INCLUDING EXCERPTS FROM,
The Translators Revived
by Alexander McClure, 1858
We do not know much about the men who translated the King James Bible--the word of God for the English-speaking people. Perhaps this is fitting lest too much honor should be bestowed upon man. However, given the current controversy over our beloved Authorized Version I believe it good and profitable to learn more about these men of God. Some defender of modern Bible perversions will immaturely accuse us of "worshipping the translators". But what saith the scriptures?Romans 13:7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
It is good and profitable to remember our fathers in the faith and the contributions they made for our good. Let's turn off the hell-i-vision and get some knowledge. It is good to look into the "olde things".
Jeremiah 6:16 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.
Will you ask for the old paths? When you find profitable things there, will you take heed to them? Unlike folks of today, the men of King James' time were true divines and scholars. I perceive that those who held bachelor's degrees could out-think most of the doctors of today. We'd think their doctor's were geniuses. The King James Bible translators were men who regularly debated in Latin and Greek, one had read the entire Bible in Hebrew by the time he was six, and on and on. But even more importantly, they were godly men devoted to spiritual pursuits. They believed that they were translating the very words of God--and they took their sacred duties seriously. As it states in the Translators to the Reader--Again, they came or were thought to come to the work, not exercendi causa (as one saith) but exercitati, that is, learned, not to learn:
Nowadays you've got "I-barely-know-Greek translators" who have their feet in everything from hell-i-vision to sodomy.
The King James Version translators took the baton passed on to them by devout men and martyrs who translated before them. Men like John Wiclif, aka "The Morning Star of the Reformation" who was the first to translate the entire Bible into English. Although he only had the Latin Vulgate to work with, you can see his influence on Tyndale's translation and ultimately our Authorized Version. Like Martin Luther, Dr. Wiclif was a member of the Romish religion when he was awakened to the truth through the reading of the scriptures. He spoke out vehemently against the Romish rites and practices which at that time had a stranglehold on the land. His followers were called Lollards and they went out like circuit preachers spreading the doctrine of Christ. Dr. Wiclif wrote tracts and spoke out against error. He was severely persecuted by the Romish religion while alive and was banished from Oxford and his professorship by order of the king. Nevertheless, the Lord delivered him out of Romish hands many times and allowed him to continue his translation work. In 1428, about 44 years after his death, Pope Martin V commanded Dr. Wiclif's bones to be dug up and burned as an arch heretick.
William Tyndale who translated from the Textus Receptus line, was strangled and burned at the stake by the Catholic religion because of translating the Bible. Time fails me here to speak of John Rogers, Myles Coverdale and others who labored AND DIED that we might have the word of God in our hands. The Authorized Version is a Book forged in blood, sweat and tears. Treasure it. The King James translators said this of the cumulative nature of their work--"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..."
Please do not be deceived into thinking that the King James Bible is only an amalgamation of previous translations. These scholars consulted the original languages and related languages."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."
Should the Lord will, I would like to publish information on the faithful saints who were persecuted, imprisioned, tortured, and killed by the Romish religion that we might have the word of God in our own tongue. They did not accept deliverance that they might obtain a better resurrection.
The following accounts of the King James translators are taken from, The Translators Revived by Alexander McClure published in 1858. I do not agree with all of Mr. McClure's historical commentary. In fact, I strongly disagree with his assessment of His Majestie King James VI & I whom Mr. McClure makes out to be worse than a heathen. One way this bias manifests itself is in Mr. McClure's narrative about Dr. Richard Bancroft, one of the translators close to the King:"...considering the control exercised by this towering prelate, and the fact that the great majority of the Translators were of his way of thinking, it is quite surprising that the work is not deeply tinged with their sentiments. On the whole, it is certainly very far from being a sectarian version, like nearly all which have since been attemped in English. It is said that Bancroft altered fourteen places, so as to make them speak in phrase to suit him...Two of those alleged alterations are quite preposterous. To have the glorious word "bishopric" occur at least once in the volume, the office is conferred, in the first chapter of Acts, on Judas Iscariot! 'His bishopric let another take.'"
