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GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO THE BIBLE.
every parish church.
“It was wonderful,” says Strype, “ to see with what joy this book of God was received, not only among the more learned, and those who were noted lovers of the Reformation, but generally all over England, among all the common people, and with what greediness God's word was read, and what resort there was to the places appointed for reading it. Every one, that could, bought the book, and busily read it, or heard it read; and many elderly persons learned to read on purpose.
In 1538, Grafton obtained leave from Francis the first, King of France, through the intercession of Henry the Eighth, to print an English Bible at Paris, on account of the superior skill of the workmen, and the comparative goodness and cheapness of the paper. But this royal permission did not prevent the inquisitors from summoning before them the French printers, the English employers, and Coverdale, who superintended the work; and the whole impression, consisting of 2500 copies, was seized, and condemned to the flames. Some few copies only were saved; but the English proprietors of this undertaking found means to carry with them to London the presses, types, and printers.
In 1539, Grafton and Whitchurch printed, at London, the Bible in large folio, under the direction of Coverdale and patronage of Cranmer, containing some improvement of Matthews's translation; this is generally called the Great Bible, and it is supposed to be the same which Grafton obtained leave to print at Paris. There were several editions of it, and particularly one in 1540, for which Cranmer wrote a preface, shewing, that “Scripture should be had and read of the lay and vulgar people;" hence this edition of 1540 is called Cranmer's Bible. In this year the curates and parishioners of every parish were required by royal proclamation, to provide themselves with the Bible of the largest size, before the feast of All Saints, under a penalty of forty shillings a month; and all ordinaries were charged to see that this proclamation was obeyed. A brief or declaration was published to the same effect in the year 1541 ; but after that time the influence of the popish party increased both in parliament and with the King, and Cranmer's exertions were frustrated by the opposition of Gardiner and other popish bishops. In the year 1542, it was enacted by the authority of parliament, “That all manner of books of the Old and New Testament, of the crafty, false, and untrue translation of Tyndal, be forthwith abolished, and forbidden to be used and kept; and also that all other Bibles, not being of Tyndal's translation, in which were found any preambles or ánnotations, other than the quotations or summary of the chapters, should be purged of the said preambles or annotations, either by cutting them out, or blotting them in such wise that they might not be perceived or read; and finally, that the Bible be not read openly in any church, but by the leave of the King,or of the ordinary of the place; nor privately by any women, artificers, apprentices, journeymen, husbandmen, labourers, or by any of the servants of yeomen or under;" but, through the interest of Cranmer, a clause was inserted, allowing, “that every nobleman and gentleman might have the Bible read in their houses, and that noble ladies, gentlewomen, and merchants, might read it themselves, but no man or woman under those degrees;” which was all the Archbishop could obtain. In the same year Cranmer proposed in convocation, that there should be a revision of the translations of the Bible; but so many difficulties were started by Gardiner, and the proposal was so feebly supported by the other bishops, that he was unable to accomplish his object, and desisted from the attempt. In the year 1546, the last of his reign, Henry issued a proclamation,
GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO THE BIBLE.
prohibiting the having and reading of Wickliffos, Tyndal's, and Coverdale's translations, and forbidding the use of any other not allowed by parliament.
Though in the reign of Edward the Sixth the reading of the Scriptures was encouraged by royal proclamations, acts of parliament, and by all other means, and there were many impressions 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 terrours 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.
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 criticks. 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.
Since the Protestants had now made translations of the Bible into the languages of several countries, that the people might read the Holy Scriptures, the Romanists also, finding it impossible to keep the Bible out of the hands of the common people, made new translations into most of the languages of Europe, to oppose those of the hereticks, (as they termed them,) and to keep the faithful (as they called those of their own communion) from reading translations made by Protestants. But there is this difference of principle in translations made by Papists and those made by Protestants, that the Papists have translated from the Latin Vulgate, as deeming it better, not only than all other Latin translations, but than the Greek of the New Testament itself, in those places where they disagree; whereas the Protestants, in their translations of the Holy Bible, have always had recourse to the original Greek and Hebrew. Thus, when the Papists could not altogether suppress the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, whereby their errours are discovered, they thought it the next way for their purpose, by their partial translation, as much as they could, to obscure them, and by their heretical annotations to pervert them. Hence, in the year 1582, came forth the Rhemish translation of the New Testament, into English, in which the Papists retained many Eastern, Greek, and Latin words, and introduced so many difficult expressions, that they contrived to render it unintelligible to the common people. A translation of the Old Testament was afterwards published by them at Douay, in two volumes; the former in 1609, the latter in 1610.
GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO THE BIBLE.
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 allowed in former reigns were incorrect. Accordingly, his Majesty formed the resolution of causing a new and more faithful translation to be made, and commissioned for that purpose fifty-four of the most learned men in the Universities and other places. At the same time, he required the bishops to inform themselves of all learned men within their several dioceses, who had acquired especial skill in the Hebrew and Greek tongues, and had taken pains in their private studies of the Scriptures, for the clearing up of obscurities either in the Hebrew or the Greek, or for the correction of any mistakes in the former English translations, and to charge them to communicate their observations to the persons employed, that so the intended translation might have the help and furtherance of all the principal learned men in the kingdom.
Before the work was begun, seven of the persons nominated for it either were dead or declined to engage in the task. The remaining forty-seven were ranged under six divisions, and several parcels of the Bible were assigned to them, according to the several places where they were to meet, confer, and consult together. Every one of the company was to translate the whole parcel; then they were each to compare their translations together, and when any company had finished their part, they were to communicate it to the other companies, that so nothing might pass without general consent. If any company, upon the review of the book so sent, doubted or differed upon any place, they were to note the place, and send back the reasons for their disagreement. If they happened to differ about the amendments, the difference was to be referred to a general committee, consisting of the chief persons of each company, at the end of the work. When any passage was found remarkably obscure, letters were to be directed by authority to any learned persons in the land for their judgment thereupon.
The names of the persons, and places where they met, together with the portions of Scripture assigned to each company, were as follows:
1st, Dr. Lancelot Andrewes, first Fellow, then Master, of Pembroke Hall in Cambridge, at this time Dean of Westminster, afterwards Bishop of Ely, then of Winchester. 2d, Dr. John Overall, Fellow of Trinity College, Master of Catherine Hall in Cambridge, at this time Dean of St. Paul's, afterwards Bishop, first of Coventry and Lichfield, then of Norwich. 3d, Dr. Adrian Saravia, a native of Artois, who cast himself upon the protection of the church of England, and was preferred to Prebends of Canterbury and Westminster. 4th, Dr. Layfield, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, Rector of St. Clement's Danes ; as he was skilled in architecture, his judgment was much relied upon for the fabrick of the tabernacle and temple. 5th, Dr. Clerk, Fellow of Christ's College in Cambridge, Preacher in Canterbury. 6th, Dr. Leigh, Archdeacon of Middlesex, Rector of Allhallows, Barking. 7th, Dr. Burgley. 8th, Mr. King. 9th, Mr. Thomson. 10th, Mr. Bedwell, sometime Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, and Vicar of Tottenham. These ten met at Westminster, and to them were assigned the Pentateuch, and the history from Joshua to the first book of Chronicles exclusively.
2d, To meet at Cambridge were chosen eight; namely, 1st, Mr. Lively, the
GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO THE BIBLE.
King's Hebrew Reader in Cambridge. 2d, Mr. John Richardson, Fellow of Emanuel College, afterwards Doctor in Divinity, Master, first of Peterhouse, then of Trinity College, 3d, Mr. Chadderton, afterwards Doctor in Divinity, first Fellow of Christ College, then Master of Emanuel College. 4th, Mr. Dillingham, Fellow of Christ College. 5th, Mr. Andrews, afterwards Doctor of Divinity, and Master of Jesus College. 6th, Mr. Harrison, Vice-master of Trinity College. 7th, Mr. Spalding, Fellow of St. John's, and Hebrew Reader in that College. 8th, Mr. Bing, Fellow of Peterhouse, and Hebrew Reader therein. To these were allotted the books from the first of the Chronicles, with the rest of the history; and the Hagiographa, namely, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Canticles, Ecclesiastes.
3d, To meet at Oxford were chosen seven; namely, 1st, Dr. John Harding, President of Magdalen College. 2d, Dr. John Reynolds, President of Corpus Christi College, who died soon after engaging in the work. 3d, Dr. Thomas Holland, Rector of Exeter College, and the King's Professor of Divinity. 4th, Dr. Richard Kilby, Rector of Lincoln College, and Hebrew Professor. 5th, Mr. Miles Smith, afterwards Doctor in Divinity, and Bishop of Gloucester. He wrote the Preface to the translation, and was one of the revisers of the whole work, when finished. 6th, Dr. Richard Brett, Rector of Quainton in Buckinghamshire. 7th. Mr. Fairclowe. These had for their task the four greater Prophets, with the Lamentations, and the twelve lesser Prophets.
