Chapter 4: Forging The Metal
[Footnotes are in red and placed in brackets]
“God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age,
some by sickness, some by war, some by justice.”
-John Donne, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions (1624)
From the fire of the Reformation the word of God was forged for the laity. No longer did it solely rest in the hands of ecclesiastical orders. Yet the privilege did not come without a price. Many saints sacrificed wealth, reputation, and ultimately their lives, in order to secure a copy of sacred Scripture. It is because of their suffering that we have been granted the franchise to read the Bible for ourselves. For this, we owe them eternal gratitude and the responsibility to recognize their efforts.
The German Bible
Perhaps no other translation of the Bible, apart from the King James Version, has had a greater impact upon its people and their culture than the German Bible of Martin Luther(1483-1546). Not only has this delightful version affected the history and language of Germany, but also the many immigrants and early settlers who carried their copy of Die Heilige Schrift to the United States.
Students of history recognize the great contribution Martin Luther made to the common faith. It was Luther who echoed the cry of justification by faith and brought Reformation to Germany. At first he began a career in law. However, following a narrow escape from a storm, Luther decided to become a Catholic monk. After a study of Scripture on the doctrine of justification through faith, Luther published his Ninety-Five Theses and nailed it to the door of the church at Wittenberg in 1517. He spent the next few years defending his charges, only to be excommunicated in 1521. In April of that same year, Luther was summoned before the Holy Roman Emperor at the Diet of Worms. There he refused to recant and was banished from the empire.
Luther fled to Wartburg, and for the next eight months worked on his translation of the New Testament. The Greek text used by Luther was the one produced by Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536). This text was based on the Traditional Text and later became known as the Textus Receptus. Luther’s translation not only provided the German people with the Bible in their own language; it set the standard for the German language for centuries to follow. [Earle E. Cairns, Christianity Through The Centuries (1954; reprint, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1967), 318.]
The Spanish Bible
The standard Spanish Bible is the Reina-Valera Version. It has been called theKing James Version of the Spanish-speaking world. [“Remembering Casiodoro De Reina,” Bible Society Record (1969). Wilton Nelson, “New Light from an Old Lamp,” Latin American Evangelist Jan/Feb (1970), 9.] It is the labor of two men, Casidoro de Reina and Cipriano de Valera, who suffered for the cause of Christ in order to provide their people God’s word in their native tongue. As with the German Bible of Luther, this Spanish Bible is based on the Traditional Text.
Casidoro de Reina (1520-1594) was the first to translate the Bible into Spanish. His work took twelve years to complete at the cost of great personal sacrifice. He was born in Seville and became a Catholic monk. While at the San Isidro Monastery of Seville, he heard the lectures of the Superior of the monastery, Dr. Blanco Garcia Arias, who had been influenced by the preaching of the Albigenses. Being exposed to the writings of the Reformers and reading the Old Latin Bible of the Waldenses, Reina was converted to Protestantism.
Upon his conversion, persecution fell upon him. Reina had to flee Spain, never to return, in order to escape the claws of the Inquisition. Along with ten of his friends, Reina arrived in Frankfurt, Germany in 1557. Two years later he moved to London and became the pastor of a group of Spanish Protestants who also had escaped Spain and the Inquisition. Later, because of persecution in England, Reina and his wife fled to Antwerp in the Netherlands. During this time, he worked on his Spanish Bible. In 1569, he published twenty-six hundred copies of the entire Bible in Spanish. It was nicknamed the “Bear Bible” because it featured on its title page an engraving of a bear retrieving honey from a tree.
The Inquisition seized as many copies of this version as possible and had them destroyed, calling it the most dangerous edition of the Bible. [S. L. Greenslade, The Cambridge History of the Bible (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 126.] The Roman Church had issued a decree stating that the Bible in Spanish or in any other common tongue was prohibited. [Ibid., 125.] Consequently, few copies of Reina’s Spanish Version ever made it into Spain. Notwithstanding, it was greatly used by Spanish-speaking refugees who fled Spain because of the persecution.
After the publication of his Bible, Reina organized a church that became noted for its zeal and evangelistic outreach in Frankfurt. He remained the pastor of this church until his death on March 16, 1594. To Spanish and Latin-American Christians, Casiodoro de Reina was more than a Bible translator; he was a hero in the faith.
