Re: KJV Translators preface

Fri, 15 Nov 1996 19:12:24 EST

On Fri, 15 Nov 1996 16:28:30 +0400 Carlton Winbery
<> writes:

> I'm
>not sure that that book is still in print. F.F. Bruce,_History of the
>English Bible_ has sections of the preface but not the complete text.

Denny Diehl here,

with part of the preface to the KJV as quoted in FF Bruce, History
of the Bible in English.

"Truly, good Christian Reader, we never thought from the
beginning that we should need to make a new translation, nor yet
to make of a bad one a good one; ... but to make a good one
better, or out of many good ones one principal good one, not
justly to be expected against; that hath been our endeavor, that
our mark. To that purpose there were many chosen, that were
greater in other men's eyes than in their own, and that sought the
truth rather than their own praise. ... And in what sort did these
assemble? In the trust of their own knowledge, or of their sharp-
ness of wit, or deepness of judgment, as it were in an arm of flesh?
At no hand. They trusted in him that hath the key of David, opening,
and no man shutting; they prayed to the Lord, the Father of our Lord,
to the effect that St. Augustine did: "O let they Scriptures be my pure
delight; let me not be deceived in them, neither let me deceive by
them." In this confidence, and with this devotion, did they assemble
together; not too many, lest one should trouble another; and yet many,
lest many things haply might escape them. If you ask what they had
before them, truly it was the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, the
Greek of the New. ... These tongues ... we set before us to translate,
being the tongues wherein God was pleased to speak to his Church
by his Prophets and Apostles. Neither did we run over the work with
that posting haste that the Septuagint did, if that be true which is
reported of them. ... The work hath not been huddled up in seventy
two days, but hath cost the workmen, as light as it seemeth, the
pains of twice seven times seventy two days, and more. Matters
of such weight and consequence are to be speeded with maturity:
for in business of moment a man feareth not the blame of convenient
slackness. Neither did we think much to consult the translators or
commentators, Chaldee, Hebrew, Syrian, Greek, or Latin; no, nor
the Spanish, French, Italian, or Dutch; neither did we disdain to
revise that which we had done, and to bring back to the anvil that
which we had hammered: but having and using as great helps
as were needful, and fearing no reproach for slowness, nor
coveting praise for expedition, we have at length, through the
good hand of the Lord upon us, brought the work to that pass
that you see."
"There be many words in the Scriptures, which be never found
there but once (having neither brother nor neighbor, as the
Hebrews speak), so that we cannot be holpen by conference
of places. Again, there be many rare names of certain birds,
beasts, and precious stones, etc., concerning which the Hebrews
themselves are so divided among themselves for judgment, that
they may seem to have defined this or that, rather because they
would say something, than because they were sure of that which
they said."

"Another thing we think good to admonish thee of, gentle Reader,
that we have not tied ourselves to an uniformity of phrasing, or to
an identity of words, as some peradventure would wish that we
had done, because they observe, that some learned men
somewhere have been as exact as they could that way. Truly,
that we might not vary from the sense of that which we had
translated before, if the word signified the same thing in both
places (for there be some words that be not of the same sense
every where), we were especially careful, and made a conscience
according to our duty. But that we should express the same notion
in the same particular word; as for example, if we translate the
Hebrew or Greek word once by PURPOSE, never to call it INTENT;
if one were JOURNEYING, never TRAVELLING; if one where JOY,
never GLADNESS, etc., thus to mince the matter, we thought to
savour more of curiosity than wisdom, and that rather it would breed
scorn in the atheist, than bring profit to the godly reader. For is the
kingdom of God become words or syllables? Why should we be in
bondage to them, if we may be free? use one precisely, when we
may use another no less fit as commodiously? ... We might also be
charged (by scoffers) with some unequal dealing towards a great
number of good English words. For as it is written of a certain great
Philosopher, that he should say, that those logs were happy that
were made images to be worshipped; for their fellows, as good
as they, lay for blocks behind the fire: so if we should say, as it
were, unto certain words, Stand up higher, have a place in the
Bible always; and to others of like quality, Get you hence, be
banished for ever; we might be taxed peradventure with St.
James's words, namely, "To be partial in ourselves, and judges
of evil thoughts." Add hereunto, that niceness in words was always
counted the next step to trifling; and so was to be curious about
names too: also that we cannot follow a better pattern for elocu-
tion than God himself; therefore he using divers words in his holy
writ, and indifferently for one thing in nature: we, if we will not be
superstitious, may use the same liberty in our English versions
out of Hebrew and Greek, for that copy or store that he hath
given us."
"Lastly, we have on the one side avoided the scrupulosity of the
Puritans, who leave the old Ecclesiastical words, and betake them
to other, as when they put washing for baptism, and congregation
instead of Church; as also on the other side we have shunned the
obscurity of the Papists, in their azymes, tunike, rational, holocausts,
prepuce, pasche, and a number of such like, whereof their late
translation is full, and that of purpose to darken the sense, that
since they must needs translate the Bible, yet by the language
thereof it may be kept from being understood. But we desire that
the Scripture may speak like itself, as in the language of Canaan,
that it may be understood even of the very vulgar.