Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rules for the KJV Translation

The rules for the translators of the Authorized (King James) Version of the Bible were as follows:

1. The first instructed them to make the "Bishop's Bible," so called, the basis of their work, altering it no further than fidelity to the originals required.

2. The second rule requires that the mode then used of spelling the proper names should be retained as far as might be.

3. The third rule requires "the old ecclesiastical words to be kept," such as "church" instead of "congregation."

4. The fourth rule prescribes, that where a word has different meanings, that is to be preferred which has the general sanction of the most ancient Fathers, regard being had to "the propriety of the place, and the analogy of faith."

5. The fifth rule directs that the divisions into chapters be altered as little as may be.

6. The sixth rule, agreeably to Dr. Reynolds's wise suggestion at Hampton Court, prohibits all notes or comments, thus obliging the translators to make their version intelligible without those dangerous helps.

7. The seventh rule provides for marginal references to parallel or explanatory passages.

8. The eighth rule enjoins that each man in each company shall separately examine the same chapter or chapters, and put the translation into the best shape he can. The whole company must then come together, and compare what they have done, and agree on what shall stand. Thus in each company, according to the number of members, there would be from seven to ten distinct and carefully labored revisions, the whole to be compared, and digested into one copy of the portion of the Bible assigned to each particular company.

9. The ninth rule directs, that as fast as any company shall, in this manner, complete any one of the sacred books, it is to be sent to each of the other companies, to be critically reviewed by them all.

10. The tenth rule prescribes, that if any company, upon reviewing a book so sent to them, find any thing doubtful or unsatisfactory, they are to note the places, and their reasons for objecting thereto, and send it back to the company from whence it came. If that company should not concur in the suggestions thus made, the matter was to be finally arranged at a general meeting of the chief persons of all the companies at the end of the work. Thus every part of the Bible would be fully considered, first, separately, by each member of the company to which it was originally assigned; secondly, by that whole company in concert; thirdly, by the other five companies severally; and fourthly, by the general committee of revision. By this judicious plan, each part must have been closely scrutinized at least fourteen times.

11. The eleventh rule provides, that in case of any special difficulty or obscurity, letters shall be issued by authority to any learned man in the land, calling for his judgment thereon.

12. The twelfth rule requires every bishop to notify the clergy of his diocese as to the work in hand, and to "move and charge as many as, being skilful in the tongues, have taken pains in that kind, to send his particular observations" to some one of the companies.

13. The thirteenth rule appoints the directors of the different companies.

14. The fourteenth rule names five other translations to be used, "when they agree better with the text than the Bishop's Bible." These are Tyndale's; Matthew's, which is by Tyndale and John Rogers; Coverdale's; Whitchurch's, which is "Cranmer's,'' or the "Great Bible," and was printed by Whitchurch; and the Geneva Bible.

To these rules, Which were delivered to the Translators, there appears to have been added another, providing that, besides the directors of the six companies, "three or four of the most ancient and grave divines in either of the Universities, not employed in translating be designated by the Vice-Chancellors and Heads of Colleges, to be overseers of the Translation, as well Hebrew as Greek, for the better observation of the fourth rule."

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