a number of learned men, at home and abroad, writing to them in the following fashion: “There being a strange desire in many that love the truth, to have a more pure, proper translation of the originals than hitherto; and I being moved and inclined to it, and desirous to promote it with all possible speed and exactness, do make my request (now in my actual entrance on Genesis) that as you love the truth as it is in Jesus, and the edification of saints, you with others (in like manner solicited), will take share and do each a part in the work, which being finished will be fruit to your account.” Of the names of his fellow-workers the only one recorded is that of Mr. John Row, Hebrew professor at Aberdeen, “who took exceeding pains herein,” and who drew up the scheme in accordance with which the work was carried on. Jessey’s proposal received at least so much of support from “public authority,” that he was one of the committee whose appointment was recommended to the House of Commons in 1653. The result is thus quaintly told by Jessey’s biographer:[96] “Thus thorow his perswasions many persons excelling in knowledge, integrity, and holiness, did buckle to this great Worke of bettering the Translation of the Bible, but their[Pg 96] names are thought fit at present to be concealed to prevent undue Reflections upon their persons; but may come to light (if that work shall ever come to be made publick), and unto each of them was one particular book or more allotted, according as they had leisure, or as the bent of their Genius, advantages of Books or Studies lay, which when supervised by all the rest, dayes of assembling together were to have been set apart, to seek the Lord for His further direction, and for conference with each other touching the matter then under consideration. In process of time this whole work was almost compleated, and stayed for nothing but the appointment of Commissioners to examine it, and warrant its publication.” The death of Cromwell, and the political events which followed, prevented the realization of Jessey’s hopes. It had been with him the work of many years of his life, and his soul was so engaged in it that he frequently uttered the prayer, “O that I might see this done before I die.”

The ecclesiastical events arising out of the Act of Uniformity (1662) will sufficiently account for the absence of any efforts of revision during the latter part of the seventeenth century. In the earlier part of the following century there appeared one of those ill-advised attempts, whose chief use is to serve as a beacon of warning, in the Greek and English New Testament, published A.D. 1729, by W. Mace, M.D.[97] In his translation this[Pg 97] author allowed himself to employ an unpleasantly free style of rendering, and deemed it fitting to substitute the colloquial style of the day for the dignified simplicity of the version he undertook to amend.

Towards the latter part of the century a considerable number of well-meant endeavours at revision were made by devout and scholarly men.

In 1764 “A new and literal Translation of the Old and New Testament, with notes, critical and explanatory,” was published by Anthony Purver, a member of the Society of Friends.

In 1770 there was issued “The New Testament, or New Covenant of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, translated from the Greek according to the present idiom of the English tongue, with notes and references,” by John Worsley, of Hertford, whose aim, as stated in his preface, was to bring his translation nearer to the original, and “to make the present form of expression more suitable to our present language,” adding, with a laudable desire to repudiate all sympathy with those who forced the Scripture to say what, according to their own fancies, it ought to say, “I have no design to countenance any particular opinions or sentiments. I have weighed, as it were, every word in a balance, even to the minutest particle, begging the gracious aid of the Divine Spirit to lead me into the true and proper meaning, that I might give a just and exact translation of this great and precious charter of man’s salvation.”[98]

[Pg 98]In 1781 Gilbert Wakefield, late Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge, but then classical tutor of the Warrington Academy, published “a new translation of the First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Thessalonians, offered to the public as a specimen of an intended version of the whole New Testament, with a preface containing a brief account of the Author’s plan.” This was followed in 1782 by a new translation of the Gospel of Matthew, and in 1791 by a translation of the whole of the New Testament.[99]

In 1786 a Roman Catholic clergyman (the Rev. Alexander Geddes, LL.D.) issued a prospectus of “a New Translation of the Holy Bible from corrected texts of the originals, compared with the Ancient Versions.” This prospectus was very favourably received by many of the leading Biblical scholars of the day, especially by the great Hebraist, Dr. Benjamin Kennicott, Canon of Christchurch, and by Dr. Robert Lowth, Bishop of London, and was followed in 1788 by formal proposals for printing the book by subscription. The first volume appeared in 1792, with the title “The Holy Bible, or the Books accounted sacred by Jews and Christians; otherwise called the Books of the Old and New Covenants, faithfully translated from corrected texts of the Originals, with various readings, explanatory notes, and critical remarks.” Two other volumes were afterwards published; but the death of the author, in 1801, prevented the completion of the work.[100]

In 1796 Dr. William Newcome, Archbishop of Armagh, published “An attempt towards revising our English Translation of the Greek Scriptures, or the New Covenant of Jesus Christ; and towards illustrating the sense by philological and explanatory notes.”

Passing over some other works less worthy of notice, a[Pg 99] scholarly attempt was made in 1836 by Grenville Penn to introduce into the English version some of the results which had then been attained by the critical examination of ancient authorities. This work bore the title, “The Book of the New Covenant of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, being a critical revision of the text and translation of the English version of the New Testament, with the aid of most ancient manuscripts, unknown to the age in which that version was last put forth by authority.”

It is not to be supposed that any of these translations were published with the expectation of securing so large a measure of favour as to supersede the current version. Their primary purpose was to aid the private study of the Bible; but they have been of great service also in keeping the general question of revision before the notice of thoughtful persons, and they have each in their measure contributed to a more exact knowledge of the Scriptures.

The failure of the earlier of these attempts at revision arose in part from the imperfect state of the texts upon which they were based. This soon became obvious, and Biblical scholars saw that for some time to come their labours must be spent rather in laying the foundation for a future revision than in attempting it themselves, and this in three distinct departments. The first of these was the collection, as described in the last lecture, of the material supplied by ancient manuscripts, and by early versions and quotations. In this department a long succession of faithful men have laboured, amongst whom may be mentioned Brian Walton, who in 1657 published his famous Polyglot Bible in six folio volumes, giving in addition to the original Hebrew and Greek, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Septuagint, Latin, Syriac, Arabic, Æthiopic, and Persian versions; Dr. John Mill, whose New Testament was published in 1770, and of whom it has been justly said that “his services to Bible criticism surpass in extent and value those rendered by[Pg 100] any other except one or two men yet living;”[101] Dr. Richard Bentley, who, having himself collated the Alexandrine and other ancient MSS., and by various agencies amassed a large store of critical material, published in 1720 his “Proposals for Printing” revised texts both of the Greek New Testament and the Latin Vulgate; Dr. Kennicott, who in 1760 aroused public attention to the importance of collating all Hebrew MSS. made before the invention of printing, and who personally, or through the aid of others, collated more than six hundred Hebrew MSS., and sixteen MSS. of the Samaritan Pentateuch; John Bernard de Rossi, professor of Oriental languages in the University of Parma, who in 1784-8 published the results of the collation of seven hundred and thirty-one MSS., and of three hundred editions of the Hebrew Scriptures; and, to come to more recent times, Dr. Constantine Tischendorf, Dr. Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, and Dr. Frederick Henry Scrivener, whose names are to be held in the highest honour, as of men who have rendered invaluable service to their own and future generations in the exhausting and self-denying work of the collation of Biblical MSS., and through whose care and accuracy the means of obtaining an exact knowledge of a large number of most precious documents have been placed within easy reach of all.

The second department of labour is the application of the material thus collected to the correction of the text. Here again a vast amount of patient work has been done, and out of the successive labours of a long series of critics much valuable experience has been gained and the best methods gradually learnt. Amongst those who have thus laboured in the criticism of the text of the New Testament may be mentioned the names of Bengel, Wettstein, Griesbach, Scholz, Tischendorf, Lachmann, Alford, Tregelles, Westcott, and Hort; and of that of the Old Testament, Buxtorf, Leusden, Van der Hooght, Michaelis, Houbigant, Kennicott, and Jahn.

[Pg 101]The third department is that which is concerned with the investigation of the meaning of the sacred writers; and how much has been done in this will be manifest to any one who makes the attempt to reckon up the long series of commentaries, English and Continental, on the books of the Holy Scriptures, published since the Revision of 1611, commencing with the Annotations of the eminent Nonconformist, Henry Ainsworth, on the Pentateuch, Psalms, and Song of Solomon, 1627, down to the recent commentaries on Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon, by Dr. J. B. Lightfoot, the present Bishop of Durham. The attempt to make this enumeration will deepen the desire that the light which has been shed upon the Bible by this long succession of its learned and earnest students should now be employed for the guidance and help of the ordinary readers of its pages.

To such desire emphatic expression has been given in various ways through full two generations, with an ever increasing intensity, and by representative men amongst all Christian communities.

So early in the present century as the year 1809, Dr. John Pye Smith, President of the Congregational College at Homerton, thus wrote: “That such blemishes should disfigure that translation of the best and most important of volumes, which has been and still is more read by thousands of the pious than any other version, ancient or modern; that they should be acknowledged by all competent judges to exist; that they should have been so long and often complained of; and yet that there has been no great public act, from high and unimpeachable authority, for removing them, we are constrained to view as a disgrace to our national literature. We do not wish to see our common version, now become venerable by age and prescription, superseded by another entirely new; every desirable purpose would be satisfactorily attained by a faithful and well-conducted revision.”[102]

[Pg 102]In the following year (1810) Dr. Herbert Marsh, then Margaret Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, and subsequently Bishop of Peterborough, in the first edition of his Lectures wrote: “It is probable that our authorised version is as faithful a representation of the original Scriptures as could have been formed at that period. But when we consider the immense accession that has since been made, both to our critical and philological apparatus;” “when we consider that the most important sources of intelligence for the interpretation of the original Scriptures were likewise opened after that period, we cannot possibly pretend that our authorised version does not require amendment.”[103]

In 1816 Thomas Wemyss, a learned layman, who had devoted himself to Biblical studies, called attention, under the title of Biblical Gleanings, to a number of passages which were generally allowed to be mistranslated; and in 1819 Sir James Bland Burges published Reasons in favour of a New Translation of the Scriptures.

During a few years after this, the subject remained in abeyance, but in 1832 there was published, at Cambridge, a calm and scholarly pamphlet, entitled Hints on an Improved Translation of the New Testament, by the Rev. James Scholefield, A.M., Regius Professor of Greek in the University of Cambridge. A second edition was issued in 1836, and a third, with an appendix, in 1849.

Through these and other publications a widely-spread conviction was produced that the work ought at length to be attempted, and in the years 1855-57 the question was in a very emphatic form brought under public notice. In the Edinburgh Review of October, 1855, in a notice of a certain Paragraph Bible then recently published, there appeared the following[Pg 103] words: “Surely it is high time for a further revision. It is now almost 250 years since the last was made. During that long period neither the researches of the clergy nor the intelligence of the laity have remained stationary. We have become desirous of knowing more, and they have acquired more to teach us. Vast stores of Biblical information have been accumulating since the days of James I., by which, not merely the rendering of the Common Version, but the purity of the Sacred Text itself, might be improved. And it is essential to the interests of religion that that information should be fully, freely, and in an authoritative form, disseminated abroad by a careful correction of our received version of the Sacred Scriptures.”

In the following year, 1856, the Rev. William Selwyn, Canon of Ely, and Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, sent forth his Notes on the proposed Amendment of the Authorized Version of the Holy Scriptures, in which he states: “I do not hesitate to avow my firm persuasion that there are at least one thousand passages of the English Bible that might be amended without any change in the general texture and justly reverenced language of the version.”

In July of the same year an address to the Crown was moved in the House of Commons by Mr. Heywood, member for North Lancashire, praying that Her Majesty would appoint a Royal Commission of learned men to consider of such amendments of the authorized version of the Bible as had been already proposed, and to receive suggestions from all persons who might be willing to offer them, and to report the amendments which they might be prepared to recommend.

In the January of the following year a resolution in support of revision was proposed at the general meeting of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, by the Rev. G. F. Biber, LL.D., who subsequently published the substance of his speech in support of this resolution, under the title, A Plea for an Edition of the Authorized Version of Holy Scripture with[Pg 104] explanatory and emendatory marginal readings. Pamphlets also were published the same year by Dr. Beard and by Dr. Henry Burgess; but, what it is more important to note, in that year there was published the first of a series of works which were intended to show by example the kind of work which the wiser advocates of revision desired to see undertaken. This was The Gospel according to John, after the Authorized Version, newly compared with the original Greek, and revised by five clergymen—John Barrow, D.D.; George Moberly, D.C.L.; Henry Alford, B.D.; William G. Humphry, B.D.; Charles J. Ellicott, M.A. In that same year also Dr. Trench, then Dean of Westminster (now Archbishop of Dublin), published his work On the Authorized Version of the New Testament; and in 1863 Dr. Plumptre, in the Dictionary of the Bible, reiterated the statement, “The work ought not to be delayed much longer.”

In the spring of 1870 the desirableness of a fresh revision of the English Bible was advocated—by Dr. J. B. Lightfoot in a paper read before a meeting of clergy; by the writer of these lectures in a paper read before the annual meeting of the Congregational Union of England and Wales; by the British Quarterly Review in its January number; and, finally, by the Quarterly Review in its April number.

A weighty sentence from the last-mentioned writer will be a fitting conclusion to the present lecture. “It is positive unfaithfulness on the part of those who have ability and opportunity to decline the task. The Word of God, just because it is God’s Word, ought to be presented to every reader in a state as pure and perfect as human learning, skill, and taste can make it. The higher our veneration for it the more anxious ought we to be to free it from every blemish, however small and unimportant. But nothing in truth can be unimportant which dims the light of Divine Revelation.”



[Pg 105]



To the general consensus of opinion described in the last lecture practical expression was first given by the action of the Convocation of Canterbury, in the early part of 1870.

On February 10, 1870, a resolution was moved in the Upper House of Convocation by Dr. Wilberforce, Bishop of Winchester, and seconded by Dr. Ellicott, Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol, “That a Committee of both Houses be appointed, with power to confer with any committee that may be appointed by the Convocation of the Northern Province, to report upon the desirableness of a revision of the Authorized Version of the New Testament, whether by marginal notes or otherwise, in all those passages where plain and clear errors, whether in the Greek Text originally adopted by the translators, or in the translation made from the same, shall, on due investigation, be found to exist.” On the motion of Dr. Ollivant, Bishop of Llandaff, seconded by Dr. Thirlwall, Bishop of St. Davids, it was agreed to enlarge this resolution so as to include the Old Testament also, and the resolution as so amended was ultimately adopted.

This resolution was communicated to the Lower House on the following day (February 11), where it was accepted without a division.

The joint Committee appointed in accordance with this resolution consisted of seven Bishops and fourteen Members of the[Pg 106] Lower House.[104] This Committee met on March 24th, and agreed to the following report:[105]

I. “That it is desirable that a Revision of the Authorized Version of the Holy Scriptures be undertaken.”

II. “That the Revision be so conducted as to comprise both Marginal renderings, and such emendations as it may be found necessary to insert in the text of the Authorized Version.”

III. “That in the above Resolutions we do not contemplate any new translation of the Bible, or any alteration of the language except where, in the judgment of the most competent Scholars, such change is necessary.”

IV. “That in such necessary changes, the style of the language employed in the existing Version be closely followed.”

V. “That it is desirable that Convocation should nominate a body of its own Members to undertake the work of Revision, who shall be at liberty to invite the co-operation of any eminent for scholarship, to whatever nation or religious body they may belong.”

This Report was presented to the Upper House on May 3rd, where its adoption was moved by Bishop Wilberforce, and seconded by Bishop Thirlwall, and carried unanimously.

Bishop Wilberforce then moved, and Bishop Thirlwall seconded, “That a Committee be now appointed to consider and Report to Convocation a scheme of revision on the principles[Pg 107] laid down in the Report now adopted, and that the Bishops of Winchester, St. Davids, Llandaff, Gloucester and Bristol, Salisbury, Ely, Lincoln, and Bath and Wells, be members of the Committee. That the Committee be empowered to invite the co-operation of those whom they may judge fit from their Biblical Scholarship to aid them in their work.” This also was carried unanimously.

In the Lower House the above given Report of the joint Committee was presented on May 5th, when its adoption was moved by Canon Selwyn,[106] and seconded by Archdeacon Allen. In the discussion which followed two attempts were made to overthrow the principle embodied in the fifth resolution, and to confine the revision to Scholars in communion with the Church of England. Both of these were unsuccessful, and the adoption of the Report was carried, with two dissentients only. On the following day, May 6th, the House completed its action by agreeing to the suggestion of the Upper House, that on this occasion it should waive its privilege of appointing on joint Committees twice as many as were appointed by the Upper House, and should appoint eight Members only to co-operate with the eight Bishops mentioned above. The Members selected were Dr. Bickersteth the Prolocutor, Dean Alford, Dean Stanley, Canon Blakesley, Canon Selwyn, Archdeacon Rose, Dr. Jebb, and Dr. Kay.

The first meeting of this second joint Committee was held on May 25th. It was then agreed that the Committee should separate into two Companies—one for the revision of the Old Testament, and one for that of the New. Of the Members of[Pg 108] Committee belonging to the Upper House five were assigned to the former Company and three to the latter. The Members belonging to the Lower House were divided equally between the two Companies. At the same meeting the Committee selected the Scholars who should be invited to join the Companies, and also decided upon the general rules that should guide their procedure. These were:

1. “To introduce as few alterations as possible into the Text of the Authorized Version consistently with faithfulness.”

2. “To limit as far as possible the expression of such alterations to the language of the Authorized and earlier English versions.”

3. “Each Company to go twice over the portion to be revised, once provisionally, the second time finally, and on principles of voting as hereinafter is provided.”

4. “That the Text to be adopted be that for which the evidence is decidedly preponderating; and that when the Text so adopted differs from that from which the Authorized Version was made, the alteration be indicated in the margin.”

5. “To make or retain no change in the Text on the second and final revision by each Company, except two-thirds of those present approve of the same, but on the first revision to decide by simple majorities.”

6. “In every case of proposed alteration that may have given rise to discussion, to defer the voting thereupon till the next Meeting, whensoever the same shall be required by one-third of those present at the Meeting, such intended vote to be announced in the notice for the next Meeting.”

7. “To revise the headings of chapters, pages, paragraphs, italics, and punctuation.”

8. “To refer on the part of each Company, when considered desirable, to Divines, Scholars, and Literary Men, whether at home or abroad, for their opinions.”

To these it was added, that the work of each Company be[Pg 109] communicated to the other as it is completed, in order that there may be as little deviation from uniformity in language as possible.

Of the Scholars invited to join the Companies four[107] declined for various reasons, and one[108] was prevented by illness from taking part in the work. The two Companies when formed consisted of the following Members.



Dr. W. L. Alexander, Professor of Theology in the Congregational Theological Hall, Edinburgh.

Dr. E. H. Browne, Bishop of Ely.[109]

Mr. O. T. Chenery, Lord Almoner’s Professor of Arabic, Oxford.

Dr. A. B. Davidson, Professor of Hebrew, Free Church College, Edinburgh.

Dr. Benjamin Davies, Professor of Hebrew, Baptist College, Regent’s Park.

Dr. P. Fairbairn, Principal of Free Church College, Glasgow.

Dr. F. Field.

Dr. Ginsburg.

Dr. F. W. Gotch, Principal of the Baptist College, Bristol.

Rev. B. Harrison, Archdeacon of Maidstone.

Dr. A. C. Hervey, Bishop of Bath and Wells.

Dr. J. Jebb, Canon of Hereford.

Dr. W. Kay, late Principal of Bishop’s College, Calcutta.

Dr. Stanley Leathes, Professor of Hebrew, King’s College, London.

Rev. J. McGill, Professor of Oriental Languages, St. Andrews.

Dr. A. Ollivant, Bishop of Llandaff.

[Pg 110]

Dr. R Payne Smith, Regius Professor of Divinity, Oxford.[110]

Dr. J. J. S. Perowne, Professor of Hebrew, St. Davids College, Lampeter.[111]

Rev. E. H. Plumptre,[112] Professor of New Testament Exegesis, King’s College, London.

Dr. H. J. Rose, Archdeacon of Bedford.

Dr. W. Selwyn, Canon of Ely, and Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity, Cambridge.

Dr. Connop Thirlwall, Bishop of St. Davids.

Dr. Christopher Wordsworth, Bishop of Lincoln.

Mr. W. A. Wright, Librarian[113] of Trinity College, Cambridge.



Dr. H. Alford, Dean of Canterbury.

Dr. J. Angus, Principal of the Baptist College, Regent’s Park.

Dr. E. H. Bickersteth, Prolocutor of the Lower House of Convocation.[114]

Dr. J. W. Blakesley, Canon of Canterbury.[115]

Dr. J. Eadie, Professor of Biblical Literature and Exegesis to the United Presbyterian Church, Scotland.

Dr. C. J. Ellicott, Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol.

Rev. F. J. A. Hort.[116]

Rev. W. G. Humphry, Prebendary of St. Paul’s.

Dr. B. H. Kennedy, Canon of Ely, and Regius Professor of Greek, Cambridge.

Dr. W. Lee, Archdeacon of Dublin.

Dr. J. B. Lightfoot.[117]

Dr. W. Milligan, Professor of Divinity, Aberdeen.

Dr. G. Moberly, Bishop of Salisbury.

[Pg 111]

Rev. W. F. Moulton, Professor of Classics, Wesleyan College, Richmond.[118]

Rev. Samuel Newth, Professor of Classics, New College, London.[119]

Dr. A. Roberts.[120]

Dr. R. Scott, Master of Balliol College, Oxford.[121]

Rev. F. H. Scrivener.[122]

Dr. G. Vance Smith.[123]

Dr. A. P. Stanley, Dean of Westminster.

Dr. R. C. Trench, Archbishop of Dublin.

Dr. C. J. Vaughan, Master of the Temple.[124]

Dr. B. F. Westcott, Canon of Peterborough.[125]

Dr. S. Wilberforce, Bishop of Winchester.

To these lists some changes have, from various causes, been made in the course of the last ten years, both in the way of addition, and in the way of removal.

To the Old Testament Company thirteen members have been added—

Mr. R. N. Bensley, Hebrew Lecturer, Caius College, Cambridge.

Rev. J. Birrill, Professor of Oriental Languages, St Andrews, Scotland.

Dr. F. Chance.

Rev. T. K. Cheyne, Hebrew Lecturer, Balliol College, Oxford.

Dr. G. Douglas, Professor of Hebrew, Free Church College, Glasgow.

Mr. S. R Driver, Tutor of New College, Oxford.

[Pg 112]

Rev. C. J. Elliott.

Rev. J. D. Geden, Professor of Hebrew, Wesleyan College, Didsbury.

Rev. J. R. Lumby, Fellow of St. Catherine’s College, Cambridge.[126]

Rev. A. H. Sayce, Tutor of Queen’s College, Oxford.

Rev. W. Robertson Smith, Professor of Hebrew, Free Church College, Aberdeen.

Dr. D. H. Weir, Professor of Oriental Languages, Glasgow.

Dr. W. Wright, Professor of Arabic, Cambridge.

During the same period it has lost ten members, seven by death: Professor Davies, Professor Fairbairn, Professor McGill, Archdeacon Rose, Canon Selwyn, Bishop Thirlwall, Professor Weir; and three by resignation—Canon Jebb, Professor Plumptre, and Bishop Wordsworth.

The New Testament Company has undergone less change. Four members have been added—

Dr. David Brown, Professor of Divinity, Free Church College, Aberdeen.

Dr. C. Merivale, Dean of Ely.

Rev. Edwin Palmer, Professor of Latin, Oxford.[127]

Dr. Charles Wordsworth, Bishop of St. Andrews.

Four also have been removed—Dean Alford, Dr. Eadie, and Bishop Wilberforce by death, Dean Merivale by resignation.

The first chairman of the Old Testament Company was Bishop Thirlwall. Upon his resignation of the office in 1871 Dr. Harold Browne, then Bishop of Ely, now Bishop of Winchester, was appointed to succeed him, and has continued to hold the office until now. Dr. Ellicott, Bishop of Gloucester[Pg 113] and Bristol, has from the first presided over the New Testament Company.

The Old Testament Company appointed one of their own number, Mr. Aldis Wright, to act as their secretary, taking the minutes of their proceedings, and conducting all needful correspondence. The New Testament Company deemed it better to assign this office to one who was not himself burthened with the responsibilities of the revision, and they were happily able to secure the efficient services of the Rev. John Troutbeck, M.A., one of the Minor Canons of Westminster Abbey.

It will be seen that of the sixty-five English scholars who have taken part in this work forty-one have been members of the Church of England, and twenty-four members of other churches. Of the latter number two represent the Episcopal Church of Ireland, one the Episcopal Church of Scotland, four the Baptists, three the Congregationalists, five the Free Church of Scotland, five the Established Church of Scotland, one the United Presbyterians, one the Unitarians, and two the Wesleyan Methodists.

It is on many grounds a matter for thankfulness that they who took the initiative in the formation of the two Companies were able to secure so wide a representation of the various religious communities of our country, and men belonging to different schools of religious thought. For while no one can reasonably suppose that in the present day any body of Scholars would consciously allow themselves in the translation of the Scriptures to be swayed by any theological bias, there is, as all know, such a thing as unconscious bias; and it was greatly to be desired that no such suspicion should be raised against this Revision as for a long time obtained in reference to the Revision of 1611. It was also to be desired that no ground should exist that would give an excuse for any to say that through the bias of theological prepossessions the interpretations given by some to important passages of Scripture were unconsciously ignored, and that, had such interpretations been brought under[Pg 114] the consideration of the Revisers, they must, as honest scholars, have accepted them. Such a ground of objection has happily been excluded by the constitution of the two Companies. The varieties of theological opinion found amongst the Revisers have been an efficient protection against any lapse of the kind referred to, and it may safely be affirmed that no interpretation of any important doctrinal passage for which any respectable amount of authority could be claimed has failed to come under notice, or to receive a careful examination.

The advantage resulting from this varied representation in the membership of the two Companies has been still further extended by the arrangements which have secured the co-operation of a considerable number of American Scholars. Shortly after the formation of the two Companies steps were taken for enlisting such co-operation; and after some correspondence with representative men in America, the Rev. Dr. Philip Schaff, of New York, was requested to act on behalf of the English Companies in selecting and inviting American Scholars. In October, 1871, it was reported to the New Testament Company that Dr. Schaff had verbally informed the secretary that the American Revisers were prepared to enter upon their work. Various causes of delay, however, intervened, and it was not until July 17th, 1872, that the communication was made that the American Companies were duly constituted. These Companies held their first meeting on the 4th of October in that year. The following is the list of their Members.



Professor T. J. Conant, Baptist, Brooklyn, New York.

Professor G. E. Day, Congregationalist, New Haven, Conn.

Professor J. De Witt, Reformed Church, New Brunswick, N.J.

Professor W. H. Green, Presbyterian, Princeton, N.J.

Professor G. E. Hare, Episcopalian, Philadelphia, Pa.

[Pg 115]

Professor C. P. Krauth, Lutheran, Philadelphia, Pa.

Professor Joseph Packard, Episcopalian, Fairfax, Va.

Professor C. E. Stowe, Congregationalist, Cambridge, Mass.

Professor J. Strong, Methodist, Madison, N.J.

Professor C. V. Van Dyke,[128] Beirût, Syria.

Professor T. Lewis, Reformed Church, Schenectady, N.J.

In all eleven members.



Professor Ezra Abbot, Unitarian, Cambridge, Mass.

Dr. G. R. Crooks, Methodist, New York.

Professor H. B. Hackett, Baptist, Rochester, N.Y.

Professor J. Hadley, Congregationalist, New Haven, Conn.

Professor C. Hodge, Presbyterian, Princeton, N.J.

Professor A. C. Kendrick, Baptist, Rochester, N.Y.

Dr. Alfred Lee, Bishop of Delaware.

Professor M. B. Riddle, Reformed Church, Hartford, Conn.

Professor Philip Schaff, Presbyterian, New York.

Professor C. Short, Episcopalian, New York.

Professor H. B. Smith, Presbyterian, New York.

Professor J. H. Thayer, Congregationalist, Andover, Mass.

Professor W. F. Warren, Methodist, Boston, Mass.

Dr. E. A. Washburn, Episcopalian, New York.

Dr. T. D. Woolsey, Congregationalist, New Haven, Conn.

In all fifteen members.

Four Members have since been added to the Old Testament Company; namely:

Professor C. A. Aiken, Presbyterian, Princeton, N.J.

Dr. T. W. Chambers, Reformed Church, New York.

Professor C. M. Mead, Congregationalist, Andover, Mass.

Professor H. Osgood, Baptist, Rochester, N.Y.

One Member, Professor T. Lewis, has been removed by death.

[Pg 116]Four Members have been added to the New Testament Company:

Dr. J. K. Burr, Methodist, Trenton, N.Y.

Dr. T. Chase, Baptist, President of Haverford College, Pa.

Dr. H. Crosby, Baptist, Chancellor of New York University.

Professor Timothy Dwight, Congregationalist, New Haven, Conn.

Four also have been removed by death, Dr. Hackett, Dr. Hadley, Dr. C. Hodge, Dr. H. B. Smith; and two by resignation, Dr. Crooks and Dr. Warren.

It hence results that altogether ninety-nine Scholars have, to a greater or less extent, taken part in the work of this revision, forty-nine of whom have been members of the Episcopalian Churches of England, Scotland, Ireland, and America, and fifty members of other Christian Churches. This fact is in itself full of interest and significance. Upon no previous revision have so many Scholars been engaged. In no previous revision has the co-operation of those who were engaged upon it been so equally diffused over all the parts of the work. In no previous revision have those who took the lead in originating it, and carrying it forward, shown so large a measure of Christian confidence in Scholars who were outside of their own communion. In no previous revision have such effective precautions been created by the very composition of the body of Revisers, against accidental oversight, or against any lurking bias that might arise from natural tendencies or from ecclesiastical prepossessions. On these accounts alone, if on no other, this revision may be fairly said to possess peculiar claims upon the confidence of all thoughtful and devout readers of the Bible.

The New Testament Company assembled for the first time on Wednesday, June 22nd, 1870. They met in the Chapel of Henry VII., and there united in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. After this act of worship and holy communion they[Pg 117] formally entered upon the task assigned to them. The Old Testament Company held their first meeting on June 30th.

By the kindness of the Dean of Westminster, the New Testament Company was permitted to hold its meetings in the Jerusalem Chamber. This room, originally the parlour of the Abbot’s Palace, is associated with many interesting events of English history. It was to this spot that Henry IV. was conveyed when seized with his last illness; and here, on March 20th, 1413, he died. It was here, in the days of the Long Parliament, that the celebrated Assembly of Divines, driven by the cold from Henry VII.’s Chapel, held its sixty-sixth session, on Monday, October 2nd, 1643; and here thenceforward it continued to meet until its closing session (the 1163rd), on February 22nd, 1649. Here were prepared the famed Westminster Confession of Faith, and the Longer and Shorter Catechisms so highly prized by the Presbyterian Churches of Scotland, and during many generations by the Independents of England. Here also, just fifty years later, assembled the memorable Commission appointed by William III., at the suggestion of the Dean of Canterbury (Dr. Tillotson), to devise a basis for a scheme of comprehension in a revision of the Prayer Book. In this room the New Testament Company have held the larger number of their sessions. Upon the few occasions on which it was not available the Company has most frequently met in the Dean of Westminster’s library. Twice it has held its monthly session in the College Hall, twice in the Chapter Library, and once in Queen Anne’s Bounty Office.

The Jerusalem Chamber is an oblong room, somewhat narrow for its length, measuring about forty feet from north to south, and about twenty from east to west. Down the centre of the room there extends a long table; and on this table, in the middle of its eastern side, is placed the desk of the Chairman, Bishop Ellicott. Facing the Chairman, and on the opposite side of the room, is a small table for the use of the Secretary. The[Pg 118] members of the Company took their places round the table without any pre-arrangement, but just as each might find a seat most ready at hand. The force of habit, however, soon prevailed, and most of the members sat constantly in the place which accident or choice had assigned to them. On the Chairman’s right sat the Prolocutor, Dr. Bickersteth, and on his left, during the sixteen meetings he was spared to attend, sat the late Dean of Canterbury, Dr. Alford, who, to the great sorrow of the Company, was so early taken away from their midst. Between the Prolocutor and the northern end of the table were the places usually occupied by the Bishop of Salisbury, the Bishop of St. Andrews, Dean Blakesley, and Mr. Humphry. Between the Chairman and the southern end were the places of the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Brown, Dr. Vaughan, Dr. Eadie, and Canon Westcott. Between the Secretary’s table and the northern end of the long table were the seats of Canon Kennedy, Dr. Angus, Archdeacon Palmer, and Dr. Hort; and between the Secretary’s table and the southern end were those of Dr. Vance Smith, Dr. Scrivener, Dr. Lightfoot, Dean Scott, and Dr. Newth. At the northern end of the table were the places of Archdeacon Lee and Dean Stanley; and at the southern end those of Dr. Moulton and Dr. Milligan.

