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qualifications to undertake it: may your perusal of it leave your opinions both of it and its author unaltered ; and may it conduce to the advancement of the true knowledge of Him Whose ministers we are.
I am, my Lord,
Your Grace's obliged and obedient Servant,
H. BEDFORD HALL,
Darlington, Dec. 26th, 1856.
Authorized Version of the New Testament, I deem it superfluous to take more than a passing notice of the English Versions of the Bible, either of a part or of the whole, which preceded it; the many excellent publications on the subject before the world having left nothing further to be said.
Passing by the labours of the Venerable Bede, of Alfred, and of Elfric, of the Saxon period, the oldest English translation now extant, we may remark, is attributed to a priest named Rolle, who translated the Psalms and other portions of the Scriptures, with a commentary. The first person, however, who rendered the whole Bible into English is the revered John Wiclif. Being ignorant of the original languages, he used the Vulgate, but through an earnest desire to translate literally, he filled his work with Latin idioms. The difficulties he met with from those in authority are well known, and those who would wish to know more of them, and of the history of this honoured name, I would refer to Dr. Vaughan's Life of John de Wiclif.
In 1526 William Tyndale had the honour of first printing a translation of the New Testament, made from the Greek, and died before the translation of the Old Testament, which he contemplated, was more than begun.
In 1535 Miles Coverdale put forth in print the first English Bible, a work, through the ignorance of its author of the original languages, translated from Latin and Dutch versions. Matthew's Bible (1537) came next, a compilation from Coverdale’s and Tyndale’s.
In 1539, under the patronage of Cranmer, the Great Bible made its appearance. It was little more than an edition of Matthew's Bible ; but it is interesting to us as providing that version of the Psalms which is in our Book of Common Prayer, and the sentences from Scripture introduced into our Communion Service.
In 1560, during Mary's reign, the refugees at Geneva produced what is generally called the Geneva Bible. It was partly new, and partly old, and of such excellence that our present Authorized Version differs little from it. In it appeared first that system of division into verses, of which we have something to say just now. Though read extensively in private, it was never authorized to be used in churches.
A new edition of the Great Bible being required for public use, a thorough revision of it was made by Archbishop Parker, assisted by several of the Bishops and other divines, and issued in 1568. This Bible is known commonly as the Bishops' Bible. The book continued in public use till 1611, when the Version which we now use, and which has been the solace of millions during nearly two centuries and a half, was duly set forth. Objections having been raised against the Bishops' Bible at the Hampton Court Conference, King James determined to revise it, and for this purpose invited all the principal divines of the nation to assist him. In 1604 forty-seven scholars, many of whose names we acknowledge as ornaments of our Church and nation, met in six classes at Oxford, Cambridge, and Westminster, when one-sixth of the Bible was delivered to each class for examination and revision. Each portion was finally to be reviewed by the other five classes, or by a committee chosen from the whole body. Their instructions were, to take the Bishops' Bible as their model, and to make as few alterations in it as possible. In 1611 their work was finished, and if this Version, upon which we offer the following Notes, be not perfect, we cannot blame any want of care in its preparation. Some of the errors which we notice are purely the product of time, nearly two centuries and a half having rendered many English words and expressions obsolete; others arise from a too slavish adherence to preceding translations, by which their errors, as well as their excellences have been perpetuated. As our Authorized Version was founded on the Bishops' Bible, which was merely an edition of the Great Bible, which again was only an edition of Matthew's, which itself was a compilation from Coverdale’s and Tyndale's ; we must not be astonished to find a source of error in the Latinisms which have come down to us from the Vulgate, through Coverdale and Wiclif. In addition to these, there are undoubtedly errors arising from a misconception of the original ; from failures to give the full sense of it; from a seeming inattention to the power
of the Greek Article; from a frequent translation of one Greek word by several English ones, and the reverse; and, in a few cases, from the insertion of English words when there were no Greek equivalents. In addition, the artificial helps to the reader of division into chapters and verses, of punctuation, and of parenthesis, and the supply of summaries to the chapters, all have opened the door to mistake and error. But while mentioning these things, and before I proceed more particularly to note examples in their different classes of the blemishes in our Version of the New Testament, I desire most emphatically to bear testimony to the general accuracy and wonderful beauty of that medium by which we become acquainted with the will of God concerning us, and behold as in a glass the person of Jesus Christ. To those whose education allows them to do so, and to those whose sacred profession draws them by the cords of love and duty to peruse the records of our faith in their original tongue, the general faithfulness of our translation constantly appears, and not unfrequently the happiness of the renderings—as, to give but one example, Acts xix. 31–is beautifully evident. Taking the work as a whole, if we may not positively deny the power of the present age to begin the labour de novo, and produce a translation equal or superior to it; we have strong reason to question whether in the midst of our numberless religious divisions, and of that lawlessness of opinion which the press tells us is increasingly prevalent, any body of learned men could