Cipriano de Valera (1531-1602) was one of Reina’s friends who fled Spain with him in 1557. Like Reina, Valera had been a monk at the San Isidro Monastery in Seville. It was there he first heard the gospel of redemption and was converted. Soon after he arrived in Frankfurt, Valera moved to Geneva where he became a follower of reformer John Calvin. He became a street preacher and later moved to England to study at the University of Cambridge. Afterwards, he taught at the University of Oxford. While in England, he translated Calvin’s Institutes into Spanish and wrote a book entitled El Papa y la Misa (The Pope and the Mass). In it, he condemned the authority of the Pope and the service of the mass, calling it pagan. While in England, he married and began a ministry to seamen as well as a ministry to those imprisoned.
In 1582, Valera began to revise the work of Reina. His revision was thorough but conservative in that he made as few changes to Reina’s text as possible. At the age of seventy, after twenty long years of working on his revision, Valera published what has become known as the Reina-Valera Version. Valera wrote:
“The reason that motivated me to make this edition was the same that motivated Casidoro de Reina, who was motivated by the pious Person, the Lord himself, and wanted to spread the glory of God and make a clear service to his nation.” [Versiones Castellanas De La Biblia (Mexico: Casa De Publicasciones), 38-39. Translation here and afterwards is the present author’s.]
Valera believed his Bible was the perfect word of God for the Spanish-speaking people. One authoritative Spanish-language work on Bible translations in that language, Versiones Castellanas De La Biblia, states: “The authors [Reina and Valera] claim to have penetrated to the depths of Holy Scriptures and have translated with perfection the Greek and Hebrew languages.” [Ibid., 19.] Like Reina, Valera is a hero in the faith.Because of his belief in personal salvation by grace alone through faith, and his desire to see the word of God published in Spanish, this same work records that “Valera suffered great misery.” [Ibid., 39.] It is also noted, “When the Lord rewards his servants, Cipriano de Valera will receive a great prize from the hand of the Saviour.” [Ibid.]
The Early English Bibles
The history of the English Bible is a rich history. Like the Scriptures themselves, it records the best and worst in man. It shows the beauty of man’s expressions, the pureness of his devotion, and the depth of his sacrifice. History also records man’s vile thoughts, misguided piety, and the extent of his depravity. The freedom we have to read the word of God in our own language was paid for with the price of sweat and blood.
Before we can understand the labors of English translators, we must understand the times they lived in. Until 1382 there was no English Bible. In fact, to have the Bible in the language of the people was forbidden. The church in power was the Roman Catholic Church, whose Bible was the Latin Vulgate and whose influence spread to the monarchy in England. The Church believed men would misunderstand and mistranslate the Scriptures, and they had the power of the state to enforce this ban. If we are to know the history of the English Bible, we must acquaint ourselves with the history of English monarchs. This is especially true of the years from William Tyndale to the translation of the Authorized Version, for during this time England faced it own Reformation.
The House Of Tudor
To help children remember the kings and queens of England, an unknown poet chronicled their reigns in verse. A great deal of truth concerning the House of Tudor is revealed in this rhyme:
Henry the Seventh was frugal of means;
Henry the Eighth had a great many queens.
Edward the Sixth reformation began;
Cruel Queen Mary prevented the plan.
Wise and profound were Elizabeth’s aims.
Henry VIII (reigned 1509-1547):
“Lord! open the King of England’s eyes,”was the fiery death cry of translator William Tyndale. [John Foxe, Foxe’s Book Of Christian Martyrs (Springdale, PA: Whitaker House, 1981), 136.] The king he was praying for was Henry VIII, the second king of the House of Tudor (1485-1603).Tyndale’s prayer was answered, for during the time of Henry several major English translations appeared with the king’s approval and the Church of England was born.
Henry’s elder brother Arthur had been Prince of Wales and heir apparent to their father, Henry VII, but died in 1502 before taking the throne. Arthur was married to Catherine of Aragon in a political alliance between England and Spain. Henry became king upon his father’s death and married Catherine to continue the alliance with Spain. All was well for a period of time, but when Catherine did not give Henry any male children he sought to divorce her. As scriptural proof for his divorcethe king cited Leviticus 20:21, “And if a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless.”
