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which it appears to have represented; and secondly, the character of the Translation itself.
1. With regard to the Greek Text, it would appear that, if to some extent the Translators exercised an independent judgement, it was mainly in choosing amongst readings contained in the principal editions of the Greek Text that had appeared in the sixteenth century. Wherever they seem to have followed a reading which is not found in any of those editions, their rendering may probably be traced to the Latin Vulgate. Their chief guides appear to have been the later editions of Stephanus and of Beza, and also, to a certain extent, the Complutensian Polyglott. All these were founded for the most part on manuscripts of late date, few in number, and used with little critical skill. But in those days it could hardly have been otherwise. Nearly all the more ancient of the documentary authorities have become known only within the last two centuries; some of the most important of them, indeed, within the last few years. Their publication has called forth not only improved editions of the Greek Text, but a succession of instructive discussions on the variations which have been brought to light, and on the best modes of distinguishing original readings from changes introduced in the course of transcription. While therefore it has long been the opinion of all scholars that the commonly received text needed thorough revision, it is but recently that materials have been acquired for executing such a work with even approximate completeness.
2. The character of the Translation itself will be best estimated by considering the leading rules under which it was made, and the extent to which these rules appear to have been observed.
The primary and fundamental rule was expressed in the following terms: The ordinary Bible read in the Church, commonly called the Bishops' Bible, to be followed, and as little altered as the truth of the Original will permit.' There was, however, this subsequent provision:-These translations to be used, when they agree better with the text than the Bishops' Bible: Tindale's, Matthew's, Coverdale's, Whitchurch's, Geneva.' The first of these rules, which was substantially the same as that laid down at the revision of the Great Bible in the reign of Elizabeth, was strictly observed. The other rule was but partially followed. The Translators made much use of the Genevan Version. They do not however appear to have frequently returned to the renderings of the other Versions named in the rule, where those Versions differed from the Bishops' Bible. On the other hand, their work shews
evident traces of the influence of a Version not specified in the rules, the Rhemish, made from the Latin Vulgate, but by scholars conversant with the Greek Original.
Another rule, on which it is stated that those in authority laid great stress, related to the rendering of words that admitted of different interpretations. It was as follows:-'When a word hath divers significations, that to be kept which hath been most commonly used by the most of the ancient fathers, being agreeable to the propriety of the place and the analogy of the faith.' With this rule was associated the following, on which equal stress appears to have been laid:-'The old ecclesiastical words to be kept, viz. the word Church not to be translated Congregation, &c.' This latter rule was for the most part carefully observed; but it may be doubted whether, in the case of words that admitted of different meanings, the instructions were at all closely followed. In dealing with the more difficult words of this class, the Translators appear to have paid much regard to traditional interpretations, and especially to the authority of the Vulgate; but, as to the large residue of words which might properly fall under the rule, they used considerable freedom. Moreover they profess in their Preface to have studiously adopted a variety of expression which would now be deemed hardly consistent with the requirements of faithful translation. They seem to have been guided by the feeling that their Version would secure for the words they used a lasting place in the language; and they express a fear lest they should be charged (by scoffers) with some unequal dealing towards a great number of good English words,' which, without this liberty on their part, would not have a place in the pages of the English Bible. Still it cannot be doubted that they carried this liberty too far, and that the studied avoidance of uniformity in the rendering of the same words, even when occurring in the same context, is one of the blemishes in their work.
A third leading rule was of a negative character, but was rendered necessary by the experience derived from former Versions. The words of the rule are as follows:-'No marginal notes at all to be affixed, but only for the explanation of the Hebrew or Greek words which cannot without some circumlocution so briefly and fitly be expressed in the text.' Here again the Translators used some liberty in their application of the rule. Out of more than 760 marginal notes originally appended to the Authorised Version of the New Testament, only a seventh part consists of explanations or literal renderings; the great majority of the notes being devoted
to the useful and indeed necessary purpose of placing before the reader alternative renderings which it was judged that the passage or the words would fairly admit. The notes referring to variations in the Greek Text amount to about thirty-five.
Of the remaining rules it may be sufficient to notice one, which was for the most part consistently followed:-'The names of the prophets and the holy writers, with the other names of the text, to be retained, as nigh as may be, accordingly as they were vulgarly used.' The Translators had also the liberty, in ‘any place of special obscurity,' to consult those who might be qualified to give an opinion.
