The King James Bible Born Amid the
Great Struggles Over the Jesuit Version
THE hour had arrived, and from the human point of view, conditions were perfect, for God to bring forth a translation of the Bible which would sum up in itself the best of the ages. The heavenly Father foresaw the opportunity of giving His Word to the inhabitants of earth by the coming of the British Empire with its dominions scattered throughout the world, and by the great American Republic, both speaking the English language. Not only was the English language by 1611 in a more opportune condition than it had ever been before or ever would be again, but the Hebrew and the Greek likewise had been brought up with the accumulated treasures of their materials to a splendid working point. The age was not distracted by the rush of mechanical and industrial achievements. Moreover linguistic scholarship was at its peak. Men of giant minds, supported by excellent physical health, had possessed in a splendid state of perfection a knowledge of the languages and literature necessary for the ripest Biblical scholarship.
One hundred and fifty years of printing had permitted the Jewish rabbis to place at the disposal of scholars all the treasures in the Hebrew tongue which they had been accumulating for over two thousand years. In the words of the learned Professor E. C. Bissell:
"There ought to be no doubt that in the text which we inherit from the Massoretes, and they from the Talmudists, and they in turn from a period when versions and paraphrases of the Scriptures in other languages now accessible to us were in common use — the same text being transmitted to this period from the time of Ezra under the peculiarly sacred seal of the Jewish canon — we have a substantially correct copy of the original documents, and one worthy of all confidence."(1)
We are told that the revival of Massoretic studies in more recent times was the result of the vast learning and energy of Buxtorf, of Basle.(2) He had given the benefits of his Hebrew accomplishments in time to be used by the translators of the King James Version. And we have the word of a leading Revisionist, highly recommended by Bishop Ellicott, that it is not to the credit of Christian scholarship that so little has been done in Hebrew researches during the past 300 years.(3)
What is true of the Hebrew is equally true of the Greek. The Unitarian scholar who sat on the English New Testament Revision Committee, acknowledged that the Greek New Testament of Erasmus (1516) is as good as any.(4) It should be pointed out that Stephens (A.D. 1550), then Beza (1598), and Elzevir (1624), all, subsequently printed editions of the same Greek New Testament. Since the days of Elzevir it has been called the Received Text, or from the Latin, Textus Receptus. Of it Dr. A. T. Robertson also says:
"It should be stated at once that the Textus Receptus is not a bad text. It is not a heretical text. It is substantially correct."(5)
Again: "Erasmus seemed to feel that he had published the original Greek New Testament as it was written... The third edition of Erasmus (1522) became the foundation of the Textus Receptus for Britain since it was followed by Stephens. There were 3300 copies of the first two editions of the Greek New Testament of Erasmus circulated. His work became the standard for three hundred years."(6)
This text is and has been for 300 years the best known and most widely used. It has behind it all the Protestant scholarship of nearly three centuries. It ought to be pointed out that those who seem eager to attack the King James and the Greek behind it, when the enormous difficulties of the Revised Greek Testament are pointed out, will claim the Revised Text is all right because it is like the Greek New Testament from which the King James was translated: on the other hand, when they are not called to account, they will say belittling things about the Received Text and the scholars who translated the King James Bible.