Pope Clement VII, however, was unwilling to grant the divorce. This did not stop the king. In 1529 Henry held a trial in London to divorce Catherine. The trial reached no decision, so the king dismissed his chief minister, Cardinal Wolsey, and made Thomas Cromwell his new chief minister. Cromwell proposed to Parliament that England break with Rome and appoint the Archbishop of Canterbury as the highest officer in the English church. Parliament passed legislation to this effect in 1533, and the Archbishop granted the divorce. Immediately afterwards, Henry married Anne Boleyn; however, as is well known to students of history, this was not the end of Henry’s marriages. During his reign he married six times: Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard, and Catherine Parr. Three of Henry’s children ruled England: Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I.
Edward VI (reigned 1547-1553):
Edward was the son of Henry and Jane Seymour, Henry’s third wife. He was only nine years old when he became king of England. Educated by Protestant tutors, he favored major reforms in the Church of England. During his reign the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, compiled the Book of Common Prayer. This prayer book offered an English version of prayers, devotions, and Scripture readings instead of the Latin liturgy used in the Roman Catholic Church. However, the young king became ill in 1552 and died on July 6, 1553.
Mary I (reigned 1553-1558):
“Light came and went and came again.” So wrote Thomas Wolfe in his semi-autobiographical story, The Lost Boy. The same imagery comes to mind during the reign of Mary Tudor. She brought with her rule days of darkness. Born of Henry and Catherine of Aragon on February 18, 1516, Mary became queen of England upon the death of her half-brother Edward. She was a strong Catholic who sought to bring England back under the Papacy.
Misguided by her zeal, she soon earned for herself the infamous name “Bloody Mary.” During the last three years of her reign she executed over three hundred Protestants by burning them at the stake. One of these was the Archbishop himself, Thomas Cranmer. While imprisoned, Cranmer had signed a statement of recantation. Before being burned at the stake it is reported that Cranmer placed the hand he used to sign the statement in the fire first as a sign of his remorse. Many of the great scholars who were not executed fled to Geneva during this period. It was there that they produced the beloved Geneva Bible. [Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan, eds., The Oxford Companion To The Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 759.]
Elizabeth I (reigned 1558-1603):
Light came again with the rule of Elizabeth I. As Mary’s reign was noted for its bloodshed, Elizabeth’s was noted for its glory. Born on September 7, 1533, Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry and Anne Boleyn. It is during her reign we have what is now referred to as the “Elizabethan Age,” considered to be one of England’s grandest periods of history.
England’s advancements were massive. In literature, great works by Shakespeare, Spenser, and Marlowe were composed and a fine tuning of the English language developed that influenced novelists and playwrights for years to come. In exploration, achievements included the rewards of seamen such as Drake, Hawkins, and Raleigh, the establishment of the East India Company, the first colonies in the New World, and the defeat of the Spanish Armada. Advancements in religion range from the “Elizabethan Settlement” that helped soothe the strong conflict between Catholicism and Calvinism to the reestablishment of the Church of England and the reissuing of the Book of Common Prayer. It was also during this time the Bishops’ Bible was translated, which helped to guide the translators of the Authorized Version.
Elizabeth’s reign was not without conflict. Mary, Queen of Scots, fled to England in 1568 to escape a rebellion in Scotland. Mary was a strong Roman Catholic and thus became the axis of several English Catholic conspiracies that arose, seeking to reestablish the primacy of the Roman Church. This finally led Elizabeth to have Mary arrested and sentenced to death in 1587. Mary’s son, James, was King James VI of Scotland. Upon the death of Elizabeth, he became King James I of England in 1603. As staunch a Protestant as his mother had been a Catholic, James was the monarch who permitted the translators to produce the Bible that now commonly bears his name.
John Wycliffe (1324-1384)
“I believe that in the end the truth will conquer.” So wrote John Wycliffe (or Wyclif) to the Duke of Lancaster in 1381. Although Wycliffe’s translation was taken from the Latin Vulgate, and was not one of the translations underlying the Authorized Version, his accomplishments demand discussion in any survey of early English versions of the Bible.It was Wycliffe who gave us the first English translation of the whole Bible, and it was his labor that inspired others to follow in his footsteps by translating the word of God in the language of the people.