As the general rules under which the revision was to be carried out had been carefully prepared, no need existed for any lengthened discussion of preliminary arrangements, and the Company upon its first meeting was able to enter at once upon its work. The members of the Company had previously been supplied with sheets, each containing a column of the printed text of the Authorized Version, with a wide margin on either side for suggested emendations—the left hand margin being intended for changes in the Greek text, and the right hand margin for those which related to the English rendering. Upon these sheets each member had entered the result of his own private study of the prescribed portion, and thus came prepared[Pg 119] with well-considered suggestions to submit for the judgment of the Company. The portion prescribed for the first session was Matt. i. to iv. This portion opening with the genealogy, the question of the spelling of proper names at once presented itself for decision. It was felt that, by the twofold forms so often given in the Authorized Version to the names of persons and places, a needless difficulty was set in the way of the simple reader of the Bible; and it was agreed that, while preserving in every case the familiar forms of names which had become thoroughly Englished, such as John, James, Timothy, Jacob, Solomon, &c., all Old Testament proper names quoted in the New should follow the Hebrew rather than the Greek or Latin, and so appear under the same form in both Testaments.

This question being thus settled, the Company proceeded to the actual details of the revision, and in a surprisingly short time settled down to an established method of procedure. So little need arose for any change in this respect that the account of any one ordinary meeting will serve as a description of all. The Company assembles at eleven a.m. The meeting is opened by prayer, the Chairman reading three collects from the Prayer Book, and closing with the Lord’s Prayer. The minutes of the last meeting are then read and confirmed. Any correspondence or other business that may require consideration is next dealt with. These matters being settled, the Chairman invites the Company to proceed with the revision, and reads a short passage as given in the Authorised Version. The question is then asked whether any textual changes are proposed; that is, any readings that differ from the Greek text as presented in the edition published by Robert Stephen in 1550. If any change is proposed, the evidence for and against is briefly stated, and the proposal considered. The duty of stating this evidence is, by tacit consent, devolved upon two members of the Company, who, from their previous studies, are specially entitled to speak with authority upon such questions—Dr. Scrivener and Dr. [Pg 120]Hort—and who come prepared to enumerate particularly the authorities on either side. Dr. Scrivener opens up the matter by stating the facts of the case, and by giving his judgment upon the bearing of the evidence. Dr. Hort follows, and mentions any additional matters that may call for notice, and if differing from Dr. Scrivener’s estimate of the weight of the evidence, gives his reasons, and states his own view. After discussion, the vote of the Company is taken, and the proposed reading accepted or rejected. The text being thus settled, the Chairman asks for proposals on the rendering. Any member who has any suggestion on his paper then mentions it, and this is taken into consideration, unless some other member state that he has a proposal which refers to an earlier clause of the passage, in which case his proposal is taken first. The reasons for the proposed emendation are then stated; briefly, if it be an obvious correction, and one which it is likely that many members have noted down; if it be one less obvious, or less likely to commend itself at first sight, the grounds upon which it is based are stated more at length. Free discussion then follows, and after this the vote of the Company is taken. Succeeding suggestions are similarly dealt with, and then the passage, as amended, is read by the Chairman, or by the Secretary. The meeting lasts until six p.m., an interval of half-an-hour having been allowed for luncheon. The Company meets every month, excepting only in the months of August and September, for a session of four consecutive days.

At a very early period of their labours it became clearly manifest to the Company that they could only do their work satisfactorily by doing it very thoroughly, and that no question in any way affecting the sense or the rendering could be passed over because of its seeming unimportance. Questions, whether of text or translation, which appeared, when regarded in relation only to the passage under review, to be too minute to be worthy of serious attention, became oftentimes invested with a grave importance when other, and especially parallel, passages[Pg 121] were considered; and thus proposed changes, which might otherwise have been dismissed as unnecessary, claimed for themselves a careful examination. As a necessary result of this determination to make the revision as complete as might be in their power, the progress made in the work was but slow, and at the end of the ninth day of meeting not more than 153 verses had been revised, an average of only seventeen verses a day. Thereupon several members of the Company became alarmed at the probable length of time over which the revision would extend, and on the tenth day of meeting resolutions were submitted, that, “with a view to swifter progress, the Company be divided into two sections, of which one shall proceed with the Gospels and the other with the Epistles,” and “that on the last day of each monthly series of meetings the whole Company meet together to review the work done by the two separate sections.” To these resolutions a full consideration was given, and with the result of producing an almost unanimous conviction that such a division of the Company was undesirable. It was felt that the weight of authority attaching to this Revision, would, with many persons, be largely dependent upon the fact that it represented the united judgment of a considerable number of scholars, and that the proposed division of the Company would consequently tend to lessen the claims of the work to the confidence of the public. It was found, too, that it would not be possible to make any satisfactory division of the Company; and from the varied qualifications of the members, each felt that it would be a palpable loss to be deprived of the co-operation of any of the rest. It was also exceedingly doubtful whether any saving of time would be secured by the proposed arrangement. The review by the entire Company of the work done by the separate divisions would, in very many cases, reopen discussion; and questions which had been decided, perhaps unanimously, after lengthened debate, would be debated afresh, and that, too, by those who were less familiar with all the bearings of the[Pg 122] question, and on whose account it would be necessary to give lengthened explanations, and sometimes to retrace other ground also. The resolutions were consequently withdrawn, and the conviction became general amongst the members of the Company that they had no other alternative than to face the probability of a much longer period of labour than any one amongst them had at first anticipated, and to accept the full responsibilities of the work which had been laid upon them.

After this the work steadily proceeded, and various general questions having been decided as they arose, the rate of progress became more rapid; but even then the average did not rise above thirty-five verses a day.

In accordance with the rules under which the Company was acting, all proposals made at the first revision were decided by simple majorities; but at the second revision no change from the Authorized Version could be accepted unless it were carried by a majority of two to one. Though here and there this rule stood in the way of a change which a decided majority of the Company were of opinion was right, its action upon the whole was very salutary.

At the second revision also the suggestions of the American Revisers came to the help of the Company. From time to time, as each successive portion of the first revision was completed, it had been forwarded to America. The American Revisers subjected this to a careful scrutiny, and in their turn forwarded to England their criticisms thereupon. Where they approved the changes provisionally made nothing was said; where they differed they indicated their dissent, and submitted their own suggestions. In like manner, in passages where no change had been made, they either signified their assent by silence, or expressed their judgment by independent proposals.

The first revision of the Gospel of Matthew was completed on the thirty-sixth day of meeting, May 24th, 1871; that of Mark on the fifty-third day, November 16th, 1871; that of Luke[Pg 123] on the eighty-first day, June 22nd, 1872; and that of John on the one hundred and third day, February 19th, 1873. The first revision of the Acts and the Catholic Epistles was completed on the one hundred and fifty-second meeting, April 23rd, 1874. Before proceeding to the first revision of the remaining books it was deemed desirable to undertake the second revision of the Gospels, and this was completed on the one hundred and eighty-fourth meeting, February 25th, 1875. The first revision of the Pauline Epistles was then commenced, and was completed on the two hundred and sixty-second meeting, February 27th, 1877. The first revision of the Apocalypse was completed on the two hundred and seventy-third meeting, April 20th, 1877.

It will thus appear that the first revision engaged the Company during two hundred and forty-one meetings; that is to say, during sixty monthly sessions, or six years of labour. The attendance during this important period of the work maintained so high an average as 16·8.

It had not been originally intended that at the second revision fresh proposals should be entertained; but as it was obviously necessary to do this with regard to the American suggestions, it was felt that we ought not to preclude our own members from bringing forward any new proposal that might seem worthy of consideration, and that we ought not, for the sake of gaining time, to fetter ourselves by any rigid rule. The second revision thus became a far more serious business than had been originally contemplated, and demanded a large measure of time and toil. It was completed on December 13th, 1878, having occupied on the whole ninety-six meetings, or about two years and a half. By rule 5 the “second” revision was to be regarded as “final,” but the course of events rendered this an impossibility, and so far the rule had to be annulled.

In due course the results of the second revision were forwarded to America, and while it indicated the extent to which the English Company had been able to adopt the American [Pg 124]suggestions—or what was equivalent to this, some third suggestion that approved itself alike to the judgment of both Companies—it also necessarily invited a reply upon those points about which there was still a difference of opinion, and this, as necessarily, involved what was to some extent a third revision. The work of a further revision had, however, been previously imposed upon the Company by a resolution of its own, in which it was agreed that the members should privately read over the version as now revised, with the view of marking any roughnesses or other blemishes in the English phraseology; and that if it should appear to them that, without doing any violence to the Greek, the English might be amended, the emendations they proposed should be forwarded to the Secretary, and by him be duly arranged and printed. To the consideration of the various suggestions so forwarded, and of those contained in the further communications from America, the Company devoted thirty-six meetings, extending from February 11th, 1879, to January 27th, 1880, with portions of one or two subsequent meetings, being finally completed on March 17th, 1880.

Although the Company had endeavoured throughout the whole course of its work to preserve, as far as the idiom of the English language permitted, uniformity in the rendering of the same Greek word, it had not been possible, when dealing with each passage separately, to keep in view all the other passages in which any particular word might be found. It was therefore felt to be desirable to reconsider the Revised Version with exclusive reference to this single point, and the pages of a Greek concordance were assigned in equal portions to different members of the Company, who each undertook to examine every passage in which the words falling to his share might occur, and to mark if in any case unnecessary variations in the English had either been introduced or retained. The passages so noted were brought before the notice of the assembled Company, and the question was in each case considered whether, without any injury to the sense, the rendering of the word under review might be harmonized[Pg 125] with that found in other places. This work of harmonizing, together with the preparation of the preface, occupied the Company until November 11th, 1880, on which day, at five o’clock in the afternoon, after ten years and five months of labour, the revision of the New Testament was brought to its close.

On the evening of the same day, St. Martin’s day, by the kind invitation of Prebendary Humphry, the Company assembled in the Church of St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields, and there united in a special service of prayer and thanksgiving; of thanksgiving for the happy completion of their labours, for the spirit of harmony and brotherly affection that had throughout pervaded the meetings of the Company, and for the Divine goodness which had permitted so many with so little interruption to give themselves continuously to this work; of prayer that all that had been wrong in their spirit or action might be mercifully forgiven, and that He whose glory they had humbly striven to promote might graciously accept this their service, and deign to use it as an instrument for the good of man, and the honour of His holy name.

The total number of meetings of the Company has been 407, and the total number of attendances 6,426,[129] or an average attendance at each meeting of 15·8 members.

[Pg 126]Upon one other point our readers will naturally look for some information. How have the necessary expenses of this undertaking been met? These, it will readily be seen, would necessarily be large. So many persons could not come together from various parts of the kingdom—some very distant, including the extreme north of Scotland, and the extreme west of Cornwall—and remain in London for a week in every month, without a considerable expenditure of money. It was also found necessary for the satisfactory execution of the work that each portion, from time to time as provisionally completed, should be set up in type, and in this way further expenses were entailed. The question of meeting these expenses was at an early period forced upon the attention of the Company; for some members before many months had elapsed had been put to serious costs, and while all willingly gave their time and labour, as far as they might be able, without reserve to this important work, it was felt to be impossible to allow this extra burden to rest upon any, and the more so as the pressure of it must needs be very unequally distributed. An appeal to the public for help having met with no adequate response, it was resolved to dispose of the copyright of the work, in the hope thereby of obtaining sufficient means of meeting the expenses of completing it. Several offers from different sources were made to the Companies; but ultimately, for various reasons, it was deemed best to accede to that made by the University Presses of Oxford and Cambridge, whereby, in return for the copyright of the Revised Version, the Chancellors, Masters, and Scholars of the two Universities agreed to provide a sum which it was hoped would suffice for the expenses that would be incurred in the prosecution and completion of the work, and to advance a certain portion of the same from time to time. A draft deed embodying these agreements having been submitted to the Companies was after some amendments accepted on December 10th, 1872.

[Pg 127]The agreement with the University Presses binds the two Companies to a revision of the Apocrypha, a work not contemplated in their original undertaking. The New Testament Company have made arrangements for taking a full share of this revision, and entered upon the work in April last. Until this is completed they will not be released from their responsibilities.

[Pg 128]



[Pg 129]






[130] For as much as Christ saith that the gospel shall be preached in all the world, and David saith of the Apostles and their preaching, “the sound of them went out into each land, and the words of them went out into the ends of the world;” and again David saith, “The Lord shall tell in the Scriptures of peoples and of these princes that were in it;”[131] that is, in holy Church, as Jerome saith on that verse, “Holy writ is the Scripture of peoples, for it is made that all peoples should know it;” and the princes of the Church that were therein be the apostles that had authority to write holy writ; for by that same that the Apostles wrote their Scriptures by authority and confirming of the Holy Ghost, it is holy Scripture and faith of Christian men, and this dignity hath no man after them, be he never so holy,[Pg 130] never so cunning, as Jerome witnesseth on that verse. Also Christ saith of the Jews that cried Hosanna to Him in the temple, that though they were still stones should cry; and by stones He understandeth heathen men that worshipped stones for their gods. And we Englishmen be come of heathen men, therefore we be understood by these stones that should cry holy writ; and as Jews, interpreted acknowledging[132], signify clerks that should make acknowledgment to God by repentance of sins and by voice of God’s praise, so our lewd (lay, or unlearned) men, suing (following) the corner-stone Christ, may be signified by stones that be hard and abiding in the foundation; for though covetous clerks be wood (wild, or mad), by simony, heresy, and many other sins, and despise and stop holy writ as much as they can, yet the lewd people cry after holy writ to ken it and keep it with great cost and peril of their life.

For these reasons and other, with common charity to save all men in our realm which God would have saved, a simple creature hath translated the Bible out of Latin into English. First this simple creature had much travail, with divers fellows and helpers, to gather many old Bibles, and other doctors and common glosses, and to make one Latin Bible some deal true; and then to study it anew, the text with the gloss and other doctors as he might get, and especially Lyra on the Old Testament, that helped full much in this work; the third time to counsel with old grammarians and old divines of hard words and hard sentences, how they might best be understood and translated; the fourth time to translate as clearly as he could to the sentence,[133] and to have many good fellows and cunning at the correcting of the translation. First it is to know that the best translating out of Latin into English is to translate after[Pg 131] the sentence, and not only after the words, so that the sentence be as open, either opener, in English as in Latin, and go not far from the letter; and if the letter may not be sued (followed) in the translating, let the sentence be ever whole and open, for the words ought to serve to the intent and sentence, and else the words be superfluous or false. In translating into English many resolutions may make the sentence open, as an ablative case absolute may be resolved into these three words, with convenable (suitable) verb, the while, for if, as grammarians say, as thus: the master reading, I stand, may be resolved thus, while the master readeth I stand, or, if the master readeth, &c., or, for the master, &c.; and sometime it would accord well with the sentence to be resolved into when or into afterward, thus, when the master read I stood, or, after the master read I stood; and sometime it may well be resolved into a verb of the same tense as others be in the same clause, and into this word et; that is, and in English, as thus, arescentibus hominibus prae timore; that is, and men should wax dry for dread. Also a participle of a present tense or preterite of active voice or passive may be resolved into a verb of the same tense and a conjunction copulative, as thus, dicens; that is, saying may be resolved thus, and saith, or, that saith; and this will in many places make the sentence open, where to English it, after the verb, would be dark and doubtful. Also a relative, which may be resolved into his antecedent with a conjunction copulative, as thus, which runneth, and he runneth. Also when one word is once set in a clause it may be set forth as often as it is understood, or as often as reason and need ask. And this word autem, or vero, may stand for forsooth, or for but, and thus I use commonly; and sometime it may stand for and, as old grammarians say. Also when rightful construction is let (prevented) by relation, I resolve it openly; thus where this clause Dominum formidabunt adversarii ejus should be Englished thus by the letter, the Lord His adversaries shall[Pg 132] dread, I English it thus by resolution, the adversaries of the Lord shall dread Him; and so of other clauses that be like.

At the beginning I purposed, with God’s help, to make the sentence as true and open in English as it is in Latin, or more true and more open than it is in Latin; and I pray for charity and for common profit of Christian souls, that if any wise man find any default of the truth of translation, let him set in the true sentence and open of holy writ, but look that he examine truly his Latin Bible; for no doubt he shall find full many Bibles in Latin full false, if he look many, namely, new;[134] and the common Latin Bibles have more need to be corrected, as many as I have seen in my life than the English Bible late translated. And where the Hebrew, by witness of Jerome, of Lyra, and other expositors discordeth from our Latin Bibles, I have set in the margin, by manner of a gloss, what the Hebrew hath, and how it is understood in some place; and I did this most in the Psalter, that of all our books discordeth most from the Hebrew; for the church readeth not the Psalter by the last translation of Jerome, out of Hebrew into Latin, but another translation by other men, that had much less cunning and holiness than Jerome had; and in full few books the church readeth the translation of Jerome, as it may be proved by the proper originals of Jerome which he glossed. And where I have translated as openly or openlier in English as in Latin, let wise men deme (judge) that know well both languages, and know well the sentence of holy Scripture. And whether I have done thus or not, no doubt they that ken well the sentence of holy writ and English together, and will travail with God’s grace thereabout, may make the Bible as true and as open, yea, and openlier, in English as in Latin. And no doubt to a simple man, with God’s grace and great travail, men might expound much[Pg 133] openlier and shortlier the Bible in English, than the old great doctors have expounded it in Latin, and much sharplier and groundlier than many late postillators, or expositors have done. But God of His great mercy, give us grace to live well, and to see the truth in convenable manner, and acceptable to God and His people, and to spell out our time, be it short, be it long, at God’s ordinance.

But some that seem wise and holy say thus, If men now were as holy as Jerome was, they might translate out of Latin into English, as he did out of Hebrew and out of Greek into Latin, and else they should not translate now, so they think, for default of holiness and cunning. Though this replication seem colourable, it hath no good ground, neither reason, neither charity; for why, (because) this replication is more against Saint Jerome and against the first LXX. translators, and against holy church, than against simple men that translate now into English; for Saint Jerome was not so holy as the Apostles and Evangelists, whose books he translated into Latin, neither he had so high gifts of the Holy Ghost as they had; and much more the LXX. translators were not so holy as Moses and the Prophets, and specially David; neither they had so great gifts of God as Moses and the Prophets had. Furthermore, holy church approveth not only the true translation of mean Christian men, but also of open heretics, that did away mysteries of Jesus Christ by guileful translation, as Jerome witnesseth in one prologue on Job, and in the prologue of Daniel. Much more late the Church of England approve the true and whole translation of simple men, that would, for no good on earth, by their witting and power, put away the least truth, yea, the least letter or tittle of holy writ that beareth substance or charge. And dispute they not (let them not dispute) of the holiness of men now living in this deadly life; for they know not thereon, and it is reserved only to God’s doom. If they know any notable default by the translators or their helps, let them blame[Pg 134] the default by charity and mercy, and let them never damn a thing that may be done lawfully by God’s law, as wearing a good cloth for a time, or riding on a horse for a great journey, when they wit not wherefore it is done; for such things may be done of simple men with as great charity and virtue as some that hold themselves great and wise, can ride in a gilt saddle, or use cushions and beds and cloths of gold and of silk, with other vanities of the world. God grant pity, mercy, and charity, and love of common profit, and put away such foolish dooms (judgment) that be against reason and charity. Yet worldly clerks ask greatly (grandly) what spirit maketh idiots (laymen) hardy to translate now the Bible into English, since the four great doctors durst never do this. This replication is so lewd (unlearned), that it needeth none answer but stillness or courteous scorn; for these great doctors were none English men, neither they were conversant among English men, neither they knew the language of English, but they ceased never till they had holy writ in the mother tongue of their own people. For Jerome, that was a Latin man of birth, translated the Bible, both out of Hebrew and out of Greek into Latin, and expounded full much thereto; and Austin and many more Latins expounded the Bible, for many parts, in Latin, to Latin men among which they dwelt, and Latin was a common language to their people about Rome, and beyond and on this half (side), as English is common to our people, and yet (still) this day the common people in Italy speaketh Latin corrupt, as true men say that have been in Italy; and the number of translators out of Greek into Latin passeth man’s knowing, as Austin witnesseth in the ij. book of Christian Teaching,[135] and saith thus: “The translators out of Hebrew into Greek may be numbered, but Latin translators, or they that translated into Latin, may not be numbered in any manner.” For in the first times of faith, each[Pg 135] man, as a Greek book came to him, and he seemed to himself to have some cunning of Greek and Latin, was hardy (bold) to translate, and this thing helped more than letted (hindered) understanding, if readers be not negligent, for why (because) the beholding of many books hath showed off or declared some darker sentences. This saith Austin here. Therefore Grosted (Grosseteste) saith that it was God’s will that diverse men translate, and that diverse translations be in the church, where one said darkly, one other more said openly.

Lord God, since at the beginning of faith so many men translated into Latin, and to great profit of Latin men, let one simple creature of God translate into English for profit of Englishmen; for if worldly clerks look well their chronicles and books they shall find that Bede translated the Bible, and expounded much in Saxon, that was English, or common language of this land, in his time; and not only Bede, but also King Alfred that founded Oxford, translated in his last days the beginning of the Psalter into Saxon, and would more if he had lived longer. Also Frenchmen, Beemers,[136] and Britons have the Bible and other books of devotion and of exposition translated in their mother language. Why should not Englishmen have the same in their mother language I cannot wit, no but (except) for falseness and negligence of clerks, or for (because) our people is not worthy to have so great grace and gift of God in pain (penalty) of their old sins. God for his mercy amend these evil causes, and make our people to have, and ken, and keep truly holy writ, to life and death.

But in translating of words equivocal, that is, that have many significations under one letter, may lightly be peril (there may easily be a danger of mistake); for Austin saith in the ij. book of Christian Teaching that if equivocal words be not translated into the sense or understanding of the author it[Pg 136] is error,[137] as in that place of the psalm, the feet of them be swift to shed out blood. The Greek word is equivocal to sharp and swift, and he that translated sharp feet erred, and a book that hath sharp feet is false, and must be amended, as that sentence, unkind young trees shall not give deep roots, ought to be thus plantings of adultery shall not give deep roots.[138] Austin saith this there; therefore a translator hath great need to study well the sentence, both before and after, and look that such equivocal words accord with the sentence; and he hath need to live a clean life, and be full devout in prayers, and have not his wit occupied about worldly things, that the Holy Spirit, author of wisdom, and cunning, and truth, dress him in his work, and suffer him not for to err.

Also this word ex signifieth sometime of, and sometime it signifieth by, as Jerome saith; and this word enim signifieth commonly forsooth, and, as Jerome saith, it signifieth, cause thus, forwhy. And this word secundum is taken for after, as many men say, and commonly; but it signifieth well by or up, thus by your word, or up your word. Many such adverbs, conjunctions, and prepositions be set off one for another, and at free choice of authors sometime; and now they should be taken as it accordeth best to the sentence.

By this manner, with good living and great travail, men may come to true and clear translating and true understanding of holy writ, seem it never so hard at the beginning. God grant to us all grace to ken well and to keep well holy writ, and to suffer joyfully some pain for it at the last. Amen.



[Pg 137]



I. NEW TESTAMENT[139] 1525. 4TO.

I have here translated, brethren and sisters, most dear and tenderly beloved in Christ, the New Testament, for your spiritual edifying, consolation, and solace; exhorting instantly and beseeching those that are better seen in the tongues than I, and that have better gifts of grace to interpret the sense of the Scripture and meaning of the Spirit than I, to consider and ponder my labour, and that with the spirit of meekness; and if they perceive in any places that I have not attained unto the very sense of the tongue, or meaning of the Scripture, or have not given the right English word, that they put to their hands to amend it, remembering that so is their duty to do. For we have not received the gifts of God for ourselves only, or for to hide them; but for to bestow them unto the honouring of God and Christ, and edifying of the congregation, which is the body of Christ.

The causes that moved me to translate, I thought better that others should imagine, than that I should rehearse them. Moreover I supposed it superfluous; for who is so blind as to ask why light should be showed to them that walk in darkness, where they cannot but stumble, and where to stumble is the danger of eternal damnation; other so despiteful that he would envy any man (I speak not his brother) so necessary a thing;[Pg 138] or so bedlam mad to affirm that good is the natural cause of evil, and darkness to proceed out of light, and that lying should be grounded in truth and verity, and not rather clean contrary, that light destroyeth darkness, and verity reproveth all manner of lying.

After it had pleased God to put in my mind and also to give me grace to translate this fore-rehearsed New Testament into our English tongue, howsoever we have done it, I supposed it very necessary to put you in remembrance of certain points, which are, that ye well understand what these words mean: the Old Testament, the New Testament; the law, the gospel; Moses, Christ; nature, grace; working and believing; deeds and faith; lest we ascribe to the one that which belongeth to the other, and make of Christ Moses, of the gospel the law, despise grace and rob faith; and fall from meek learning into idle dispicions; brawling and scolding about words.

The Old Testament is a book wherein is written the law of God, and the deeds of them which fulfil them, and of them also which fulfil them not.

The New Testament is a book wherein are contained the promises of God, and the deeds of them which believe them or believe them not.

Evangelion (that we call the gospel) is a Greek word, and signifies good, merry, glad, and joyful tidings, that maketh a man’s heart glad, and maketh him sing, dance, and leap for joy: as when David had killed Goliath the giant, came glad tidings unto the Jews, that their fearful and cruel enemy was slain, and they delivered out of all danger; for gladness whereof, they sung, danced, and were joyful. In like manner is the Evangelion of God (which we call gospel, and the New Testament) joyful tidings; and, as some say, a good hearing, published by the apostles throughout all the world, of Christ the right David, how that he hath fought with sin, with death, and the devil, and overcome them: whereby all men that were in bondage to[Pg 139] sin, wounded with death, overcome of the devil, are, without their own merits or deservings, loosed, justified, restored to life and saved, brought to liberty and reconciled unto the favour of God, and set at one with him again; which tidings, as many as believe, laud, praise, and thank God; are glad, sing, and dance for joy.

This Evangelion or gospel (that is to say, such joyful tidings) is called the New Testament; because that as a man, when he shall die, appointeth his goods to be dealt and distributed after his death among them which he nameth to be his heirs; even so Christ, before his death, commanded and appointed that such Evangelion, gospel, or tidings, should be declared throughout all the world, and therewith to give unto all that believe, all his goods; that is to say, his life, wherewith he swallowed and devoured up death; his righteousness, wherewith he banished sin; his salvation, wherewith he overcame eternal damnation. Now, can the wretched man, that [knoweth himself to be wrapped] in sin, and in danger to death and hell, hear no more joyous a thing than such glad and comfortable tidings of Christ; so that he cannot but be glad and laugh from the low bottom of his heart, if he believe that the tidings are true.

To strength such faith withal, God promised this his Evangelion in the Old Testament by the prophets, as Paul saith (Rom. i.), how that he was chosen out to preach God’s Evangelion, which he before had promised by the prophets in the Scriptures, that treat of his Son which was born of the seed of David. In Gen. iii. God saith to the serpent, “I will put hatred between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed, that self seed shall tread thy head under foot.” Christ is this woman’s seed; he it is that hath trodden under foot the devil’s head; that is to say, sin, death, hell, and all his power. For without this seed can no man avoid sin, death, hell, and everlasting damnation.

Again (Gen. xxii.), God promised Abraham, saying, “In thy[Pg 140] seed shall all the generations of the earth be blessed.” Christ is that seed of Abraham, saith St. Paul. (Gal. iii.) He hath blessed all the world through the gospel. For where Christ is not, there remaineth the curse that fell on Adam as soon as he had sinned, so that they are in bondage under the condemnation of sin, death, and hell. Against this curse blesseth now the gospel all the world, inasmuch as it crieth openly, saying, Whosoever believeth on the Seed of Abraham shall be blessed, that is, he shall be delivered from sin, death, and hell, and shall henceforth continue righteous, living and saved for ever, as Christ himself saith, in the eleventh of John, “He that believeth on me shall never more die.”

“The law,” saith the gospel of John in the first chapter, “was given by Moses: but grace and verity by Jesus Christ.” The law, whose minister is Moses, was given to bring us unto the knowledge of ourselves, that we might thereby feel and perceive what we are of nature. The law condemneth us and all our deeds, and is called of Paul in 2 Cor. iii. the ministration of death. For it killeth our consciences and driveth us to desperation, inasmuch as it requireth of us that which is impossible for us to do. It requireth of us the deeds of a whole man. It requireth perfect love from the low bottom and ground of the heart, as well in all things which we suffer, as in the things which we do. But, saith John, in the same place, “grace and verity is given us in Christ,” so that when the law hath passed upon us, and condemned us to death, which is its nature to do, then we have in Christ grace, that is to say, favour, promises of life, of mercy, of pardon, freely by the merits of Christ; and in Christ have we verity and truth, in that God fulfilleth all his promises to them that believe. Therefore is the gospel the ministration of life. Paul calleth it in the fore rehearsed place of 2 Cor. iii. the ministration of the Spirit and of righteousness.

In the gospel, when we believe the promises, we receive the[Pg 141] Spirit of life, and are justified in the blood of Christ from all things whereof the law condemned us. Of Christ it is written in the fore rehearsed John i. This is He of whose abundance, or fulness, all we have received, grace for grace, or favour for favour. That is to say, for the favour that God hath to his Son Christ he giveth unto us his favour and good will, as a father to his sons. As affirmeth Paul, saying, “Which loved us in his Beloved before the creation of the world.” Christ is made Lord over all, and is called in scripture God’s mercy-stool; whosoever therefore flieth to Christ can neither hear nor receive of God any other thing save mercy.

In the Old Testament are many promises, which are nothing else but the Evangelion or gospel, to save those that believed them from the vengeance of the law. And in the New Testament is often made mention of the law, to condemn them which believe not the promises. Moreover the law and the gospel may never be separate; for the gospel and promises serve but for troubled consciences, which are brought to desperation, and feel the pains of hell and death under the law, and are in captivity and bondage under the law. In all my deeds I must have the law before me to condemn mine imperfectness. For all that I do, be I never so perfect, is yet damnable sin, when it is compared to the law, which requireth the ground and bottom of mine heart. I must therefore have always the law in my sight, that I may be meek in the spirit, and give God all the laud and praise, ascribing to him all righteousness, and to myself all unrighteousness and sin. I must also have the promises before mine eyes, that I despair not; in which promises I see the mercy, favour, and good will of God upon me, in the blood of his Son Christ, which hath made satisfaction for mine unperfectness, and fulfilled for me that which I could not do.

Here may ye perceive that two manner of people are sore deceived. First, they which justify themselves with outward deeds, in that they abstain outwardly from that which the law[Pg 142] forbiddeth, and do outwardly that which the law commandeth. They compare themselves to open sinners; and in respect of them justify themselves, condemning the open sinners. They set a veil on Moses’ face, and see not how the law requireth love from the bottom of the heart. If they did they would not condemn their neighbours. “Love hideth the multitude of sins,” saith St. Peter, in his first epistle. For whom I love from the deep bottom and ground of mine heart, him condemn I not, neither reckon his sins, but suffer his weakness and infirmity, as a mother the weakness of her son, until he grow up unto a perfect man.

Those also are deceived which, without all fear of God, give themselves unto all manner vices with full consent, and full delectation, having no respect to the law of God (under whose vengeance they are locked up in captivity), but say, God is merciful and Christ died for us, supposing that such dreaming and imagination is that faith which is so greatly commended in holy scripture. Nay, that is not faith, but rather a foolish blind opinion springing of their own nature, and it is not given them of the Spirit of God; true faith is (as saith the apostle Paul) the gift of God, and is given to sinners after the law hath passed upon them, and hath brought their consciences unto the brink of desperation, and sorrows of hell.

