History of the English Bible (Part 3)
(From The New Analytical Bible and Dictionary of the Bible © 1973
by John A. Dickson Publishing Company. Notes and footnotes provided by us.)
7. The Geneva Bible (A.D. 1560)
Geneva, Switzerland became a natural mecca for Bible scholars and others fleeing from Mary’s violent persecution. It was also natural that this city of theologian John Calvin and New Testament scholar Theodore Beza should produce a version of the Bible destined to hold first place in the hearts of Englishmen for more than 80 years. It was finally superseded by the King James Version in 1644, 33 years after that version appeared.
William Whittingham, a brother-in-law of Calvin who succeeded John Knox in 1559 as pastor of the English Church in Geneva, was the exile scholar who started events in motion. He published in 1557 a New Testament, printed at Geneva by Conrad Badius, far more important than its small octavo size would indicate. For the first time the English Scriptures were divided into verses, following the arrangement first used by Robert Estienne (Stephanus) in his fourth edition of the Greek New Testament of 1551. Words shown in English that did not appear in the original Greek were set in italics. Whittingham had available for his task Beza’s Latin New Testament of 1556, by which he carefully “corrected” Tyndale’s translation. (Some of these “corrections” were not improvements!) Roman type, rather than the black-letter face of most earlier English editions, was used. Copious marginal notes were aimed at leaving “nothing unexpounded.”
For the exiles at Geneva, translation and publication of the New Testament was only a beginning. With dedication and skill they devoted themselves to the project of rendering the whole Bible into this new English version. They were “occupied herein,” their preface states, “the space of two years and more.” It was printed by Rowland Hall at Geneva in 1560. The Old Testament represents a thorough revision of the Great Bible, especially those parts not translated by Tyndale; for they had never been rendered from Hebrew into English. Care was exercised to make the Old Testament translation conform to the Hebrew test, and even the Hebrew idiom. The Apocrypha appears at the end, its books grouped together.
The New Testament used Tyndale’s latest edition, revised with the help of Beza’s Latin version. The New Testament section of editions printed after 1587 is often the translation (1576) by Lawrence Tomson.
Members of the English Church at Geneva financed the first publication of this version, also known as the “Breeches Bible,” because the word “breeches” (as also in the Wyclif Bible) appears in Genesis 3:7 instead of “aprons” as in the King James Version. Prominent in this English Church group was John Bodley (father of the founder of Oxford
University’s famed Bodleian Library), who secured from Queen Elizabeth in 1561 the exclusive right to print the Geneva Bible for seven years.
The Geneva Bible became the most popular English Bible published before the King James Version for several reasons. In many editions it was small (the original 1560 edition was quarto in size) and so priced within reach of more people. Its strongly Calvinistic notes, with their barbs aimed at the Established Church in England and Roman Catholicism alike, had great popular appeal. Finally, it was a good translation in vigorous English.
8. The Bishops’ Bible (A.D. 1568)
Matthew Parker (1504-15750, appointed Archbishop of Canterbury by Queen Elizabeth I in 1559, saw the popularity of the Geneva Bible and realized that the Great Bible was no longer adequate for church use. By 1561 he had revived Cranmer’s aborted plan for a Bible translated and edited by the bishops, even to the point of assigning sections of the work to bishops and other scholars - who, in due time, became bishops. Parker himself was editor-in-chief; by 1566 the project was on its way.
That may be the reason for his hesitancy, about this time, to honor the request of John Bodley to renew for another 12 years his exclusive license to publish the Geneva Bible. When the license was finally offered, its conditions were such that Bodley refused it.
The “Bishops’ Bible,” as it was called, came from the press in 1568, beautifully printed in large folio size by Richard Jugge in London. With the Great Bible as their basis, the bishops were instructed to depart from its text only when the translation proved inaccurate. The Latin versions of Pagninus (1528) and Münster (1539), both made direct from the Hebrew, were used to check the accuracy of the Old Testament. The Geneva version influenced the Old Testament renderings; but the New Testament reflected more independent scholarship based on Greek texts. Like the Great Bible, it had few marginal notes. The work done by the bishops, as reflected in this revision, is uneven.