Better Condition of English Language in 1611
We now come, however, to a very striking situation which is little observed and rarely mentioned by those who discuss the merits of the King James Bible. The English language in 1611 was in the very best condition to receive into its bosom the Old and New Testaments. Each word was broad, simple, and generic. That is to say, words were capable of containing in themselves not only their central thoughts, but also all the different shades of meaning which were attached to that central thought. Since then, words have lost that living, pliable breadth. Vast additions have been made to the English vocabulary during the past 300 years, so that several words are now necessary to convey the same meaning which formerly was conveyed by one. It will be readily seen that while the English vocabulary has increased in quantity, nevertheless, single words have lost their many shades, combinations of words have become fixed, capable of only one meaning, and therefore less adaptable to receiving into English the thoughts of the Hebrew which likewise is a simple, broad, generic language. New Testament Greek is, in this respect, like the Hebrew. When our English Bible was revised, the Revisers labored under the impression that the sacred writers of the Greek New Testament did not write in the everyday language of the common people. Since then the accumulated stores of archaeological findings have demonstrated that the language of the Greek New Testament was the language of the simple, ordinary people, rather than the language of scholars; and is flexible, broad, generic, like the English of 1611. Or in the words of another:
"It is sometimes regretted that our modern English has lost, or very nearly lost, its power of inflection; but whatever may have been thus lost to the ear has been more than compensated to the sense, by our wealth of finely shaded auxiliary words. There is no differentiation of wish, will, condition, supposition, potentiality, or possibility representable in syllables of human speech, or conceivable to the mind of man, which cannot be precisely put in some form of our English verb. But here, again, our power of precision has been purchased at a certain cost. For every form of our verbal combinations has now come to have its own peculiar and appropriate sense, and no other; so that, when we use any one of those forms, it is understood by the hearer or reader that we intend the special sense of that form, and of that alone. In this respect, as in the specific values of our synonyms, we encounter a self-evident difficulty in the literal translation of the Scriptures into modern English. For there is no such refinement of tense and mood in the Hebrew language; and, although the classical Greek was undoubtedly perfect in its inflections, the writers of the New Testament were either ignorant of its powers, or were not capable of using them correctly."(7)
The above writer then points out that the authors of the New Testament did not always use that tense of the Greek verb, called the aorist, in the same rigid, specific sense, in which the Revisers claim they had done. Undoubtedly, in a general way, the sacred writers understood the meaning of the aorist as distinguished from the perfect and imperfect; but they did not always use it so specifically as the Revisers claim. I continue from the same writer:
"The self-imposed rule of the Revisers required them invariably to translate the aoristic forms by their closest English equivalents; but the vast number of cases in which they have forsaken their own rule shows that it could not be followed without in effect changing the meaning of the original; and we may add that to whatever extent that rule has been slavishly followed, to that extent the broad sense of the original has been marred. The Sacred writers wrote with a broad brush; the pen of the Revisers was a finely pointed stylus. The living pictures of the former furnish a grand panorama of providential history; the drawing of the latter is the cunning work of fine engravers, wrought in hair lines, and on polished plates of steel. The Westminster Version is not, and, as its purpose was conceived by the Revisers, could not be made, anything like a photograph of the originals. The best of photographs lacks life and color, but it does produce the broad effects of light and shade. It has no resemblance to the portrait of the Chinese artist, who measures each several feature with the compass, and then draws it by the scale. The work of the Revisers is a purely Chinese work of art, in which the scale and compass are applied to microscopic niceties, with no regard whatever to light and shade, or to the life and color of their subject. It follows that the more conscientiously their plan was followed, the more certainly must they fail to produce a lifelike rendering of the living word of the original."(8)
Origin of the King James Version
After the life and death struggles with Spain, and the hard fought battle to save the English people from the Jesuit Bible of 1582, victorious Protestantism took stock of its situation and organized for the new era which had evidently dawned. A thousand ministers, it is said, sent in a petition, called the Millenary Petition, to King James who had now succeeded Elizabeth as sovereign. One author describes the petition as follows:
"The petition craved reformation of sundry abuses in the worship, ministry, revenue, and discipline of the national Church... Among other of their demands, Dr. Reynolds, who was the chief speaker in their behalf, requested that there might be a new translation of the Bible, without note or comment."(9)
The strictest element of Protestantism, the Puritan, we conclude, was at the bottom of this request for a new and accurate translation, and the Puritan element on the committee appointed was strong.(10)
The language of the Jesuit Bible had stung the sensibilities and the scholarship of Protestants. In the preface of that book it had criticized and belittled the Bible of the Protestants. The Puritans felt that the corrupted version of the Rheimists was spreading poison among the people, even as formerly by withholding the Bible, Rome had starved the people.(11)
The Unrivaled Scholarship of the Reformers
The first three hundred years of the Reformation produced a grand array of scholars, who have never since been surpassed, if indeed they have been equaled. Melanchthon, the coworker of Luther, was of so great scholarship that Erasmus expressed admiration for his attainments. By his organization of schools throughout Germany and by his valuable textbooks, he exercised for many years a more powerful influence than any other teacher. Hallam said that far above all others he was the founder of general learning throughout Europe. His Latin grammar was "almost universally adopted in Europe, running through fifty-one editions and continuing until 1734," that is, for two hundred years it continued to be the textbook even in Roman Catholic schools of Saxony. Here the names might be added of Beza, the great scholar and coworker with Calvin, of Bucer, of Cartwright, of the Swiss scholars of the Reformation, of a host of others who were unsurpassed in learning in their day and have never been surpassed since.