They that have this right faith, consent to the law that it is righteous, and good, and justify God which made the law, and have delectation in the law, notwithstanding that they cannot fulfil it, for their weakness; and they abhor whatsoever the law forbiddeth, though they cannot avoid it. And their great sorrow is, because they cannot fulfil the will of God in the law; and the spirit that is in them crieth to God night and day for strength and help, with tears (as saith Paul) that cannot be expressed with tongue. Of which things the belief of our popish (or of their) father, whom they so magnify for his strong faith, hath none experience at all.

[Pg 143]The first, that is to say, a justiciary, which justifieth himself with his outward deeds, consenteth not to the inward law, neither hath delectation therein: yea, he would rather that no such law were. So he justifieth not God, but hateth him as a tyrant, neither careth he for the promises, but will with his own strength be saviour of himself; no wise glorifieth he God, though he seem outward to do.

The second, that is to say, the sensual person, as a voluptuous swine, neither feareth God in his law, neither is thankful to him for his promises and mercy, which is set forth in Christ to all them that believe.

The right christian man consenteth to the law, that it is righteous, and justifieth God in the law; for he affirmeth that God is righteous and just, which is author of the law. He believeth the promises of God, and so justifieth God, judging him true, and believing that he will fulfil his promises. With the law he condemneth himself and all his deeds, and giveth all the praise to God. He believeth the promises, and ascribeth all truth to God: thus everywhere justifieth he God, and praiseth God.

By nature, through the fall of Adam are we the children of wrath, heirs of the vengeance of God by birth, yea, and from our conception. And we have our fellowship with the devils under the power of darkness and rule of Satan, while we are yet in our mothers’ wombs; and though we show not forth the fruits of sin, yet are we full of the natural poison whereof all sinful deeds spring, and cannot but sin outwardly, be we never so young, if occasion be given; for our nature is to do sin, as is the nature of a serpent to sting. And as a serpent yet young, or yet unbrought forth, is full of poison, and cannot afterward (when the time is come, and occasion given) but bring forth the fruits thereof; and as an adder, a toad, or a snake, is hated of man, not for the evil that it hath done, but for the poison that is in it and the hurt which it cannot but do; so are we hated[Pg 144] of God for that natural poison which is conceived and born with us before we do any outward evil. And as the evil, which a venomous worm doeth, maketh it not a serpent; but because it is a venomous worm, therefore doth it evil and poisoneth; and as the fruit maketh not the tree evil, but because it is an evil tree, therefore it bringeth forth evil fruit, when the season of fruit is; even so do not our evil deeds make us evil; but because that of nature we are evil, therefore we both think and do evil, and are under vengeance under the law, convict to eternal damnation by the law, and are contrary to the will of God in all our will, and in all things consent to the will of the fiend.

By grace, that is to say by favour, we are plucked out of Adam, the ground of all evil, and graffed in Christ the root of all goodness. In Christ, God loved us, his elect and chosen, before the world began, and reserved us unto the knowledge of his Son and of his holy gospel; and when the gospel is preached to us, he openeth our hearts, and giveth us grace to believe, and putteth the Spirit of Christ in us, and we know him as our Father most merciful; and we consent to the law, and love it inwardly in our heart, and desire to fulfil it, and sorrow because we cannot; which will (sin we of frailty never so much) is sufficient till more strength be given us; the blood of Christ hath made satisfaction for the rest; the blood of Christ hath obtained all things for us of God. Christ is our satisfaction, Redeemer, Deliverer, Saviour, from vengeance and wrath. Observe and mark in Paul’s, Peter’s, and John’s epistles, and in the gospel, what Christ is unto us.

By faith are we saved only in believing the promises. And though faith be never without love and good works, yet is our saving imputed neither to love nor unto good works, but unto faith only. For love and works are under the law, which requireth perfection, and the ground and fountain of the heart, and damneth all imperfectness. Now is faith under the promises,[Pg 145] which condemn not; but give all grace, mercy, favour, and whatsoever is contained in the promises.

Righteousness is divers; blind reason imagines many manner of righteousness. There is, in like manner, the justifying of ceremonies, some imagine them their own selves, some counterfeit other, saying, in their blind reason, Such holy persons did thus and thus, and they were holy men, therefore if I do so likewise I shall please God; but they have no answer of God that that pleaseth. The Jews seek righteousness in their ceremonies; which God gave unto them, not to justify, but to describe and paint Christ unto them; of which Jews testifieth Paul, saying how that they have affection to God, but not after knowledge; for they go about to stablish their own justice, and are not obedient to the justice of righteousness that cometh of God. The cause is verily that except a man cast away his own imagination and reason, he cannot perceive God, and understand the virtue and power of the blood of Christ. There is the righteousness of works, as I said before, when the heart is away and feeleth not how the law is spiritual and cannot be fulfilled, but from the bottom of the heart, as the just ministration of all manner of laws, and the observing of them, and moral virtues wherein philosophers put their felicity and blessedness—which all are nothing in the sight of God. There is a full righteousness, when the law is fulfilled from the ground of the heart. This had neither Peter nor Paul in this life perfectly, but sighed after it. They were so far forth blessed in Christ, that they hungered and thirsted after it. Paul had this thirst; he consented to the law of God, that it ought so to be, but he found another lust in his members, contrary to the lust and desire of his mind, and therefore cried out, saying, “Oh, wretched man that I am; who shall deliver me from this body of death? thanks be to God through Jesus Christ.” The righteousness that before God is of value, is to believe the promises of God, after the law hath confounded the conscience:[Pg 146] as when the temporal law ofttimes condemneth the thief or murderer, and bringeth him to execution, so that he seeth nothing before him but present death, and then cometh good tidings, a charter from the king, and delivereth him. Likewise when God’s law hath brought the sinner into knowledge of himself, and hath confounded his conscience and opened unto him the wrath and vengeance of God; then cometh good tidings. The Evangelion showeth unto him the promises of God in Christ, and how Christ hath purchased pardon for him, hath satisfied the law for him, and appeased the wrath of God. And the poor sinner believeth, laudeth, and thanketh God through Christ, and breaketh out into exceeding inward joy and gladness, for that he hath escaped so great wrath, so heavy vengeance, so fearful and so everlasting a death. And he henceforth is an hungered and athirst after more righteousness, that he might fulfil the law; and mourneth continually, commending his weakness unto God in the blood of our Saviour, Christ Jesus.

Here shall ye see compendiously and plainly set out, the order and practice of every thing before rehearsed.

The fall of Adam hath made us heirs of the vengeance and wrath of God, and heirs of eternal damnation; and hath brought us into captivity and bondage under the devil. And the devil is our lord, and our ruler, our head, our governor, our prince, yea, and our god. And our will is locked and knit faster unto the will of the devil, than could a hundred thousand chains bind a man unto a post. Unto the devil’s will consent we with all our hearts, with all our minds, with all our might, power, strength, will, and lusts. With what poison, deadly and venomous hate, hateth a man his enemy! With how great malice of mind, inwardly, do we slay and murder! With what violence and rage, yea, and with how fervent lust, commit we advoutry, fornication, and such like uncleanness! With what pleasure and delectation inwardly serveth a glutton his belly! With what diligence deceive we! How busily seek[Pg 147] we the things of this world! Whatsoever we do, think, or imagine, is abominable in the sight of God. And we are as it were asleep in so deep blindness, that we can neither see nor feel what misery, thraldom, and wretchedness we are in, till Moses come and wake us, and publish the law. When we hear the law truly preached, how that we ought to love and honour God with all our strength and might, from the low bottom of the heart; and our neighbours, yea, our enemies, as ourselves, inwardly, from the ground of the heart, and do whatsoever God biddeth, and abstain from whatsoever God forbiddeth, with all love and meekness, with a fervent and a burning lust from the centre of the heart, then beginneth the conscience to rage against the law, and against God. No sea, be it ever so great a tempest, is so unquiet. For it is not possible for a natural man to consent to the law, that it should be good, or that God should be righteous which maketh the law; his wit, reason, and will being so fast glued, yea, nailed and chained unto the will of the devil. Neither can any creature loose the bonds, save the blood of Christ.

This is the captivity and bondage whence Christ delivered us, redeemed, and loosed us. His blood, his death, his patience in suffering rebukes and wrongs, his prayers and fastings, his meekness and fulfilling of the uttermost point of the law, appeased the wrath of God, brought the favour of God to us again, obtained that God should love us first, and be our Father, and that a merciful Father, that will consider our infirmities and weakness, and will give us his Spirit again (which was taken away in the fall of Adam) to rule, govern, and strength us, and to break the bonds of Satan, wherein we were so straight bound. When Christ is thuswise preached, and the promises rehearsed which are contained in the prophets, in the psalms, and in divers places of the five books of Moses, then the hearts of them which are elect and chosen, begin to wax soft and melt at the bounteous mercy of God, and kindness shewed of Christ. For[Pg 148] when the Evangelion is preached, the Spirit of God entereth into them whom God hath ordained and appointed unto eternal life, and openeth their inward eyes, and worketh such belief in them. When the woful consciences feel and taste how sweet a thing the bitter death of Christ is, and how merciful and loving God is through Christ’s purchasing and merits, they begin to love again, and to consent to the law of God, that it is good and ought so to be, and that God is righteous which made it; and they desire to fulfil the law, even as the sick man desireth to be whole, and are an hungered and thirst after more righteousness and after more strength to fulfil the law more perfectly. And in all that they do, or omit and leave undone, they seek God’s honour and his will with meekness, ever condemning the imperfectness of their deeds by the law.

Now Christ standeth us in double stead, and us serveth in two manner wise: First, he is our Redeemer, Deliverer, Reconciler, Mediator, Intercessor, Advocate, Attorney, Solicitor, our Hope, Comfort, Shield, Protection, Defender, Strength, Health, Satisfaction, and Salvation. His blood, his death, all that he ever did, is ours. And Christ himself, with all that he is or can do, is ours. His blood-shedding and all that he did, doth me as good service as though I myself had done it. And God (as great as he is) is mine, with all that he hath, through Christ and his purchasing.

Secondarily, after that we be overcome with love and kindness, and now seek to do the will of God, which is a christian man’s nature, then have we Christ an example to counterfeit, as saith Christ himself in John, “I have given you an example.” And in another evangelist he saith, “He that will be great among you, shall be your servant and minister, as the Son of man came to minister and not to be ministered unto.” And Paul saith, “Counterfeit[140] Christ.” And Peter saith, “Christ died for you,[Pg 149] and left you an example to follow his steps.” Whatsoever therefore faith hath received of God through Christ’s blood and deserving, that same must love shed out every whit, and bestow it on our neighbours unto their profit, yea, and that though they be our enemies. By faith we receive of God, and by love we shed out again. And that must we do freely after the example of Christ, without any other respect, save our neighbour’s wealth only, and neither look for reward in the earth, nor yet in heaven, for our deeds. But of pure love must we bestow ourselves, all that we have, and all that we are able to do, even on our enemies, to bring them to God, considering nothing but their wealth, as Christ did ours. Christ did not his deeds to obtain heaven thereby (that had been a madness), heaven was his already, he was heir thereof, it was his by inheritance; but did them freely for our sakes, considering nothing but our wealth, and to bring the favour of God to us again, and us to God. And no natural son that is his father’s heir, doth his father’s will because he would be heir; that he is already by birth, his father gave him that ere he was born, and is loather that he should go without it, than he himself hath wit to be; but out of pure love doth he that he doth. And ask him, Why he doth any thing that he doth? he answereth, My father bade, it is my father’s will, it pleaseth my father. Bond servants work for hire, children for love: for their father with all he hath, is theirs already. So a Christian man doth freely all that he doth, considereth nothing but the will of God, and his neighbour’s wealth only. If I live chaste, I do it not to obtain heaven thereby; for then should I do wrong to the blood of Christ; Christ’s blood has obtained me that; Christ’s merits have made me heir thereof; he is both door and way thitherwards: neither that I look for an higher room in heaven than they shall have which live in wedlock, other than a whore of the stews, if she repent; for that were the pride of Lucifer, but freely to wait on the evangelion; and to serve my brother withal; even as one hand[Pg 150] helpeth another, or one member another, because one feeleth another’s grief, and the pain of the one is the pain of the other. Whatsoever is done to the least of us (whether it be good or bad), it is done to Christ; and whatsoever is done to my brother, if I be a christian man, that same is done to me. Neither doth my brother’s pain grieve me less than mine own: neither rejoice I less at his welfare than at mine own. If it were not so, how saith Paul? “Let him that rejoiceth, rejoice in the Lord,” that is to say, Christ, which is Lord over all creatures. If my merits obtained me heaven, or a higher room there, then had I wherein I might rejoice besides the Lord.

Here see ye the nature of the law, and the nature of the evangelion. How the law is the key that bindeth and damneth all men, and the evangelion looseth them again. The law goeth before, and the evangelion followeth. When a preacher preacheth the law, he bindeth all consciences; and when he preacheth the gospel, he looseth them again. These two salves (I mean the law and the gospel) useth God and his preacher to heal and cure sinners withal. The law driveth out the disease and maketh it appear, and is a sharp salve, and a fretting corosy, and killeth the dead flesh, and looseth and draweth the sores out by the roots, and all corruption. It pulleth from a man the trust and confidence that he hath in himself, and in his own works, merits, deservings, and ceremonies. It killeth him, sendeth him down to hell, and bringeth him to utter desperation, and prepareth the way of the Lord, as it is written of John the Baptist. For it is not possible that Christ should come to a man, as long as he trusteth in himself, or in any worldly thing. Then cometh the evangelion, a more gentle plaster, which suppleth and suageth the wounds of the conscience, and bringeth health. It bringeth the Spirit of God, which looseth the bonds of Satan, and uniteth us to God and his will, through strong faith and fervent love, with bonds too strong for the devil, the world, or any creature to loose[Pg 151] them. And the poor and wretched sinner feeleth so great mercy, love, and kindness in God, that he is sure in himself how that it is not possible that God should forsake him, or withdraw his mercy and love from him; and he boldly crieth out with Paul, saying, “Who shall separate us from the love that God loveth us withal?” That is to say, What shall make me believe that God loveth me not? Shall tribulation? anguish? persecution? Shall hunger? nakedness? Shall sword? Nay, “I am sure that neither death nor life, neither angel, neither rule nor power, neither present things nor things to come, neither high nor low, neither any creature, is able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesu our Lord.” In all such tribulations, a christian man perceiveth that God is his Father, and loveth him even as he loved Christ when he shed his blood on the cross.

Finally, as before, when I was bond to the devil and his will, I wrought all manner of evil and wickedness, not for hell’s sake, which is the reward of sin, but because I was heir of hell by birth and bondage to the devil, did I evil (for I could none otherwise do; to do sin was my nature), even so now, since I am coupled to God by Christ’s blood, do I well, not for heaven’s sake, but because I am heir of heaven by grace and Christ’s purchasing, and have the Spirit of God, I do good freely, for so is my nature: as a good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and an evil tree evil fruit. By the fruits shall ye know what the tree is. A man’s deeds declare what he is within, but make him neither good nor bad. We must first be evil ere we do evil, as a serpent is first poisonous ere he poison. We must be also good ere we do good, as the fire must be first hot ere it warm any thing. Take an example: As those blind which are cured in the evangelion could not see till Christ had given them sight, and deaf could not hear till Christ had given them hearing, and those sick could not do the deeds of an whole man till Christ had given them health; so can no man do good in his[Pg 152] soul till Christ have loosed him out of the bonds of Satan, and have given him wherewith to do good; yea, and first have poured into him that self good thing which he sheddeth forth afterwards on other. Whatsoever is our own, is sin. Whatsoever is above that, is Christ’s gift, purchase, doing, and working. He bought it of his Father dearly with his blood, yea, with his most bitter death, and gave his life for it. Whatsoever good thing is in us, that is given us freely, without our deserving or merits, for Christ’s blood’s sake. That we desire to follow the will of God it is the gift of Christ’s blood. That we now hate the devil’s will (whereunto we were so fast locked, and could not but love it) is also the gift of Christ’s blood; unto whom belongeth the praise and honour of our good deeds, and not unto us.



Give diligence, reader, I exhort thee, that thou come with a pure mind, and, as the Scripture saith, with a single eye, unto the words of health and of eternal life; by the which, if we repent and believe them, we are born anew, created afresh, and enjoy the fruits of the blood of Christ, which blood crieth not for vengeance, as the blood of Abel, but hath purchased life, love, favour, grace, blessing, and whatsoever is promised in the Scriptures to them that believe and obey God, and standeth between us and wrath, vengeance, curse, and whatsoever the Scripture threateneth against the unbelievers and disobedient, which resist and consent not in their hearts to the law of God that it is right, holy, just, and ought so to be. Mark the plain and manifest places of the Scriptures, and in doubtful places see thou add no interpretation contrary to them, but as (Paul saith) let all be conformable and agreeing to the faith. Note the difference of the law and of the gospel. The one asketh and[Pg 153] requireth, the other pardoneth and forgiveth; the one threateneth, the other promiseth all good things to them that set their trust in Christ only. The gospel signifieth glad tidings, and is nothing but the promises of good things. All is not gospel that is written in the gospel-book; for if the law were away thou couldest not know what the gospel meant, even as thou couldest not see pardon and grace, except the law rebuked thee and declared unto thee thy sin, misdeed, and trespass. Repent, and believe the gospel, as Christ saith in the first of Mark. Apply alway the law to thy deeds, whether thou find lust in thine heart to the law-ward; and so shalt thou no doubt repent and feel in thyself a certain sorrow, pain, and grief to thine heart, because thou canst not with full lust do the deeds of the law. Apply the gospel, that is to say the promises, unto the deserving of Christ, and to the mercy of God and his truth, and so shalt thou not despair, but shall feel God as a kind and merciful father. And his Spirit shall dwell in thee, and shall be strong in thee, and the promises shall be given thee at the last (though not by and by, lest thou shouldest forget thyself and be negligent), and all threatenings shall be forgiven thee for Christ’s blood’s sake, to whom commit thyself altogether, without respect either of thy good deeds or of thy bad.

Them that are learned Christianly I beseech, forasmuch as I am sure, and my conscience beareth me record, that of a pure intent, singly and faithfully, I have interpreted it, as far forth as God gave me the gift of knowledge and understanding, that the rudeness of the work now at the first time offend them not; but that they consider how that I had no man to counterfeit, neither was helped with English of any that had interpreted the same or such like thing in the Scripture beforetime. Moreover, even very necessity, and cumbrance (God is record) above strength, which I will not rehearse, lest we should seem to boast ourselves, caused that many things are lacking which necessarily are required. Count it as a thing not having his full[Pg 154] shape, but as it were born before his time, even as a thing begun rather than finished. In time to come (if God have appointed us thereunto) we will give it his full shape, and put out if ought be added superflously, and add to if ought be overseen through negligence, and will enforce to bring to compendiousness that which is now translated at the length, and to give light where it is required, and to seek in certain places more proper English, and with a table to expound the words which are not commonly used, and show how the Scripture useth many words which are otherwise understood of the common people, and to help with a declaration where one tongue taketh not another; and will endeavour ourselves, as it were, to seethe it better, and to make it more apt for the weak stomachs, desiring them that are learned and able to remember their duty, and to help them thereunto, and to bestow unto the edifying of Christ’s body, which is the congregation of them that believe, those gifts which they have received of God for the same purpose.

The grace that cometh of Christ be with them that love him. Amen.



When I had translated the New Testament, I added an Epistle unto the latter end, in which I desired them that were learned to amend if aught were found amiss. But our malicious and wily hypocrites, which are so stubborn, and hard hearted in their wicked abominations, that it is not possible for them to amend any thing at all (as we see by daily experience, when both their livings and doings are rebuked with the truth) say, some of them, that it is impossible to translate the Scripture into English; some that it is not lawful for the lay people to have it in their mother tongue; some that it would make them all heretics; as it would no doubt from many things which they of long time have falsely taught; and that is the whole cause[Pg 155] wherefore they forbid it, though they other cloaks pretend. And some, or rather every one, say that it would make them rise against the king, whom they themselves (unto their damnation) never yet obeyed. And lest the temporal rulers should see their falsehood, if the Scripture came to light, causeth them so to lie.

And as for my translation, in which they affirm unto the lay people, (as I have heard say) to be I wot not how many thousand heresies, so that it cannot be mended or correct, they have yet taken so great pain to examine it, and to compare it unto that they would fain have it, and to their own imaginations and juggling terms, and to have somewhat to rail at, and under that cloak, to blaspheme the truth, that they might with as little labour (as I suppose) have translated the most part of the Bible. For they which in times past were wont to look on no more Scripture than they found in their Duns, or such like devilish doctrine, have yet now so narrowly looked on my Translation, that there is not so much as one i therein, if it lack a tittle over his head, but they have noted it, and number it unto the ignorant people for an heresy. Finally, in this they be all agreed,—to drive you from the knowledge of the Scripture, and that ye shall not have the text thereof in the mother tongue; and to keep the world still in darkness, to the intent they might sit in the consciences of the people, through vain superstition and false doctrine; to satisfy their filthy lusts, their proud ambition, and unsatiable covetousness; and to exalt their own honour above king and emperor, yea, and above God himself.

A thousand books had they lever to be put forth against their abominable doings and doctrine, than that the Scripture should come to light. For as long as they may keep that down, they will so darken the right way with the mist of their sophistry, and so tangle them that either rebuke or despise their abominations, with arguments of philosophy, and with worldly similitudes[Pg 156] and apparent reasons of natural wisdom, and with wresting the Scripture unto their own purpose, clean contrary unto the process, order, and meaning of the text; and so delude them in descanting upon it with allegories; and amaze them, expounding it in many senses before the unlearned lay people, (when it hath but one simple, literal sense, whose light the owls cannot abide) that though thou feel in thine heart, and art sure, how that all is false that they say, yet couldst thou not solve their subtle riddles.

Which thing only moved me to translate the New Testament. Because I had perceived by experience, how that it was impossible to establish the lay people in any truth except the Scripture were plainly laid before their eyes in their mother tongue, that they might see the process, order, and meaning of the text: for else, whatsoever truth is taught them, these enemies of all truth quench it again, partly with the smoke of their bottomless pit, whereof thou readest in Apocalypse chap. ix. that is, with apparent reasons of sophistry, and traditions of their own making, founded without ground of Scripture, and partly in juggling with the text, expounding it in such a sense as is impossible to gather of the text, if thou see the process, order, and meaning thereof.

And even in the bishop of London’s house I intended to have done it. For when I was so turmoiled in the country where I was, that I could no longer dwell there (the process whereof were too long here to rehearse), I this wise thought in myself—this I suffer because the priests of the country be unlearned; as God knoweth, there are a full ignorant sort which have seen no more Latin than that they read in their Portesses and Missals, which yet many of them can scarcely read (except it be Albertus de Secretis Mulierum, in which yet, though they be never so sorrily learned, they pore day and night, and make notes therein, and all to teach the midwives as they say; and Linwode, a book of constitutions to gather tythes, mortuaries,[Pg 157] offerings, customs, and other pillage which they call not theirs, but God’s part, and the duty of holy church to discharge their consciences withal: for they are bound that they shall not diminish, but increase all things unto the uttermost of their powers), and, therefore (because they are thus unlearned, thought I), when they come together to the ale-house, which is their preaching place, they affirm that my sayings are heresy. And besides that, they add to of their own heads which I never spake, as the manner is, to prolong the tale to short the time withal, and accused me secretly to the chancellor, and other the bishop’s officers. And, indeed, when I came before the chancellor, he threatened me grievously, and reviled me, and rated me as though I had been a dog, and laid to my charge whereof there could be none accuser brought forth (as their manner is not to bring forth the accuser), and yet all the priests of the country were the same day there.

As I this thought, the bishop of London came to my remembrance, whom Erasmus (whose tongue maketh of little gnats great elephants, and lifteth up above the stars whosoever giveth him a little exhibition) praiseth exceedingly, among other in his Annotations on the New Testament, for his great learning. Then, thought I, if I might come to this man’s service, I were happy. And so I gat me to London, and, through the acquaintance of my master, came to Sir Harry Gilford, the king’s grace’s comptroller, and brought him an Oration of Isocrates, which I had translated out of Greek into English, and desired him to speak unto my lord of London for me, which he also did as he shewed me, and willed me to write an epistle to my lord, and to go to him myself, which I also did, and delivered my epistle to a servant of his own, one William Hebilthwayte, a man of mine old acquaintance. But God (which knoweth what is within hypocrites) saw that I was beguiled, and that that counsel was not the next way unto my purpose. And therefore he gat me no favour in my lord’s sight.

[Pg 158]Whereupon my lord answered me, his house was full, he had more than he could well find, and advised me to seek in London, where he said I could not lack a service. And so in London I abode almost a year, and marked the course of the world, and heard our praters (I would say our preachers), how they boasted themselves and their high authority; and beheld the pomp of our prelates, and how busy they were, as they yet are, to set peace and unity in the world (though it be not possible for them that walk in darkness to continue long in peace, for they cannot but either stumble or dash themselves at one thing or another that shall clean unquiet all together) and saw things whereof I defer to speak at this time, and understood at the last not only that there was no room in my lord of London’s palace to translate the New Testament, but also that there was no place to do it in all England, as experience doth now openly declare.

Under what manner, therefore, should I now submit this book to be corrected and amended of them, which can suffer nothing to be well? Or what protestation should I make in such a matter unto our prelates, those stubborn Nimrods which so mightily fight against God, and resist his Holy Spirit, enforcing with all craft and subtlety to quench the light of the everlasting Testament, promises, and appointment made between God and us? and heaping the fierce wrath of God upon all princes and rulers; mocking them with false feigned names of hypocrisy, and serving their lusts at all points, and dispensing with them even of the very laws of God, of which Christ himself testifieth, Matt. v. “That not so much as one tittle thereof may perish, or be broken.” And of which the prophet saith, Psalm cxviii., “Thou hast commanded thy laws to be kept” meod, that is in Hebrew, exceedingly, with all diligence, might, and power; and have made them so mad with their juggling charms, and crafty persuasions, that they think it a full satisfaction for all their wicked lying to torment such as tell them[Pg 159] truth, and to burn the word of their soul’s health, and slay whosoever believe thereon.

Notwithstanding, yet I submit this book, and all other that I have either made or translated, or shall in time to come, (if it be God’s will that I shall further labour in his harvest,) unto all them that submit themselves unto the word of God, to be corrected of them; yea, and moreover to be disallowed and also burnt, if it seem worthy, when they have examined it with the Hebrew, so that they first put forth of their own translating another that is more correct.



[Pg 160]



Considering how excellent knowledge and learning an interpreter of scripture ought to have in the tongues, and pondering also mine own insufficiency therein, and how weak I am to perform the office of a translator, I was the more loath to meddle with this work. Notwithstanding, when I considered how great pity it was that we should want it so long, and called to my remembrance the adversity of them which were not only of ripe knowledge, but would also with all their hearts have performed that they began, if they had not had impediment; considering, I say, that by reason of their adversity it could not so soon have been brought to an end, as our most prosperous nation would fain have had it; these and other reasonable causes considered, I was the more bold to take it in hand. And to help me herein, I have had sundry translations, not only in Latin, but also of the Dutch interpreters, whom, because of their singular gifts and special diligence in the Bible, I have been the more glad to follow for the most part, according as I was required. But, to say the truth before God, it was neither my labour nor desire to have this work put in my hand: nevertheless it grieved me that other nations should be more plenteously provided for with the scripture in their mother-tongue, than we: therefore, when I was instantly required, though I could not do so well as I would, I thought it yet my duty to do my best, and that with a good will.

Whereas some men think now that many translations make division in the faith and in the people of God, that is not so: for it was never better with the congregation of God, than when[Pg 161] every church almost had the Bible of a sundry translation. Among the Greeks had not Origen a special translation? Had not Vulgarius one peculiar, and likewise Chrysostom? Beside the seventy interpreters, is there not the translation of Aquila, of Theodotio, of Symmachus, and of sundry other? Again, among the Latin men, thou findest that every one almost used a special and sundry translation; for insomuch as every bishop had the knowledge of the tongues, he gave his diligence to have the Bible of his own translation. The doctors, as Hireneus, Cyprianus, Tertullian, St. Hierome, St. Augustine, Hilarius, and St. Ambrose, upon divers places of the scripture, read not the text all alike.

Therefore ought it not to be taken as evil, that such men as have understanding now in our time, exercise themselves in the tongues, and give their diligence to translate out of one language into another. Yea, we ought rather to give God high thanks therefore, which through his Spirit stirreth up men’s minds so to exercise themselves therein. Would God it had never been left off after the time of St. Augustine! then should we never have come into such blindness and ignorance, into such errors and delusions. For as soon as the Bible was cast aside, and no more put in exercise, then began every one of his own head to write whatsoever came into his brain, and that seemed to be good in his own eyes; and so grew the darkness of men’s traditions. And this same is the cause that we have had so many writers, which seldom made mention of the scripture of the Bible; and though they sometime alleged it, yet was it done so far out of season, and so wide from the purpose, that a man may well perceive, how that they never saw the original.

Seeing then that this diligent exercise of translating doth so much good and edifieth in other languages, why should it do evil in ours? Doubtless, like as all nations in the diversity of speeches may know one God in the unity of faith, and be one in love; even so may divers translations understand one another,[Pg 162] and that in the head articles and ground of our most blessed faith, though they use sundry words. Wherefore methink we have great occasion to give thanks unto God, that he hath opened unto his church the gift of interpretation and of printing, and that there are now at this time so many, which with such diligence and faithfulness interpret the scripture, to the honour of God and edifying of his people: whereas, like as when many are shooting together, every one doth his best to be nighest the mark; and though they cannot all attain thereto, yet shooteth one nigher than another and hitteth it better than another; yea, one can do it better than another. Who is now then so unreasonable, so despiteful, or envious, as to abhor him that doth all his diligence to hit the prick, and to shoot nighest it, though he miss and come not nighest the mark? Ought not such one rather to be commended, and to be helped forward, that he may exercise himself the more therein?

For the which cause, according as I was desired, I took the more upon me to set forth this special translation, not as a checker, not as a reprover, or despiser of other men’s translations, (for among many as yet I have found none without occasion of great thanksgiving unto God;) but lowly and faithfully have I followed mine interpreters, and that under correction; and though I have failed anywhere (as there is no man but he misseth in some thing), love shall construe all to the best, without any perverse judgment. There is no man living that can see all things, neither hath God given any man to know everything. One seeth more clearly than another, one hath more understanding than another, one can utter a thing better than another; but no man ought to envy or despise another. He that can do better than another, should not set him at nought that understandeth less. Yea, he that hath the more understanding ought to remember, that the same gift is not his, but God’s, and that God hath given it him to teach and inform the ignorant. If thou hast knowledge therefore to judge where[Pg 163] any fault is made, I doubt not but thou wilt help to amend it, if love be joined with thy knowledge. Howbeit, whereinsoever I can perceive by myself, or by the information of other, that I have failed (as it is no wonder), I shall now by the help of God overlook it better, and amend it.

Now will I exhort thee, whosoever thou be that readest scripture, if thou find ought therein that thou understandest not, or that appeareth to be repugnant, give no temerarious nor hasty judgment thereof; but ascribe it to thine own ignorance, not to the scripture: think that thou understandest it not, or that it hath some other meaning, or that it is haply overseen of the interpreters, or wrong printed. Again, it shall greatly help thee to understand scripture, if thou mark not only what is spoken or written, but of whom, and unto whom, with what words, at what time, where, to what intent, with what circumstance, considering what goeth before, and what followeth after. For there be some things which are done and written, to the intent that we should do likewise; as when Abraham believeth God, is obedient unto his word, and defendeth Loth his kinsman from violent wrong. There be some things also which are written, to the intent that we should eschew such like; as when David lieth with Uria’s wife, and causeth him to be slain. Therefore, I say, when thou readest scripture, be wise and circumspect; and when thou comest to such strange manners of speaking and dark sentences, to such parables and similitudes, to such dreams or visions, as are hid from thy understanding, commit them unto God, or to the gift of his Holy Spirit in them that are better learned than thou.