Wycliffe translated the New Testament by himself, but was most likely aided by Nicholas of Hereford with the Old Testament. His Bible was introduced in 1382 and later was revised by John Pervy. This was a noble task because the printing press had yet to be invented and all copies of the translation were written by hand. Today we have almost two hundred of these handwritten Wycliffe Bibles.
Though still in the Roman Church, Wycliffe and his followers (a group of poor monks known as Lollards) taught doctrines that differed significantly with the teachings of the Catholic Church of that day. They believed in the authority of the word of God and that it should be translated into English. They believed in a personal salvation based upon divine election. And they rejected the doctrines of transubstantiation and indulgences. Further, they taught that the Church’s hierarchy was unscriptural and that the Pope had no more authority then any other priest. Obviously, their doctrines were unpopular with Rome.
Several of the Lollards suffered for their faith. John Purvey and Nicholas of Hereford, who helped with the Wycliffe translation, were arrested and forced to recant their beliefs. In London in 1382, after many of Wycliffe’s teachings were condemned as heretical, a great number of his followers in Oxford were also forced to recant. Wycliffe himself, however, was never tried nor martyred. Still his memory and work received the wrath of Rome. Wycliffe was forced into retirement and remained at his rectory at Lutterworth, England until his death in 1384. In 1401 Parliament ordered the penalty of death for those caught teaching and proclaiming the doctrines of John Wycliffe. On May 4, 1415 the Council of Constance ordered Wycliffe’s body to be exhumed and burned for heresy.
The following compares the translation of Wycliffe with that of the King James Version in one of the most popular Psalms of Scripture, the Shepherd’s Psalm.
Psalm 23:1-6 (KJV)
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Psalm 23:1-6 (Wycliffe Version)
The lord gouerneth me, and no thing schal fail to me; In the place of pasture there he hath set me. He nourished me on the water of refreshing; He conurtide my soul. He lead me forth on the paths of rightfulness; for his name. For whi though Y shall go in the midest of shadow of death; Y shall not dread evil, for thou art with me. thy yard and thy staff; tho han comforted me. Thou hast made ready a boord in my sight; agens hem that troblen me. Thou hast made fat myn heed with oyle; and my cuppe, fillinge greetli, is ful cleer. And thi merci schal sue me; in alle the daies of my lijf. And that Y dwelle in the hows of the Lord; in to the lengthe of daies.
William Tyndale (1494-1536)
The name of William Tyndale has borne the slander of the Roman Catholic Church. In his own day, Sir Thomas More accused him of “abominable heresies,” and twentieth-century Catholic historian Henry G. Graham refers to Tyndale as an inept rebellious priest. [Henry G. Graham, Where We Got the Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church, 22nd edition (Rockford: Tan Books and Publishers, 1987), 123.] Despite the defamation, God used William Tyndale to provide for us the first English Bible printed on the printing press. Tyndale also set the stage for the English translations that followed.
John Foxe provides us with a contrasting view of this saint of God. Foxe tells us of his early training at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and as a schoolmaster who taught the children of the Knight of Gloucestershire. Foxe also points out it was in this capacity that Tyndale earned himself a reputation for being contentious with local priests who would visit the Knight and his family. [Foxe, 136.] Despite his leanings towards biblical debate, Foxe describes Tyndale as a gracious man who opened his heart and home to strangers and offered fellowship to all that wished it.
It was his openness and generosity that led to his demise. While in Antwerp, Tyndale befriended fellow Englishman Henry Philips. Tyndale showed Philips all his works, translations, plans, and personal theology. He trusted Philips as a good man and fellow believer. Philips was neither. Like Judas of old, Philips arranged with officers for the arrest of William Tyndale and then, while in the public street, pointed to Tyndale so the officials knew whom to arrest.
Tyndale’s “crime” was the publishing of God’s word in the language of the people. He was charged with heresy and sentenced to death by burning. While tied to the stake and awaiting his fiery death, William Tyndale offered his final prayer before being ushered into eternity, beseeching the Lord to “open the King of England’s eyes.” Once again the English Bible was purchased with the blood of the saints.