It was said of one of the translators of the King James that "such was his skill in all languages, especially the Oriental, that had he been present at the confusion of tongues at Babel, he might have served as Interpreter-General."(12) In view of the vast stores of material which were available to verify the certainty of the Bible at the time of the Reformation, and the prodigious labors of the Reformers in this material for a century, it is very erroneous to think that they had not been sufficiently overhauled by 1611.
It is an exaggerated idea, much exploited by those who are attacking the Received Text, that we of the present have greater resources of information, as well as more valuable, than had the translators of 1611. The Reformers themselves considered their sources of information perfect. Doctor Fulke says:
"But as for the Hebrew and Greek that now is, (it) may easily be proved to be the same that always hath been; neither is there any diversity in sentence, howsoever some copies, either through negligence of the writer, or by any other occasion, do vary from that which is commonly and most generally received in some letters, syllables, or words."(13)
We cannot censure the Reformers for considering their sources of information sufficient and authentic enough to settle in their minds the infallible inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, since we have a scholar of repute to-day rating their material as high as the material of the present. Doctor Jacobus thus indicates the relative value of information available to Jerome, to the translators of the King James, and to the Revisers of 1900:
"On the whole, the differences in the matter of the sources available in 390, 1590, and 1890 are not very serious."(14)
Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, and Sinaiticus
So much has been said about the Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, and Sinaitic Manuscripts being made available since 1611, that a candid examination ought to be given to see if it is all really as we have repeatedly been told.
The Alexandrinus Manuscript arrived in London in 1627, we are informed, just sixteen years too late for use by the translators of the King James. We would humbly inquire if a manuscript must dwell in the home town of scholars in order for them to have the use of its information? If so, then the Revisers of 1881 and 1901 were in a bad way. Who donated the Alexandrinus Manuscript to the British Government? It was Cyril Lucar, the head of the Greek Catholic Church. Why did he do it? What was the history of the document before he did it? An answer to these inquiries opens up a very interesting chapter of history.
Cyril Lucar (1568-1638) born in the east, early embraced the principles of the Reformation, and for it, was pursued all his life by the Jesuits. He spent some time at Geneva with Beza and Calvin. When holding an important position in Lithuania, he opposed the union of the Greek Church there and in Poland with Rome. In 1602 he was elected Patriarch of Alexandria, Egypt, where the Alexandrinus MS had been kept for years. It seems almost certain that this great biblical scholar would have been acquainted with it. Thus he was in touch with this manuscript before the King James translators began work. Later he was elected the head of the Greek Catholic Church. He wrote a confession of faith which distinguished between the canonical and apocryphal books. He was thoroughly awake to the issues of textual criticism. These had been discussed repeatedly and to the smallest details at Geneva, where Cyril Lucar had passed some time. Of him one encyclopedia states:
"In 1602 Cyril succeeded Meletius as patriarch of Alexandria. While holding this position he carried on an active correspondence with David le Leu, de Wilelm, and the Romonstrant Uytenbogaert of Holland, Abbot, archbishop of Canterbury, Leger, professor of Geneva, the republic of Venice, the Swedish King, Gustavus Adolphus, and his chancellor, Axel Oxenstierna. Many of these letters, written in different languages, are still extant. They show that Cyril was an earnest opponent of Rome, and a great admirer of the Protestant Reformation. He sent for all the important works, Protestant and Roman Catholic, published in the Western countries, and sent several young men to England to get a thorough theological education. The friends of Cyril in Constantinople, and among them the English, Dutch, and Swedish ambassadors, endeavored to elevate Cyril to the patriarchal see of Constantinople...