As for the commendation of God’s holy scripture, I would fain magnify it, as it is worthy, but I am far unsufficient thereto: and therefore I thought it better for me to hold my tongue, than with few words to praise or commend it; exhorting thee, most dear reader, so to love it, so to cleave unto it, and so to follow it in thy daily conversation, that other men, seeing thy good[Pg 164] works and the fruits of the Holy Ghost in thee, may praise the Father of heaven, and give his word a good report: for to live after the law of God, and to lead a virtuous conversation, is the greatest praise that thou canst give unto his doctrine.

But as touching the evil report and dispraise that the good word of God hath by the corrupt and evil conversation of some that daily hear it and profess it outwardly with their mouths, I exhort thee, most dear reader, let not that offend thee, nor withdraw thy mind from the love of the truth, neither move thee to be partaker in like unthankfulness; but seeing the light is come into the world, love no more the works of darkness, receive not the grace of God in vain. Call to thy remembrance, how loving and merciful God is unto thee, how kindly and fatherly he helpeth thee in all trouble, teacheth thine ignorance, healeth thee in all thy sickness, forgiveth thee all thy sins, feedeth thee, giveth thee drink, helpeth thee out of prison, nourisheth thee in strange countries, careth for thee, and seeth that thou want nothing. Call this to mind, I say, and that earnestly, and consider how thou hast received of God all these benefits, yea, and many more than thou canst desire; how thou art bound likewise to shew thyself unto thy neighbour, as far as thou canst, to teach him, if he be ignorant, to help him in all his trouble, to heal his sickness, to forgive him his offences, and that heartily, to feed him, to cherish him, to care for him, and to see that he want nothing. And on this behalf I beseek thee, thou that hast the riches of this world, and lovest God with thy heart, to lift up thine eyes, and see how great a multitude of poor people run through every town; have pity on thine own flesh, help them with a good heart, and do with thy counsel all that ever thou canst, that this unshamefaced begging may be put down, that these idle folks may be set to labour, and that such as are not able to get their living may be provided for. At the least, thou that art of counsel with such as are in authority, give them some occasion to cast their heads together, and to[Pg 165] make provision for the poor. Put them in remembrance of those noble cities in other countries, that by the authority of their princes have so richly and well provided for their poor people, to the great shame and dishonesty of us, if we likewise, receiving the word of God, shew not such like fruits thereof. Would God that those men, whose office is to maintain the commonwealth, were as diligent in this cause, as they are in other! Let us beware bytimes, for after unthankfulness there followeth ever a plague. The merciful hand of God be with us, and defend us, that we be not partakers thereof!

Go to now, most dear reader, and sit thee down at the Lord’s feet, and read his words, and, as Moses teacheth the Jews, take them into thine heart, and let thy talking and communication be of them, when thou sittest in thine house, or goest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And, above all things, fashion thy life and conversation according to the doctrine of the Holy Ghost therein, that thou mayest be partaker of the good promises of God in the Bible, and be heir of his blessing in Christ: in whom if thou put thy trust, and be an unfeigned reader or hearer of his word with thy heart, thou shalt find sweetness therein, and spy wondrous things, to thy understanding, to the avoiding of all seditious sects, to the abhorring of thy old sinful life, and to the stablishing of thy godly conversation.

In the first book of Moses, called Genesis, thou mayest learn to know the almighty power of God in creating all of nought, his infinite wisdom in ordering the same, his righteousness in punishing the ungodly, his love and fatherly mercy in comforting the righteous with his promise, &c.

In the second book, called Exodus, we see the mighty arm of God in delivering his people from so great bondage out of Egypt, and what provision he maketh for them in the wilderness; how he teacheth them with his wholesome word, and how the tabernacle was made and set up.

[Pg 166]In the third book, called Leviticus, is declared, what sacrifices the priests and Levites used, and what their office and ministration was.

In the fourth book, called Numerus, is declared, how the people are numbered and mustered, how the captains are chosen after the tribes and kindreds, how they went forth to the battle, how they pitched their tents, and how they brake up.

The fifth book, called Deuteronomium, sheweth how that Moses, now being old, rehearseth the law of God unto the people, putteth them in remembrance again of all the wonders and benefices that God had shewed for them, and exhorteth them earnestly to love the Lord their God, to cleave unto him, to put their trust in him, and to hearken unto his voice.

After the death of Moses doth Josua bring the people into the land of promise, where God doth wonderous things for his people by Josua, which distributeth the land unto them, unto every tribe their possession. But in their wealth they forgat the goodness of God, so that ofttimes he gave them over into the hand of their enemies. Nevertheless, whensoever they called faithfully upon him, and converted, he delivered them again, as the book of Judges declareth.

In the books of the Kings is described the regiment of good and evil princes, and how the decay of all nations cometh by evil kings. For in Jeroboam thou seest what mischief, what idolatry, and such like abomination followeth, when the king is a maintainer of false doctrine, and causeth the people to sin against God; which falling away from God’s word increased so sore among them, that it was the cause of all their sorrow and misery, and the very occasion why Israel first, and then Juda, were carried away into captivity. Again, in Josaphat, in Ezechias, and in Josias, thou seest the nature of a virtuous king. He putteth down the houses of idolatry, seeth that his priests teach nothing but the law of God, commandeth his lords to go with them, and to see that they teach the people.[Pg 167] In these kings, I say, thou seest the condition of a true defender of the faith; for he spareth neither cost nor labour to maintain the Laws of God, to seek the wealth and prosperity of his people, and to root out the wicked. And where such a prince is, thou seest again, how God defendeth him and his people, though he have never so many enemies. Thus went it with them in the old time, and even after the same manner goeth it now with us. God be praised therefore, and grant us of his fatherly mercy that we be not unthankful; lest where he now giveth us a Josaphat, an Ezechias, yea, a very Josias, he send us a Pharao, a Jeroboam, or an Achab!

In the two first books of Esdras, and in Hester, thou seest the deliverance of the people, which though they were but few, yet is it unto us all a special comfort; forsomuch as God is not forgetful of his promise, but bringeth them out of captivity, according as he had told them before.

In the book of Job we learn comfort and patience, in that God not only punisheth the wicked, but proveth and trieth the just and righteous (howbeit there is no man innocent in his sight,) by divers troubles in this life; declaring thereby, that they are not his bastards, but his dear sons, and that he loveth them.

In the Psalms we learn how to resort only unto God in all our troubles, to seek help at him, to call only upon him, to settle our minds by patience, and how we ought in prosperity to be thankful unto him.

The Proverbs and the Preacher of Solomon teach us wisdom, to know God, our own selves, and the world, and how vain all things are, save only to cleave unto God.

As for the doctrine of the Prophets, what is it else, but an earnest exhortation to eschew sin, and to turn unto God; a faithful promise of the mercy and pardon of God unto all them that turn unto him, and a threatening of his wrath to the ungodly? saving that here and there they prophesy also [Pg 168]manifestly of Christ, of the expulsion of the Jews, and calling of the heathen.

Thus much thought I to speak of the old Testament, wherein Almighty God openeth unto us his mighty power, his wisdom, his loving mercy and righteousness: for the which cause it ought of no man to be abhorred, despised, or lightly regarded, as though it were an old scripture that nothing belonged unto us, or that now were to be refused. For it is God’s true scripture and testimony, which the Lord Jesus commandeth the Jews to search. Whosoever believeth not the scripture, believeth not Christ; and whoso refuseth it, refuseth God also.

The new Testament, or Gospel, is a manifest and clear testimony of Christ, how God performeth his oath and promise made in the old Testament, how the new is declared and included in the old, and the old fulfilled and verified in the new.

Now whereas the most famous interpreters of all give sundry judgments of the text; so far as it is done by the spirit of knowledge in the Holy Ghost, methink no man should be offended thereat, for they refer their doings in meekness to the spirit of truth in the congregation of God: and sure I am, that there cometh more knowledge and understanding of the scripture by their sundry translations, than by all the glosses of our sophistical doctors. For that one interpreteth something obscurely in one place, the same translateth another, or else he himself, more manifestly by a more plain vocable of the same meaning in another place. Be not thou offended, therefore, good reader, though one call a scribe that another calleth a lawyer; or elders, that another calleth father and mother; or repentance, that another calleth penance or amendment. For if thou be not deceived by men’s traditions, thou shalt find no more diversity between these terms, than between fourpence and a groat. And this manner have I used in my translation, calling it in some place penance, that in another place I call[Pg 169] repentance; and that not only because the interpreters have done so before me, but that the adversaries of the truth may see, how that we abhor not this word penance, as they untruly report of us, no more than the interpreters of Latin abhor pœnitere, when they read resipiscere. Only our heart’s desire unto God is, that his people be not blinded in their understanding, lest they believe penance to be ought save a very repentance, amendment, or conversion unto God, and to be an unfeigned new creature in Christ, and to live according to his law. For else shall they fall into the old blasphemy of Christ’s blood, and believe that they themselves are able to make satisfaction unto God for their own sins: from the which error God of his mercy and plenteous goodness preserve all his!

Now to conclude: forsomuch as all the scripture is written for thy doctrine and ensample, it shall be necessary for thee to take hold upon it while it is offered thee, yea, and with ten hands thankfully to receive it. And though it be not worthily ministered unto thee in this translation, by reason of my rudeness; yet if thou be fervent in thy prayer, God shall not only send it thee in a better shape by the ministration of other that began it afore, but shall also move the hearts of them which as yet meddled not withal, to take it in hand, and to bestow the gift of their understanding thereon, as well in our language, as other famous interpreters do in other languages. And I pray God, that through my poor ministration herein I may give them that can do better some occasion so to do; exhorting thee, most dear reader, in the mean while on God’s behalf, if thou be a head, a judge, or ruler of the people, that thou let not the book of this law depart out of thy mouth, but exercise thyself therein both day and night, and be ever reading in it as long as thou livest: that thou mayest learn to fear the Lord thy God, and not to turn aside from the commandment, neither to the right hand nor to the left; lest thou be a knower of persons in judgment, and wrest the right of the stranger, of the fatherless,[Pg 170] or of the widow, and so the curse to come upon thee. But what office so ever thou hast, wait upon it, and execute it to the maintenance of peace, to the wealth of thy people, defending the laws of God and the lovers thereof, and to the destruction of the wicked.

If thou be a preacher, and hast the oversight of the flock of Christ, awake and feed Christ’s sheep with a good heart, and spare no labour to do them good: seek not thyself, and beware of filthy lucre; but be unto the flock an ensample in the word, in conversation, in love, in ferventness of the spirit, and be ever reading, exhorting, and teaching in God’s word, that the people of God run not unto other doctrines, and lest thou thyself, when thou shouldest teach other, be found ignorant therein. And rather than thou wouldest teach the people any other thing than God’s word, take the book in thine hand, and read the words, even as they stand therein; for it is no shame so to do, it is more shame to make a lie. This I say for such as are not yet expert in the scripture; for I reprove no preaching without the book, as long as they say the truth.

If thou be a man that hast wife and children, first love thy wife, according to the ensample of the love wherewith Christ loved the congregation; and remember that so doing thou lovest even thyself: if thou hate her, thou hatest thine own flesh; if thou cherish her and make much of her, thou cherishest and makest much of thyself; for she is bone of thy bones, and flesh of thy flesh. And whosoever thou be that hast children, bring them up in the nurture and information of the Lord. And if thou be ignorant, or art otherwise occupied lawfully, that thou canst not teach them thyself, then be even as diligent to seek a good master for thy children, as thou wast to seek a mother to bear them; for there lieth as great weight in the one, as in the other. Yea, better it were for them to be unborn, than not to fear God, or to be evil brought up: which thing (I mean bringing up well of children) if it be diligently[Pg 171] looked to, it is the upholding of all commonwealths; and the negligence of the same, the very decay of all realms.

Finally, whosoever thou be, take these words of scripture into thy heart, and be not only an outward hearer, but a doer thereafter, and practise thyself therein; that thou mayest feel in thine heart the sweet promises thereof for thy consolation in all trouble, and for the sure stablishing of thy hope in Christ; and have ever an eye to the words of scripture, that if thou be a teacher of other, thou mayest be within the bounds of the truth; or at the least, though thou be but an hearer or reader of another man’s doings, thou mayest yet have knowledge to judge all spirits, and be free from every error, to the utter destruction of all seditious sects and strange doctrines; that the holy scripture may have free passage, and be had in reputation, to the worship of the author thereof, which is even God himself; to whom for his most blessed word be glory and dominion now and ever! Amen.



[Pg 172]



To our Beloved in the Lord,
The Brethren of England,
Scotland, Ireland, &c. Grace, mercie, and peace,
through Christ Jesus.[141]

Besides the manifold and continuall benefits which Almightie God bestowed upon us, both corporall and spirituall, we are especially bound (deare brethren) to giue him thankes without ceasing for his great grace and vnspeakable mercies, in that it hath pleased him to call vs vnto this marueilous light of his Gospell, and mercifully to regarde vs after so horrible backesliding and falling away from Christ to Antichrist, from light to darknesse, from the liuing God to dumme and dead idoles, and that after so cruell murther of God’s saints, as alas, hath bene among vs, wee are not altogether cast off, as were the Israelites, and many others for the like or not so manifest wickednesse, but receiued againe to grace with most evident signes and tokens of God’s especiall loue and fauour. To the intent therefore that wee may not be vnmindfull of these great mercies, but seeke by all meanes (according to our duetie) to bee thankefull for the same, it behoueth vs so to walke in his feare and loue, that all the dayes of our life we may procure the glorie of his holy name.

[Pg 173]Nowe forasmuch as this thing chiefely is atteined by the knowledge and practising of the worde of God (which is the light to our paths, the keye of the kingdome of heauen, our comfort in affliction, our shielde and sworde against Satan, the schoole of all wisdome, the glasse wherein we beholde Gods face, the testimonie of his fauour, and the onely foode and nourishment of our soules), wee thought that wee coulde bestowe our labours and studie in nothing which coulde be more acceptable to God and comfortable to his Church then in the translating of the holy Scriptures into our natiue tongue: the which thing albeit that diuers heretofore haue endeuoured to atchieue; yet considering the infancie of those times and imperfect knowledge of the tongues in respect of this ripe age and cleere light which God hath now reueiled, ye translations required greatly to be perused and reformed. Not that we vendicate anything to our selues aboue the least of our brethren (for God knoweth with what feare and trembling we haue bene for the space of two yeeres and more day and night occupied herein), but being earnestly desired and by diuers, whose learning and godlinesse we reuerence, exhorted and also encouraged by the ready willes of such, whose hearts God likewise touched, not to spare any charges for the furtherance of such a benefite and fauour of God towarde his Church (though the time then was most dangerous, and the persecution sharpe and furious), we submitted our selues at length to their godly judgements, and seeing the great opportunitie and occasions, which God presented unto vs in his Church, by reason of so many godlie and learned men: and such diuersities of translations in diuers tongues, we vndertooke this great and wonderfull worke (with all reuerence, as in the presence of God, as intreating the word of God, whereunto we thinke our selues vnsufficient) which now God accepting according to his diuine prouidence and mercie hath directed to a most prosperous ende. And this we may with good conscience protest that we haue in euery point and worde,[Pg 174] according to the measure of that knowledge which it pleased Almightie God to giue vs, faithfully rendred the text, and in all hard places most sincerely expounded the same. For God is our witnesse that we haue by all meanes indeuoured to set foorth the puritie of the word and the right sense of the holy Ghost for the edifying of the brethren in faith and charitie.

Nowe as we have chiefely obserued the sence, and laboured allwayes to restore it to all integritie, so haue we most reuerently kept the proprietie of the wordes, considering that the Apostles who spake and wrote to the Gentiles in the Greeke tongue, rather constrained them to the liuely phrase of the Ebrew, then enterprised farre by mollifying their language to speake as the Gentiles did. And for this and other causes wee haue in many places reserued the Ebrew phrases, notwithstanding that they may seeme somewhat hard in their eares that are not well practised and also delite in the sweet sounding phrases of the holy Scriptures. Yet least eyther the simple should be discouraged, or the malicious haue any occasion of just cauilation, seeing some translations reade after one sort, and some after another, whereas all may serue to good purpose and edification, we haue in the margent noted that diuersitie of speech or reading which may also seeme agreeable to the minde of the holy Ghost, and proper for our language with this marke. ∥

Againe, whereas the Ebrewe speache seemed hardly to agree with ours we haue noted it in the margent after this sort ‡, vsing that which was more intelligible. And albeit that many of the Ebrewe names be altered from the olde text, and restored to the true writing and first originall, whereof they haue their signification, yet in the vsuall names litle is changed for feare of troubling the simple readers. Moreover, whereas the necessitie of the sentence required any thing to be added (for such is the grace and proprietie of the Ebrew and Greeke tongues that it cannot, but either by circumlocution, or by adding the verbe or some word, be understood of them that are[Pg 175] not well practised therein) wee haue put in the text with an other kinde of letter that it may easily be discerned from the common letter.[142] As touching the diuision of the verses wee haue followed the Ebrewe examples, which haue so euen from the beginning distinguished them. Which thing as it is most profitable for memorie, so doeth it agree with the best translations, and is most easie to finde out both by the best Concordances, and also by the quotations which we haue diligently herein perused and set foorth by this *. Besides this the principall matters are noted by this marke ¶. Yea, and the arguments both for the booke and for the chapters with the number of the verse are added, that by all meanes the reader might be holpen. For the which cause also we haue set ouer the head of every page some notable worde or sentence which may greatly further as well for memorie as for the chiefe point of the page.

And considering howe hard a thing it is to vnderstand the holy Scriptures, and what errors, sectes, and heresies growe dayly for lacke of the true knowledge thereof, and howe many are discouraged (as they pretend) because they cannot atteine to the true and simple meaning of the same, we haue also indeuoured both by the diligent reading of the best commentaries, and also by the conference with the godly and learned brethren, to gather briefe annotations upon all the hard places, as well[Pg 176] for the vnderstanding of such wordes as are obscure, and for the declaration of the text, as for the application of the same, as may most appertaine to God’s glory and the edification of his Church.

Furthermore, whereas certaine places in the bookes of Moses, of the Kings, and Ezekiel, seemed so darke that by no description they could be made easie to the simple reader, wee have so set them foorth with figures and notes for the full declaration thereof, that they which cannot by judgement, being holpen by the letters a, b, c, &c., atteine thereunto, yet by the perspective and, as it were, by the eye, may sufficiently knowe the true meaning of all such places. Whereunto also wee haue added certaine maps of Cosmographie which necessarily serue for the perfect vnderstanding and memorie of diuers places and countries, partly described and partly by occasion touched both in the olde and newe Testament.

Finally, that nothing might lacke which might be bought by labours, for the increase of knowledge and furtherance of God’s glorie, we have adioyned two most profitable Tables, the one seruing for the interpretation of the Ebrew names, and the other conteining all the chiefe and principall matters of the whole Bible, so that nothing (as wee trust) that any could iustlie desire is omitted. Therefore as brethren that are partakers of the same hope and saluation with us, wee beseeche you that this rich pearle and inestimable treasure may not be offred in vaine, but as sent from God to the people of God, for the increase of his kingdome, the comfort of his Church, and discharge of our conscience, whom it hath pleased him to raise vp for this purpose, so you woulde willingly receive the worde of God, earnestly studie it, and in all your life practise it, that you may nowe appeare in deede to bee the people of God, not walking any more according to this worlde, but in the fruits of the Spirit, that God in vs may bee fully glorified through Christ Jesus our Lorde who liueth and reigneth for euer. Amen. From Geneva, 10th April, 1560.



[Pg 177]



A Preface into the Byble

Of all the sentences pronounced by our Sauiour Christe in his whole doctrine, none is more serious or more worthy to be borne in remembraunce, than that which he spake openly in his Gospell, saying: John v.Scrutamini scripturas, quia vos putatis in ipsis vitam eternam habere, et illæ sunt quæ testimonium perhibent de me. Search ye the scriptures, for in them ye think to have eternall lyfe, and those they be which beare witnes of me. These wordes were first spoken vnto the Jewes by our Sauiour, but by hym in his doctrine ment to all: for they concerne all, of what nation, of what tongue, of what profession soeuer any man be. For to all belongeth it to be called vnto eternal life, so many as by the witnes of the scriptures desire to find eternall life. No man, woman, or chylde, is excluded from this saluation, and therefore to euery of them is this spoke proportionally yet, and in their degrees and ages, and as the reason and congruitie of their vocation may aske. For not so lyeth it in charge to the worldly artificer to searche, or to any other priuate man so exquisitely to studie, as it lyeth to the charge of the publike teacher to searche in the scriptures, to be the more able to walke in the house of God 1 Tim. iii.(which is the church of the lyuyng God, the pyller[Pg 178] and ground of truth) to the establishing of the true doctrine of the same, and to the impugnyng of the false. And though whatsoever difference there may be betwixt the preacher in office, and the auditor in his vocation, yet to both it is said, Search ye the scriptures, whereby ye may fynde eternall lyfe, and gather witnesses of that saluation which is in Christe Jesus our Lorde. Deut. xvii.For although the prophete of God Moyses, byddeth the kyng when he is once set in the throne of his kingdome, to describe before his eyes the volume of God’s lawe, according to the example whiche he shoulde receaue of the priestes of the liuiticall tribe, to haue it with him, and to reade it in all the dayes of his life, to thende[143] that he might learne to feare the Lorde his God, and to observe his lawes, that his heart be not aduanced in pryde ouer his brethren, not to swarue eyther on the ryght hande or on the left: yet the reason of this precept for that it concerneth all men, may reasonably be thought to be commanded to all men, and all men may take it to be spoken to them selfe in their degree. Iosue i.Though almightie God him selfe spake to his captayne Iosue in precise wordes, Non recedat volumen legis huius ab ore tuo sed meditaberis in eo diebus ac noctibus, &c. Let not the volume of this booke depart from thy mouth, but muse therein both dayes and nyghtes, that thou mayest kepe and perfourme all thinges which be written in it, that thou mayest direct well thy way and vnderstande the same: yet as well spake almightie God this precept to all his people in the directions of their wayes to himwarde, as he ment it to Iosue: Peter v.
Ephe. vi.
1 Tim. ii.
Ioh xiiii.
For that he hath care of all, he accepteth no man’s person, his wyll is[Pg 179] that all men should he saued, his wyll is that all men should come to the way of trueth. Howe coulde this be more conueniently declared by God to man, then when Christe his welbeloued sonne our most louing sauiour, the way, the trueth, and the lyfe of vs all, dyd byd vs openly Search the scriptures, assuring vs herein to finde eternall life, to finde full testification of all his graces and benefites towardes vs in the treasure thereof. Therefore it is most conuenient that we shoulde all suppose that Christe spake to vs all in this his precept of searching the scriptures. If this celestiall doctour (so aucthorised by the father of heauen, and commaunded Matt. xvii.his only sonne, to be hearde of vs all) biddeth vs busily to Search the scriptures: of what spirite can it proceede to forbid the reading and studying of the scriptures? If the grosse Iewes vsed to reade them, as some men thinke that our sauiour Christ dyd shew by such kynd of speaking, their vsage, with their opinion they had therin to finde eternall lyfe, and were not of Christe rebuked, or disproued, either for their searching, or for the opinion they had, howe superstitiously or superficially soeuer some of them vsed to expende the scriptures; How muche more vnaduisedly do suche as bost them selfe to be either Christe’s vicars, or be of his garde, to lothe christen men from reading, by their couert slaunderous reproches of the scriptures, or in their aucthoritie by lawe or statute to contract this libertie of studiyng the worde of eternall saluation. Christe calleth them not onlye to the single readyng of scriptures (saith Chrisostome) but sendeth them to the exquisite searching of them, for in them is eternall lyfe to be founde, and they be (saith hym selfe) the witnesse of me: for they declare out his office, they commende his beneuolence towardes vs,[Pg 180] they recorde his whole workes wrought for vs to our saluation. Antechriste therefore he must be, that vnder whatsoeuer colour woulde geue contrary precept or counsayle to that whiche Christe dyd geue vnto vs. Very litle do they resemble Christes louing spirite mouing vs to searche for our comfort, that wyll discourage vs from suche searching, or that woulde wishe ignoraunce and forgetfulnesse of his benefite to raigne in vs, so that they might by our ignoraunce raigne the more frankly in our consciences, to the danger of our saluation. Who can take the light from us in this miserable vale of blindnesse, and meane not to haue us stumble in the pathes of perdition to the ruine of our soules: who wyll enuie vs this bread of lyfe prepared and set on the table for our eternall sustenaunce, and meane not to famishe vs, or in steede thereof with their corrupt traditions and doctrines of men to infect vs: All the whole scripture, saith the holy apostle ii. Tim. iii.Saint Paul inspired from God aboue, is profitable to teache, to reproue, to refourme, to instruct in righteousnesse, that the man of God may be sounde and perfect, instructed to euery good worke.

Searche therefore, good reader (on God’s name), as Christe byddeth thee the holy scripture, wherein thou mayest find thy saluation: Let not the volume of this booke (by Gods owne warrant) depart from thee but occupie thy selfe therein in the whole journey of this thy wordly pilgrimage,Psal. i. to vnderstand thy way howe to walke ryghtly before hym all the dayes of thy lyfe. Remember that the prophete David pronounceth hym the blessed man whiche wyll muse in the lawe of God Psal. cxix.both day and night, remember that he calleth him blessed whiche walketh in the way of the Lorde, which wyll searche diligently his testimonies, and wyll[Pg 181] in their whole heart seeke the same. Let not the couert suspicious insinuations of the adversaries driue thee from the searche of the holy scripture, either for the obscuritie whiche they say is in them, or for the inscrutable hidden misteries they talke to be comprised in them, or for the straungnes and homlynes of the phrases they would charge Gods booke with. Christe exhorteth thee therefore the rather for the difficultie of the same, to searche them diligently. Hebr. v.
1 Cor. xiiii.
Saint Paul wylleth thee to haue thy senses exercised in them, and not to be a chylde in thy senses, but in malice. Though many thinges may be difficulte to thee to vnderstand, impute it rather to thy dull hearing and reading, then to thinke that the scriptures be insuperable, to them whiche with diligent searching labour to discern the evil from the good. Math. vii.Only searche with an humble spirite, aske in continuall prayer, seek with puritie of life, knocke with perpetuall perseueraunce, and crye to that good spirite of Christe the Comforter: and surely to euery suche asker it wyll be geuen, such searchers must nedes finde, to them it wylbe opened. Christ hym selfe wyll open the sense of the scriptures, Math. xi.
Esai. lxi.
1 Cor. xii.
Apoc. iii.
Sapi i.
Iob xiiii.
Sapi i.
Psal. lxviii.
not to the proude, or to the wyse of the worlde, but to the lowly and contrite in heart; for he hath the kay of Dauid, who openeth and no man shutteth, who shutteth and no man openeth. For as this spirite is a bening and liberall spirite, and wyll be easyly founde of them which wyll early in carefulnesse ryse to seeke hym, and as he promiseth he will be the comforter from aboue to teache vs, and to leade vs into all the wayes of truth, if that in humilitie we bowe vnto hym, deniyng our owne naturall senses, our carnall wittes and reasons: so is he the spirite of puritie and cleannes, and will receede from him, whose conscience[Pg 182] is subiect to filthynesse of lyfe. Into suche a soule this heavenly wysdome wyll not enter, for all peruerse cogitations wyll separate vs from God: and then howe busyly soeuer we searche this holy table of the scripture, yet will it then be a table to suche to their owne snare, a trap, a stumbling stocke, and a recompense to them selfe. We ought therefore to searche to finde out the trueth, not to oppresse it, we ought to seeke Christe, not as Herode did vnder the pretence of worshipping hym to destroy hym, or as the Pharisees searched the scriptures to disproue Christe, and to discredite him, and not to folowe him; but to embrace the saluation whiche we may learne by them. Nor yet is it inough so to acknowledge the scriptures as some of the Iewes dyd, of the holyest of them, who vsed such diligence, that they could number precisely, not only euery verse, but euery word and sillable, how oft euery letter of the alphabete was repeated in the whole scriptures: They had some of them suche reuerence to that booke, that they woulde not suffer in a greate heape of bookes, any other to lay over them, they woulde not suffer that booke to fall to the grounde as nye as they coulde, they woulde costly bynde the bookes of holy scriptures, and cause them to be exquisitely and ornately written. Whiche deuotion yet though it was not to be discommended, yet was it not for that intent, why Christe commended the scriptures, nor they therof alowed before God: For they did not call vpon God in a true fayth. they were not charitable to their neighbours, but in the middes of all this deuotion, they did steale, they were adulterers, they were slaunderers and backbiters, euen muche like many of our Christian men and women nowe a dayes, who glory muche that they reade the scriptures, that they[Pg 183] searche them and loue them, that they frequente the publique sermons in an outwarde shewe of all honestie and perfection, yea they can pike out of the scriptures vertuous sentenses and godly preceptes to lay before other men. And though these maner of men do not muche erre for suche searching and studying, yet they see not the scope and the principall state of the scriptures, which is as Christe declareth it, to finde Christe as their Sauiour, to cleaue to his saluation and merites, and to be brought to the lowe repentaunce of their liues, and to amend them selfe, to rayse vp their fayth to our Sauiour Christe, so to thinke of him as the scriptures do testifie of hym. These be the principall causes why Christe did sende the Iewes to searche the scriptures: for to this ende were they wrytten, saith Saint Iohn, Hae scripta sunt ut credatis, et vt credentes vitam habeatis eternam. These were written to this intent, that ye shoulde beleue, Iohn xx.ane that through your beliefe ye shoulde haue euerlasting life.

