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a reeling brain. The scene without was in full keeping

2023-11-29 16:59:44 source:Surprise Intersection Networkauthor: software click:483Second-rate

In addition, they had all other versions made in the tongues of the time. Chiefly there was Luther's German Bible, already become for the German tongue what their version was destined to be for the English tongue. There were parts of the Bible available in Spanish, French, and Dutch. They were kept at hand constantly for any light they might cast on difficult passages.

a reeling brain. The scene without was in full keeping

For the Old Testament there were very few Hebrew texts. There had been little critical work yet done on them, and for the most part there were only different editions running back over the centuries. We have little more than that now, and there is almost no new material on the Old Testament since the days of the King James translators. There was, of course, the Septuagint, the Greek translation from the Hebrew made before Christ, with the guidance it could give in doubtful places on the probable original. And finally there was the Vulgate, made into Latin out of the Greek and Hebrew. This was all the Old Testament material they had, or that any one could have in view of the antiquated original sources.

a reeling brain. The scene without was in full keeping

The New Testament material was more abundant, though not nearly so abundant as to-day. There were few manuscripts of the early days to which they could refer; but there were the two great critical versions of the New Testament in Greek, that by Erasmus and the Complutensian, which had made use of the best manuscripts known. Then, finally again, there was the Vulgate.

a reeling brain. The scene without was in full keeping

We must stop a moment to see what was the value of the Vulgate in this work. It is impossible to reckon the number of the early New Testament manuscripts that have been lost. In the earlier day the Scriptures were transmitted from church to church, and from age to age, by manuscripts. Many of them were made as direct copies of other manuscripts; but many were made by scribes to whom the manuscripts were read as they wrote, so that there are many, though ordinarily comparatively slight, variations among the manuscripts which we now know. More manuscripts are coming to light constantly, manuscripts once well known and then lost. Many of them, perhaps many earlier than we now have, must have been familiar to Jerome four hundred years after Christ. When, therefore, there is a plain difference between the Vulgate and our early Greek manuscripts, the Vulgate may be wrong because it is only a translation; but it may be right because it is a translation of earlier manuscripts than some of ours. It is steadily losing its value at that point, for Greek manuscripts are all the time coming to light which run farther back. But we must not minimize the value of the Vulgate for our King James translation.

With all this material the scholars of the early seventeenth century set to work. Each man in the group made the translation that seemed best to him, and together they analyzed the results and finally agreed on the best. They hunted the other versions to see if it had been better done elsewhere. The shade of Tindale was over it all. The Genevan version was most influential. The Douai had its share, and the Bishops' was the general standard, altered only when accuracy required it. On all hard passages they called to their aid the appropriate departments of both universities. All scholars everywhere were asked to send in any contributions, to correct or criticize as they would. Public announcement of the work was made, and all possible help was besought and gladly accepted.

Very faithfully these greatest scholars of their time wrought. No one worked for money, and no one worked for pay, but each for the joy of the working. Three years they spent on the original work, three years on careful revision and on the marginal references by which Scripture was made to throw light on Scripture. Then in six months a committee reviewed it all, put it through the press, and at last, in 1611, with the imprint of Robert Barker, Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty, the King James version appeared. The name Authorized Version is not a happy one, for so far as the records go it was never authorized either by the King or the bishop; and, even if it were, the authority does not extend beyond the English Church, which is a very small fraction of those who use it. On the title-page of the original version, as on so many since, is the familiar line, "Appointed to be Read in Churches," but who made the appointment history does not say.

The version did not at once supersede the Genevan and the Bishops'; but it was so incomparably better than either that gradually they disappeared, and by sheer excellence it took the field, and it holds the field to-day in spite of the numerous supposedly improved versions that have appeared under private auspices. It holds the field, also, in spite of the excellent revised version of 1881 made by authority, and the more excellent version issued in 1901 by the American Revision Committee, to-day undoubtedly the best version in existence, considered simply as a reproduction of the sense of the original. And for reasons that may later appear, the King James version bids fair to hold the field for many years to come.

When we turn from the history of its making to the work itself, there is much to say. We may well narrow our thought for the remainder of the study to its traits as a version of the Bible.

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