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[PART III. reading of the Scriptures was encouraged by royal proclamations, acts of parliament, and by every other means, and there were many impressions (8) of the English Bible, it does not appear that there was any new translation of the Bible, or even any considerable correction of the old ones, during the seven years and an half that excellent prince sat upon the throne; but it was ordered, that the Epistles and Gospels, and the Lessons, both from the Old and New Testament, should be read in English in the Churches, in the manner they now are.
The terrors of persecution, in the reign of Queen Mary, drove many of our principal Reformers out of the Kingdom; several went to Geneva, and there employed themselves in making a new translation of the Bible. The New Testament was published in 1557, and the remainder of the work in 1560. This is called the Geneva Bible. It was accompanied with annotations, which were, as might be expected, from the place where they were written, of a Calvinistical cast; and therefore this translation was held in high esteem by the Puritans(t).
(s) Eleven of the whole Bible, and six of the New Testament. (t) " Above thirty editions of this were published
Soon after the accession of Queen Elizabeth, a new translation of the Bible was undertaken by royal command, and under the direction of archbishop Parker. Distinct portions, fifteen at least, were allotted to as many persons, eminent for their learning and abilities; they all performed the work assigned to them, and the whole was afterwards revised with great care by other critics. This translation was published in 1568, with a preface written by the archbishop; and it is generally called the Bishops Bible, because eight of the persons originally concerned in it were bishops.
by the Queen's and King's printers between 1560 and 1616, and others were printed at Edinburgh, Geneva, Amsterdam, &e. The New Testament of this is said to have been the first English edition of the Scriptures which was divided into verses. The Greek and Latin Bibles were not antiently divided into chapters or verses, at least not like those now used. Stephen Langton, archbishop of Canterbury, in the reigns of king John and of king Henry the Third, is said to have first contrived the division into chapters; others ascribe the invention to cardinal Hugo, a dominican monk of the 13th century, who adopted also subdivisions, distinguished by the seven first letters of the alphabet placed in the margin, as convenient for the use of the Concordance, which he first planned for the Vulgate. About 1445, Rabbi Mordecai Nathan, alias Rabbi Isaac Nathan, a western Jew, to facilitate the conduct of a controversy with the Christians, introduced this division of chapters into the Hebrew Bibles, and resumed also the antient division into verses numerically distinguished by marginal letters at every fifth verse, and from him the Christians received and improved the plan; and Robert Stephens adopted the division into the New Testament, of which he published a Greek edition in 1551. Vide Præfat. Buxtorf. ad Concord. Bibl. Hebraic. Morin. Exercit. Bibl. Præf. ad Concord. Græc. N. Test. Fabricii Bibliothec. Grec. lib. 4. cap. 5. Prid. vol. 1. book 5."Gray.
The Romanists, finding it impossible to keep the Scriptures out of the hands of the common people, printed at Rheims, in the year 1582, an English New Testament, translated from the Vulgate, but they retained in it
many Eastern, Greek, and Latin words, and contrived to render it unintelligible to common readers(u). The Old Testament was afterwards published at Douay, in two volumes, the former in 1609, and the latter in 1610.
In the conference held at Hampton Court, in 1603, before King James the First, between the Episcopalians and Puritans, Dr. Reynolds, the speaker of the Puritans, requested his Majesty that a new translation of the Bible might be made; alleging, that those which had been al
(u) Fuller, in the ninth book of his Church History, called it, "a translation which needed to be translated."
lowed in former reigns were incorrect; and in 1604, the King commissioned fifty-four learned men of the universities and other places to make a new and more faithful translation of the Bible, according to rules which he himself prescribed. Seven of those who were appointed either died before the work was begun, or declined to engage in it; and the other forty-seven were divided into six companies, who met at Cambridge, Oxford, and Westminster, and translated the books, respectively assigned to them. This work was begun in the spring of the year 1607, and at the end of three years it was finished. Two persons selected from the Cambridge translators, two from those of Oxford, and two from those of Westminster, then met at Stationers Hall in London, and read over and corrected the whole. Lastly, it was reviewed by Bilson bishop of Winchester, and Dr. Myles Smith, who prefixed arguments to the several books (x). Dr. Smith wrote the preface, and the person alluded to in it as “ the chief overseer and task-master,” is supposed to have been Bancroft bishop of London. This translation was published in 1611; and the
improvements (x) The chronological index and marginal references were afterwards added by Bishop Lloyd, one of the seven bishops imprisoned in the reign of James the Second,
improvements made in it were such as might have been expected from the judicious care with which it was conducted, and the joint labours of so many distinguished men :-" It is a most wonderful and incomparable work, equally remarkable for the general fidelity of its construction, and the magnificent simplicity of its language (y).” This is the translation now in use(2). Since that time there has been no authorized translation of any part of the sacred volume.
Happy, thrice happy, hath our English nation been, since God hath given it learned translators, to express in our mother tongue the heavenly mysteries of his holy word, delivered to
(2) It may, perhaps, be useful to state, under one point of view, the different printed translations which have been noticed, with their dates : Tyndal's first translation of the New Testament
- 1526 Tyndal's more correct translation of Do 1530 Tyndal's translation of the Pentateuch 1530 Coverdale's translation of the whole Bible 1535 Matthews's Bible
- 1537 The Great Bible
- 1539 Cranmer's Bible
- 1540 The Geneva Bible
- 1560 The Bishops Bible
1568 The Rheims Bible
1582, &c. King James's Bible