"The Jesuits, in union with the agents of France, several times procured his banishment, while his friends, supported by the ambassadors of the Protestant powers in Constantinople, obtained, by means of large sums of money, his recall. During all these troubles, Cyril, with remarkable energy, pursued the great task of his life. In 1627 he obtained a printing press from England, and at once began to print his Confession of Faith and several catechisms. But, before these documents were ready for publication, the printing establishment was destroyed by the Turkish Government at the instigation of the Jesuits. Cyril then sent his Confession of Faith to Geneva, where it appeared, in 1629, in the Latin language, under the true name of the author, and with a dedication to Cornelius de Haga. It created throughout Europe a profound sensation."(15)
We think enough has been given to show that the scholars of Europe and England, in particular, had ample opportunity to become fully acquainted by 1611 with the problems involved in the Alexandrinus Manuscript.
Let us pursue the matter a little further. The Catholic Encyclopaedia does not omit to tell us that the New Testament from Acts on, in Codex A (the Alexandrinus), agrees with the Vatican Manuscript. If the problems presented by the Alexandrinus Manuscript, and consequently by the Vaticanus, were so serious, why were we obliged to wait till 1881-1901 to learn of the glaring mistakes of the translators of the King James, when the manuscript arrived in England in 1627? The Forum informs us that 250 different versions of the Bible were tried in England between 1611 and now, but they all fell flat before the majesty of the King James. Were not the Alexandrinus and the Vaticanus able to aid these 250 versions, and overthrow the other Bible, resting, as the critics explain, on an insecure foundation?
The case with the Vaticanus and the Sinaiticus is no better. The problems presented by these two manuscripts were well known, not only to the translators of the King James, but also to Erasmus. We are told that the Old Testament portion of the Vaticanus has been printed since 1587.
"The third great edition is that commonly known as the 'Sixtine,' published at Rome in 1587 under Pope Sixtus V... Substantially, the 'Sixtine' edition gives the text of B... The 'Sixtine' served as the basis for most of the ordinary editions of the LXX for just three centuries."(16)
We are informed by another author that, if Erasmus had desired, he could have secured a transcript of this manuscript.(17) There was no necessity, however, for Erasmus to obtain a transcript because he was in correspondence with Professor Paulus Bombasius at Rome, who sent him such variant readings as he wished.(18)
"A correspondent of Erasmus in 1533 sent that scholar a number of selected readings from it (Codex B), as proof of its superiority to the Received Text."(19)
Erasmus, however, rejected these varying readings of the Vatican MS because he considered from the massive evidence of his day that the Received Text was correct.
The story of the finding of the Sinaitic MS by Tischendorf in a monastery at the foot of Mt. Sinai, illustrates the history of some of these later manuscripts. Tischendorf was visiting this monastery in 1844 to look for these documents. He discovered in a basket, over forty pages of a Greek MS of the Bible. He was told that two other basket loads had been used for kindling. Later, in 1859, he again visited this monastery to search for other MSS. He was about to give up in despair and depart when he was told of a bundle of additional leaves of a Greek MS. When he examined the contents of this bundle, he saw them to be a reproduction of part of the Bible in Greek. He could not sleep that night. Great was the joy of those who were agitating for a revision of the Bible when they learned that a new find was similar to the Vaticanus, but differed greatly from the King James. Dr. Riddle informs us that the discovery of the Sinaiticus settled in its favor the agitation for revision.
Just a word on the two styles of manuscripts before we go further. Manuscripts are of two kinds — uncial and cursive. Uncials are written in large square letters much like our capital letters; cursives are of a free running hand.
We have already given authorities to show that the Sinaitic MS is a brother of the Vaticanus. Practically all of the problems of any serious nature which are presented by the Sinaitic, are the problems of the Vaticanus. Therefore the translators of 1611 had available all the variant readings of these manuscripts and rejected them.
The following words from Dr. Kenrick, Catholic Bishop of Philadelphia, will support the conclusion that the translators of the King James knew the readings of Codices æ [Aleph], A, B, C, D, where they differed from the Received Text and denounced them. Bishop Kenrick published an English translation of the Catholic Bible in 1849. I quote from the preface:
"Since the famous manuscripts of Rome, Alexandria, Cambridge, Paris, and Dublin, were examined... a verdict has been obtained in favor of the Vulgate.
"At the Reformation, the Greek text, as it then stood, was taken as a standard, in conformity to which the versions of the Reformers were generally made; whilst the Latin Vulgate was depreciated [sic], or despised, as a mere version."(20)
In other words, the readings of these much boasted manuscripts, recently made available are those of the Vulgate. The Reformers knew of these readings and rejected them, as well as the Vulgate.