And here good reader, great cause we have to extoll the wonderous wisdome of God, and with great thankes to prayse his prouidence, considering howe he hath preserued and renued from age to age by speciall Hebr. v.miracle, the incomparable treasure of his Churche. For first he did inspire Moyses, as Iohn Chrisostome doth testifie, to wryte the stonie tables, and kept him in the mountayne fourtie dayes to giue him his lawe: after him he sent the prophetes, but they suffred many thousande aduersities, for battayles did folowe, all were slayne, all were destroyed, bookes were brent vp. He then inspired agayne another man to repayre these miraculous scriptures, Esdras I meane, who of their leauings set them agayne together: after that he provided that the seuentie interpreters should take them[Pg 184] in hande: at the laste came Christe him selfe, the Apostles did receaue them, and spread them throughout all nations, Christe wrought his miracles and wonders: and what followed? after these great volumes the Apostles also did wryte as Saint Paul doth say, 1 Cor. x.
Math. xxii.
Colo. iii.
Psal. cxix.
Deut. xvi.
These be wrytten to the instruction of vs that be come into the ende of the worlde: and Christe doth say, Ye therefore erre, because ye knowe not the scriptures nor the power of God: and Paul dyd say, Let the worde of Christe be plentifull among you: and agayne saith Dauid, Oh howe sweete be thy wordes to my throte: he saide not to my hearing, but to my throte, aboue the hony or the hony combe to my mouth. Yea, Moyses saith, Thou shalt meditate in them evermore when thou risest, when thou sittest downe, when thou goest to sleepe, continue in them he saith: and a thousand places more. And yet after so many testimonies thus spoken, there be some persons that do not yet so much as knowe what the scriptures be: Wherevpon nothing is in good state amongst vs, nothing worthyly is done amongest vs: In this whiche pertayne to this lyfe, we make very great haste, but of spirituall goodes we have no regarde. Thus farre Iohn Chrisost. It must nedes signifie some great thing to our vnderstanding, that almightie God hath had such care to prescribe these bookes thus vnto vs: I say not prescribe them only, but to maintaine them and defende them against the malignitie of the deuill and his ministers, who alway went about to destroy them: and yet could these never be so destroyed, but that he woulde have them continue whole and perfect to this day, to our singular comfort and instruction, where other bookes of mortall wise men haue perished in great numbers. It is recorded that Ptolomeus [Pg 185]Philadelphus kyng of Egypt, had gathered together in one librarie at Alexandria by his great coste and diligence, seuen hundred thousand bookes, wherof the principall were the bookes of Moyses, which reserued not much more, then by the space of two hundred yeres, were all brent and consumed, in that battayle when Cæsar restored Cleopatra agayne after her expulsion. At Constantinople perished under Zenon by one common fire, a hundred and twentie thousande bookes. Iohannes Sarisberi. In Policratico, lib. 8, cap. 19.
W. de regibus.
At Rome when Lucius Aurel Antonius dyd raigne, his notable librarie by a lightning from heauen was quite consumed: Yea it is recorded that Gregorie the first, dyd cause a librarie at Rome contayning only certaine Paynim’s workes to be burned, to thintent the scriptures of God should be more read and studied. What other great libraries haue there ben cōsumed but of late daies? And what libraries haue of olde throughout this realme almost in euery abbey of the same, ben destroyed at sundry ages, besides the losse of other men’s private studies, it were to long to rehearse. Wherevpon seyng almightie God by his diuine prouidence, hath preserued these bookes of the scriptures safe and sounde, and that in their natiue languages they were first written, in the great ignoraunce that raigned in these tongues, and contrary to all other casualties, chaunced vpon all other bookes in mauger of all worldly wittes, who would so fayne haue had them destroyed, and yet he by his mightie hande, would haue them extant as witnesses and interpreters of his will toward mankind: we may soone see cause most reuerently to embrace these deuine testimonies of his will, to studie them, and to searche them, to instruct our blinde nature so sore corrupted and fallen from the knowledge in whiche first we were created. Yet hauing[Pg 186] occasion geuen somewhat to recover our fall and to returne againe to that deuine nature wherein we were once made, and at the last to be inheritours in the celestiall habitation with God almightie, after the ende of our mortalitie here brought to his dust agayne: These bookes I say beyng of such estimation and aucthoritie, so much reuerenced of them who had any meane taste of them, coulde neuer be put out of the way, neither by the spyte of any tiraunt, as that Galfride montiraunt Maximian destroyed all the holy scriptures wheresoeuer they coulde be founde, and burnt them in the middes of the market, neither the hatred either of any Porphiran philosopher or Rhetoritian, neither by the enuie of the romanystes, and of such hypocrites who from tyme to time did euer barke against them, some of them not in open sort of condempnation: but more cunningly vnder suttle pretences, for that as they say, they were so harde to vnderstande, and specially for that they affirm it to be a perilous matter to translate the text of the holy scripture, and therefore it cannot be well translated. And here we may beholde the endeuour of some men’s cauillation, who labour all they can to slaunder the translatours, to finde faulte in some wordes of the translation: but them selfe will neuer set pen to the booke, to set out any translation at al. They can in their constitutions prouinciall, Tho Arūdel in concilio apud Oxon. An 1407 articlo 7.vnder payne of excommunication, inhibite al other men to translate them without the ordinaries or the prouinciall counsayle agree therevnto. But they wyll be well ware neuer to agree or geue counsayle to set them out. Whiche their suttle compasse in effect, tendeth but to bewray what inwardly they meane, if they could bring it about, that is, vtterly to suppresse them: being in this their iudgement, farre vnlike the[Pg 187] olde fathers in the primitiue church, who hath exhorted indifferently all persons, aswell men as women, to exercise them selues in the scriptures, which by Saint Hieroms aucthoritie be the scriptures of the people. Yea they be farre vnlike their olde forefathers that have ruled in this realme, who in their times, and in diuers ages did their diligence to translate the whole bookes of the scriptures to the erudition of the laytie, as yet at this day be to be seene diuers bookes translated into the vulgar tongue, some by kynges of the realme, some by bishoppes, some by abbotts, some by other deuout godly fathers: so desirous they were of olde tyme to have the lay sort edified in godlynes by reading in their vulgar tongue, that very many bookes be yet extant, though for the age of the speache and straungenesse of the charect of many of them almost worne out of knowledge. In whiche bookes may be seene euidently howe it was vsed among the Saxons, to haue in their churches read the foure gospels, so distributed and piked out in the body of the euangelistes bookes, that to euery Sunday and festiuall day in the yere, they were sorted out to the common ministers of the church in their common prayers to be read to their people. 1 Pet. i.Now as of the most auncient fathers the prophets, Saint Peter testifieth that these holy men of God had the impulsion of the holy Ghost, to speak out these deuine testimonies: so it is not to be doubted but that these latter holy fathers of the Englishe Church, had the impulsion of the holy Ghost to set out these sacred bookes in their vulgar language, to the edification of the people, Acts the helpe whereof they might the better folowe the example of the godly Christians, in the beginning of the Churche, who not only receaued the worde withall readinesse of[Pg 188] heart, but also did searche diligently in the scriptures, whether the doctrine of the Apostles were agreable to the same scripture. And these were not of the rascall sort (saith the deuine storie) but they were of the best and of most noble byrth among the Thessalonians, Birrhenses by name. 1 Pet. i.Yea the prophetes them selues in their dayes, writeth S. Peter, were diligent searchers to inquire out this saluation by Christe, searching when and at what article of time this grace of Christes dispensation shoulde appeare to the world. What ment the fathers of the Church in their writinges, but the advauncing of these holy bookes, where some do attribute no certaintie of vndoubted veritie, but to the canonicall scriptures: Aug. contra epistolam permemini Hieronimus Tertullian de doctrina Christiana Chrisost in Matt. Ho. 47. Basilius Hieronim.

1 Pet. i.
Some do affirm it to be a foolishe rashe boldnesse to beleue hym, who proueth not by the scriptures that whiche he affirmeth in his worde. Some do accurse all that is deliuered by tradition, not found in the legall and evangelicall scriptures. Some say that our fayth must needes stagger, if it be not grounded vpon the aucthoritie of the scripture. Some testifieth that Christe and his Churche ought to be aduouched out of the scriptures, and do contende in disputation, that the true Church can not be knowen, but only by the holy scriptures: For all other thinges (saith the same aucthor) may be found among the heretikes. Some affirme it to be a sinfull tradition that is obtruded without the scripture. Some playnely pronounce, that not to knowe the scriptures is not to know Christe. Wherefore let men extoll out the Churche practises as hyghly as they can, and let them set out their traditions and customes, their decisions in synodes and counsayles, with vaunting the presence of the holy Ghost among them really, as some doth affirme it in their writing, let their[Pg 189] groundes and their demonstrations, their foundations be as stable and as strong as they blase them out: 1 Pet. i.Yet wyll we be bolde to say with Saint Peter, Habemus nos firmiorem sermonem propheticum. We have for our part a more stable grounde, the propheticall wordes (of the scriptures) and doubt not to be commended therefore of the same Saint Peter with these wordes: Cui dum attenditis ceu lucerne apparenti in obscuro loco, recte facitis donec dies illucescat &c. Wherevnto saith he, whyle ye do attende as to alight shining in a darke place, ye do well vntill the day light appeare, and till the bright starre do arise vnto our heartes, For this we know, that al the propheticall scripture standeth not in any priuate interpretation of vayne names, of severall Churches, of catholique vniuersall seas, of singuler and wylfull heades, whiche wyll chalenge custome all decision to pertayne to them only, who be working so muche for their vayne superioritie, that they be not ashamed now to be of that number, Psal. xi.Qui dixerunt linguam nostram magnificabimus, labia nostra a nobis sunt, quis noster dominus est: Which haue sayd with our tongue wyll we preuayle, we are they that ought to speake, who is Lord ouer vs. And whyle they shall contende for their straunge claymed aucthoritie, we will proceede in the reformation begun, and doubt no more by the helpe of Christe his grace, of the true vnity to Christes catholique Churche, Concilium braccar secundum.and of the vprightnesse of our fayth in this prouince, then the Spanishe cleargie once gathered together in counsaile (only by the commaundement of their king, before whiche tyme the Pope was not so acknowledged in his aucthoritie which he now claymeth) I say as surely dare we trust, as they dyd trust of their faith and veritie. Yea no lesse confidence haue[Pg 190] we to professe that, whiche the fathers of the vniuersall counsaile at Carthage in Affrike as they wryte them selfe did professe in their epistle written to Pope Celestine, laying before his face the foule corruption of him selfe (as two other of his predecessors did the like errour) in falsifiying the canons of Nicen counsayle, for his wrong chalenge of his newe claymed aucthoritie: Thus wrytyng. Prudentissime enim iustissimeque prouiderunt (Nicena et Affricana dicreta) quecunque negotia in suis locis (vbi orta sunt) finienda, nec vnicuiqui prouinciæ gratiam sancti spiritus defuturam qua equitas a Christi sacerdotibus et prudenter videatur, et constantissime teneatur, maxime quia vnicuique concessum est, si iuditio offensus fuerit cognitorum, ad concilia suae prouinciæ vel etiam vniuersale prouocare. That (the Nicen and Affrican decrees) haue most prudently and iustly prouided for all maner of matters to be ended in their teritories where they had their beginning, and they trusted that not to any one prouince shoulde want the grace of the holy Ghost, whereby both the truth or equitie might prudently be seene of the Christian prelates of Christe, and might be also by them most constantly defended, specially for that it is graunted to euery man (if he be greeued) by the iudgement of the cause once knowen to appeale to the counsayles of his owne prouince or els to the vniuersall. Except there be any man, whiche may beleue that our Lorde God woulde inspire the righteousnesse of examination, to any one singular person, and to denie the same to priestes gathered together into counsaile without number, &c. And there they do require the bishop of Rome to send none of his clarkes to execute such prouinciall causes, lest els say they, mought be brought in the vayne[Pg 191] pride of the world into the Churche of Christe. In this antiquitie may we in this christian catholique Churche of Englande repose our selfe, knowyng by our owne annales of auncient recorde that Kyng Lucius whose conscience was much touched with the miracles whiche the seruauntes of Christe wrought in diuers nations, thervpon beyng in great loue with the true fayth, sent vnto Eleutherius then byshop of Rome requiring of hym the christian religion. Inter legis Edwardi.But Eleutherius did redyly geue ouer that care to King Lucius in his epistle, for that the King as he wryteth, the vicar of God in his owne kingdome, and for that he had receiued the faith of Christe: And for that he had also both testamentes in his realme, he wylled hym to drawe out of them by the grace of God, and by the counsaile of his wisemen, his lawes, and by that lawe of God to gouerne his realme of Britanie, and not so much to desire the Romane and Emperour’s lawes, in the whiche some defaulte might be founde saith he, but in the lawes of God nothing at all. Ex archiuis de statio landauensis ecclie in vita archiepiscopi dubritii, et in I. capgraue.

Rom. xv.

And yet may it be true that W., of Malsberie, writeth that Phaganus and Dernuianus were sent after (as Coadiutours) with these learned men to the preaching of the Gospell, whiche was neuer extinguished in Britaine frō Joseph of Aramathia his time as to S. Austen, the first byshop of Canter, they do openly abouche.

Eccle. xi.
Sapi. ix.

De doctri Christia.
With which aunswere the Kinges legates, Eluanus and Medwinus sent as messengers by the King to the Pope, returned to Britanie agayne, Eluanus beyng made a byshop, and Medwine alowed a publique teacher: who for the eloquence and knowledge they had in the holy Scriptures, they repayred home agayne to Kyng Lucius, and by their holy preachings, Lucius and the noble men of the whole Britanie receiued their baptisme, &c. Thus farre in the storie. Nowe therefore knowing and beleuing with Saint Paul, Quod quecumque prescripta sunt, ad nostram doctrinam prescripta sunt vt per pacientiam et consolationem scripturarum spem habeamus: Whatsoeuer is afore written, is written before for our instruction, that we[Pg 192] through the patience and comfort of scriptures might haue hope, the only suretie to our fayth and conscience, is to sticke to the scriptures. Wherevpon whyle this eternall worde of God be our rocke and anker to sticke vnto, we will haue pacience with all the vayne inuentions of men, who labour so highly to magnifie their tongues, to exalt them selues aboue al that is God. We wil take comfort by the holy scriptures against the maledictions of the aduersaries, and doubt not to nourishe our hope continually therewith so to liue and dye in this comfortable hope, and doubt not to pertayne to the elect number of Christes Churche, howe farre soeuer we be excommunicated out of the sinagogue of suche who suppose themselues to be the vniuersall lordes of all the world, Lordes of our fayth and consciences, at pleasure.

Finally to commend further vnto thee good reader the cause in part before intreated, it shalbe the lesse needefull, hauing so nye folowing that learned preface, which sometime was set out by the diligence of that godly father Thomas Cranmer, late byshop in the sea of Canterburie, which he caused to be prefixed before the translation of that Byble that was then set out. And for that the copies thereof be so wasted, that very many Churches do want their conuenient Bybles, it was thought good to some well disposed men, to recognise the same Byble againe into this fourme as it is nowe come out, with some further diligence in the printing, and with some more light added, partly in the translation, and partly in the order of the text, not as condemning the former translation, whiche was folowed mostly of any other translation, excepting the originall text from whiche as litle variaunce was made as was thought meete to such as toke paynes therein:[Pg 193] desiring thee good reader if ought be escaped, eyther by such as had the expending of the bookes, or by the ouersight of the printer, to correct the same in the spirite of charitie, calling to remembraunce what diuersitie hath ben seene in mens iudgementes in the translation of these bookes before these dayes, though all directed their labours to the glory of God, to the edification of the Churche, to the comfort of their christian brethren, and alwayes as God dyd further open vnto them, so euer more desirous they were to refourme their former humain ouersightes, rather then in a stubborne wylfulnesse to resist the gyft of the holy Ghost, who from tyme to tyme is resident as that heauenly teacher and leader into all trueth, by whose direction the Churche is ruled and gouerned. And let all men remember in them selfe howe errour and ignoraunce is created with our nature; let frayle man confesse with that great wise man, that the cogitations and inuentions of mortall man be very weake, and our opinions sone deceaued: For the body so subiect to corruption doth oppresse the soule, that it cannot aspire so hye as of dutie it ought. Men we be all, and that whiche we know, is not the thousand part of that we knowe not. Whereupon saith Saint Austen, otherwyse to iudge then the truth is, this temptation ryseth of the frailtie of man. A man so to loue and sticke to his owne iudgement, or to enuie his brothers to the perill of dissoluing the christian communion, or to the perill of schisme, and of heresie, this is diabolicall presumption: but so to iudge in euery matter as the truth is, this belongeth onely to the angellicall perfection. Notwithstanding good reader, thou mayest be well assured nothing to be done in this translation eyther of malice or wylfull meaning in altering the[Pg 194] text, eyther by putting more or lesse to the same, as of purpose to bring in any priuate iudgement by falsification of the wordes, as some certaine men hath ben ouer bold so to do, litle regarding the maiestie of God his scripture: but so to make it serue to their corrupt error, as in alleaging the sentence of Saint Paule to the Romaines the 6. One certaine wryter to proue his satisfaction, was bold to turne the worde of Sanctificationem into the worde of Satisfactionem, thus, Sicut exhibuimus antea membra nostra seruire immundicie et iniquitati ad iniquitatem ita deinceps exhibeamus membra nostra seruire iustitiae in satisfactionem. Hosius in confessione catholicæ fidi de sacrō penitentiæ Idem Hosius de spe. et oratione.That is, as we have geuen our members to vncleannesse, from iniquitie to iniquitie: euen so from hencefoorth let vs geue our members to serue righteousnesse into satisfaction: where the true worde is into sanctification. Even so likewise for the auauntage of his cause, to proue that men may haue in their prayer fayth vpon saintes, corruptly alleageth Saint Paules text, Ad philemonem, thus, Fidem quam habes in domino Iesu et in omnes sanctos, leauing out the worde charitatem, which would have rightly ben distributed vnto Omnes sanctos. As fidem vnto in domino Iesu. Where the text is Audiens charitatem tuam et fidem quam habes in domino Iesu in omnes sanctos, &c. It were to long to bryng in many examples, as may be openly founde in some mens wrytynges in these dayes, who would be counted the chiefe pillers of the Catholique fayth, or to note how corruptly they of purpose abuse the text to the comoditie of their cause. What maner of translation may men thinke to looke for at their handes, if they should translate the scriptures to the comfort of God’s elect, whiche they neuer did, nor be not like to purpose it,[Pg 195] but be rather studious only to seeke quarrels in other mens well doynges, to picke fault where none is: and where any is escaped through humaine negligence, there to crye out with their tragicall exclamations, but in no wyse to amende by the spirite of charitie and lenitie, that whiche might be more aptly set. Whervpon for frayle man (compassed hym selfe with infirmitie) it is most reasonable not to be to seuere in condemning his brothers knowledge or diligence where he doth erre, not of malice, but of simplicitie, and specially in handeling of these so deuine bookes so profounde in sense, so farre passing our naturall vnderstanding. And with charitie it standeth, the reader not to be offended with the diuersitie of translators, nor with the ambiguitie of translations: For as Saint Austen doth witnesse, De doctr. Christi. lib. 2. cap. God’s prouidence it is brought about, that the holy scriptures whiche be the salue for euery mans sore, though at the first they came from one language, and thereby might have ben spread to the whole worlde: nowe by diuersitie of manye languages, the translatours shoulde spreade the saluation (that is contayned in them) to all nations, by suche wordes of vtteraunce as the reader might perceaue the minde of the translatour, and so consequently to come to the knowledge of God his wyll and pleasure. And though many rashe readers be deceaued in the obscurities and ambiguities of their translations, whyle they take one thing for another, and whyle they vse muche labour to extricate them selues out of the obscurities of the same: yet I thinke (saith he) this is not wrought without the prouidence of God, both to tame the proude arrogancie of man by his suche labour of searching, as also to kepe his minde from lothsomnesse and contempt, where if the scriptures vniuersally were to easie, he[Pg 196] woulde lesse regarde them. And though (saith he) in the primitive Churche the late interpreters whiche did translate the scriptures, be innumerable, yet wrought this rather an helpe, than an impediment to the readers, if they be not to negligent. For saith he, diuers translations haue made many tymes the harder and darker sentences, the more open and playne: so that of congruence, no offence can iustly be taken for this newe labour, nothing preiudicing any other mans iudgement by this doyng, nor yet hereby professing this to be so absolute a translation, as that hereafter might folowe no other that might see that whiche as yet was not vnderstanded. In this poynt it is conuenient to consider the iudgement that John, once byshop of Rochester was in, who thus wrote: Articulo, 17, contra Luth.It is not vnknowen, but that many thinges hath ben more diligently discussed, and more clearely vnderstanded by the wittes of these latter dayes, as well concerning the gospels as other scriptures, then in olde tyme they were. The cause whereof is (saith he) for that to the olde men the yse was not broken, or for that their age was not sufficient exquisitely to expende the whole mayne sea of the scriptures, or els for that in this large field of the scriptures, a man may gather some eares vntouched, after the haruest men howe diligent soeuer they were. For there be yet (saith he) in the Gospels very many darke places, whiche without all doubt to the posteritie shalbe made muche more open. For why should we despayre herein, seing the Gospell (wryteth he) was deliuered to this intent, that it might be vtterly vnderstanded of vs, yea to the very inche. Wherefore, forasmuch as Christe showeth no lesse loue to his Churche now, then hitherto he hath done, the aucthoritie wherof is as yet no whit diminished, and forasmuch as that holy spirite the perpetuall Keper and[Pg 197] Gardian of the same Church, whose gyftes and graces do flowe as continually and as aboundantly as from the beginning: who can doubt, but that such thinges as remayne yet unknowen in the Gospell, shalbe hereafter made open to the latter wittes of our posteritie, to their cleare vnderstanding. Only good readers let vs oft call vpon the holy spirite of God our heauenly father, by the mediation of our Lorde and Sauiour, with the wordes of the octonary psalme of Dauid, who did so importunately craue of God to haue the vnderstanding of his lawes and testament: Psal. cxix.Let vs humblye on our knees pray to almightie God, with that wyse Sapi. ix.Kyng Solomon in his very wordes saying thus—O God of my fathers, and Lorde of mercies (that thou hast made all thynges with thy worde, and didst ordain man through thy wisdome, that he shoulde haue dominion ouer thy creatures whiche thou hast made, and that he shoulde order the worlde according to holinesse and righteousnesse, and that he shoulde execute iudgement with a true heart) geue me wisdome whiche is euer about thy feate, and put me not out from among thy chyldren: For I thy seruant and sonne of thy handmayden am a feeble person, of a short time, and to weake to the vnderstanding of thy iudgementes and lawes. And though a man be neuer so perfect among the children of men, yet if thy wisdome be not with him, he shalbe of no value. O sende her out therefore from thy holy heauens, and from the throne of thy maiestie, that she may be with me, and labour with me, that I may know what is acceptable in thy sight: for she knoweth and vnderstandeth all thinges, and she shall lead me soberly in my workes, and pre[Pg 198]serue me in her power, So shall my workes be acceptable by Christe our Lorde, To whom with the father and the holy Ghost, be all honour and glorie, worlde without ende. Amen.



[Pg 199]



The best things have been calumniated.Zeal to promote the common good, whether it be by devising any thing ourselves, or revising that which hath been laboured by others, deserveth certainly much respect and esteem, but yet findeth but cold entertainment in the world. It is welcomed with suspicion instead of love, and with emulation instead of thanks: and if there be any hole left for cavil to enter, (and cavil, if it do not find an hole, will make one) it is sure to be misconstrued, and in danger to be condemned. This will easily be granted by as many as know story, or have any experience. For was there ever any thing projected that savoured any way of newness or renewing, but the same endured many a storm of gainsaying or opposition? A man would think that civility, wholesome laws, learning and eloquence, Synods, and Churchmaintenance, (that we speak of no more things of this kind,) should be as safe as a Sanctuary, and[144] out of shot, as they say, that no man would lift up his heel, no, nor dog move his tongue against the motioners of them. For by the first we are distinguished from brute beasts led with sensuality: by the second we are bridled and restrained from outrageous behaviour, and from doing of injuries, whether by fraud or by violence: by the third we are enabled to inform and reform others by the light and feeling that we have attained unto ourselves: briefly, by the fourth, being brought[Pg 200] together to a parley face to face, we sooner compose our differences, than by writings, which are endless: and lastly, that the Church be sufficiently provided for is so agreeable to good reason and conscience, that those mothers are holden to be less cruel, that kill their children as soon as they are born, than those nursing fathers and mothers (wheresoever they be) that withdraw from them who hang upon their breasts (and upon whose breasts again themselves do hang to receive the spiritual and sincere milk of the word) livelihood and support fit for their estates. Thus it is apparent, that these things which we speak of are of most necessary use, and therefore that none, either without absurdity can speak against them, or without note of wickedness can spurn against them.

Anacharsis, with others.

In Athens: witness Libanius in Olynth. Demosth. Cato the elder.

Gregory the Divine.

Yet for all that, the learned know, that certain worthy men have been brought to untimely death for none other fault, but for seeking to reduce their countrymen to good order and discipline: And that in some Commonweals it was made a capital crime, once to motion the making of a new law for the abrogating of an old, though the same were most pernicious: And that certain, which would be counted pillars of the State, and patterns of virtue and prudence, could not be brought for a long time to give way to good letters and refined speech; but bare themselves as averse from them, as from rocks or boxes of poison: And fourthly, that he was no babe, but a great Clerk, that gave forth (and in writing to remain to posterity), in passion peradventure, but yet he gave forth, That he had not seen any profit to come by any synod or meeting of the Clergy, but rather the contrary: And lastly, against Churchmaintenance and allowance, in such sort as the Embassadors and messengers of the great King of kings[Pg 201] should be furnished, it is not unknown what a fiction or fable (so it is esteemed, and for no better by the reporter himself, though superstitious) was devised: namely, That at such time as the professors and teachers of Christianity in the Church of Rome, then a true Church, were liberally endowed, a voice forsooth was heard from heaven, saying, Now is poison poured down into the Church, &c. Thus not only as oft as we speak, as one saith, but also as oft as we do any thing of note or consequence, we subject ourselves to every one’s censure, and happy is he that is least tossed upon tongues; for utterly to escape the snatch of them it is impossible. If any man conceit, that this is the lot and portion of the meaner sort only, and that Princes are privileged by their high estate, he is deceived. 2 Sam. 11. 25.As the sword devoureth as well one as another, as it is in Samuel; nay, as the great commander charged his soldiers in a certain battle to strike at no part of the enemy, but at the face; 1 Kin. 22. 31.and as the king of Syria commanded his chief captains to fight neither with small nor great, save only against the king of Israel: so it is too true, that envy striketh most spitefully at the fairest, and the chiefest. David was a worthy prince, and no man to be compared to him for his first deeds; and yet for as worthy an act as ever he did, even for bringing back the ark of God in solemnity, he was scorned and scoffed at by his own wife. 2 Sam. 6. 16.Solomon was greater than David, though not in virtue, yet in power; and by his power and wisdom he built a temple to the Lord, such an one as was the glory of the land of Israel, and the wonder of the whole world. But was that his magnificence liked of by all? We doubt of it. Otherwise why do they lay it in his son’s dish, and call unto him for[145] easing of the burden?[Pg 202] Make, say they, the grievous servitude of thy father, and his sore yoke, lighter. 1 Kin. 12. 4.Belike he had charged them with some levies, and troubled them with some carriages; hereupon they raise up a tragedy, and wish in their heart the temple had never been built. So hard a thing it is to please all, even when we please God best, and do seek to approve ourselves to every one’s conscience.

The highest personages have been calumniated
C. Cæsar. Plutarch.

If we will descend to latter times, we shall find many the like examples of such kind, or rather unkind, acceptance. The first Roman Emperor did never do a more pleasing deed to the learned, nor more profitable to posterity, for conserving the record of times in true supputation, than when he corrected the Calendar, and ordered the year according to the course of the sun: and yet this was imputed to him for novelty, and arrogancy, and procured to him great obloquy. So the first Christened Emperor (at the least wise, that openly professed the faith himself, and allowed others to do the like,) for strengthening the empire at his great charges, and providing for the Church, as he did, got for his labour the name Pupillus, as who would say, a wasteful Prince, that had need of a guardian or overseer. Aurel. Vict. Theodosius. Zosimus.

So the best Christened Emperor, for the love that he bare unto peace, thereby to enrich both himself and his subjects, and because he did not seek war, but find it, was judged to be no man at arms, (though indeed he excelled in feats of chivalry, and shewed so much when he was provoked,) and condemned for giving himself to his ease, and to his pleasure. To be short, the most learned Emperor of former times, (at the least the greatest politician,) what thanks had he for cutting off the superfluities of the laws, and digesting them into some order and method? This, that he hath been[Pg 203] blotted by some to be an Epitomist, that is, one that extinguished worthy whole volumes, to bring his abridgements into request. This is the measure that hath been rendered to excellent Princes in former times, cum bene facerent, male audire, for their good deeds to be evil spoken of. Neither is there any likelihood that envy and malignity died and were buried with the ancient. No, no, the reproof of Moses taketh hold of most ages, Num. 32. 14.
Eccles. 1. 9.
You are risen up in your fathers’ stead, an increase of sinful men. What is that that hath been done? that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun, saith the wise man. And St. Stephen, As your fathers did, so do ye. Acts 7. 51.
His Majesty’s constancy, notwithstanding calumniation, for the survey of the English translation.
Αὐτὸς καὶ παῖδες, καὶ παίδων πάντοτε παῖδες.

Ὣσπερ τις ἀνδρὰς ἀπερίτρεπτος καὶ ἄκμων ἀνήλατος, Suidas.

1 Sam. 2. 30.

θεοσέβεια, Eusebius, lib. 10. cap. 8.

The praise of the holy Scriptures.

St. August. Confess. lib. 8. cap. 12. St. August. De utilit. credendi, cap. 6.

St. Hieron. ad Demetriad. St. Cyrill 7 contra Julian.

Tertul. advers. Herm. Tertul. De carn. Christ. Οἷόν τε, Justin. προτρεπτ. πρὸς Ἕλλην. Ὑπερηφανίας κατηγορία, St. Basil. περὶ πίστεως.

Εἰρεσιώνη σῦκα φέρει, καὶ πίονας ἄρτους, καὶ μελι ἐν κοτύλῃ, καὶ ἔλαιον, &c.
An olive bough wrapped about with wool, whereupon did hang figs, and bread, and honey in a pot, and oil.

Κοινὸν ἰατρεῖον, St. Basil in Psal. primum.

Translation necessary.

1 Cor. 14. 11.

Clem. Alex. 1 Strom. St. Hieronym. Damaso. Michael, Theophili fil. 2 Tom. Concil. ex edit. Petri Crab.

Cicero 5.
De Finibus.

Gen. 29. 10.

John 4. 11.

Isai. 29. 11.

The translation of the Old Testament out of the Hebrew into Greek.
See St. August. lib. 12. contra Faust. cap. 32.
This, and more to this purpose, his Majesty that now reigneth (and long, and long, may he reign, and his offspring for ever, Himself, and children, and children’s children always!) knew full well, according to the singular wisdom given unto him by God, and the rare learning and experience that he hath attained unto; namely, That whosoever attempteth any thing for the publick, (especially if it pertain to religion, and to the opening and clearing of the word of God,) the same setteth himself upon a stage to be glouted upon by every evil eye; yea, he casteth himself headlong upon pikes, to be gored by every sharp tongue. For he that meddleth with men’s religion in any part meddleth with their custom, nay, with their freehold; and though they find no content in that which they have, yet they cannot abide to hear of altering. Notwithstanding his royal heart was not daunted or discouraged for this or that colour, but stood resolute, as a statue immovable, and an anvil not easy to be beaten into plates, as one saith; he knew who had chosen him to be a soldier, or rather a captain; and[Pg 204] being assured that the course which he intended made much for the glory of God, and the building up of his Church, he would not suffer it to be broken off for whatsoever speeches or practices. It doth certainly belong unto kings, yea, it doth specially belong unto them, to have care of religion, yea, to know it aright, yea, to profess it zealously, yea, to promote it to the uttermost of their power. This is their glory before all nations which mean well, and this will bring unto them a far most excellent weight of glory in the day of the Lord Jesus. For the Scripture saith not in vain, Them that honour me I will honour: neither was it a vain word that Eusebius delivered long ago, That piety toward God was the weapon, and the only weapon, that both preserved Constantine’s person, and avenged him of his enemies.

But now what piety without truth? What truth, what saving truth, without the word of God? What word of God, whereof we may be sure, without the Scripture? The Scriptures we are commanded to search, John v. 39. Isaiah viii. 20. They are commended that searched and studied them, Acts xvii. 11, and viii. 28, 29. They are reproved that were unskilful in them, or slow to believe them, Matth. xxii. 29. Luke xxiv. 25. They can make us wise unto salvation, 2 Tim. iii. 15. If we be ignorant, they will instruct us; if out of the way, they will bring us home; if out of order, they will reform us; if in heaviness, comfort us; if dull, quicken us; if cold, inflame us. Tolle, lege; tolle, lege; Take up and read, take up and read the Scriptures, (for unto them was the direction,) it was said unto St. Augustine by a supernatural voice. Whatsoever is in the Scriptures, believe me, saith the same St. Augustine, is high and divine; there is verily [Pg 205]truth, and a doctrine most fit for the refreshing and renewing of men’s minds, and truly so tempered, that every one may draw from thence that which is sufficient for him, if he come to draw with a devout and pious mind, as true religion requireth. Thus St. Augustine. And St. Hierome, Ama Scripturas, et amabit te sapientia, &c. Love the Scriptures, and wisdom will love thee. And St. Cyrill against Julian, Even boys that are bred up in the Scriptures become most religious, &c. But what mention we three or four uses of the Scripture, whereas whatsoever is to be believed, or practised, or hoped for, is contained in them? or three or four sentences of the Fathers, since whosoever is worthy the name of a Father, from Christ’s time downward, hath likewise written not only of the riches, but also of the perfection of the Scripture? I adore the fulness of the Scripture, saith Tertullian against Hermogenes. And again, to Apelles an heretick of the like stamp he saith, I do not admit that which thou bringest in (or concludest) of thine own (head or store, de tuo) without Scripture. So St. Justin Martyr before him; We must know by all means (saith he) that it is not lawful (or possible) to learn (any thing) of God or of right piety, save only out of the Prophets, who teach us by divine inspiration. So St. Basil after Tertullian, It is a manifest falling away from the faith, and a fault of presumption, either to reject any of those things that are written, or to bring in (upon the head of them, ἐπεισαγεῖν) any of those things that are not written. We omit to cite to the same effect St. Cyrill Bishop of Jerusalem in his 4. Catech. St. Hierome against Helvidius, St. Augustine in his third book against the letters of Petilian, and in very many other places of his works. Also we forbear to[Pg 206] descend to later Fathers, because we will not weary the reader. The Scriptures then being acknowledged to be so full and so perfect, how can we excuse ourselves of negligence, if we do not study them? of curiosity, if we be not content with them? Men talk much of εἰρεσιώνη, how many sweet and goodly things it had hanging on it; of the Philosopher’s stone, that it turneth copper into gold; of Cornu-copia, that it had all things necessary for food in it; of Panaces, the herb, that it was good for all diseases; of Catholicon the drug, that it is instead of all purges; of Vulcan’s armour, that it was an armour of proof against all thrusts and all blows, &c. Well, that which they falsely or vainly attributed to these things for bodily good, we may justly and with full measure ascribe unto the Scripture for spiritual. It is not only an armour, but also a whole armoury of weapons, both offensive and defensive; whereby we may save ourselves, and put the enemy to flight. It is not an herb, but a tree, or rather a whole paradise of trees of life, which bring forth fruit every month, and the fruit thereof is for meat, and the leaves for medicine. It is not a pot of Manna, or a cruse of oil, which were for memory only, or for a meal’s meat or two; but, as it were, a shower of heavenly bread sufficient for a whole host, be it never so great, and, as it were, a whole cellar full of oil vessels; whereby all our necessities may be provided for, and our debts discharged. In a word, it is a panary of wholesome food against fenowed traditions; a physician’s shop (as St. Basil calls it) of preservatives against poisoned heresies; a pandect of profitable laws against rebellious spirits; a treasury of most costly jewels against beggarly rudiments; finally, a fountain of most pure water springing up unto [Pg 207]everlasting life. And what marvel? the original thereof being from heaven, not from earth; the author being God, not man; the inditer, the Holy Spirit, not the wit of the Apostles or Prophets; the penmen, such as were sanctified from the womb, and endued with a principal portion of God’s Spirit; the matter, verity, piety, purity, uprightness; the form, God’s word, God’s testimony, God’s oracles, the word of truth, the word of salvation, &c.; the effects, light of understanding, stableness of persuasion, repentance from dead works, newness of life, holiness, peace, joy in the Holy Ghost; lastly, the end and reward of the study thereof, fellowship with the saints, participation of the heavenly nature, fruition of an inheritance immortal, undefiled, and that never shall fade away. Happy is the man that delighteth in the Scripture, and thrice happy that meditateth in it day and night.

