Benjamin Blayney’s Report on the editorial work of the King James Bible (1769)

DR. BENJAMIN BLAYNEY’S REPORT.

To the Rev. the Vice-Chancellor, and the other Delegates of the Clarendon Press.

THE Editor of the two editions of the Bible lately printed at the Clarendon Press thinks it his duty, now that he has completed the whole in a course of between three and four years close application, to make his report to the Delegates of the manner in which that work has been executed; and hopes for their approbation.

In the first place, according to the instructions he received, the folio edition of 1611, that of 1701, published under the direction of Bishop Lloyd, and two Cambridge editions of a late date, one in quarto, the other in octavo, have been carefully collated, whereby many errors that were found in former editions have been corrected, and the text reformed to such a standard of purity, as, it is presumed, is not to be met with in any other edition hitherto extant.

The punctuation has been carefully attended to, not only with a view to preserve the true sense, but also to uniformity, as far as was possible.

Frequent recourse has been had to the Hebrew and Greek Originals; and as on other occasions, so with a special regard to the words not expressed in the Original Language, but which our Translators have thought fit to insert in italics, in order to make out the sense after the English idiom, or to preserve the connection. And though Dr Paris made large corrections in this particular in an edition published at Cambridge, there still remained many necessary alterations, which escaped the Doctor’s notice; in making which the Editor chose not to rely on his own judgment singly, but submitted them all to the previous examination of the Select Committee, and particularly of the Principal of Hertford College, and Mr Professor Wheeler. A list of the above alterations was intended to have been given in to the Vice-Chancellor at this time, but the Editor has not yet found time to make it completely out.

Considerable alterations have been made in the Heads or Contents prefixed to the Chapters, as will appear on inspection; and though the Editor is unwilling to enlarge upon the labour bestowed by himself in this particular, he cannot avoid taking notice of the peculiar obligations, which both himself and the public lie under to the Principal of Hertford College, Mr Griffith of Pembroke College, Mr Wheeler, Poetry Professor, and the late Warden of New College, so long as he lived to bear a part in it; who with a prodigious expence of time, and inexpressible fatigue to themselves, judiciously corrected and improved the rude and imperfect Draughts of the Editor.

The running titles at the top of the columns in each page, how trifling a circumstance soever it may appear, required no small degree of thought and attention.

Many of the proper names being left untranslated, whose etymology was necessary to be known, in order to a more perfect comprehension of the allusions in the text, the translation of them, under the inspection of the above named Committee, has been for the benefit of the unlearned supplied in the margin.

Some obvious and material errors in the chronology have been considered and rectified.

The marginal references, even in Bishop Lloyd’s Bible, had in may places suffered by the inaccuracy of the Press; subsequent editions had copied those Errata, and added may others of their own; so that it became absolutely necessary to turn to and compare several passages; which has been done in every single instance, and by this precaution several false references brought to light, which would otherwise have passed unsuspected. It has been the care of the Editor to rectify these, as far as he could, by critical conjecture, where the copies universally failed him, as they did in most of the errors discovered in Bishop Lloyd’s edition. In some few instances he confesses himself to have been at a loss in finding out the true reference, though the corruption was manifest in the want of any the most distinct resemblance between the passages compared altogether. Cases of this sort indeed did not often occur; so that a very small number of the old references are, with the sanction of the Committee, omitted, and their places more usefully supplied.

It had been suggested by the late Archbishop of Canterbury, that an improvement might be made inthe present editions of the Bible, by taking in a number of additional references, of which many useful
ones, as he supposed, might be furnished from other editions referred to by him, and particularly from a Scotch edition, of which the present Vice-Chancellor was kind enough to lend a Copy. The references found in it, which were indeed very numerous, having been severally turned to and examined, such of them were selected as the Editor judged most pertinent, together with others that
occurred from his own reading and observation. In doing this he has endeavoured to keep clear of mere fanciful allusions, of which too many presented themselves in the before named Scotch edition;
and to adhere as near as possible to the plan marked out in the former collection made by Bishop Lloyd; pointing out such passages chiefly, where the same history or the same name was introduced, the same matter treated of, or sentiment expressed, or at least where parallels might fairly be drawn; and sometimes where a similar use of a particular word or expression tended to illustrate the application of it, on another occasion. The number of References being thus augmented considerably, the Collection upon the whole will, it is hoped, be regarded as useful in the light of a concordance, material as well as verbal, always at hand.

In this state the quarto Copy was sent to press; and the first proofs carefully collated with the Copy, both text and margin; after which the second proofs were again read, and generally speaking, the third likewise; not to mention the frequent revisions of proofs besides, which are common in correcting the press. This proved indeed a very tiresome and tedious task; but was not more than was absolutely necessary in order to attain the degree of accuracy that was wished. A particular attention was required with respect to the figures belonging to the marginal References, where errors were continually creeping in after a manner that would appear highly astonishing to those, who have never been concerned in correcting multitudes of figures, as they come from the press.

When the quarto Sheets were printed off, the Forms were lengthened out in order to make up the folio edition; in doing which the parts were often so jumbled together, and such Confusion introduced by misplacing the References and mistaking the Chronology, that nothing else would suffice than a fresh Collation of the whole with the quarto Copy, and a repetition of almost the same trouble and care in the revisal, and in making up the running Titles anew, as had been used before. But the Editor thinks he has just reason to congratulate himself on the opportunity hereby given him of discovering and correcting some few trivial inaccuracies, which in spite of all his vigilance had escaped his notice in the quarto edition. So that the folio edition is rendered by this somewhat the more perfect of the two, and therefore more fit to be recommended for a standard Copy.

The Editor humbly hopes this Account of his proceedings will not be unacceptable to the Board; and will think his time and pains not ill bestowed, if he shall have succeeded in his desire of giving satisfaction to those who honoured him with the employment, and of contributing in any wise to God’s honour, and the public utility.

B. BLAYNEY.

Hertford College,
Oct. 25, 1769.