Men of 1611 Had all the Material Necessary
Let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that the translators of 1611 did not have access to the problems of the Alexandrinus, the Sinaiticus, and the Vaticanus by direct contact with these uncials. It mattered little. They had other manuscripts accessible which presented all the same problems. We are indebted for the following information to Dr. F.C. Cook, editor of the "Speaker's Commentary," chaplain to the Queen of England, who was invited to sit on the Revision Committee, but refused:
"That Textus Receptus was taken in the first instance, from late cursive manuscripts; but its readings are maintained only so far as they agree with the best ancient versions, with the earliest and best Greek and Latin Fathers, and with the vast majority of uncial and cursive manuscripts."(21)
It is then clear that among the great body of cursive and uncial manuscripts which the Reformers possessed, the majority agreed with the Received Text; there were a few, however, among these documents which belonged to the counterfeit family. These dissenting few presented all the problems which can be found in the Alexandrinus, the Vaticanus, and the Sinaiticus. In other words, the translators of the King James came to a diametrically opposite conclusion from that arrived at by the Revisers of 1881, although the men of 1611, as well as those of 1881, had before them the same problems and the same evidence. We shall present testimony on this from another authority:
"The popular notion seems to be, that we are indebted for our knowledge of the true texts of Scripture to the existing uncials entirely; and that the essence of the secret dwells exclusively with the four or five oldest of those uncials. By consequence, it is popularly supposed that since we are possessed of such uncial copies, we could afford to dispense with the testimony of the cursives altogether. A more complete misconception of the facts of the case can hardly be imagined. For the plain truth is THAT ALL THE PHENOMENA EXHIBITED BY THE UNCIAL MANUSCRIPTS are reproduced by the cursive copies."(22) (Caps. Mine)
We give a further testimony from another eminent authority:
"Our experience among the Greek cursives proves to us that transmission has not been careless, and they do represent a wholesome traditional text in the passages involving doctrine and so forth."(23)
As to the large number of manuscripts in existence, we have every reason to believe that the Reformers were far better acquainted with them than later scholars. Doctor Jacobus in speaking of textual critics of 1582, says:
"The present writer has been struck with the critical acumen shown at that date (1582), and the grasp of the relative value of the common Greek manuscripts and the Latin version."(24)
On the other hand, if more manuscripts have been made accessible since 1611, little use has been made of what we had before and of the majority of those made available since. The Revisers systematically ignored the whole world of manuscripts and relied practically on only three or four. As Dean Burgon says, "But nineteen-twentieths of those documents, for any use which has been made of them, might just as well be still lying in the monastic libraries from which they were obtained." We feel, therefore, that a mistaken picture of the case has been presented with reference to the material at the disposition of the translators of 1611 and concerning their ability to use that material.
Plans of Work Followed by the King James Translators
The forty-seven learned men appointed by King James to accomplish this important task were divided first into three companies: one worked at Cambridge, another at Oxford, and the third at Westminster. Each of these companies again split up into two. Thus, there were six companies working on six allotted portions of the Hebrew and Greek Bibles. Each member of each company worked individually on his task, then brought to each member of his committee the work he had accomplished. The committee all together went over that portion of the work translated. Thus, when one company had come together, and had agreed on what should stand, after having compared their work, as soon as they had completed any one of the sacred books, they sent it to each of the other companies to be critically reviewed. If a later company, upon reviewing the book, found anything doubtful or unsatisfactory, they noted such places, with their reasons, and sent it back to the company whence it came. If there should be a disagreement, the matter was finally arranged at a general meeting of the chief persons of all the companies at the end of the work. It can be seen by this method that each part of the work was carefully gone over at least fourteen times. It was further understood that if there was any special difficulty or obscurity, all the learned men of the land could be called upon by letter for their judgment. And finally each bishop kept the clergy of his diocese notified concerning the progress of the work, so that if any one felt constrained to send any particular observations, he was notified to do so.
How astonishingly different is this from the method employed by the Revisers of 1881! The Old Testament committee met together and sat as one body secretly for ten years. The New Testament Committee did the same. This arrangement left the committee at the mercy of a determined triumvirate to lead the weak and to dominate the rest. All reports indicate that an iron rule of silence was imposed upon these Revisers during the ten years. The public was kept in suspense all the long, weary ten years. And only after elaborate plans had been laid to throw the Revised Version all at once upon the market to effect a tremendous sale, did the world know what had gone on.