But how shall men meditate in that which they cannot understand? How shall they understand that which is kept close in an unknown tongue? as it is written, Except I know the power of the voice, I shall be to him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian to me. The Apostle excepteth no tongue; not Hebrew the ancientest, not Greek the most copious, not Latin the finest. Nature taught a natural man to confess, that all of us in those tongues which we do not understand are plainly deaf; we may turn the deaf ear unto them. The Scythian counted the Athenian, whom he did not understand, barbarous: so the Roman did the Syrian, and the Jew: (even St. Hierome himself calleth the Hebrew tongue barbarous; belike, because it was strange to so many:) so the Emperor of Constantinople calleth the Latin tongue barbarous, though Pope Nicolas do storm[Pg 208] at it: so the Jews long before Christ called all other nations Lognasim, which is little better than barbarous. Therefore as one complaineth that always in the Senate of Rome there was one or other that called for an interpreter; so lest the Church be driven to the like exigent, it is necessary to have translations in a readiness. Translation it is that openeth the window, to let in the light; that breaketh the shell, that we may eat the kernel; that putteth aside the curtain, that we may look into the most holy place; that removeth the cover of the well, that we may come by the water; even as Jacob rolled away the stone from the mouth of the well, by which means the flocks of Laban were watered. Indeed without translation into the vulgar tongue, the unlearned are but like children at Jacob’s well (which was deep) without a bucket or something to draw with: or as that person mentioned by Esay, to whom when a sealed book was delivered with this motion, Read this, I pray thee; he was fain to make this answer, I cannot, for it is sealed.

While God would be known only in Jacob, and have his name great in Israel, and in none other place; while the dew lay on Gideon’s fleece only, and all the earth besides was dry; then for one and the same people, which spake all of them the language of Canaan, that is, Hebrew, one and the same original in Hebrew was sufficient. But when the fulness of time drew near, that the Sun of righteousness, the Son of God, should come into the world, whom God ordained to be a reconciliation through faith in his blood, not of the Jew only, but also of the Greek, yea, of all them that were scattered abroad; then, lo, it pleased the Lord to stir up the spirit of a Greek prince, (Greek for descent and language,) even of Ptolemy Philadelph[Pg 209] king of Egypt, to procure the translating of the book of God out of Hebrew into Greek. This is the translation of the Seventy interpreters, commonly so called, which prepared the way for our Saviour among the Gentiles by written preaching, as St. John Baptist did among the Jews by vocal. For the Grecians, being desirous of learning, were not wont to suffer books of worth to lie moulding in kings’ libraries, but had many of their servants, ready scribes, to copy them out, and so they were dispersed and made common. Again the Greek tongue was well known and made familiar to most inhabitants in Asia by reason of the conquests that there the Grecians had made, as also by the colonies which thither they had sent. For the same causes also it was well understood in many places of Europe, yea, and of Africk too. Therefore the word of God, being set forth in Greek, becometh hereby like a candle set upon a candlestick, which giveth light to all that are in the house; or like a proclamation sounded forth in the market place, which most men presently take knowledge of; and therefore that language was fittest to contain the Scriptures, both for the first preachers of the Gospel to appeal unto for witness, and for the learners also of those times to make search and trial by. It is certain, that that translation was not so sound and so perfect, but that it needed in many places correction; and who had been so sufficient for this work as the Apostles or apostolick men? Yet it seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to them to take that which they found, (the same being for the greatest part true and sufficient,) rather than by making a new, in that new world and green age of the Church, to expose themselves to many exceptions and cavillations, as though they made a translation to serve their own[Pg 210] turn; and therefore hearing witness to themselves, their witness not to be regarded. This may be supposed to be some cause, why the translation of the Seventy was allowed to pass for current. Notwithstanding, though it was commended generally, yet it did not fully content the learned, no not of the Jews. For not long after Christ, Aquila fell in hand with a new translation, and after him Theodotion, and after him Symmachus; yea, there was a fifth, and a sixth edition, the authors whereof were not known. These with the Seventy made up the Hexapla, and were worthily and to great purpose compiled together by Origen. Howbeit the edition of the Seventy went away with the credit, and therefore not only was placed in the midst by Origen, (for the worth and excellency thereof above the rest, as Epiphanius gathereth,) Epiphan. De mensuris et ponderib. St. August. 2. De doctrin. Christian. c. 15. Novel. diatax. 146.
Προφητικῆς ὥσπερ χάριτος περιλαξμψάσης αὐτους.
Isai. 31. 3.
St. Hieron. de optimo genere interpret.

Translation out of Hebrew and Greek into Latin.

St. August. de doctrin. Christ. lib. 2. cap. 11.

The translating of the Scripture into the vulgar tongues.
St. Hieron. Marcell. Zosim.

2 Kin. 7. 9.

St. Hieron. Præf. in 4. Evangel.

St. Hieron. Sophronio.

Six. Sen. lib. 4. Alphon. a Castro, lib. 1. cap. 23.
St. Chrysost. in Joann. cap. 1. hom. 1.

Theodor. 5. Therapeut.

P. Diacon. lib. 12. Isid. in Chron. Goth. Sozom. lib. 6. cap. 57.
Vasseus in Chro. Hisp. Polydor. Virg. 5. hist. Anglorum testatur idem de Aluredo nostro. Aventin. lib. 4.

Beroald. Thuan.

Psal. 48. 8.

The unwillingness of our chief adversaries that the Scriptures should be divulged in the mother tongue, &c.
Δῶρον ἄδωρον κουκ ὀνήσιμον Sophocl.

See the observation (set forth by Clement’s authority) upon the 4th rule of Pius the 4th’s making in the Index lib. prohib. pag. 15. ver. 5. Tertull. de resur. carnis.

John 3. 20.

The speeches and reasons both of our brethren, and of adversaries, against this work.

St. Iren. lib. 3. cap. 19.

Neh. 4. 2, 3.

St. Hieron. Apolog. advers. Ruffin.

A satisfaction to our brethren.

Arist. 2. Metaphys. cap. 1.

St. Epiphan. loco ante citato. St. August. lib. 19. De civit. Dei, cap. 7.

2 Kin. 13. 18, 19.

St. Hieron. in Ezech. cap. 3.

Jer. 23. 28.

Tertull. ad Martyr. Si tanti vilissimum vitrum, quanti preciosissimum margaritum! Hier. ad Salvin.
but also was used by the Greek Fathers for the ground and foundation of their commentaries. Yea, Epiphanius abovenamed doth attribute so much unto it, that he holdeth the authors thereof not only for interpreters, but also for prophets in some respect: and Justinian the Emperor, injoining the Jews his subjects to use especially the translation of the Seventy, rendereth this reason thereof, Because they were, as it were, enlightened with prophetical grace. Yet for all that, as the Egyptians are said of the Prophet to be men and not God, and their horses flesh and not spirit: so it is evident, (and St. Hierome affirmeth as much,) that the Seventy were interpreters, they were not prophets. They did many things well, as learned men; but yet as men they stumbled and fell, one while through oversight, another while through ignorance; yea, sometimes they may be noted to add to the original, and sometimes to take from it: which made the Apostles[Pg 211] to leave them many times, when they left the Hebrew, and to deliver the sense thereof according to the truth of the word, as the Spirit gave them utterance. This may suffice touching the Greek translations of the Old Testament.

There were also within a few hundred years after Christ translations many into the Latin tongue: for this tongue also was very fit to convey the Law and the Gospel by, because in those times very many countries of the West, yea of the South, East, and North, spake or understood Latin, being made provinces to the Romans. But now the Latin translations were too many to be all good: for they were infinite; (Latini interpretes nullo modo numerari possunt, saith St. Augustine.) Again, they were not out of the Hebrew fountain, (we speak of the Latin translations of the Old Testament,) but out of the Greek stream; therefore the Greek being not altogether clear, the Latin derived from it must needs be muddy. This moved St. Hierome, a most learned Father, and the best linguist without controversy of his age, or of any other that went before him, to undertake the translating of the Old Testament out of the very fountains themselves; which he performed with that evidence of great learning, judgment, industry, and faithfulness, that he hath for ever bound the Church unto him in a debt of special remembrance and thankfulness.

Now though the Church were thus furnished with Greek and Latin translations, even before the faith of Christ was generally embraced in the Empire: (for the learned know, that even in St. Hierome’s time the Consul of Rome and his wife were both Ethnicks, and about the same time the greatest part of the Senate also:) yet for all that the godly learned were not [Pg 212]content to have the Scriptures in the language which themselves understood, Greek and Latin, (as the good lepers were not content to fare well themselves, but acquainted their neighbours with the store that God had sent, that they also might provide for themselves;) but also for the behoof and edifying of the unlearned, which hungered and thirsted after righteousness, and had souls to be saved as well as they, they provided translations into the vulgar for their countrymen, insomuch that most nations under heaven did shortly after their conversion hear Christ speaking unto them in their mother tongue, not by the voice of their minister only, but also by the written word translated. If any doubt hereof, he may be satisfied by examples enough, if enough will serve the turn. First, St. Hierome saith, Multarum gentium linguis Scriptura ante translata docet falsa esse quæ addita sunt, &c.; that is, The Scripture being translated before in the languages of many nations doth shew that those things that were added (by Lucian or Hesychius) are false. So St. Hierome in that place. The same Hierome elsewhere affirmeth that he, the time was, had set forth the translation of the Seventy, suæ lingæ hominibus; that is, for his countrymen of Dalmatia. Which words not only Erasmus doth understand to purport, that St. Hierome translated the Scripture into the Dalmatian tongue; but also Sixtus Senensis, and Alphonsus a Castro, (that we speak of no more,) men not to be excepted against by them of Rome, do ingenuously confess as much. So St. Chrysostome, that lived in St. Hierome’s time, giveth evidence with him: The doctrine of St. John (saith he) did not in such sort (as the Philosophers’ did) vanish away: but the Syrians, Egyptians, Indians, Persians, Ethiopians, and[Pg 213] infinite other nations, being barbarous people, translated it into their (mother) tongue, and have learned, to be (true) Philosophers, he meaneth Christians. To this may be added Theodoret, as next unto him both for antiquity, and for learning. His words be these, Every country that is under the sun is full of these words, (of the Apostles and Prophets;) and the Hebrew tongue (he meaneth the Scriptures in the Hebrew tongue) is turned not only into the language of the Grecians, but also of the Romans, and Egyptians, and Persians, and Indians, and Armenians, and Scythians, and Sauromatians, and, briefly, into all the languages that any nation useth. So he. In like manner Ulpilas is reported by Paulus Diaconus and Isidore, and before them by Sozomen, to have translated the Scriptures into the Gothick tongue: John Bishop of Sevil by Vasseus, to have turned them into Arabick about the Year of our Lord 717: Beda by Cistertiensis, to have turned a great part of them into Saxon: Efnard by Trithemius, to have abridged the French Psalter (as Beda had done the Hebrew) about the year 800: King Alured by the said Cistertiensis, to have turned the Psalter into Saxon: Methodius by Aventinus (printed at Ingolstad) to have turned the Scriptures into Sclavonian: Valdo[146] Bishop of Frising by Beatus Rhenanus, to have caused about that time the Gospels to be translated into Dutch rhyme, yet extant in the library of Corbinian: Valdus by divers, to have turned them himself, or to have gotten them turned, into French, about the Year 1160: Charles the Fifth of that name, surnamed The wise, to have caused them to be turned into French about 200 years after Valdus’ time; of which translation there be many copies yet extant, as witnesseth Beroaldus. Much about that time, even in[Pg 214] our King Richard the Second’s days, John Trevisa translated them into English, and many English Bibles in written hand are yet to be seen with divers; translated, as it is very probable, in that age. So the Syrian translation of the New Testament is in most learned men’s libraries, of Widminstadius’ setting forth; and the Psalter in Arabick is with many, of Augustinus Nebiensis’ setting forth. So Postel affirmeth, that in his travel he saw the Gospels in the Ethiopian tongue: And Ambrose Thesius alledgeth the Psalter of the Indians, which he testifieth to have been set forth by Potken in Syrian characters. So that to have the Scriptures in the mother tongue is not a quaint conceit lately taken up, either by the Lord Cromwell in England, or by the Lord Radevile in Polony, or by the Lord Ungnadius in the Emperor’s dominion, but hath been thought upon, and put in practice of old, even from the first times of the conversion of any nation; no doubt, because it was esteemed most profitable to cause faith to grow in men’s hearts the sooner, and to make them to be able to say with the words of the Psalm, As we have heard, so we have seen.

Now the church of Rome would seem at the length to bear a motherly affection toward her children, and to allow them the Scriptures in the mother tongue: but indeed it is a gift, not deserving to be called a gift, an unprofitable gift: they must first get a licence in writing before they may use them; and to get that, they must approve themselves to their Confessor, that is, to be such as are, if not frozen in the dregs, yet soured with the leaven of their superstition. Howbeit it seemed too much to Clement the Eighth, that there should be any licence granted to have them in the vulgar tongue, and therefore he overruleth and [Pg 215]frustrateth the grant of Pius the Fourth. So much are they afraid of the light of the Scripture, (Lucifugæ Scripturarum, as Tertullian speaketh,) that they will not trust the people with it, no not as it is set forth by their own sworn men, no not with the licence of their own Bishops and Inquisitors. Yea, so unwilling they are to communicate the Scriptures to the people’s understanding in any sort, that they are not ashamed to confess, that we forced them to translate it into English against their wills. This seemeth to argue a bad cause, or a bad conscience, or both. Sure we are, that it is not he that hath good gold, that is afraid to bring it to the touch-stone, but he that hath the counterfeit; neither is it the true man that shunneth the light, but the malefactor, lest his deeds should be reproved; neither is it the plaindealing merchant that is unwilling to have the weights, or the meteyard, brought in place, but he that useth deceit. But we will let them alone for this fault, and return to translation.

Many men’s mouths have been opened a good while (and yet are not stopped) with speeches about the translation so long in hand, or rather perusals of translations made before: and ask what may be the reason, what the necessity, of the employment. Hath the Church been deceived, say they, all this while? Hath her sweet bread been mingled with leaven, her silver with dross, her wine with water, her milk with lime? (lacte gypsum male miscetur, saith St. Irenee.) We hoped that we had been in the right way, that we had had the Oracles of God delivered unto us, and that though all the world had cause to be offended, and to complain, yet that we had none. Hath the nurse holden out the breast, and nothing but wind in[Pg 216] it? Hath the bread been delivered by the Fathers of the Church, and the same proved to be lapidosus, as Seneca speaketh? What is it to handle the word of God deceitfully, if this be not? Thus certain brethren. Also the adversaries of Judah and Jerusalem, like Sanballat in Nehemiah, mock, as we hear, both at the work and workmen, saying, What do these weak Jews, &c., will they make the stones whole again out of the heaps of dust which are burnt? although they build, yet if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stony wall. Was their translation good before? Why do they now mend it? Was it not good? Why then was it obtruded to the people? Yea, why did the Catholicks (meaning Popish Romanists) always go in jeopardy for refusing to go to hear it? Nay, if it must be translated into English, Catholicks are fittest to do it. They have learning, and they know when a thing is well, they can manum de tabula. We will answer them both briefly: and the former, being brethren, thus with St. Hierome, Damnamus veteres? Minime, sed post priorum studia in domo Domini quod possumus laboramus. That is, Do we condemn the ancient? In no case: but after the endeavours of them that were before us, we take the best pains we can in the house of God. As if he said, Being provoked by the example of the learned that lived before my time, I have thought it my duty to assay, whether my talent in the knowledge of the tongues may be profitable in any measure to God’s Church, lest I should seem to have laboured in them in vain, and lest I should be thought to glory in men (although ancient) above that which was in them. Thus St. Hierome may be thought to speak.

And to the same effect say we, that we are so far off[Pg 217] from condemning any of their labours that travelled before us in this kind, either in this land, or beyond sea, either in King Henry’s time, or King Edward’s, (if there were any translation, or correction of a translation, in his time,) or Queen Elizabeth’s of ever renowned memory, that we acknowledge them to have been raised up of God for the building and furnishing of his Church, and that they deserve to be had of us and of posterity in everlasting remembrance. The judgment of Aristotle is worthy and well known: If Timotheus had not been, we had not had much sweet musick: But if Phrynis (Timotheus’ master) had not been, we had not had Timotheus. Therefore blessed be they, and most honoured be their name, that break the ice, and give the onset upon that which helpeth forward to the saving of souls. Now what can be more available thereto, than to deliver God’s book unto God’s people in a tongue which they understand? Since of an hidden treasure, and of a fountain that is sealed, there is no profit, as Ptolemy Philadelph wrote to the Rabbins or masters of the Jews, as witnesseth Epiphanius: and as St. Augustine saith, A man had rather be with his dog than with a stranger (whose tongue is strange unto him.) Yet for all that, as nothing is begun and perfected at the same time, and the latter thoughts are thought to be the wiser: so, if we building upon their foundation that went before us, and being holpen by their labours, do endeavour to make that better which they left so good; no man, we are sure, hath cause to mislike us; they, we persuade ourselves, if they were alive, would thank us. The vintage of Abiezer, that strake the stroke: yet the gleaning of grapes of Ephraim was not to be despised. See Judges viii. 2. Joash the king of Israel did not[Pg 218] satisfy himself till he had smitten the ground three times; and yet he offended the Prophet for giving over then. Aquila, of whom we spake before, translated the Bible as carefully and as skilfully as he could; and yet he thought good to go over it again, and then it got the credit with the Jews, to be called κατ’ ἀκρίβειαν, that is, accurately done, as St. Hierome witnesseth. How many books of profane learning have been gone over again and again, by the same translators, by others? Of one and the same book of Aristotle’s Ethicks there are extant not so few as six or seven several translations. Now if this cost may be bestowed upon the gourd, which affordeth us a little shade, and which to day flourisheth, but to morrow is cut down; what may we bestow, nay, what ought we not to bestow, upon the vine, the fruit whereof maketh glad the conscience of man, and the stem whereof abideth for ever? And this is the word of God, which we translate. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord. Tanti vitreum, quanti verum margaritum! (saith Tertullian.) If a toy of glass be of that reckoning with us, how ought we to value the true pearl! Therefore let no man’s eye be evil, because his Majesty’s is good; neither let any be grieved, that we have a Prince that seeketh the increase of the spiritual wealth of Israel; (let Sanballats and Tobiahs do so, which therefore do bear their just reproof;) but let us rather bless God from the ground of our heart for working this religious care in him to have the translations of the Bible maturely considered of and examined. For by this means it cometh to pass, that whatsoever is sound already, (and all is sound for substance in one or other of our editions, and the worst of ours far better than their authentick vulgar) the same will shine as gold more[Pg 219] brightly, being rubbed and polished; also, if any thing be halting, or superfluous, or not so agreeable to the original, the same may be corrected, and the truth set in place. And what can the King command to be done, that will bring him more true honour than this? And wherein could they that have been set a work approve their duty to the King, yea, their obedience to God, and love to his Saints, more, than by yielding their service, and all that is within them, for the furnishing of the work? But besides all this, they were the principal motives of it, and therefore ought least to quarrel it. For the very historical truth is, that upon the importunate petitions of the Puritanes at his Majesty’s coming to this crown, the conference at Hampton-court having been appointed for hearing their complaints, when by force of reason they were put from all other grounds, they had recourse at the last to this shift, that they could not with good conscience subscribe to the communion book, since it maintained the Bible as it was there translated, which was, as they said, a most corrupted translation. And although this was judged to be but a very poor and empty shift, yet even hereupon did his Majesty begin to bethink himself of the good that might ensue by a new translation, and presently after gave order for this translation which is now presented unto thee. Thus much to satisfy our scrupulous brethren.

An answer to the imputations of our adversaries.Now to the latter we answer, That we do not deny, nay, we affirm and avow, that the very meanest translation of the Bible in English, set forth by men of our profession, (for we have seen none of their’s of the whole Bible as yet) containeth the word of God, nay, is the word of God: As the King’s speech which he uttered in Parliament, being translated into French,[Pg 220] Dutch, Italian, and Latin, is still the King’s speech, though it be not interpreted by every translator with the like grace, nor peradventure so fitly for phrase, nor so expressly for sense, every where. For it is confessed, that things are to take their denomination of the greater part; Horace.and a natural man could say, Verum ubi multa nitent in carmine, non ego paucis offendor maculis, &c. A man may be counted a virtuous man, though he have made many slips in his life, (else there were none virtuous, for in many things we offend all,) Jam. 3. 2.also a comely man and lovely, though he have some warts upon his hand; yea, not only freckles upon his face, but also scars. No cause therefore why the word translated should be denied to be the word, or forbidden to be current, notwithstanding that some imperfections and blemishes may be noted in the setting forth of it. For what ever was perfect under the sun, where Apostles or apostolick men, that is, men endued with an extraordinary measure of God’s Spirit, and privileged with the privilege of infallibility, had not their hand? The Romanists therefore in refusing to hear, and daring to burn the word translated, did no less than despite the Spirit of grace, from whom originally it proceeded, and whose sense and meaning, as well as man’s weakness would enable, it did express. Judge by an example or two.

Plutarch in Camillo.Plutarch writeth, that after that Rome had been burnt by the Gauls, they fell soon to build it again: but doing it in haste, they did not cast the streets, nor proportion the houses, in such comely fashion, as had been most sightly and convenient. Was Catiline therefore an honest man, or a good patriot, that sought to bring it to a combustion? Or Nero a good Prince, that did indeed set it on fire? So by the story of[Pg 221] Ezra and the prophecy of Haggai it may be gathered, Ezra 3. 12.that the temple built by Zerubbabel after the return from Babylon was by no means to be compared to the former built by Solomon: for they that remembered the former wept when they considered the latter. Notwithstanding might this latter either have been abhorred and forsaken by the Jews, or profaned by the Greeks? The like we are to think of translations. The translation of the Seventy dissenteth from the Original in many places, neither doth it come near it for perspicuity, gravity, majesty. Yet which of the Apostles did condemn it? Condemn it? Nay, they used it, (as it is apparent, and as St. Hierome and most learned men do confess;) which they would not have done, nor by their example of using of it so grace and commend it to the Church, if it had been unworthy the appellation and name of the word of God. And whereas they urge for their second defence of their vilifying and abusing of the English Bibles, or some pieces thereof, which they meet with, for that hereticks forsooth were the authors of the translations: (hereticks they call us by the same right that they call themselves catholicks, both being wrong:) we marvel what divinity taught them so. We are sure Tertullian was of another mind: Tertull. de præscript. contra hæreses.

St. August. 3. de doct. Christ. cap. 30.
Ex personis probamus fidem, an ex fide personas? Do we try men’s faith by their persons? We should try their persons by their faith. Also St. Augustine was of another mind: for he, lighting upon certain rules made by Tychonius a Donatist for the better understanding of the word, was not ashamed to make use of them, yea, to insert them into his own book, with giving commendation to them so far forth as they were worthy to be commended, as is to be seen in St. Augustine’s third book[Pg 222] De Doct. Christ. To be short, Origen, and the whole Church of God for certain hundred years, were of another mind: for they were so far from treading under foot (much more from burning) the translation of Aquila a proselyte, that is, one that had turned Jew, of Symmachus, and Theodotion, both Ebionites, that is, most vile hereticks, that they joined them together with the Hebrew original, and the translation of the Seventy, (as hath been before signified out of Epiphanius,) and set them forth openly to be considered of and perused by all. But we weary the unlearned, who need not know so much; and trouble the learned, who know it already.

Yet before we end, we must answer a third cavil and objection of their’s against us, for altering and amending our translations so oft; wherein truly they deal hardly and strangely with us. For to whom ever was it imputed for a fault, (by such as were wise,) to go over that which he had done, and to amend it where he saw cause? St. August. Epist. 9. St. August. lib. Retract Video interdum vitia mea.
St. August. Epist. 8.
St. Augustine was not afraid to exhort St. Hierome to a Palinodia or recantation. The same St. Augustine was not ashamed to retractate, we might say, revoke, many things that had passed him, and doth even glory that he seeth his infirmities. If we will be sons of the truth, we must consider what it speaketh, and trample upon our own credit, yea, and upon other men’s too, if either be any way an hindrance to it. This to the cause. Then to the persons we say, that of all men they ought to be most silent in this case. For what varieties have they, and what alterations have they made, not only of their service books, portesses, and breviaries, but also of their Latin translation? The service book supposed to be made by St. Ambrose, (Officium Ambrosianum,)[Pg 223] was a great while in special use and request: but Pope Adrian, Durand. lib. 5. cap. 2.calling a council with the aid of Charles the Emperor, abolished it, yea, burnt it, and commanded the service book of St. Gregory universally to be used. Well, Officium Gregorianum gets by this means to be in credit; but doth it continue without change or altering? No, the very Roman service was of two fashions; the new fashion, and the old, the one used in one Church, and the other in another; as is to be seen in Pamelius a Romanist, his preface before Micrologus. The same Pamelius reporteth out of Radulphus de Rivo, that about the year of our Lord 1277 Pope Nicolas the Third removed out of the churches of Rome the more ancient books (of service,) and brought into use the missals of the Friers Minorites, and commanded them to be observed there: insomuch that about an hundred years after, when the aboved named Radulphus happened to be at Rome, he found all the books to be new, of the new stamp. Neither was there this chopping and changing in the more ancient times only, but also of late. Pius Quintus himself confesseth, that every bishoprick almost had a peculiar kind of service, most unlike to that which others had; which moved him to abolish all other breviaries, though never so ancient, and privileged and published by Bishops in their Dioceses, and to establish and ratify that only which was of his own setting forth in the year 1568. Now when the Father of their Church, who gladly would heal the sore of the daughter of his people softly and slightly, and make the best of it, findeth so great fault with them for their odds and jarring; we hope the children have no great cause to vaunt of their uniformity. But the difference that appeareth between our translations,[Pg 224] and our often correcting of them, is the thing that we are specially charged with; let us see therefore whether they themselves be without fault this way, (if it be to be counted a fault to correct,) and whether they be fit men to throw stones at us: O tandem major parcas insane minori: They that are less sound themselves ought not to object infirmities to others. If we should tell them, that Valla, Stapulensis, Erasmus, and Vives, found fault with their vulgar translation, and consequently wished the same to be mended, or a new one to be made; they would answer peradventure, that we produced their enemies for witnesses against them; albeit they were in no other sort enemies, than as St. Paul was to the Galatians, Gal. 4. 16.for telling them the truth: and it were to be wished, that they had dared to tell it them plainlier and oftener. But what will they say to this, That Pope Leo the Tenth allowed Erasmus’ translation of the New Testament, so much different from the vulgar, by his apostolick letter and bull? Sixtus Senens.That the same Leo exhorted Pagnine to translate the whole Bible, and bare whatsoever charges was necessary for the work? Surely, as the apostle reasoneth to the Hebrews, Heb. 7. 11. & 8. 7.that if the former Law and Testament had been sufficient, there had been no need of the latter: so we may say, that if the old vulgar had been at all points allowable, to small purpose had labour and charges been undergone about framing of a new. If they say, it was one Pope’s private opinion, and that he consulted only himself; then we are able to go further with them, and to aver, that more of their chief men of all sorts, even their own Trent champions, Paiva and Vega, and their own inquisitor Hieronymus ab Oleastro, and their own Bishop Isidorus Clarius, and their own Cardinal Thomas a vio Cajetan, do[Pg 225] either make new translations themselves, or follow new ones of other men’s making, or note the vulgar interpreter for halting, none of them fear to dissent from him, nor yet to except against him. And call they this an uniform tenor of text and judgment about the text, so many of their worthies disclaiming the now received conceit? Nay, we will yet come nearer the quick. Sixtus 5. Præf. fixa bibliis.Doth not their Paris edition differ from the Lovain, and Hentenius’s from them both, and yet all of them allowed by authority? Nay, doth not Sixtus Quintus confess, that certain Catholicks (he meaneth certain of his own side) were in such an humour of translating the Scriptures into Latin, that Satan taking occasion by them, though they thought of no such matter, did strive what he could, out of so uncertain and manifold a variety of translations, so to mingle all things, that nothing might seem to be left certain and firm in them, &c.? Nay further, did not the same Sixtus ordain by an inviolable decree, and that with the counsel and consent of his Cardinals, that the Latin edition of the Old and New Testament, which the council of Trent would have to be authentick, is the same without controversy which he then set forth, being diligently corrected and printed in the printinghouse of Vatican? Thus Sixtus in his preface before his Bible. And yet Clement the Eighth, his immediate successor to account of, publisheth another edition of the Bible, containing in it infinite differences from that of Sixtus, and many of them weighty and material; and yet this must be authentick by all means. What is to have the faith of our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with yea and nay, if this be not? Again, what is sweet harmony and consent, if this be? Therefore, as Demaratus of Corinth advised a great King, before he talked of the dissensions[Pg 226] among the Grecians, to compose his domestick broils; (for at that time his queen and his son and heir were at deadly feud with him) so all the while that our adversaries do make so many and so various editions themselves, and do jar so much about the worth and authority of them, they can with no shew of equity challenge us for changing and correcting.

