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By: ALFRED E. GILES (1897)


The Bible now in general use in English-speaking countries is that authorized by King James A, D. 1611. It is also the basis of the recent version, A. D. 1881.
But it was not possible to make a correct translation of the Hebrew Bible into the English tongue at the time the work was undertaken in the reign of King James.

There did not then, and does not now exist, any manuscript or copy of the Hebrew Old Testament known and accepted by competent scholars as absolutely correct.
What the Polychrome Bible may be, future scholars will determine. One cause of this deficiency of exactitude or certainty, was the poverty of the earliest Hebrew manuscripts in the use of vowel letters.

The rows or successive lines of letters were composed of consonants without vowels; nor were the lines divided into words. The words which were subsequently formed out of them, in process of time were without points or accents to indicate pronunciation.
Consequently, under these disabilities, no uniform reading or understanding of the original Hebrew text was attainable.
Prof. Moses Stuart, in his critical "History of the Old Testament Canon," page 192, declared that

"Some eighty thousand various readings can occur out of the Hebrew consonants; how many as to the vowel points and accents no man knows."
But there gradually arose, commencing about the third
century A. D. and continuing until about the eleventh century, a process called the Massoretic,
a traditional mode of writing and pronouncing, whereby it was attempted to fix an immutable reading upon each word and letter of the text.
Out of the fifty- four appointed revisers (graduates of Oxford and Cambridge universities) engaged on the King James version, only Mr. Lively was a competent Hebraist.

He and six others died before the completion of the work. So that King James's authorized version of 1611 is, with certain revisions of previous English versions, simply and purely a translation of the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate.

The Septuagint is a Greek version of the Old Testament, but by whom, when and where translated is all uncertain.

Origen, the father of biblical criticism, born in Alexandria 188 A. D., in the early part of the third century, constructed the famous Hexapla, so called from its six unfoldings or versions of the Hebrew book.

It consisted of one version in Hebrew letters, and five different translations in Greek letters, so arranged in parallel columns that six versions of any Old Testament verse would all appear on one and the same page.
It was intended, probably, as an assistance in the settlement of some of the many biblical and doctrinal questions which more or less agitated the Christians of that age.
Origen was not a Jew, nor under any obligation to refrain from using in his version of the Septuagint the proper name of the Hebrew God, "Jehovah," " Yahweh," " Jah," or however otherwise it may be spelled or pronounced.
Instead of that special and proper name, a title - ie., Kurios, signifying "Lord"—was used.
That apparently harmless error has since proved to be a great stumbling block in the normal development of what is yet to be a religion more humane, liberal and spiritual than that which for eighteen centuries has dominated Christendom.
Renan, in his History of the People of Israel, declared "the Septuagint to be one of the most important works in history." He exalts it as the Bible of infant Christianity.

"It was, in one sense, the Bible of mankind, for the Latin Bible proceeded from it. St. Jerome only in part supplied its place."

It was the Bible of Philo, of Josephus, of St. Paul, and the early Christians, who made it the basis of their apologetic writings. Some of the Messianic arguments which converted the world came from blunders.

"The religious history of the world," says Renan, "is made up of repeated misconceptions."
(Page 203.)

The Vulgate is St. Jerome's version of the Old and New Testaments.
He was an intense controversialist, upholding the Roman supremacy in its schism with the Greek Church, and was commissioned, about the year 382 A. D., by Pope Damasus, to revise and correct the then existing Latin versions by the original Greek.

This work he performed, and it was so satisfactory to the Pope and the church officials, that he was encouraged to proceed.
Relying largely on the Hexapla, of which he possessed a pure and perfect copy, he translated into Latin, all parts of the Old and New Testaments.
He was among the most learned of the Latin Fathers;

he translated the Chronicon of Eusebius, & was doubtless familiar with Easebius's "Preparatio Evangelica," chapter thirty-one in Book XII. of which work is entitled, "How far it may be proper to use falsehood as a medicine, & for the benefit of those who require to be deceived."
Eusebius also closed his "Preparatione" :

"Thus I have reported whatever may redound to the glory, and suppressed all that could tend to the disgrace, of our religion," evidently believing such disregard of truth for the glory of his religion, convincing evidence of the genuineness of his Christian character;
an acknowledgment, however, which in modern courts of
justice—where witnesses are sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth—would discredit both him and his testimony.
Under such influences St. Jerome, zealous for the papacy, was not likely to understate or overlook any word or clause
(or, if in his opinion proper, to alter or supply it) tending to exalt and augment the majesty of his God and the power
of his church.
His version of the Testaments— at first entitled "Bibliotheca Divina" but now known as the Vulgate—has, since the Council of Trent (1545-1563), been accepted as authoritative, and is the parent of the commonly-received English and American versions.