The Giants of Learning
No one can study the lives of those men who gave us the King James Bible without being impressed with their profound and varied learning.
"It is confidently expected," says McClure, "that the reader of these pages will yield to the conviction that all the colleges of Great Britain and America, even in this proud day of boastings, could not bring together the same number of divines equally qualified by learning and piety for the great undertaking. Few indeed are the living names worthy to be enrolled with those mighty men. It would be impossible to convene out of any one Christian denomination, or out of all, a body of translators, on whom the whole Christian community would bestow such confidence as is reposed upon that illustrious company, or who would prove themselves as deserving of such confidence. Very many self-styled 'improved versions' of the Bible, or of parts of it, have been paraded before the world, but the religious public has doomed them all, without exception, to utter neglect."(25)
The translators of the King James, moreover, had something beyond great scholarship and unusual skill. They had gone through a period of great suffering. They had offered their lives that the truths which they loved might live. As the biographer of William Tyndale has aptly said, —
"So Tyndale thought; but God had ordained that not in the learned leisure of a palace, but amid the dangers and privations of exile should the English Bible be produced. Other qualifications were necessary to make him a worthy translator of Holy Scripture than mere grammatical scholarship... At the time he bitterly felt what seemed to be the total disappointment of all his hopes; but he afterwards learned to trace in what appeared a misfortune the fatherly guidance of God; and this very disappointment, which compelled him to seek his whole comfort in the Word of God, tended to qualify him for the worthy performance of his great work."(26)
Doctor Cheyne in giving his history of the founders of higher criticism, while extolling highly the mental brilliancy of the celebrated Hebrew scholar, Gesenius, expresses his regrets for the frivolity of that scholar.(27) No such weakness was manifested in the scholarship of the Reformers.
"Reverence," says Doctor Chambers, "it is this more than any other one trait that gave to Luther and Tyndale, their matchless skill and enduring preeminence as translators of the Bible."(28)
It is difficult for us in this present prosperous age to understand how deeply the heroes of Protestantism in those days were forced to lean upon the arm of God. We find them speaking and exhorting one another by the promises of the Lord, that He would appear in judgment against their enemies. For that reason they gave full credit to the doctrine of the Second Coming of Christ as taught in the Holy Scriptures. Passages of notable value which refer to this glorious hope were not wrenched from their forceful setting as we find them in the Revised Versions and some modern Bibles, but were set forth with a fullness of clearness and hope.
The King James Bible a Masterpiece
The birth of the King James Bible was a death stroke to the supremacy of Roman Catholicism. The translators little foresaw the wide extent of circulation and the tremendous influence to be won by their book. They little dreamed that for three hundred years it would form the bond of English Protestantism in all parts of the world. One of the brilliant minds of the last generation, Faber, who as a clergyman in the Church of England, labored to Romanize that body, and finally abandoned it for the Church of Rome, cried out, —
"Who will say that the uncommon beauty and marvelous English of the Protestant Bible is not one of the great strongholds of heresy in this country?"(29)
Yes, more, it has not only been the stronghold of Protestantism in Great Britain, but it has built a gigantic wall as a barrier against the spread of Romanism.
"The printing of the English Bible has proved to be by far the mightiest barrier ever reared to repel the advance of Popery, and to damage all the resources of the Papacy."(30)
Small wonder then that for three hundred years incessant warfare has been waged upon this instrument created by God to mold all constitutions and laws of the British Empire, and of the great American Republic, while at the same time comforting, blessing, and instructing the lives of the millions who inhabit these territories.
Behold what it has given to the world! The machinery of the Catholic Church can never begin to compare with the splendid machinery of Protestantism. The Sabbath School, the Bible printing houses, the foreign missionary societies, the Y.M.C.A., the Y.W.C.A., the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, the Protestant denominational organizations, — these all were the offspring of Protestantism. Their benefits have gone to all lands and been adopted by practically all nations. Shall we throw away the Bible from which such splendid organizations have sprung?