The purpose of the Translators, with their number, furniture, care, &c.But it is high time to leave them, and to shew in brief what we proposed to ourselves, and what course we held, in this our perusal and survey of the Bible. Truly, good Christian Reader, we never thought from the beginning that we should need to make a new translation, nor yet to make of a bad one a good one: (for then the imputation of Sixtus had been true in some sort, that our people had been fed with gall of dragons instead of wine, with wheal instead of milk;) but to make a good one better, or out of many good ones one principal good one, not justly to be excepted against; that hath been our endeavour, that our mark. To that purpose there were many chosen, that were greater in other men’s eyes than in their own, and that sought the truth rather than their own praise. Again, they came, or were thought to come, to the work, not exercendi causa, (as one saith,) but exercitati, that is, learned not to learn; for the chief overseer and ἐργοδιώκτης under his Majesty, to whom not only we, but also our whole Church was much bound, knew by his wisdom, which thing only Nazianzen taught so long ago, Nazianz. εἰς ρν’, ἐπισκ παρουσ.
Idem in Apologet.
that it is a preposterous order to teach first and to learn after; that τὸ ἐν πίθῳ κεραμίαν μανθάνειν to learn and practise together, is neither commendable for the workman, nor safe for the work. Therefore such were thought upon, as could say modestly with St. Hierome, Et Hebræum sermonem ex[Pg 227] parte didicimus, et in Latino pene ab ipsis incunabulis, &c., detriti sumus; Both we have learned the Hebrew tongue in part, and in the Latin we have been exercised almost from our very cradle. St. Hierome maketh no mention of the Greek tongue, wherein yet he did excel; because he translated not the Old Testament out of Greek, but out of Hebrew. And in what sort did these assemble? In the trust of their own knowledge, or of their sharpness of wit, or deepness of judgment, as it were in an arm of flesh? At no hand. They trusted in him that hath the key of David, opening, and no man shutting; they prayed to the Lord, the Father of our Lord, to the effect that St. Augustine did: St. August. lib. 11. Confess. cap. 2.O let thy Scriptures be my pure delight; let me not be deceived in them, neither let me deceive by them. In this confidence, and with this devotion, did they assemble together; not too many, lest one should trouble another; and yet many, lest many things haply might escape them. If you ask what they had before them; truly it was the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, the Greek of the New. These are the two golden pipes, or rather conduits, wherethrough the olivebranches empty themselves into the gold. St. Aug. 3. De doctr. cap. 3., &c. St. Hieron. ad Suniam et Fretel. St. Hieron. ad Lucinium, Dist 9. Ut veterum.

Joseph. Antiq. lib. 12.

St. Hieron. ad Pammach. pro lib. advers. Jovinian.

Φιλεῖ γὰρ ὀκνεῖν πραγμ’ ἀνὴρ πράσσων μέγα, Sophocl. in Elect.

Reasons moving us to set diversity of senses in the margin, where there is great probability for each.
πάντα τὰ ἀναγκαῖα δῆλα.
St. Chrysost. in 2 Thess. cap. 2. St. Aug. 2. De doctr. Christ, c. 9.

St. August. lib. 8. De Gen. ad liter. cap. 5.

ἅπαξ λεγόμενα.

Hier. in Ezek. cap. 3.

St. Aug. 2. De doctr. Christ. c. 1.

Sixtus 5. Præf. Bibl.

Plat. in Paulo secundo.

ὁμοιοπαφής Τρωτὸς γ’ ἡ χρώς ἐστι.

Reasons inducing us not to stand curiously upon an identity of phrasing.


Abed. Niceph. Calist. lib. 8. cap. 42. St. Hieron. in 4 Jonæ.
See St. Aug. Epist. 10.

λεπτολογία. ὰδολεοχία τὸ σπουδάζειν ἐπὶ ὀνόμασι.
See Euseb. προπαρασκ. lib. 2. ex Plat.
St. Augustine calleth them precedent, or original, tongues; St. Hierome, fountains. The same St. Hierome affirmeth, and Gratian hath not spared to put it into his decree, That as the credit of the old books (he meaneth of the Old Testament) is to be tried by the Hebrew volumes; so of the new by the Greek tongue, he meaneth by the original Greek. If truth be to be tried by these tongues, then whence should a translation be made, but out of them? These tongues therefore (the Scriptures, we say, in those tongues) we set before us to translate, being the[Pg 228] tongues wherein God was pleased to speak to his Church by his Prophets and Apostles. Neither did we run over the work with that posting haste that the Septuagint did, if that be true which is reported of them, that they finished it in seventy-two days; neither were we barred or hindered from going over it again, having once done it, like St. Hierome, if that be true which himself reporteth, that he could no sooner write anything, but presently it was caught from him, and published, and he could not have leave to mend it; neither, to be short, were we the first that fell in hand with translating the Scripture into English, and consequently destitute of former helps, as it is written of Origen, that he was the first in a manner, that put his hand to write commentaries upon the Scriptures, and therefore no marvel if he overshot himself many times. None of these things: The work hath not been huddled up in seventy-two days, but hath cost the workmen, as light as it seemeth, the pains of twice seven times seventy-two days, and more. Matters of such weight and consequence are to be speeded with maturity: for in a business of moment a man feareth not the blame of convenient slackness. Neither did we think much to consult the translators or commentators, Chaldee, Hebrew, Syrian, Greek, or Latin; no, nor the Spanish, French, Italian, or Dutch; neither did we disdain to revise that which we had done, and to bring back to the anvil that which we had hammered: but having and using as great helps as were needful, and fearing no reproach for slowness, nor coveting praise for expedition, we have at length, through the good hand of the Lord upon us, brought the work to that pass that you see.

Some peradventure would have no variety of senses[Pg 229] to be set in the margin, lest the authority of the Scriptures for deciding of controversies by that shew of uncertainty should somewhat be shaken. But we hold their judgment not to be so sound in this point. For though whatsoever things are necessary are manifest, as St. Chrysostome saith; and, as St. Augustine, in those things that are plainly set down in the Scriptures all such matters are found, that concern faith, hope, and charity: Yet for all that it cannot be dissembled, that partly to exercise and whet our wits, partly to wean the curious from lothing of them for their every where plainness, partly also to stir up our devotion to crave the assistance of God’s Spirit by prayer, and lastly, that we might be forward to seek aid of our brethren by conference, and never scorn those that be not in all respects so complete as they should be, being to seek in many things, ourselves, it hath pleased God in his Divine Providence here and there to scatter words and sentences of that difficulty and doubtfulness, not in doctrinal points that concern salvation, (for in such it hath been vouched that the Scriptures are plain,) but in matters of less moment, that fearfulness would better beseem us than confidence, and if we will resolve, to resolve upon modesty with St. Augustine, (though not in this same case altogether, yet upon the same ground,) Melius est dubitare de occultis, quam litigare de incertis: It is better to make doubt of those things which are secret, than to strive about those things that are uncertain. There be many words in the Scriptures, which be never found there but once, (having neither brother nor neighbour, as the Hebrews speak,) so that we cannot be holpen by conference of places. Again, there be many rare names of certain birds, beasts, and precious stones, &c. concerning[Pg 230] which the Hebrews themselves are so divided among themselves for judgment, that they may seem to have defined this or that, rather because they would say something, than because they were sure of that which they said, as St. Hierome somewhere saith of the Septuagint. Now in such a case doth not a margin do well to admonish the Reader to seek further, and not to conclude or dogmatize upon this or that peremptorily? For as it is a fault of incredulity, to doubt of those things that are evident; so to determine of such things as the Spirit of God hath left (even in the judgment of the judicious) questionable, can be no less than presumption. Therefore as St. Augustine saith, that variety of translations is profitable for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures: so diversity of signification and sense in the margin, where the text is not so clear, must needs do good; yea, is necessary, as we are persuaded. We know that Sixtus Quintus expressly forbiddeth that any variety of readings of their vulgar edition should be put in the margin; (which though it be not altogether the same thing to that we have in hand, yet it looketh that way;) but we think he hath not all of his own side his favourers for this conceit. They that are wise had rather have their judgments at liberty in differences of readings, than to be captivated to one, when it may be the other. If they were sure that their high priest had all laws shut up in his breast, as Paul the Second bragged, and that he were as free from error by special privilege, as the dictators of Rome were made by law inviolable, it were another matter; then his word were an oracle, his opinion a decision. But the eyes of the world are now open, God be thanked, and have been a great while; they find that he is subject to the same affections and[Pg 231] infirmities that others be, that his body is subject to wounds; and therefore so much as he proveth, not as much as he claimeth, they grant and embrace.

Another thing we think good to admonish thee of, gentle Reader, that we have not tied ourselves to an uniformity of phrasing, or to an identity of words, as some peradventure would wish that we had done, because they observe, that some learned men somewhere have been as exact as they could that way. Truly, that we might not vary from the sense of that which we had translated before, if the word signified the same thing in both places, (for there be some words that be not of the same sense every where,) we were especially careful, and made a conscience, according to our duty. But that we should express the same notion in the same particular word; as for example, if we translate the Hebrew or Greek word once by purpose, never to call it intent; if one where journeying, never travelling; if one where think, never suppose; if one where pain, never ache; if one where joy, never gladness, &c. thus to mince the matter, we thought to savour more of curiosity than wisdom, and that rather it would breed scorn in the atheist, than bring profit to the godly reader. For is the kingdom of God become words or syllables? Why should we be in bondage to them, if we may be free? use one precisely, when we may use another no less fit as commodiously? A godly Father in the primitive time shewed himself greatly moved, that one of newfangledness called κραββάτον, σκίμπους, though the difference be little or none; and another reporteth, that he was much abused for turning cucurbita (to which reading the people had been used) into hedera. Now if this happen in better times, and upon so small occasions, we might justly[Pg 232] fear hard censure, if generally we should make verbal and unnecessary changings. We might also be charged (by scoffers) with some unequal dealing towards a great number of good English words. For as it is written of a certain great Philosopher, that he should say, that those logs were happy that were made images to be worshipped; for their fellows, as good as they, lay for blocks behind the fire: so if we should say, as it were, unto certain words, Stand up higher, have a place in the Bible always; and to others of like quality, Get you hence, be banished for ever; we might be taxed peradventure with St. James’s words, namely, To be partial in ourselves, and judges of evil thoughts. Add hereunto, that niceness in words was always counted the next step to trifling; and so was to be curious about names too: also that we cannot follow a better pattern for elocution than God himself; therefore he using divers words in his holy writ, and indifferently for one thing in nature: we, if we will not be superstitious, may use the same liberty in our English versions out of Hebrew and Greek, for that copy or store that he hath given us. Lastly, we have on the one side avoided the scrupulosity of the Puritanes, who leave the old Ecclesiastical words, and betake them to other, as when they put washing for baptism, and congregation instead of Church: as also on the other side we have shunned the obscurity of the Papists, in their azymes, tunike, rational, holocausts, prepuce, pasche, and a number of such like, whereof their late translation is full, and that of purpose to darken the sense, that since they must needs translate the Bible, yet by the language thereof it may be kept from being understood. But we desire that the Scripture may speak like itself, as in the language of[Pg 233] Canaan, that it may be understood even of the very vulgar.

Many other things we might give thee warning of, gentle Reader, if we had not exceeded the measure of a preface already. It remaineth that we commend thee to God, and to the Spirit of his grace, which is able to build further than we can ask or think. He removeth the scales from our eyes, the vail from our hearts, opening our wits that we may understand his word, enlarging our hearts, yea, correcting our affections, that we may love it above gold and silver, yea, that we may love it to the end. Gen. 26. 15.Ye are brought unto fountains of living water which ye digged not; do not cast earth into them, with the Philistines, neither prefer broken pits before them, with the wicked Jews. Jer. 2. 13.Others have laboured, and you may enter into their labours. O receive not so great things in vain: O despise not so great salvation. Be not like swine to tread under foot so precious things, neither yet like dogs to tear and abuse holy things. Say not to our Saviour with the Gergesites, Matt. 8. 35.
Heb. 12. 16.

Nazianz. περὶ ἁγ βαπτ. Δεινὸν πανήγυριν παρελφεῖν, καὶ τηνικαῦτα πραγματείαν ἐπιζητεῖν.

St. Chrysost. in Epist. ad Rom. c. 14.

orat. 26. in ἠθικ. Ἀμήχανον, σφόδρα άμήχανον.

St. August, ad artic. sibi falso object. Art. 16. Heb. 10. 31.
Depart out of our coasts; neither with Esau sell your birthright for a mess of pottage. If light be come into the world, love not darkness more than light: if food, if clothing, be offered, go not naked, starve not yourselves. Remember the advice of Nazianzene, It is a grievous thing (or dangerous) to neglect a great fair, and to seek to make markets afterwards: also the encouragement of St. Chrysostome, It is altogether impossible, that he that is sober (and watchful) should at any time be neglected: lastly, the admonition and menancing of St. Augustine, They that despise God’s will inviting them shall feel God’s will taking vengeance of them. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God; but a[Pg 234] blessed thing it is, and will bring us to everlasting blessedness in the end, when God speaketh unto us, to hearken; when he setteth his word before us, to read it; when he stretcheth out his hand and calleth, to answer, Here am I, here we are to do thy will, O God. The Lord work a care and conscience in us to know him and serve him, that we may be acknowledged of him at the appearing of our Lord JESUS CHRIST, to whom with the Holy Ghost be all praise and thanksgiving. Amen.



[Pg 235]



The twelve bishops who are mentioned as taking part with Archbishop Parker in this revision, are:

William Alley, Bishop of Exeter.

William Barlow, Bishop of Chichester.

Thomas Bentham, Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield.

Nicholas Bullingham, Bishop of Lincoln.

Richard Cox, Bishop of Ely.

Richard Davies, Bishop of St. Davids (Menevensis).

Edmund Grindal, Bishop of London.

Edmund Guest (or Geste), Bishop of Rochester.

Robert Horne, Bishop of Winchester.

John Parkhurst, Bishop of Norwich.

Edwin Sandys, Bishop of Worcester.

Edmund Scambler, Bishop of Peterborough.

The other church dignitaries who are mentioned are:

Andrew Pearson, Canon of Canterbury.

Andrew Perne, Prebendary of Ely.

Thomas Beacon, Prebendary of Canterbury.

Gabriel Goodman, Dean of Westminster.

At the end of sixteen of the books are placed initials, which are evidently those of the revisers. These, with more or less of certainty, have been identified with names given in the above list.[147] They are as follows, and in the following order:

[Pg 236]

Deuteronomy   W. E.   Bishop of Exeter.
2 Samuel   R. M.   Bishop of St. Davids.
2 Chronicles   E. W.   Bishop of Worcester.
Job   A. P. C   Andrew Pearson.
Psalms[148]   T. B.   Thomas Beacon.
Proverbs   A. P. C   Andrew Pearson.
Canticles   A. P. E   Andrew Perne.
Lamentations   R. W.   Bishop of Winchester.
Daniel   T. C.L.   Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield.
Malachi   E. L.   Bishop of London.
Wisdom   W. C.   Bishop of Chichester.
2 Maccabees   J. N.   Bishop of Norwich.
Acts   R. E.   Bishop of Ely.
Romans   R. E.   Bishop of Ely.
1 Corinthians   G. G.   Gabriel Goodman.

From a list of the revisers, enclosed in a letter from Parker to Cecil, dated October 5th, 1568, and now in the State Paper Office, we may further gather that the Catholic Epistles and the Apocalypse were revised by Bishop Bullingham, the Gospels of Luke and John by Bishop Scambler, and that the portions undertaken by Parker himself were Genesis, Exodus, Matthew, Mark, and the Epistles from 2 Corinthians to Hebrews inclusive.[149]



[Pg 237]



In the collection of Records appended to the Second Part of Bishop Burnet’s History of the Reformation of the Church of England, there is given a list of the Revisers of 1611, copied, as the writer tells us,[150] from the paper of Bishop Ravis himself, one of the number. The list is thus given:[151]

Westminster (1). Mr. Dean of Westminster, Mr. Dean of Pauls, Mr. Doctor Saravia, Mr. Doctor Clark, Mr. Doctor Leifield, Mr. Doctor Teigh, Mr. Burleigh, Mr. King, Mr. Tompson, Mr. Beadwell.

Cambridge (1). Mr. Livelye, Mr. Richardson, Mr. Chatterton, Mr. Dillingham, Mr. Harrison, Mr. Andrews, Mr. Spalding, Mr. Burge.

Oxford (1). Doctor Harding, Dr. Reynolds, Dr. Holland, Dr. Kilbye, Mr. Smith, Mr. Brett, Mr. Fairclough.

Cambridge (2). Doctor Dewport, Dr. Branthwait, Dr. Radclife, Mr. Ward (Eman.), Mr. Downes, Mr. Boyes, Mr. Warde (Reg.).

Oxford (2). Mr. Dean of Christchurch, Mr. Dean of Winchester, Mr. Dean of Worcester, Mr. Dean of Windsor, Mr. Sairle, Dr. Perne, Dr. Ravens, Mr. Haviner.[152]

Westminster (2). Dean of Chester, Dr. Hutchinson, Dr. Spencer, Mr. Fenton, Mr. Rabbet, Mr. Sanderson, Mr. Dakins.

[Pg 238]Some difference of opinion has existed in reference to the date of this document. Its date is determined within comparatively narrow limits by internal evidence.

The writer, Dr. Ravis, describes himself as Dean of Christ Church; it must therefore have been written before March 19, 1605, when he was consecrated Bishop of Gloucester. He also refers to the Dean of Worcester (Dr. Eedes), who died November, 1604, and hence he may be assumed to have written before that date also. The difficulty is that he describes Dr. Barlow, who is known to have taken part in the work, as Dean of Chester, and it must therefore have been written after Barlow’s appointment of this office. This appointment, as stated by Cardwell, took place in December, 1604;[153] but the correctness of that date is open to some doubt.[154]

The names contained in the above given list have, with some few exceptions, been satisfactorily identified; namely, as follows:



Dr. Launcelot Andrews, Dean of Westminster.[155]

Dr. John Overall, Dean of St. Paul’s.[156]

Dr. Adrian de Saravia.

Dr. Richard Clark, Fellow of Christ’s College, Cambridge.

Dr. John Layfield, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.

Dr. Robert Tighe, Vicar of All Hallows, Barking.

[Pg 239]

[Dr. Francis Burley, Fellow of King James’s College, Chelsea.]

Mr. Geoffry King, Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge.[157]

Mr. Richard Thomson, Clare Hall, Cambridge.

Mr. William Bedwell, Vicar of Tottenham.



Mr. Edward Lively,[158] Regius Professor of Hebrew, Cambridge.

Mr. John Richardson,[159] Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

Mr. Laurence Chaderton, Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

Mr. F. Dillingham, Fellow of Christ’s College, Cambridge.

Mr. Thomas Harrison, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.

Mr. Roger Andrews.[160]

Mr. Robert Spalding,[161] Fellow of St. John’s College, Cambridge.

Mr. Andrew Byng, Fellow of Peter House.



Dr. John Harding, Regius Professor of Hebrew, and President of Magdalen.

Dr. John Rainolds, President of Corpus Christi College.

Dr. Thomas Holland,[162] Regius Professor of Divinity.

Dr. Richard Kilbye, Rector of Lincoln College, Oxford.

Dr. Miles Smith,[163] Brasenose College, Oxford.

Dr. Richard Brett, Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford.

Mr. Richard Fairclough, Fellow of New College, Oxford.

 [Pg 240]


Dr. John Duport, Master of Jesus College.

Dr. William Branthwaite, Master of Caius College.

Dr. Jeremiah Radcliffe, Fellow of Trinity College.

Mr. Samuel Ward, Fellow of Emmanuel College.[164]

Mr. Andrew Downes, Regius Professor of Greek.

Mr. John Bois, Fellow of St. John’s, and Rector of Boxworth.

Mr. Ward, Fellow of King’s College.[165]



Dr. Thomas Ravis, Dean of Christ Church.[166]

Dr. George Abbot, Dean of Winchester.[167]

Dr. Richard Eedes, Dean of Worcester.[168]

Dr. Giles Thomson, Dean of Windsor.

Mr. Henry Saville,[169] Warden of Merton and Provost of Eton.

Dr. John Perin, Fellow of St. John’s College.

[Dr. Ralph Ravens, Fellow of St. John’s College.]

Dr. John Harmer, Regius Professor of Greek.

To these, Wood, who does not mention the names of either Eedes or Ravens, in the list given in his History of the [Pg 241]University of Oxford, adds the following two; they were probably appointed to take the places of some removed by death:

Dr. John Aglionby,[170] Principal of Edmunds Hall.

Dr. Leonard Hutten,[171] Canon of Christ Church.



Dr. William Barlow, Dean of Chester.

Dr. Hutchinson. (?)

Dr. John Spenser, Chaplain to King James.[172]

Mr. Roger Fenton, Pembroke Hall, Oxford.

[Mr. Michael Rabbett, Rector of St. Vedast, Foster Lane.]

[Mr. Thomas Sanderson, Rector of All Hallows.]

Mr. William Dakins, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.



[Pg 242]


Dean Stanley (Historical Memorials of Westminster Abbey, p. 440) states generally that the Assembly of Divines removed from Henry VII.’s Chapel to the Jerusalem Chamber at the end of September. The exact date is, as stated in the text, October 2nd. In the Minutes of the Sessions of the Assembly, preserved in Dr. Williams’s Library, there occurs at the close of the sixty-fifth session the entry, “Adjourned to the Hierusalem Chamber on Monday, at ten o’clock,” and the following session, the sixty-sixth, is dated Monday, October 2nd. The permission to adjourn to the Jerusalem Chamber from Henry VII.’s Chapel, “on account of the coldness of the said chapel,” was granted by Parliament on September 21st, 1643.



[Pg 243]



Abbot, Dr. Ezra, 115

Ælfric’s Heptateuch, 12, 13

Aiken, Dr. C. A., 115

Ainsworth, H., his Commentaries, 101

Aldhelm, Bishop of Sherborne, 11

Alexander, Dr. W. L., 109

Alexandrine Manuscript, 83

Alford, Dean, 104, 107, 110, 112, 125

Alfred, King, 12

Allen, Archdeacon, 107

Andrews, Dr. Launcelot, 41

Anglo-Saxon Gospel, 12

Angus, Dr. Jos., 110, 125

Authorized Version, first suggestion of, 40

—— ordered by King James, 41

—— a revision, not a translation, 45

—— rules followed by the revisers, 42-44

—— misprints in, 54

—— obsolete words in, 57-59

—— imperfect renderings of, 62

—— preface to, 199

—— list of its revisors, 237


Bancroft, Archbishop, 41, 45

Barrow, Dr. John, 104

Bede, 11

Bensley, Mr. R. N., 111

Bentley, Dr. Richard, his proposals for revised texts of the Greek New Testament and of the Vulgate, 100

Beza’s Codex, 83

Beza, Theodore, his edition of the Greek New Testament, 84, 86

Biber, Dr. G. F., 103

Bible, earliest form of, 4

—— Authorized Version of, 39

—— Bishops’, 30, 37, 39

—— Coverdale’s, 18, 36

—— Douai, 33, 38

—— Genevan, 26, 37, 39

—— Great, 21, 36

—— Matthew’s, 20

—— Purvey’s, 15, 36

—— Taverner’s, 22

—— Wycliffe’s, 13, 14, 35

Bickersteth, Dean, 107, 110, 125

Bilson, Bishop, 49

Birrell, Rev. J., 111

Bishops’ Bible, 30, 37, 39
[Pg 244]
Bishops’ Bible, preface thereto, 177

—— translators of, 235

Blakesley, Dean, 106n, 107, 110, 125

Bodley, John, bears the expenses of the Genevan Bible, 30n

Bois, John, 46, 49

Broughton, Hugh, 92

Brown, Dr. David, 112, 125

Browne, Dr. E. H. (Bishop of Winchester), 106n, 107, 109


Chambers, Dr. T. W., 115

Chance, Dr. F., 111

Chenery, Professor, 109

Cheyne, Rev. T. K., 111

Claromontane Manuscript, 83

Clergymen, Five, their revision of the Gospel of John, 104

Collation of Manuscripts, 82

Complutensian Polyglot, 84

Conant, Dr. T. J., 114

Coverdale, first edition of his Bible, 18

—— his Prologue thereto, 160

—— prepares the Great Bible, 21

—— issues a second and other editions of the Great Bible, 23

—— a refugee at Geneva, 27

Cranmer, his opinion of Matthew’s Bible, 20n

—— his Prologue to the second edition of the Great Bible, 23

Cromwell, Thomas, patron of Coverdale, 18

—— promotes the preparation of the Great Bible, 23

Crooks, Dr. G. R., 115, 116


Davidson, Dr. A. B., 109

Davies, Dr. B., 109

Day, Dr. G. E., 114

De Witt, Dr. J., 114

Dort, Synod of, 44, 49

Douglas, Dr. G., 111

Downes, A., 49

Driver, Mr. S. R., 111


Eadie, Dr. J., 110, 112

Ellicott, Bishop, 104, 105, 110, 125

Elliott, Rev. C. J., 112

Ephraem Codex, 83

Erasmus, his editions of the Greek New Testament, 85


Fairbairn, Dr. P., 109

Field, Dr. F., 109


Geddes, Dr. A., his projected translation of the Bible, 98

Geden, Professor, 112

Gell, R., his essay upon the amendment of the Authorized Version, 93

Genevan Bible, 26-30, 37

—— popularity of, 32, 52

—— preface to, 172

Genevan Psalter, 27

Genevan New Testament, 28, 29

Ginsburg, Dr., 109

Gotch, Dr. F. W., 109

Green, Dr. W. H., 114

Gutenberg Bible, 17n

Guthlac of Croyland, 11, 12
[Pg 245]


Hackett, Dr. H. B., 115, 116

Hadley, Dr. J., 115, 116

Hampton Court Conference, 40

Harding, Dr. J., 41

Hare, Dr. G. E., 114

Harrison, Archdeacon, 109

Harwood, E., his translation of the New Testament, 97n

Hereford, Nicholas de, 14

Hervey, Bishop, 107

Heywood, James, his motion in the House of Commons for a new revision, 103

Hodge, Dr. C., 115, 116

Holbein, his design for title-page of Great Bible, 22n

Hort, Dr. F. J. A., 110, 120, 125

Humphry, Prebendary, 104, 110, 125


Itala, The, 9


Jebb, Dr. J., 106n, 107, 109

Jerome, revises the old Latin version, 9

—— translates Old Testament, 9

Jerusalem Chamber, 117, 127, 242

Jessey, Henry, his attempted revision of Authorized Version, 95

Johnson, Anthony, his Historical Account, 27n


Kay, Dr. W., 106n, 107, 109

Kendrick, Dr. A. C., 115

Kennedy, Canon, 110, 125

Kennicott, Dr. B., 100

Kilbie, Dr. R., 47

Krauth, Dr. C. P., 115


Latin Versions, 8, 9

Lawrence, T., his notes of errors in the Bishops’ Bible, 32

Leathes, Dr. S., 109

Lee, Archdeacon, 110, 125

Lee, Dr. A., 115

Lewis, Dr. T., 115

Lewis, John, his History of the English Bible, 41, 49n

Lightfoot, Dr. J., urges upon Parliament the revision of the English Bible, 92

Lightfoot, Dr. J. B. (Bishop of Durham), 101, 110, 125

Lindisfarne Gospels, 12n

Lively, Ed., 41

Lumby, Rev. J. R., 112

Lyra, Nicholas de, 17


Mace, W., his Greek and English New Testament, 96

Marsh, Bishop, on the Authorized Version, 102

Manuscripts of the New Testament, 80

Mazarin Bible, 17n

McGill, Professor, 109

Mead, Dr. C. M., 115

Merivale, Dean, 112, 125

Mill, Dr. J., 99

Milligan, Dr. W., 110, 125

Moberly, Bishop, 104, 110, 125

Moulton, Dr. W. F., 111, 125

Münster, Sebastian, 22, 31


Newcome, Archbishop, his revised New Testament, 98

Newth, Dr., 111, 125
[Pg 246]


Ollivant, Bishop, 105, 106n, 107, 109

Ormulum, The, 13

Osgood, Dr. H., 115


Packard, Dr. J., 115

Pagninus, his Latin translation, 19, 31n

Palmer, Archdeacon, 112, 125

Parker, Archbishop, superintends the preparation of the Bishops’ Bible, 30-32

—— his letter to Cecil, 30n

Payne Smith, Dean, 110

Penn, Grenville, his revised text and translation of New Testament, 99

Perowne, Dean, 110

Plumptre, Dr. E. H., 110

Printed Bible, the first, 17

Printing, invention of, 17

Psalter, Genevan, 27

—— Guthlac’s, 11n

—— Prayer Book, 9n, 39

—— Rolle’s, 13

—— Schorham’s, 13

Purver, A., his translation of the Bible, 97

Purvey, John, Wycliffe’s friend and fellow-labourer, 15


Quotations in early Christian Writings, 87-89


Rainolds, Dr. J., moves for a new revision, 40

Rainolds, Dr. J., appointed one of King James’s revisers, 47

—— works at the revision on his death-bed, 47

Revisers, the American, 114, 116

—— of 1568, 235

—— of 1611, 237

—— of 1881, 109-112

Riddle, Dr. M. B., 115

Roberts, Dr. A., 111

Rogers, John, the probable editor of Matthew’s Bible, 20

Rolle, Richard, 13

Rose, Archdeacon, 106n, 107, 110

Rossi, J. B. de, 100


Sayce, Rev. A. H., 112

Schaff, Dr. Philip, 114, 115

Scholefield, Professor, on an improved translation of the New Testament, 102

Schorham, W. de, 13

Scott, Dean, 111, 125

Scribes, primary function of, 3

Scrivener, Dr. F. H., 56, 100, 111, 120, 125

Selwyn, Canon, 103, 107, 110

Septuagint Version, 6

Short, Dr. C., 115

Sinaitic Manuscript, 82

Smith, Dr. G. Vance, 111, 125

Smith, Dr. H. B., 115, 116

Smith, Dr. J. Pye, his testimony in favour of revision, 101

Smith, Dr. Miles, 47, 49

Smith, Professor, W. R., 112

Stanley, Dean, 107, 111, 125

Stephen, Robert, his editions of the Greek New Testament, 85

Stephen, Henry, 86n
[Pg 247]
Stowe, Dr. C. E., 115

Strong, Dr. J., 115

Syriac Version, 8, 87


Taverner, John, 22n

Taverner, Richard, 22

Testament, New, Genevan, 28

—— Rheims, 33

—— Tyndale’s, 18

—— Whittingham’s, 25

—— See “Bible”

Thayer, Dr. J. H., 115

Thirlwall, Bishop, 105, 106, 110

Tischendorf, Dr. C., 100

Transcription, errors of, 3

Tregelles, Dr. S. P., 100, 109n

Trench, Archbishop, 111, 125

Tyndale, W., his translations, 18

—— his Prologue to New Testament, 137

—— his Epistle to the Reader, 152

—— his Preface to the Pentateuch, 154


Ussher, A., his revised version, 94n


Vatican Manuscript, 83

Van Dyke, Dr. C. V. A., 115

Vaughan, Dean, 111, 125

Version, Æthiopic, 87

—— Armenian, 87

—— Gothic, 87

—— Italic, 8

—— Memphitic, 87

—— Old Latin, 8

—— Septuagint, 6

—— Syriac, 8

—— Thebaic, 87

Vulgate, 9


Wakefield, G., his translation of the New Testament, 98

Walker, Anthony, his Life of Bois, 46n, 49n

Walton’s Polyglot, 99

Ward, Dr. S., 44n

Ward, T., his Errata to the Protestant Bible, 33n, 93

Warren, Dr. W. F., 115, 116

Weir, Dr. D. H., 112

Wemyss, T., his Reasons in favour of a new translation, 102

Westcott, Canon, 22n, 41n, 111, 125

Whittingham’s New Testament, 25

—— his version and the Genevan compared, 28, 29

Wicked Bible, 54n

Wilberforce, Bishop, 105, 106, 111, 125

Woolsey, Dr. T. D., 115

Wordsworth, Dr. Christopher (Bishop of Lincoln), 107, 110

Wordsworth, Dr. Charles (Bishop of St. Andrews), 112, 125

Worsley, J., his translation of the New Testament, 97

Wright, Dr. W., 109n, 112

Wright, Mr. W. A., 110, 113

Wycliffe, John, 13, 14

—— his Bible, 16, 35

—— preface to his Bible, 129


Zurich Bible, 19


W. Brendon and Son, Plymouth.




[1] From the Latin for seventy, this being the supposed number of the translators. It is referred to as the translation of the Seventy Elders so early as the middle of the second century. See Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, c. 68.

[2] See Philo Judæus, Life of Moses, book ii. Josephus, Antiquities, xii. ii. 5, 11, 12, 14. Eusebius, Eccl. Hist., v. 8. Josephus states that the translation was made by seventy-two elders in seventy-two days. The story as given in Eusebius is, that the seventy elders were placed apart in seventy different cells, that each translated the entire Scriptures, and that the seventy translations when compared were found to agree to a word.