Improvements are seen in the New Testament section of the second folio edition published in 1572; this is the New Testament of all later editions. In this edition the Psalms from the Great Bible appear alongside the Bishops’ version; and, because the Great Bible Psalter was the one used in the Prayer Book, the translation by the bishops never supplanted it. Corrections made in the Old Testament of the quarto edition of 1569 appear in all subsequent editions of the Bible except the folios of 1572, 1574, and 1578.
Although Queen Elizabeth I, for some reason, never “authorized” this Bible, the authority of the bishops made it the second Authorized Version. By order of the Convocation (1571) every bishop and archbishop was required to have a copy in his house, available even to his servants and visitors. Each cathedral was required to have a copy, and every church was urged to secure one. Although the Geneva Bible remained
dominant in the homes of England, the Bishops’ Bible achieved the standing planned for it of becoming the “Church Bible.” And the Bishop’s Bible (folio edition of 1602, the last known printing although one of the 1606 is frequently reported) became the basis for the Authorized Version of 1611.
9. The Rheims-Douai Bible (A.D. 1582, 1609-10)
When Elizabeth I (1533-1603) came to the English throne in 1558, many Roman Catholic scholars and leaders fled to France and Flanders. Among them was William Allen (1532-94), who founded colleges for training English priests to “convert” England at Douai (1568), Rome (1575-78), and Valladolid (1589). He was created Cardinal in 1587. From Rome in 1578 he wrote the professor of Canon Law at Douai of the need for a “faithful” translation of the Bible by Catholics to combat the “corrupt” Protestant versions, which (he admitted) were being used effectively.
The English College was moved that very year to Rheims. There one of its distinguished professors, Gregory Martin, set about the task of translating the Bible from the Latin Vulgate into English. He translated the Old Testament first and then the New; but his New Testament was published first, in 1582 at Rheims, a small quarto with John Fogny as printer. Martin is said to have translated about two chapters a day for three and one-half years; as completed, each section was read and revised where necessary by Allen and the moderator of the English College, Richard Bristow. Notes for the New Testament were by Bristow; those for the Old Testament were by Thomas Worthington, third president of the English College - which was removed back to Douai in 1593. Due to lack of funds, the Old Testament was not printed until 1609-10, a small quarto in two volumes, from the press of Lawrence Kellam at Douai.
The Douai Bible, as it is often called, in its preface justified its use of the Latin Vulgate as its base text, instead of Hebrew and Greek, because of its age and long use, as well as its connection with the Church Fathers and its approval by the Council of Trent. Where the Vulgate is clear, the English translation is clear; the reverse is also true. Transliteration of some Latin words into English is confusing, and this occurs in many places. But set over against that is the fact that some of the choice turns of phrases in the Authorized Version of the New Testament of 1611 we owe to the Rheims New Testament.
The New Testament was printed in a second edition by Vervliet in Antwerp (1600) and re-issued in 1621 and 1635. The Old Testament was published again at Rouen (1635). More than a century later, in 1749-50, Dr. Richard Challoner published the whole Bible, revised and with shortened notes. The Roman Catholic Bible called the “Douai” today is based on Challoner’s and differs sufficiently from the original Douai version that the name is no longer descriptive of its content.
10. The King James Version (A.D. 1611)
James VI, king of Scotland for 36 years, succeeded Queen Elizabeth I in 1603 and became James I of England. Immediately he faced many ecclesiastical problems. He
sought to reconcile the differences between the various church groups in a conference called to meet at Hampton Court in January, 1604.
Of the many problems discussed, the differences in the translations of the Scriptures - especially, those in the Book of common Prayer - came to the forefront. The Great Bible and the Bishops’ Bible were authorized for use in the churches; but the common people were buying and using the more popular Geneva Bible. The proposal that solved the dilemma faced by King James was made by Dr. John Rainolds, president of Corpus Christi College at Oxford, spokesman for the Puritan faction in the Church of England and one of the country’s great scholars. He proposed the making of a new translation, so good that it would win the approval of all groups within the Church.
King James took the initiative from this point. He proposed that the translation be made by the “best learned from both universities, after them to be reviewed by the bishops, and the chief learned from the Church; from them to be presented to the Privy Council; and, lastly, to be ratified by his [James’] Royal Authority, and so the whole church to be bound unto it, and none other.”