Something other than an acquaintanceship, more or less, with a crushing mass of intricate details in the Hebrew and the Greek, is necessary to be a successful translator of God's Holy Word. God's Holy Spirit must assist. There must exist that which enables the workman at this task to have not only a conception of the whole but also a balanced conception, so that there will be no conflicts created through lack of skill on the part of the translator. That the giants of 1611 produced this effect and injured no doctrine of the Lord by their labors, may be seen in these few words from Sir Edmund Beckett, as, according to Gladstone,(31) he convincingly reveals the failure of the Revised Version:
"Not their least service, is their showing us how very seldom the Authorized Version is materially wrong, and that no doctrine has been misrepresented there."(32)
To show the unrivaled English language of the King James Bible, I quote from Doctor William Lyon Phelps, Professor of English Literature in Yale University:
"Priests, atheists, skeptics, devotees, agnostics, and evangelists, are generally agreed that the Authorized Version of the English Bible is the best example of English literature that the world has ever seen...
"Every one who has a thorough knowledge of the Bible may truly be called educated; and no other learning or culture, no matter how extensive or elegant, can, among Europeans and Americans, form a proper substitute. Western civilization is founded upon the Bible... I thoroughly believe in a university education for both men and women; but I believe a knowledge of the Bible without a college course is more valuable than a college course without the Bible...
"The Elizabethan period — a term loosely applied to the years between 1558 and 1642 — is generally regarded as the most important era in English literature. Shakespeare and his mighty contemporaries brought the drama to the highest point in the world's history; lyrical poetry found supreme expression; Spencer's Faerie Queene was an unique performance; Bacon's Essays have never been surpassed. But the crowning achievement of those spacious days was the Authorized Translation of the Bible, which appeared in 1611. Three centuries of English literature followed; but, although they have been crowded with poets and novelists and essayists, and although the teaching of the English language and literature now give employment to many earnest men and women, the art of English composition reached its climax in the pages of the Bible. ...
"Now, as the English speaking people have the best Bible in the world, and as it is the most beautiful monument erected with the English alphabet, we ought to make the most of it, for it is an incomparably rich inheritance, free to all who can read. This means that we ought invariably in the church and on public occasions to use the Authorized Version; all others are inferior."(33)
This statement was made twenty years after the American Revised Version appeared.
(1) Chambers, Comp. to Revised O.T., pp.63, 64
(2) A New Commentary by Bishop Gore and Others, Part 1, p. 651
(3) Chambers, Comp. to Revised, p. 66
(4) Rev. G. Vance Smith, Nineteenth Century, July 1881
(5) Robertson, Introduction, p. 21
(6) Ibid, pp. 18, 19
(7) John Fulton, Forum, June 1887
(9) McClure, The Translators Revived, pp. 57, 58
(10) Ibid, pp. 130, 131
(11) Brooke's Cartwright, p. 274
(12) McClure, p. 87
(13) Fulke's Defense, 1583, p. 73
(14) Jacobus, Cath. and Prot. Bibles, p. 41
(15) McClintock and Strong, Encycl., Vol. II, P. 635
(16) Ottley, Handbook of the Septuagint, p. 64
(17) Bissell, Historic Origin of the Bible, p. 84
(18) S.P. Tregelles, On the Printed Text of the Greek Test., p. 22
(19) Kenyon, Our Bible, p. 133
(20) Quoted in Rheims and Douay, by Dr. H. Cotton, p. 155
(21) F.C. Cook, Revised Version of the First Three Gospels, p. 226
(22) Burgon and Miller, The Traditional Text, p. 202
(23) Dr. H.C. Hoskier, Concerning the Genesis of the Versions, p. 416
(24) Dr. Jacobus, Cath. and Prot. Bibles, p. 212
(25) McClure, p. 64
(26) Demaus, William Tyndale, pp. 84, 85
(27) Dr. Cheyne, Founders of O.T. Criticism, pp. 58, 59
(28) Chambers, Companion, p. 53
(29) Eadie, The English Bible, Vol. II, p. 158
(30) McClure, p. 71
(31) Lathbury, Ecclesiastical and Religious Correspondence of Gladstone, Vol. II, p 320
(32) Sir Edmund Beckett, Revised New Testament, p. 16
(33) Ladies Home Journal, Nov. 1921
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