[3] And this he gave, not by any formal enactment, but by using Jerome’s translation as the basis of his own Exposition of the Book of Job. (See Gregory’s Letter to Leander, forming the preface to that work.) The old version of the Psalms retained its ground apparently from its close connection with the music of the Church. From a like cause the old version of the English Psalms, which in fact was made from the Latin of the Vulgate, retains its place in the Psalter of the Prayer Book. It should however be noted that it is but the translation of the translation of a translation.

[4] Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, A.D. 709.

[5] “I have seen a book at Crowland Abbey, which is kept there for a relic. The book is called Saint Guthlake’s Psalter, and I weene verily that it is a copy of the same that the king did translate; for it is neither English, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, nor Dutch, but something sounding to our English; and as I have perceived since the time I was last there, being at Antwerp, the Saxon tongue doth sound likewise, and it is to ours partly agreeable.” The answer of John Lambert to the twenty-sixth of the Articles laid against him. (Foxe, Acts and Monuments, vol. v. p. 213.)

[6] The Chronicle of Florence of Worcester, A.D. 699, and A.D. 714.

[7] Many of the clergy were probably at this time unable to interpret the Latin Bibles used in the Church services. Several MSS. exist which have an English translation (gloss) inserted between the lines by writers of the ninth or tenth centuries. One of these, the “Lindisfarne Gospels,” now in the British Museum, is a most richly-adorned MS. It was written by one bishop of Lindisfarne, and ornamented by another, and was encased in jewelled covers. Over each Latin word is written its equivalent in English (Anglo-Saxon). This, as is explained by a note at the end, was done by one “Aldred, the priest,” and, as his handwriting shows, in the tenth century. It cannot be supposed that this was done for the benefit of ordinary readers. So valued a MS. would not be likely to come into any other hands than those of the clergy or the monks.

[8] There is no direct evidence for the existence at an earlier date of any translation of the entire Scriptures into any form of English. In an interesting tract (commonly assigned to the earlier part of the fifteenth century, and printed by Foxe in the first edition of his Acts and Monuments, 1563), entitled, “A Compendious Old Treatise, showing how that we ought to have the Scripture in English.” It is stated, “Also a man of London, whose name was Wyring, had a Bible in English, of northern speech, which was seen of many men, and it seemed to be two hundred years old.” (Foxe, Acts and Monuments, vol. iv. p. 674.) It cannot, however, be inferred from this statement that the volume referred to was a complete Bible.

[9] See Appendix A.

[10] As many as one hundred and fifty manuscripts, containing the whole or parts of Purvey’s Bible, are still in existence, and the majority of these were written within forty years from the time of its completion.—Forshall and Madden, Wycliffite Versions of the Holy Bible, Preface, p. xxxiii.

[11] No portion of the Wycliffe Bible was printed until 1731, when the New Testament, in the later of its forms, was published by the Rev. John Lewis, of Margate. This was reprinted in 1810, under the editorship of the Rev. Henry Baber. The complete Bible was not printed till so recently as 1850, in the splendid volumes issued from the University press of Oxford, and edited by the Rev. J. Forshall and Rev. F. Madden.

[12] The first work known to have been printed with moveable metal type is the Latin Bible, issued from the press of John Gutenberg at Maintz, 1450-55. This Bible is sometimes referred to as the Mazarin Bible, from the accidental circumstance that a copy of it was found about the middle of last century in Cardinal Mazarin’s library at Paris. (Hallam, Literature of Europe, vol. i. p. 210.) With more propriety it may be called the Gutenberg Bible.

[13] See Appendix C.

[14] Mr. Blunt, in his article “English Bible,” in the Encyclopædia Britannica, maintains that Coverdale translated directly from the Hebrew and Greek. But in order to this he has, first, forcibly to set aside the statement on the title-page as “placed there by mistake,” and then to represent Coverdale as including the Hebrew and Greek originals in the same category as Latin, German, and English translations, and as describing them all as “five interpreters” from which he had translated.

[15] This license seems to have been obtained from the king by Cromwell at Cranmer’s suggestion. (See Cranmer’s Letter to Cromwell, August 4th, 1537. Remains and Letters, p. 344. Parker Society.) In this letter Cranmer thus expresses his opinion of the book: “And as for the translation, as far as I have read thereof I like it better than any other translation heretofore made; yet not doubting but that there may be and will be found some fault therein, as you know no man ever did or can do so well, but it may be from time to time amended. And forasmuch as the book is dedicated unto the king’s grace, and also great pains and labour taken in setting forth of the same: I pray you, my lord, that you will exhibit the book unto the king’s highness, and to obtain of his grace, if you can, a license that the same may be sold and read of every person, without danger of any act, proclamation, or ordinance, heretofore granted to the contrary, until such time as we bishops shall set forth a better translation, which I think will not be till a day after doomsday.”

[16] The full title is, “The Byble in Englyshe, that is to saye the content of all the holy scrypture, bothe of the olde and newe testament, truly translated after the veryte of the Hebrue and Greke textes by ye dylygent studye of dyuerse excellent learned men, expert in the forsayde tongues. Prynted by Rychard Grafton and Edward Whitchurch. Cum privilegio ad imprimendum solum. 1539.”

[17] This was more than compensated by the remarkable and interesting engraving, said to be designed by Hans Holbein, which formed the title-page. Herein the king is flattered to his heart’s content. On the top of the engraving the king on his knees and uncrowned is addressed by our Lord in the words, “I have found a man after mine own heart, who shall fulfil all my will.” Below this the king on his throne distributes books labelled “Verbum Dei,” the Word of God, to the clergy with his right hand, to Cromwell and others with the left. Lower down on the right of the page is the figure of Cromwell distributing the books to the laity, and on the left that of Cranmer distributing it to the clergy. At the bottom of the page is a crowd of people of all sorts and conditions, some crying out in Latin, “Vivat Rex” others in English, “God save the king.”

[18] With the title, “The Most Sacred Bible, which is the Holy Scripture, conteyning the old & new testament translated into English, & newly recognised with great diligence after most faythful exemplars, by Rychard Taverner. Harken thou heuen, & thou earth gyve eare: for the Lorde speaketh. Esaie i. Printed at London in Fletestrete at the sygne of the sonne by John Byddell, for Thomas Barthlet. Cum privilegio ad imprimendum solum M.D. XXXIX.”

[19] In Fox, Acts and Monuments, v. 428, amongst the names of “godly brethren at Oxford” suspected of heresy, and compelled to do public penance, mention is made of “Taverner the musician,” of “Friswide College” (Frideswede, now Christ Church); and again, v. 423, Anthony Dalaber says, “I stode at the quier door and heard Master Taverner play.” Dr. Eadie, The English Bible, i. 343, assumes that the reference in this last passage is to Richard Taverner; but far more probably the reference is to John Taverner, who, according to Wood, Athenæ Oxoniensis, i. 124, was “sometime organist of Cardinal College.” I find no other foundation than these doubtful passages for the statement made by Westcott, History of the English Bible, ed. 2, p. 85, and by Eadie, loc. cit., that Richard Taverner was one of those who suffered persecution upon the first circulation of Tyndale’s New Testament.

[20] See Cotton, Editions of the English Bible, p. 21.

[21] From this circumstance the Great Bible is often, but improperly, called Cranmer’s Bible. “The Prologue or Preface made by Thomas Cranmer sometime Archbishop of Canterbury,” is prefixed to many Bibles, to some editions of the Genevan, and to the Bishops.

[22] The dates of these editions, as given in the colophons, are, July, 1540; November, 1540 (1541 on title-page); May, 1541; November, 1541; December, 1541.

[23] He married Catherine, sister of John Calvin. An interesting account of “The Life and Death of Mr. William Whittingham, Deane of Durham, who departed this life A.D. 1579, June 10,” found amongst the papers of Anthony à Wood, preserved in the Bodleian Library, is given by Dr. Lorimer, John Knox and the Church of England, pp. 303-317.

[24] The dedication to the queen, prefixed to this volume, is dated Geneva, February 10th, 1559. After exhorting the queen to persevere in the reformation of religion, the writers state that “albeit they had begun more than a year ago to peruse the English Translation of the Bible, and to bring it to the pure simplicity and true meaning of the Spirit of God, yet when they heard that Almighty God had miraculously preserved her to that most excellent dignity, with most joyful minds and great diligence they endeavoured themselves to set forth this most excellent Book of the Psalms unto her Grace as a special token of their service and goodwill till the rest of the Bible, which was in good readiness, should be accomplished and presented.” (Anthony Johnson, Historical Account of the Several English Translations of the Bible. Reprinted in Watson’s Collection of Theological Tracts, vol. iii. p. 87.)


verse. 1557.   1560.
1. out of the way   apart
3. they saw   there appeared unto them
4. here is good beying for us   it is good for us to be here
5. that cloude   the cloude
  my deare sonne   my beloved sonne
  in whom I delyte   in whom I am well pleased
6. were afrayed   were sore afrayde
7. But Jesus   Then Jesus
8. loked up   lifted up their eyes
9. See that ye shewe   Shewe
  be risen   rise
  death   the dead
11. Jesus   And Jesus
12. lusted   would
  In like wise   likewise
14. people   multitude
15. mercie   pitie
  oft   ofttimes
17. Jesus   Then Jesus
  how long (bis).   how long now (bis)
18. came out   went out
  even that same   at that
19. secrectly   apart
20. Jesus   And Jesus
  if ye had   if ye have
  ye should   ye shall
  it should   it shall
  neither could anything   and nothing shall
  for you to do   unto you
22. As they   And as they
  passed the time   abode
  betraied   delivered
23. and the thyrd   but the third
  sorowed greatly   were verie sorie
24. were wont to gather   received
25. spake first to him   prevented
27. thyne angle   an angle
  the fyshe that first   the first fish that
  pay   give it unto them

[26] Strype also tells us that the expenses of publication were borne chiefly by John Bodley, father of Sir Thomas Bodley, the founder of the Bodleian Library at Oxford.—Life of Parker, p. 206.

[27] It is very pleasant to read that, notwithstanding this, Parker joined with Grindal, Bishop of London, in pleading for an extension of the patent granted to Bodley, in order to enable him to publish the new edition of the Genevan referred to above. Writing, March 9th, 1565, to Cecil, the Queen’s Secretary, the Archbishop and Bishop say, “That they thought so well of the first Impression, and the Review of those who had since travelled therein, that they wisht it would please him to be a Means, that Twelve Years longer Term might be by Special Privilege granted him, in consideration of the Charges by him and his Associates in the first Impression, and the Review sithence sustained. And that tho’ one other special Bible for the Churches were meant by them to be set forth, as convenient Time and Leisure hereafter should permit, yet should it nothing hinder, but rather do much good, to have Diversity of Translations and Readings.”—Strype, Life of Parker, p. 207, Folio Edition.

[28] See Appendix G.

[29] Pagninus was a learned Dominican, who published at Lyons, in 1528, a new translation in Latin of the Old and New Testaments.

[30] Strype, Life of Parker, Appendix, p. 139.

[31] Ibid, p. 399.

[32] In an attack made upon Protestant versions of the Scriptures by Thomas Ward, in the reign of James II., or three-quarters of a century after the publication of the Authorized Version, the writer selects his examples from Genevan Bibles of the years 1562, 1577, and 1579, and speaks of this Bible as “well known in England even to this day, as being yet in many men’s hands.”—Errata to the Protestant Bible, p. 19, ed. 1737.

[33] The Old Testament was not published till long afterwards, when the College was once more settled at Douai. It is hence called the Douai Bible. The first volume was published in 1609, and the second in 1610. In the preface it is stated that the translation was made “about thirtie yeares since.”

[34] Amongst the former are advent, allegory, anathema, assumption, calumniate, co-operate, evangelize, eunuch, gratis, holocaust, neophyte, paraclete, pentecost, victim. Amongst the latter are agnition, azymes, commessation, condigne, contristate, depositum, donaries, exinanited, parasceue, pasche, prefinition, loaves of proposition, repropitiate, superedified.

[35] Compare the word “leasowes,” still used in some parts of the country for “meadows.”

[36] “Of all the English versions, the Bishops’ Bible had probably the least success. It did not command the respect of scholars, and its size and cost were far from meeting the wants of the people. Its circulation appears to have been practically limited to the churches which were ordered to be supplied with it.”—Dr. Plumptre, Dictionary of the Bible, vol. iii. p. 1,675.

[37] His name is variously spelt Rainolds, Rainoldes, Reinolds, Reynolds.

[38] See Dr. William Barlow’s Sum and Substance of the Conference which it pleased his Excellent Majesty to have with the Lords Bishops, and others of his Clergy, in his Majesty’s Privy Chamber at Hampton Court, Jan. 1603 (o.s.). Reprinted in The Phenix: or a Revival of Scarce and Valuable Pieces, p. 157. Lond. 1707.

[39] Rendered in the Bishops’ and the Great Bible, “and bordereth upon the city which is now called Jerusalem,” instead of, “and answered to Jerusalem which now is.”

[40] Rendered in the Great Bible and Prayer Book Psalter, “they were not obedient,” instead of, “they were not disobedient,” as in Genevan, or “they rebelled not,” as in our present Bibles.

[41] Rendered in the Great Bible and Prayer Book Psalter, “and prayed,” instead of, “and executed judgment.”

[42] See Lewis, History of the English Translations of the Bible, p. 313; or Eadie, The English Bible, vol. ii. p. 180; or Westcott, History of the English Bible, p. 113. The king’s letter is given in full by Cardwell, Documentary Annals of the Reformed Church of England, vol. ii. p. 65, ed. 1839.

[43] For the names of the Revisers of 1611 see Appendix H.

[44] That is, the Great Bible; called Whitchurch’s, from the name of one of the printers.

[45] Burnet, History of the Reformation, part ii., Appendix, p. 368, ed. 1681.

[46] One of whom, Dr. Samuel Ward, had himself taken part in the English revision.

[47] Tables of Genealogies and a description of the Holy Land are found prefixed to many early editions of King James’s Bible.

[48] Acta Synodi Dordrechti habitæ, p. 19, ed. 1620.

[49] Cardwell, Documentary Annals, vol. ii. p. 68, ed. 1839.

[50] See Appendix F.

[51] For a list of the Revisers see Appendix H.

[52] In some cases, however, this further subdivision of work seems to have taken place. Anthony Walker, in his Life of John Bois, p. 47 (reprinted in Peck’s Desiderata Curiosa), says: “Sure I am that Part of the Apocrypha was allotted to him (for he hath showed me the very copy he translated by), but to my Grief I know not what part.” Bois was a member of the company to which the Apocrypha was assigned. Walker goes on to say, “All the time he was about his own Part, his Commons were given to him at St. Johns, where he abode all the week till Saturday night; and then he went home to discharge his Cure, returning thence on Monday morning. When he had finished his own part, at the earnest request of him to whom it was assigned he undertook a Second, and then he was to common in another College. But I forbear to name both the person and the House.”

[53] The bare fact that the Oxford Revisers met in Rainolds’ lodgings is mentioned by Wood, Historia Univ. Oxon., vol. i. p. 311, and is referred to by Stoughton, Our English Bible, p. 248.

[54] Fuller’s Abel Redivivus, p. 487. In his Church History, book x. p. 48, Fuller says of Rainolds that he was a man deserving of the epitaph. “Incertum est utrum Doctior an Melior.” “We know not which was the greater, his learning or his goodness.”

[55] Peck, Desiderata Curiosa, p. 47.

[56] It is clear, from the words which immediately follow, that the writer uses the word “company” here for the entire number of translators belonging to any one of the three centres. In the written account presented to the Synod of Dort by the English delegates, it is said that twelve persons, selected out of the companies, met together, and reviewed and corrected the entire work. Wood also (Athenæ Oxon., vol. i. p. 490) gives twelve as the number of the “selected,” and amongst them includes Bilson and Miles Smith.

[57] The writer quaintly remarks in a parenthesis, “Though Mr. Downes would not go till he was either fetcht or threatened with the Pursuivant.”

[58] Lewis (History of the English Translations of the Bible, p. 323) by a strange blunder turns these shillings into pounds.

[59] Walker adds, “Whilst they were employed in this last business, he and he only took notes of their proceedings, which notes he kept till his dying day.” If these notes could be recovered they would throw much light upon many points of interest in connection with the Revision of 1611.

[60] Fuller, Church History, book x. p. 57.

[61] See Mr. Henry Stevens, Printed Bibles in the Caxton Exhibition, p. 110. But if Mr. Stevens be right in this contention, the publisher can scarcely be held free from the charge of false suggestion, since the phrase occurs in earlier Bibles in the sense which it most naturally bears. In the edition of the Great Bible dated April, 1540, we have on the title-page: “This is the Byble apoynted to the use of the churches,” and the meaning of this is shown by the fuller form that appears in the title-page of the edition of November, 1540, “auctorysed and apoynted by the commaundement of oure moost redoubted Prynce and soveraygne Lorde Kynge Henrye the VIII. ... to be frequented and used in every churche within this his sayd realme.” An edition of the Bishops’ Bible dated 1585 has the inscription, “Authorized and appointed to be read in Churches;” and King Charles II.’s Declaration to all His Loving Subjects, is “Appointed to to be Read in all Churches and Chapels within this kingdom.”

[62] The latest quarto edition of the Genevan published in England bears the date 1615, the latest folio, 1616.

[63] This edition has hence been described by Bible collectors as the “Wicked Bible.” The error was of course speedily discovered and the edition suppressed. Archbishop Laud fined the printer in the sum of £300, and with this he is said to have bought a fount of Greek type for the University of Oxford.

[64] In the reign of Charles II. a silly report was set afloat that Field, the printer of what is known as the Pearl Bible of 1653, had received a present of £1,500 from the Independents to introduce this corruption into the text. See D’Israeli’s Curiosities of Literature, Art. Pearl Bible. Mr. D’Israeli must have been ignorant of the fact that this error occurs in Bibles printed fifteen years earlier than the Pearl Bible, and by the University Press, Cambridge.

[65] This may possibly have been a change deliberately made by the editor, who either had a different Greek text or followed the Vulgate; but even in that case it would be a very awkward way of rendering the text before him.

[66] This he has done, professedly, in the attempt to represent the version of 1611, “so far as may be, in the precise shape that it would have assumed if its venerable translators had shown themselves more exempt than they were from the failings incident to human infirmity; or if the same severe accuracy which is now demanded in carrying so important a volume through the press had been deemed requisite, or was at all usual in their age.”—Introduction to Cambridge Paragraph Bible, p. i.

[67] The LXX. and Vulgate are here right; so also Wycliffe, who, translating from the Latin, renders, “Seven trompes, whos vse is in the iubile.”

[68] Wycliffe, “Stronge men seseden in Yrael.”

[69] Here again the LXX., Vulgate, and Wycliffe are right. Wycliffe renders, “of whom shulen be alle the best thingis of Yrael.”

[70] The LXX., Vulgate, Wycliffe, the Great Bible, the Genevan, and the Bishops’, all give the true sense.

[71] In their rendering of verse 3 the Revisers of 1611 have followed the Genevan. Of the older versions, the Great Bible best renders this verse, “All my delyte is upon the saynctes that are in the earth, and upon suche as excell in vertue.”

[72] The Vulgate leads the way in this error.

[73] Tyndale, the Great Bible, and the Genevan render correctly.

[74] So the Rheims, “Why do you also trangresse the commaundement of God for your tradition?”

[75] So Wycliffe, “for they ben feithful and loued, the whiche ben parceners of benefice;” and the Rheims, “because they be faithful and beloued which are partakers of the benefite.”

[76] Here all the older versions go wrong.

[77] The first four books of the Annals of Tacitus are found only in a single MS. (the Medicean) of the eleventh century. The nine books of the Letters of Pliny the Younger are found complete in one MS. only, of the tenth century; this also is in the Medicean Library.

[78] From the Latin uncia, an inch.

[79] In some MSS. called palimpsests, the more ancient, and to us the more valuable, writing has been partially washed away, in order that the vellum might be used again for some more recent work. In these cases it is exceedingly difficult to decipher, beneath the later and darker writing, the traces of the older writing; indeed, not unfrequently the characters are so faded that they cannot be read at all until revived by some chemical preparation. The Ephraem Codex is a MS. of this kind.

[80] Commonly referred to under the symbol א, the Hebrew letter, Aleph.

[81] Referred to as B.

[82] Referred to as A.

[83] Referred to as C.

[84] Referred to as D of the Gospels.

[85] Referred to as D of the Epistles.

[86] The License for its publication was not granted until March 20, 1520.

[87] Namely, his sole authority for the Apocalypse.

[88] He had previously published two smaller editions (16mo), one in 1546, and another in 1549.

[89] Now called the Codex Regius, and denoted by L.

[90] The collation of the eight Parisian MSS. was done for him by his son Henry, then a youth of eighteen.

[91] At Geneva, whither he had deemed it prudent to remove shortly after the publication of his celebrated edition of the Greek New Testament.

[92] Works, vol. vi. p. 194.

[93] The draft of this Bill is preserved in the State Paper Office (Domestic Interreg., Bundle 662, f. 12), and is given in full by Dr. Stoughton, Church of the Commonwealth, p. 543.

[94] Errata to the Protestant Bible, Pref. p. 3., ed. 1737.

[95] In the library of Trinity College, Dublin, there is a manuscript in three volumes of an English version of the Bible, by Ambrose Ussher, brother of Archbishop Ussher. The date assigned to it is about 1620. It does not, however, seem to be in any proper sense a revision of the version of 1611, but rather an independent revision based upon the earlier versions. In an “epistle dedicatorie” to James I. the writer describes himself as having “leisurelie and seasonablie dressed” and “served out this other dish” while His Majesty was “a doing on” the “seasonable sudden meale” which the translators had hastily prepared. He further states that he did not oppose “to our new translation old interpretationes alreadie waighed and reiected,” but “fresh and new that yeeld new consideration and that fight not onlie with our English Bible, but likelie with all translated bibles in what language soeuer and contrarieth them.” As far as can be gathered from the examination of a single chapter, the work seems chiefly based upon the Genevan. The version is incomplete. Vol. i. contains Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua (imperfect), Judges, Ruth, Samuel; vol. ii. contains Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah (imperfect), Esther, and a Latin version of part of Joshua; vol. iii. contains Job, Psalms (partly in Latin), Proverbs, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel (partly in Latin), the Minor Prophets, the first chapter of St. John’s Gospel, Romans, Corinthians, Philemon, James, Peter, John, Apocalypse (partly in Latin), Jude.—Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, Fourth Report, pp. 589-598.

[96] The Life and Death of Mr. Henry Jessey, p. 47.

[97] Mace’s rendering of James iii. 5, 6 is the passage most frequently quoted in illustration of his style. “So the tongue is but a small part of the body, yet how grand are its pretensions, a spark of fire! what quantities of timber will it blow into a flame? the tongue is a brand that sets the world in a combustion, it is but one of the numerous organs of the body, yet it can blast whole assemblies: tipped with infernal sulphur it sets the whole train of life in a blaze.” It is but right, however, to state that this is perhaps the very worst passage in the book. The following verses are a fair specimen of his ordinary style. Acts xix. 8, 9: “At length Paul went to the synagogue, where he spoke with great freedom, and for three months he conferred with them to persuade them of the truth of the evangelical kingdom, but some of them being such obdurate infidels as to inveigh against the institution before the populace, he retired, and taking the disciples with him, he instructed them daily in the school of one Tyrannus.”

A yet more offensive specimen of this style of translation was supplied by the New Testament published in 1768, by E. Harwood, and entitled, A literal translation of the New Testament, being an attempt to translate the Sacred Writings with the same Freedom, Spirit, and Elegance with which other English Translations from the Greek Classics have lately been executed; a work which, however faithfully it may represent the inflated and stilted style which then prevailed, can now be read only with astonishment and disgust.

[98] Worsley died before the publication of the volume. It was edited by M. Bradshaw and S. Worsley.

[99] In 3 vols., 8vo. A second edition in 2 vols., 8vo., was published in 1795. Memoirs of Gilbert Wakefield, vol. i. p. 355; vol. ii. p. 468.

[100] The work was intended to form eight vols. 4to.

[101] Scrivener, Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament, p. 397.

[102] Eclectic Review, January, 1809, p. 31.

[103] Lectures on the Criticism and Interpretation of the Bible, p. 297, ed. 1828. The italics are Dr. Marsh’s own.

[104] The members of this first joint Committee were Dr. Wilberforce, Dr. Ellicott, Dr. Thirlwall, Dr. Ollivant, Dr. E. H. Browne (Bishop of Ely), Dr. Chr. Wordsworth (Bishop of Lincoln), and Dr. G. Moberly (Bishop of Salisbury); Dr. Bickersteth (the Prolocutor); Deans Alford, Jeremie, and Stanley; Archdeacons Rose, Freeman, and Grant; Chancellor Massingberd; Canons Blakesley, How, Selwyn, Swainson, and Woodgate; Dr. Kay, Dr. Jebb, and Mr. De Winton.

[105] The Convocation of York declined to take part in the revision, on the ground that in their judgment the time was unfavourable for such a work.

[106] Canon Selwyn had persistently advocated the claims of revision, and had brought it before the Notice of the Lower House of Convocation so early as March 1st, 1856. Notice of a renewed motion on the question had been given by him for the meeting of Convocation on February, 1870, and was only withdrawal when superseded by the proposal sent down on February 11th from the Upper House.

[107] Canon Cook, Dr. J. H. Newman, Canon Pusey, and Dr. W. Wright. Dr. Wright, however, subsequently joined the Old Testament Company.

[108] Dr. S. P. Tregelles.

[109] Now Bishop of Winchester.

[110] Now Dean of Canterbury.

[111] Now Dean of Peterborough.

[112] Now D.D.

[113] Now Bursar.

[114] Now Dean of Lichfield.

[115] Now Dean of Lincoln.

[116] Now D.D. and Hulsean Professor of Divinity, Cambridge.

[117] Now Bishop of Durham.

[118] Now D.D., and Master of the Leys School, Cambridge.

[119] Now D.D., Principal of New College, London, and Lee Professor of Divinity.

[120] Now Professor of Humanity, St. Andrews.

[121] Now Dean of Rochester.

[122] Now LL.D.

[123] Now Principal of the Presbyterian College, Carmarthen.

[124] Now also Dean of Llandaff.

[125] Now also Regius Professor of Divinity, Cambridge.

[126] Now Lady Margaret Preacher, Cambridge.

[127] Now Archdeacon of Oxford.

[128] Corresponding Member.

[129] These have been thus distributed:

Bishop of Gloucester   405
Dr. Scrivener   399
Mr. Humphry   385
Dr. Newth   373
Dr. Hort   362
Dean of Lichfield   352
Dean of Rochester   337
Canon Westcott   304
Dean of Llandaff   302
Dean of Lincoln   297
Bishop of Durham   290
Archdeacon Lee   283
Dr. Moulton   271
Archdeacon Palmer   255
Dean of Westminster   253
Dr. Vance Smith   245
Dr. Brown   209
Dr. Angus   199
Dr. Milligan   182
Canon Kennedy   165
Dr. Eadie   135
Bishop of Salisbury   121
Bishop of St. Andrews   109
Dr. Roberts   94
Archbishop of Dublin   63
Dean Merivale   19
Dean Alford   16
Bishop Wilberforce   1

[130] As the original would be very obscure to many of my readers, I have somewhat reluctantly decided to give the modern spelling and the modern equivalent for obsolete words.

[131] Psalm lxxxvii. 6 is thus rendered in the Wycliffite versions, after the Vulgate and LXX. The LXX. here differs from the Hebrew.

[132] The word Judah, from which “Jew” is derived, is from a Hebrew verb, meaning “to praise.” (See Gen. xxix. 35; xlix. 8.)

[133] By “sentence” Purvey commonly means “sense,” or “meaning.”

[134] That is, if he examine many copies, and especially those of recent date.

[135] Augustine, Christian Doctrine, book ii., c. xi.

[136] Bohemians.

[137] Augustine, Christian Doctrine, b. ii. c. xii.

[138] Wisdom, iv. 3.

[139] This Prologue contains but little in the way of historical information. It has this especial interest, that it is the preface of the first printed portion of the English Bible.

[140] Imitate.

[141] Changed in later editions, first into “To the diligent and Christian Reader. Grace, mercie, and peace, through Christ Jesus,” and then “To the Christian Reader” simply.

[142] Whittingham had previously done the same in his New Testament of 1557. In his address “To the Reader” he says: “And because the Hebrewe and Greke phrases, which are strange to rendre in other tongues, and also short, shulde not be to hard, I haue sometyme interpreted them without any whit diminishing the grace of the sense, as our lāgage doth vse them, and sometyme have put to that worde which lacking made the sentence obscure, but haue set it in such letters as may easily be discerned from the cōmun text.”

In some later editions of the Genevan Bible, printed in black letter, this clause is altered into “wee have put in the text between these two markes [ ] such worde or verbe as doth more properlie explane or manifest the text in our tongue.”

[143] To the end that.

[144] ἔξο βέλους

[145] σεισάχθειαν

[146] Circa annum 900. B. Rhenan. rerum German lib. 2.

[147] Strype, Life of Parker, b. iv. c. 20; Johnson, Historical Account, p. 87; Burnet, History of the Reformation, part ii. book iii. p. 406, ed. 1681.

[148] The Psalms were in the first instance assigned to Guest, Bishop of Rochester. It is probable that the Archbishop was dissatisfied with Guest’s work, and on good grounds, for he despatched it very quickly, and forwarded it to the Archbishop with a letter, in which he thus sets forth his estimate of his duty as a translator: “I have not altered the Translation but where it giveth occasion of an error. As in the first Psalm, at the beginning I turn the preterperfect tense into the present tense; because the tense is too hard in the preterperfect tense. Where in the New Testament one piece of a Psalm is reported, I translate it in the Psalm according to the translation thereof in the New Testament, for the avoiding of the offence that may rise to the people upon diverse translations.” (Strype, Life of Parker, b. iii. c. 6; Parker Correspondence, Parker, sec. ed. p. 250.)

[149] Parker Correspondence, Parker, sec. ed. p. 335.

[150] Hist. of Ref., part ii. book iii. p. 406, ed. 1681.

[151] Collection of Records, part ii. book iii. number 10.

[152] Probably a misprint for Harmer.

[153] Cardwell, Documentary Annals, vol. ii. p. 110.

[154] Barlow was present at the Hampton Court Conference in January, 1601, and all accounts describe him as then Dean of Chester; and his narrative of the Conference, published in 1604, is described as “contracted by William Barlow, Doctor of Divinity, and Dean of Chester.” Sir Peter Leycester, Hist. Antiq. of Cheshire, p. 169, states that Barlow was appointed Dean in 1603.

[155] Bishop of Chichester, November 3rd, 1605; Bishop of Ely, 1609; Bishop of Winchester, 1619.

[156] Bishop of Lichfield, April, 1614; Bishop of Norwich, 1618.

[157] Subsequently Regius Professor of Hebrew, Cambridge.

[158] Lively died May, 1605, and hence could not have taken any active part in the Revision.

[159] Afterwards D.D., and successively Master of Peterhouse and of Trinity College.

[160] Succeeded Dr. Duport in the Mastership of Jesus College, Cambridge.

[161] Succeeded Mr. Lively as Regius Professor of Hebrew.

[162] Afterwards Rector of Exeter College, Oxford.

[163] Afterwards Bishop of Gloucester.

[164] Master of Sidney College, January, 1609; Archdeacon of Taunton, 1615; Vice-Chancellor, Cambridge, 1620; Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity, 1621.

[165] Afterwards D.D., Prebendary of Chichester, and Rector of Bishop’s Waltham, Hants.

[166] Bishop of Gloucester, March 19th, 1605; Bishop of London, May 18th, 1607.

[167] Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, 1609; Bishop of London, 1610.

[168] Died November, 1604, and hence could have taken no part in the work of the Company. His name is not mentioned by Wood in the list given in Hist. et Antiq. Univ. Oxon., i. p. 311, ed. 1674.

[169] Knighted at Windsor, September 21st, 1604.

[170] Wood, Athenæ Oxoniensis, i. 355.

[171] Ibid, i. 570.

[172] Subsequently, on the death of Rainolds, President of Corpus Christi College. Dr. Westcott, History of English Bible, sec. ed. p. 117, and Dr. Moulton, History of English Bible, p. 196, both have Dr. T. Spencer, but his name, as inscribed on the monument in the Chapel of Corpus Christi College, is IOHANNES SPENSER, and is so given by Wood.