Fifty-four learned men, with the advice of the bishops, were approved for the task, on June 30, 1604; but only 47 names appear on the lists of those who actually did the work of translation. They were to follow definite rules. The Bishops’ Bible (edition of 1602) was to be the basis of the new version. Proper names were to conform, as nearly as possible, to the forms most commonly used. Old ecclesiastical words (e.g., “church” instead of “congregation”) were to be retained. Marginal notes were to be used only for the purpose of explaining Hebrew and Greek words, and to point out parallel references. Words not in the original languages were to be indicated in type different from the rest of the text. No changes were to be made in existing chapter and verse divisions. Summaries of each chapter’s contents were to be supplied; these, in some instances, became so lengthy that they almost nullified the prohibition against controversial comments. In King James Version Bibles of today, these chapter summaries are simplified and shortened.
The translators were divided into six companies (two each, designated “Cambridge,” “Oxford,” and “Westminster”). Each had responsibility for a definite section of the work: Genesis through II Kings, 1st Westminster Company; I Chronicles through Ecclesiastes, 1st Cambridge Company; Isaiah through Malachi, 1st Oxford Company; the Apocrypha, 2nd Cambridge Company; the Four Gospels, Acts, and the Revelation of John (or the Apocalypse), 2nd Oxford Company; and Romans through Jude, 2nd Westminster Company. As each company completed a book of the Bible they were to send it to the others for review. Differences of opinion were to be settled at a general meeting.
In addition to this learned body, King James planned to bring into this great work every prominent Bible scholar in the Kingdom. He called upon the bishops “to inform themselves of the all such learned men within their several dioceses as, having special skill in the Hebrew and Greek languages, have taken pains in the private study 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 translations.”
After four years’ work, by the translators, three copies of the whole Bible were sent from Cambridge, Oxford, and Westminster to London. Two men out of each Company were chosen to review the entire work, a total of twelve from the six Companies making up the final Committee. They spent two years and nine months in the translation work and another nine months in preparing final copy for the printer. The Company of Stationers paid members of the Committee three shillings each per week. Robert Barker, printer of the Bible, stated that he also paid £2,500 toward the revision. Overseers of the final work were Bishop Bilson of Winchester and Dr. Miles Smith, later the Dean of Gloucester.
Translations of the Bible in the vernacular tongues of other countries, as well as earlier English versions, plus new critical texts, were consulted by the revisers, in addition to their own thorough studies of Greek and Hebrew manuscripts that were available to them. Vernacular translations they consulted included the French Geneva Bible (1587-88), Diodati’s Italian Bible (1607), and Valera’s Spanish Bible (1602). New critical texts available to the revisers were the Latin Old Testament of Arias Montanus (based on the Hebrew) and the Latin Bible of Tremelius, with the Apocrypha of Franciscus Junius. The Old Testament of this Bible had its roots in the Hebrew; the Apocrypha and the New Testament, in the Greek and Syriac. Beza’s Latin version also aided the New Testament translators. English translations consulted, in addition to the Bishops’ Bible on which King James ordered the new translation based, were the Geneva Bible and the Rheims New Testament.
The revisers, seeking beauty of language as well as accuracy, made no effort to translate the given Greek or Hebrew word by the same English word each time it occurred. This they defended in their scholarly preface, “Translators to the Reader,” unfortunately omitted from most King James Version Bibles of the present day.
Two issues of the King James Bible came from the press of Robert Barker, London, in 1611. Both are in beautiful black-letter type, large folio in size. They are distinguished primarily by the difference in printing the third-person pronoun in Ruth 3:15, “. . . and hee went into the citie.” The “Great ‘She’ Bible” renders the passage, “. . . and she went into the citie.” Although a black-letter edition in quarto size came from the press in 1613, preceded by another quarto in Roman type in 1612 (possibly in an attempt to match in size the popular Geneva Bibles), it took 33 years for the King James Bible to become successor to the Genevan version in the affections of English-speaking peoples; the last edition of the Geneva Bible was printed in 1644.
From that day forward, the King James Bible became the Bible of the English-speaking world. Although it does not appear ever to have been “authorized” in the sense that James I planned, and hence cannot with technical accuracy be called the “Authorized Version” (which has led us throughout to refer to it as the “King James Version”), yet in editions with modernized spelling and a few changes (corrected editions: Cambridge, 1629, 1638, and 1762; Oxford, 1769) it has been sold and/or distributed throughout
the world in hundreds of millions of copies. The most beloved version of the English Bible, it has had an unbelievable far-reaching influence on the life and literature of the world.