Passing from these fundamental rules, which should be borne in mind by any one who would rightly understand the nature and character of the Authorised Version, we must call attention to the manner in which the actual work of the translation was carried on. The New Testament was assigned to two separate Companies, the one consisting of eight members, sitting at Oxford, the other consisting of seven members, sitting at Westminster. There is no reason to believe that these Companies ever sat together. They communicated to each other, and likewise to the four Companies to which the Old Testament and the Apocrypha had been committed, the results of their labours; and perhaps afterwards reconsidered them: but the fact that the New Testament was divided between two separate bodies of men involved a grave inconvenience, and was beyond all doubt the cause of many inconsistencies. These probably would have been much more serious, had it not been provided that there should be a final supervision of the whole Bible, by selected members from Oxford, Cambridge, and Westminster, the three centres at which the work had been carried on. These supervisors are said by one authority to have been six in number, and by another twelve. When it is remembered that this supervision was completed in nine months, we may wonder that the incongruities which remain are not more numerous.
The Companies appear to have been occupied in the actual business of revision about two years and three quarters.
Such, so far as can be gathered from the rules and modes of procedure, is the character of the time-honoured Version which we have been called upon to revise. We have had to study this great Version carefully and minutely, line by line; and the longer we have been engaged upon it the more we have learned to admire its simplicity, its dignity, its power, its happy turns of
expression, its general accuracy, and we must not fail to add, the music of its cadences, and the felicities of its rhythm. To render a work that had reached this high standard of excellence still more excellent, to increase its fidelity without destroying its charm, was the task committed to us. Of that task, and of the conditions under which we have attempted its fulfilment, it will now be neces sary for us to speak.
II. The present Revision had its origin in action taken by the Convocation of the Province of Canterbury in February 1870, and it has been conducted throughout on the plan laid down in Resolutions of both Houses of the Province, and, more particularly, in accordance with Principles and Rules drawn up by a special Committee of Convocation in the following May. Two Companies, the one for the revision of the Authorised Version of the Old Testament, and the other for the revision of the same Version of the New Testament, were formed in the manner specified in the Resolutions, and the work was commenced on the twenty-second day of June 1870. Shortly afterwards, steps were taken, under a resolution passed by both Houses of Convocation, for inviting the co-operation of American scholars; and eventually two Committees were formed in America, for the purpose of acting with the two English Companies, on the basis of the Principles and Rules drawn up by the Committee of Convocation.
The fundamental Resolutions adopted by the Convocation of Canterbury on the third and fifth days of May 1870 were as follows:
'1. That it is desirable that a revision of the Authorised Version of the Holy Scriptures be undertaken.
2. That the revision be so conducted as to comprise both marginal renderings and such emendations as it may be found necessary to insert in the text of the Authorised Version.
3. That in the above resolutions we do not contemplate any new translation of the Bible, or any alteration of the language, except where in the judgement of the most competent scholars such change is necessary.
'4. That in such necessary changes, the style of the language employed in the existing version be closely followed.
'5. That it is desirable that Convocation should nominate a body of its own members to undertake the work of revision, who shall be at liberty to invite the co-operation of any eminent for scholarship, to whatever nation or religious body they may belong.'
The Principles and Rules agreed to by the Committee of Convocation on the 25th day of May 1870 were as follows:
'1. To introduce as few alterations as possible into the Text of the Authorised Version consistently with faithfulness.
2. To limit, as far as possible, the expression of such alterations to the language of the Authorised and earlier English versions.
'3. Each Company to go twice over the portion to be revised, once provisionally, the second time finally, and on principles of voting as hereinafter is provided.
'4. That the Text to be adopted be that for which the evidence is decidedly preponderating; and that when the Text so adopted differs from that from which the Authorised Version was made, the alteration be indicated in the margin.
5. To make or retain no change in the Text on the second final revision by each Company, except two thirds of those present approve of the same, but on the first revision to decide by simple majorities.
'6. In every case of proposed alteration that may have given rise to discussion, to defer the voting thereupon till the next Meeting, whensoever the same shall be required by one third of those present at the Meeting, such intended vote to be announced in the notice for the next Meeting.
7. To revise the headings of chapters and pages, paragraphs, italics, and punctuation.
'8. To refer, on the part of each Company, when considered desirable, to Divines, Scholars, and Literary Men, whether at home or abroad, for their opinions.'
These rules it has been our endeavour faithfully and consistently to follow. One only of them we found ourselves unable to observe in all particulars. In accordance with the seventh rule, we have carefully revised the paragraphs, italics, and punctuation. But the revision of the headings of chapters and pages would have involved so much of indirect, and indeed frequently of direct interpretation, that we judged it best to omit them altogether.
Our communications with the American Committee have been of the following nature. We transmitted to them from time to time each several portion of our First Revision, and received from them in return their criticisms and suggestions. These we considered with much care and attention during the time we were engaged on our Second Revision. We then sent over to them the various