Tyndale used the Traditional Text and laid the foundation for the KJV that followed years later. Although Tyndale translated a few Old Testament books, his emphasis was on the New Testament, of whichhis translation was first published in 1525. However, Cuthbert Tunstall, Bishop of London, seized and burnt most of these editions in London in October of 1526. Only two first editions survive today. Tyndale published revised and corrected editions in 1534 and 1535.
One interesting historical fact concerning Tunstall and his collection and consequent burning of Tyndale’s New Testament should be noted. In order to assure that all copies were retrieved, Tunstall arranged to purchase a large quantity of Tyndale’s earlier editions. The monies paid by Tunstall for these earlier defective copies were used by Tyndale to finance the revision of his New Testament. Thus, Tunstall unknowingly furthered the translation and publication of the English version he so greatly hated.
The following comparison illustrates the impact Tyndale’s New Testament had on the Authorized Version.
Matthew 6:9-13 (KJV)
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Matthew 6:9-13 (Tyndale)
After thys maner therfore praye ye. O oure father which arte in heven, halowed be thy name. Let thy kyngdome come. Thy will be fulfilled, as well in erth, as it is in heven. Geve us this daye oure dayly breede. And forgeve us oure treaspases, even as we forgeve oure trespacers. And leade us not into temptacion: but delyver us from evyll. For thyne is the kyngedome and the power, and the glorye for ever. Amen.
Miles Coverdale (1488-1569)
Tyndale’s final prayer was answered in the work of Miles Coverdale. Coverdale had befriended Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII. In addition, the chief minister to Henry was Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury who encouraged Coverdale in his translational work. Consequently, the Lord was setting the stage to provide England and the English-speaking world with its first translation approved by a king.
God used Miles Coverdale in a unique way because Coverdale labored on three early English translations: his own Coverdale’s Bible (1535), the Great Bible (1539), and the Geneva Bible (1560). Indirectly he helped with the Matthew’s Bible (1537) and the Bishops’ Bible (1568), as these were revisions of his works. All of these early translations, as well as Tyndale’s translations, were based on the Traditional Text and used by the translators of the KJV of 1611. These were the English translations referred to by the KJV translators when they wrote:
“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 excepted against; that hath been our endeavour, that our mark.”
Miles Coverdale was born in Yorkshire, the birthplace of John Wycliffe. He was educated at Cambridge and became an Augustinian friar. In 1528, after embracing the teachings of Martin Luther, Coverdale left the priesthood and was forced to leave England. Coverdale soon became a disciple of William Tyndale and took up his work of translating the Bible in the English language. His first translation of the Old Testament as it is found in the Coverdale’s Bible was not translated from Hebrew, a language he did not know, but from German and Latin. His New Testament was a revision of Tyndale’s New Testament. When he published his Bible in October 1535, it became the first complete Bible printed in English.
Matthew’s Bible (1537)
Thomas Matthew was the pseudonym of John Rogers (1500-1555). Rogers received his degree from Cambridge in 1525 and became a priest in London. In 1534 he went to Antwerp as chaplain to the Merchant Adventurers. There, he became associated with William Tyndale and was converted to Protestantism. Rogers, with his wife and eight children, went to Wittenberg where he pastored a church. Under the reign of Queen Mary, Rogers was charged with heresy and was burned at the sake for the gospel.
His work is a mixture of Tyndale and Coverdale. The New Testament is William Tyndale’s, as are the first five books of the Old Testament. Some also attest that Joshua to 2 Chronicles were likewise the work of Tyndale, which he finished shortly before his death and were first published here by Rogers. The rest of the Old Testament is the work of Coverdale.
The Great Bible (1539)
This was the second major work done by Miles Coverdale, called the Great Bible because of its size. It is a very thick Bible with pages measuring nine inches wide and fifteen inches long. It was produced for English churches with the full approval of the king, Henry VIII. Some consider this the first “authorized” Bible because the king approved it and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, oversaw it.
This version, based on the Traditional Text of the New Testament, was revised and altered in accordance with the Latin Vulgate. It never became “great” with the public and ceased publication within thirty years. The desire for an English Bible still remained. The public longed for a Bible that the average Englishman could hold in his hands and read at home. This need was met with the Geneva Bible that followed.