We will end here with the King James Version Bible. But many other translations and revisions have come along since the King James, including the Revised Version (A.D. 1881-1885), The American Standard Version (1901), and The Revised Standard Version (1946-1952). Chances are good that some of you are using one of these versions. Also, many other modern translations are available now, but some of the interpretations are very bad.
I know that a lot of you around the country are suffering through a heat wave, as we are here. Since early June we have had unusually warm weather. Most days average around a hundred degrees. And there has been little to no rain this summer causing the National Weather Service to declare a moderate draught in our area. Remember the 30 plus inches of rain we had in April and May?
The heat causes a lot of problems, and I think it had something to do with why Shirley took ill about three weeks ago. Maybe that, combined with a lot of stress. But for whatever reason(s) she was very sick for a couple of weeks. She got to the point where she could barely take care of herself, not to mention the fact that Eddie still needed nursing and care around the clock. So arrangements had to be made and Ed was admitted to a geriatric care facility in Fayetteville. It’s staffed with professionals who can better take care of someone in his condition.
Shirley is doing okay now. Of course she misses Eddie, but she is getting her strength back and feeling better. This is something that we all have thought about for several years now, and honestly I don’t know how Shirley did it for as long as she did. I have told you guys before how she was the perfect care-giver, always there for Eddie and taking care of his needs, virtually living in her own prison, but never complaining or whining about her plight. She has always had a positive, energetic attitude.
A thousand years from now, when we’re looking back from Eternity, we will thank God for the heat and draughts, sickness, and separation from loved ones; for these things brought us to where we will be that day.
“Strange how people who suffer together have stronger connections than those who are most content.” –Bob Dylan
“Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but - I hope - into a better shape.” --Charles Dickens
Prayer Requests for August, 2011
For Johnny Carruthers, Florence, Arizona, who seeks Spiritual growth.
For Joe Bruno & his family, especially his Father’s health. Joe is at Florence, Arizona.
For J.T. Likes, Grady, Arkansas, who wants to have contact with his family again.
For Michael Rivera, Buckeye, Arizona, for healing of his body.
For Raymond (“Peanut”) Sanders at Iowa Park, Texas, who needs prayer for health. He has many problems related to high blood pressure.
For Richard Burns, Menard, Illinois, who has diabetes and takes daily injections.
For Ed Ewing, Visalia, California, who is 89 years old and in bad health.
For Mike Long, at Larned, Kansas, for health.
For Willie Scott at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, for health, and for spiritual growth.
For Willie Clark, Iowa Park, Texas, who wants to be transferred closer to his family in the Houston area. He also has Glaucoma and high eye pressure problems.
For Sister Ann & all the Carmelite Nuns in Little Rock.
For Frank Williams, Jr., Death Row, Grady, Arkansas. He is waiting to find out if the Arkansas Supreme Court will hear his case.
For Freddie Lee Lott, Dixon, Illinois, to keep his healing and stay cancer free. Also, he needs healing from a knee injury he recently suffered.
For Willie Harper, Joliet, Illinois, for health, and that his cancer stays in remission.
For Robert Heffernan, Grady, Arkansas, for healing of a diabetic ulcer on his leg. He says his leg is getting much better.
For Pastor Scott & her ministry (The University Network) in Los Angeles.
For all of us at Wingspread, for Ed and Shirley, especially, and for an end to this draught.
Jesus’ Instructions in praying:
How NOT to pray: “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are; for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and at the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward” (Matthew 6:5). [Does this remind you of the churches today?] “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the pagans do; for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking” (Matthew 6:7). “Be not ye, therefore, like unto them; for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matthew 6:8).
Jesus tells us how TO pray: “ . . . when thou prayest, enter into thy room, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father, who is in secret; and thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly” (Matthew 6:6). Also, Jesus gives instructions in what to say beginning at Matthew 6:9 and subsequent verses. These verses contain what is familiarly known as “The Lord’s Prayer.” It is His prayer in that He is its author. But it was intended to be a model prayer for the disciples (us, too, if we are disciples of Christ) and should be called “The Disciples’ Prayer.”
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