As the authorized Version of 1611, under the auspices of King James, was by his Majesty's special command translated and revised; and as it was a matter that specially, and at times absorbingly, interested him;
and, moreover, as the work was performed by revisers appointed by him, and subject to rules which he prescribed, it is pertinent, perhaps needful, here to allude to certain of his peculiarities and characteristics,
which either eminently fitted or otherwise disqualified him for that "most godly" work, then so called, which he had taken upon himself to see perfected.
Professor John Eadie, D. D., LL. D., has recorded in his History of the English Bible, that James was indeed made
up of contrasts, and his character presents a species of

"In early life he was an old young man. He was awkward in gait and uncouth in personal manner, while he ate and drank and played like a boor- His tongue being too large for his mouth, his loquacity was a continuous sputter.
While he wallowed in filth, moral and physical, it was his joy to regard himself as the "Lord's anointed." His hatreds were as unaccountable as his likings, which might vary, but his prejudices always tended to ripen into lasting antipathies.
When he suspected that people imagined him to be
facile, he sunk into fits of sullenness and obstinacy, lest, to use his own words, he should be regarded as "led by the nose" or thought to be "an irresolute ass."
Sir Edward Coke, his attorney-general longing for preferment, extolled him as "divinely illuminated by Almighty God, and like an angel of God."

King James wrote on theology and tobacco. "His common talk was an infringement of the third commandment."
He prided himself on his profound skill in kingcraft, which was too often but another name for insincerity and absolution ; and yet he was hailed as "the wisest fool in Christendom."
His belief in kingly supremacy was only excelled by his belief in himself. He held that it was "blasphemy for divines to dispute what God might do;" so it was sedition for subjects to discuss "what a king may do in the height of his power."
He was "a great frequenter of sermons," and acquired a wonderful knowledge of Scripture and theology.
His precocious acquaintance with the Bible was noted in his eighth year. In his manhood biblical studies had an irresistible charm for him, and he composed commentaries and translated Psalms.
In his twentieth year he produced his "Paraphrase upon the Revelation of St. John,"
and at a little more than twenty he published "An fruitful meditations," etc., on some verses of the twentieth chapter of the same book, "by the maist Christian King and syncere professour and chief defender of the faith, James the Sixth, King Scotte's."
His love of orthodoxy was overcome by his worship of kingly
prerogative, as appears in his sonnet to his son. Prince Henry:
"God gives not kings the stile of Gods in vaine,
For on his throne his sceptre do they sway;
And as their subjects ought them to obey, So kings should feere and serve their God again."
Tolerance of divergical opinion was distasteful to him; and when he failed by his logic and learning to convert Legget from Arianism, he sent him to be burnt at Smithfield, 18th March, 1611.

List of people executed in Smithfield:

On the next month Edward Wrightman, for a combination of heresies, was burnt in the market-place of Litchfield.

He enjoined certain topics for treatment in sermons, and prescribed others, as "Predestination, Election, Reprobation, and the Universality, Efficacy, Resistability and Irresistability of God's grace."
He possessed marvelous familiarity with the Scriptures-—a familiarity which grew with his growth, and became at length as distinctive of him as his "circular hobble, or his thickly-quilted hose and doublet."
He was weak and good natured; he impoverished his exchequer to enrich parasites ; he degraded the prerogative of the crown by the sale of titles of dignity.
"He was indeed," says Macauley, "made up of two men— a witty, well read scholar, who wrote, disputed and wrangled ; and a nervous, drivelling idiot, who acted.

To him are we largely, if not solely, indebted for our authorized version (of 1611), which is dedicated "To the most high and mighty Prince, James, Defender of the Faith,' etc."
It is from the Bible that our knowledge is derived of the
existence, name, nature, and character of that Spiritual Being who for centuries has been the chief object of public worship by Jews and Christians;
End of thread.

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