The following compares the Great Bible with the King James Version. The spelling in the KJV reflects our current editions, while the spelling in the Great Bible remains as it was in 1539.
Mark 1:1-3 (KJV)
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
Mark 1:1-3 (Great Bible)
The begynnynge of the Gospell of Jesu Chryst the sonne of God, As it is written in the Prophetes, behold, I sende my messenger before thy face which shall prepare thy waye before the. The voyce of a cryer in the wildernes: prepare ye the waye of the Lorde, and make his pathes strayte.
The Geneva Bible (1560)
In 1553, Mary became Queen of England and began a fiery persecution against Protestants. The Great Bible was removed from churches, and many Christians fled the country in order to escape her religious wrath. Many of those who fled persecution found refuge in Geneva. Knowing the need to preserve God’s word in English, some who had either suffered persecution under Mary, or had fled because of the persecution she produced, began work on a new translation of the Bible. In 1557 the New Testament was published. It was mostly the work of William Whittingham, brother-in-law of the great reformer John Calvin. With the aid of Anthony Gilby and Thomas Sampson, Whittingham immediately revised his New Testament. For the Old Testament, the 1550 edition of the Great Bible was used and revised. By 1560 the entire Geneva Biblewas complete and published.
It was produced in a handy size using Roman type that made it easier to read than the “black letter” used in earlier English Bibles. It also contained several notations that the Catholic Church found offensive. For example, the notation found in Revelation 9:3, which describes the locust coming out of the pit, reads, “Locusts are false teachers, heretics, and worldly, subtle prelates, with monks, friars, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, doctors, bachelors, and masters, which forsake Christ to maintain false doctrine.” Unlike previous translations, it was the work of a committee and not the work of one man or a revision of one man’s work. Readers of William Shakespeare will undoubtedly recognize many of the citations from the Geneva Bible, for it was the translation from which he quoted in his plays.
Colossians 1:12-17 (KJV)
Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son: In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
Colossians 1:12-17 (Geneva Bible)
Gyving thankes unto the Father, whiche hathe made us mete to be partakers of the inheritance of the Saintes in light. Who hathe delivered us from the power of darkenes, and hathe translated us into the kingdome of His deare Sonne. In whom we have redemption through His bloode, (that is, ) the forgivenes of sinnes. Who is the image of the invisible God, the first borne of everie creature. For by him were all things created, which are in heaven, and which are in earth, things visible and invisible: whether (they be) Thrones, or Dominions, or Principalities, or Powers, all thynges were created by hym and for hym. And he is before all thynges, and in hym all things consist.
The Bishops’ Bible (1568)
Perhaps the loveliest Bible printed at this time was the Bishops’ Bible, a large folio with many beautiful engravings throughout. Following the persecutions and the banning of the Scriptures during Queen Mary’s reign, Queen Elizabeth, who succeeded Mary to the English throne, ordered the Bible to be restored to the British churches. Archbishop of Canterbury Matthew Parker, desiring a new translation, assigned sections of the Great Bible to a team of bishops for revision. This occurred in 1566, and the new revision was accomplished and published in 1568. It had fewer notes than the Geneva Bible and was designed to give the clergy and congregates of the Church of England one official, standard Bible. However, it was not successful in this task. Because this version was issued under the authority of Queen Elizabeth, it is considered the second “authorized” English Bible.
Revelation 1:1-3 (KJV)
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
Revelation 1:1-3 (Bishops’ Bible)
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, for to shewe unto his servauntes thinges which must shortly come to passe: and when he had sent, he shewed by his Angel unto his servant John, Which bare record of the word of God, and of the testimonie of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Happie is he that readeth, and they that heare the wordes of this prophecie, and keepe those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
“A Good One Better”
The goal of the translators of the Authorized Version was to make their new translation even better than its predecessors. As we have seen, these translators stated that they did not consider previous translations bad, but wanted to make “out of many good ones, one principal good one, not justly to be excepted against.” Their desire was to take God’s word in English and provide one principal translation based on these earlier English Protestant versions. Their work was successful. The KJV was not only based on earlier English versions, but also became the standard English Bible for the next four hundred years.
There is even more information in the book, including extended footnotes and three appendixes.
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