Here Mr. McClure shows his ignorance of earlier Bible versions, which I just happen to have a copy of in the English Hexapla. The scripture in question is Acts 1:20 where the King James translators selected the word, "bishopricke". This translation was not unique to the King James Bible. In fact the word "bishopricke" was used in Wiclif's translation which was produced over 200 years before the King James Bible was ever thought about! Remember that the King James Bible came out in 1611. Look at the readings in these earlier translations--
Translation Year Reading Wiclif 1380 and it is writun in the book of salmes, the abitacioun of hem be made desert: and be there noon that dwelle in it, and another take his bischopriche, Tyndale 1534 It is written in the boke of Psalmes: His habitacion be voyde, and no man be dwellinge therin: and his bisshoprychke let another take. Cranmer 1539 For it is wrytten in the boke of Psalmes: hys habitacyon be voyde, and no man be dwellinge therin: and his Bisshoprycke let another take. King James 1611 For it is written in the booke of Psalmes, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: And his Bishopricke let another take. Geneva 1557 For it is written in the boke of Psalmes, Let his habitation be voyde, and no man dwel therin: And let another take his charge.
The only dissenting Bible in this group is the Geneva, a Puritan Bible. It was wrong for Mr. McClure to intimate that Dr. Bancroft arbitrarily added the word "bishoprick" for sectarian reasons. People have written this webmaster saying that the King James translators mis-translated certain items to placate the King. As we see in the above example, this simply is not true. Perhaps Mr. McClure's Puritanical bias has clouded his sense of objectivity (upon reading Translators Revived this Puritanical bias is easily seen). The Puritans and King James were not the closest of friends. In fact, Puritan Oliver Cromwell took over England after the regicide (means, killing of a king) of King James' son King Charles I.
All of this said, I believe Mr. McClure's narrative on the qualifications of the translators offers us some insight on these little known men. There are so few sources available on the King James Bible translators that I find myself at the mercy of Mr. McClure for this season. It is commonly reported that there were 54 translators selected to the translation but only 47 actually participated in the work. Mr. McClure's book chronicles 51 translators. As you read the translator's rules, you will see that other principal, learned men of the kingdom were also invited to make their comments on the work at hand.
The King James Bible translators were a collection of some of the world's best scholars. They approached this translation with the mindset that they were translating the very word of God, not just some book. The King James Bible has been called "the monument of English prose" as well as "the only great work of art ever created by a committee". Peek in and enjoy.
Please note that Translators Revived has not been published in its entirety herein.
INTRODUCTION TO THE TRANSLATION
(a little background information)
- The Hampton Court Conference
- Introduction to the Translators
- The Rules for Translating
- Translators to the Reader (this is not part of Translators Revived)
- Epistle Dedicatory (this is not part of Translators Revived)
BIOGRAPHIES OF THE
KING JAMES VERSION TRANSLATORS
I. The First Westminister Company--translated the historical books, beginning with Genesis and ending with the Second Book of Kings.
II. The Cambridge Company--translated Chronicles to the end of the Song of Songs.
III. The Oxford Company--translated beginning of Isaiah to the end of the Old Testament.
IV. The Second Oxford Company--translated the four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Revelation of St. John the Divine.
V. The Fifth Company of Translators at Westminster--translated all of the Epistles of the New Testament
VI. The Sixth Company of Translators at Cambridge translated the apocryphal books.
- Dr. John Duport, Dr. William Brainthwaite, Dr. Jeremiah Radcliffe
- Dr. Samuel Ward
- Dr. Andrew Downes, John Bois
- Dr. John Ward, Dr. John Aglionby, Dr. Leonard Hutten
Dr. Thomas Bilson, Dr. Richard Bancroft
The King James translators did not consider Apocrypha scripture--
Alexander McClure on the Apocryphal committee.
Why the Apocrypha is not is the Bible.
The King James Bible is a Greek and Hebrew Lexicon
THE BATTLE FOR THE KING JAMES BIBLE: 1800-1870
| Eternal Life | Hell is Real | The Gospel According to John |
| My Testimony |Why I Read the Authorized KJV Bible|
| The Hymnal | Messianic Prophecies Fulfilled by Jesus Christ |
| Epistle Dedicatory to the Authorized King James of 1611 |
Home for hundreds of articles.