Early Editions Of The Authorized Version Of The Bible. -- By: Edward W. Gilmax

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 016:61 (Jan 1859)
Article: Early Editions Of The Authorized Version Of The Bible.
Author: Edward W. Gilmax

Early Editions Of The Authorized Version Of The Bible.

Rev. Edward W. Gilmax.

Recent events in this country have directed public attention to the desirableness of securing a perfect standard text of the version of the Scriptures now in common use, and have led to many inquiries concerning the exact form in

which King James’s translators committed their work to the public. The earliest editions, of course, are rare, and the opportunities of comparing them side by side, are exceedingly limited. Twenty-five or thirty years ago there was such a state of feeling in Great Britain in respect to alleged departures from the original version, that the delegates of the Clarendon press at Oxford published, in 1833, “an exact re-print, in Roman letter, of the Authorized Version published in the year 1611 in large black letter, folio;” a reprint “so exact as to agree with the original edition page for page and letter for letter; retaining, throughout, the ancient mode of spelling and punctuation, and even the most manifest errors of the press.” This measure quieted the excitement then prevailing; and, while it showed that changes had crept into the text in the course of two and a quarter centuries, it gave satisfactory evidence that some of those changes were indispensable, and that no one would be satisfied to retain all the peculiarities of the earliest editions. There are, however, some points on which that republication shed no light, which will be treated in this Article.

After the translators appointed by King James had devoted to their work the labor of “twice seven times seventy-two days, and more,” it was sent to London to be reviewed and perfected by a smaller committee of revision; and finally was published under the editorial care of Drs. Bilson and Smith, by whom the preface and the heads of chapters were prepared. The general principles by which the translators were to be guided in their work were laid down by the King, who prescribed the following rules among others.

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

2. The names of the prophets and the holy writers, with the other names in the text, to be retained as near as may be, accordingly as they are vulgarly used.

3. The old ecclesiastical words to be kept, as the word church not to be translated congregation.

4. When any word hath divers significations, that to be kept which hath been most commonly used by the most eminent Fathers, being agreeable to the propriety of the place and the ana...

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