4th, For the Prayer of Manasseh and the rest of the Apocrypha, seven were appointed at Cambridge. 1st, Dr. Duport, Prebendary of Ely, and Master of Jesus College. 2d, Dr. Brainthwaite, first Fellow of Emanuel, then Master of Gonvil and Caius College. 3d, Dr. Radcliffe, Fellow of Trinity College. 4th, Mr. Ward of Emanuel, afterwards Doctor in Divinity, Master of Sidney College, and Margaret Professor. 5th, Mr. Downs, Fellow of St. John's College, and Greek Professor. 6th, Mr. Boyse, Fellow of St. John's College, Prebendary of Ely, and Rector of Boxworth in Cambridgeshire. 7th, Mr. Ward, Fellow of King's College, afterwards Doctor in Divinity, Prebendary of Chichester, and Rector of Bishop Waltham in Hampshire.
5th, For the New Testament, the four Gospels, the Acts, and Revelations, were assigned to eight at Oxford; namely, 1st, Dr. Thomas Ravis, Dean of Christ Church, afterwards Bishop of London. 2d. Dr. George Abbot, Master of University College, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury. 3d, Dr. Eedes. 4th, Mr. Tomson, afterwards Bishop of Gloucester. 5th, Mr. Savil. 6th, Dr. Perin, Canon of Christ Church. 7th, Dr. Ravens. 8th, Mr. Harmer.
6th, The Epistles of St. Paul, and the other Canonical Epistles, were assigned to seven at Westminster; namely, 1st, Dr. William Barlow, of Trinity Hall in Cambridge, Dean of Chester, afterwards Bishop of Lincoln. 2nd, Dr. Hutchenson. 3d, Dr. Spencer. 4th, Mr. Fenton. 5th, Mr. Rabbet. 6th, Mr. Sanderson. 7th, Mr. Dakins.
The work was begun in the spring of 1607, and prosecuted with all due care and deliberation. It was about three years before it was finished. Two persons selected from the Cambridge translators, two from those at Oxford, and two from those at Westminster, then met at Stationers' Hall, and read over and corrected the whole.
GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO THE BIBLE.
After long expectation and great desire of the nation, this translation came forth, in the year 1611, the divines employed having taken the greatest pains in conducting the work, not only examining translations with the original, which was absolutely necessary, but also comparing together all the existing translations in the Italian, Spanish, French, and other languages.
This is the translation of the Holy Scriptures now in common use amongst us; and since that time there has been no authorized version of any part of the sacred volume. The excellency of it is such as might be expected from the judicious care with which it was conducted, and the joint labours of the many distinguished men employed upon it. It is, says Dr. Gray, a most wonderful and incomparable work, equally remarkable for the general fidelity of its construction, and the magnificent simplicity of its language.
Happy has our English nation been, since God has given us learned translators, to express in our mother tongue the heavenly mysteries of his holy Word, delivered to his Church in the Hebrew and Greek languages; who, although they may have been deceived and mistaken, as men, in some matters of no importance to salvation, yet have faithfully delivered the whole substance of the heavenly doctrine, contained in the Holy Scriptures, without any heretical translations, or wilful corruptions ! With what reverence, joy, and gladness then, ought we to receive this blessing. Let us read the Scriptures with a modest, humble, and teachable disposition, with a willingness to embrace all truths which are plainly delivered there, how contrary soever to our own opinions and prejudices, and in matters of difficulty readily hearken to the judgment of our teachers, and those that are set over us in the Lord ; and check every presumptuous thought or reasoning which exalts itself against any of those mysterious truths therein revealed. If we thus search after the truth in the love of it, we shall not miss of finding that knowledge, which will “make us wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Bp. Tomline, Stackhouse, Johnson's History of English Translations of the Bible.
The division of the Holy Scriptures into chapters and verses, as we now have them, is not of very ancient date. About the year of our Lord 1240, Hugo de Sancto Caro, commonly called Cardinal Hugo, making an index or concordance to the Latin Bible, found it necessary to divide it into the parts which we call chapters; and further divided each chapter into sections, by placing the letters of the alphabet at certain distances in the margin. The subdivision into verses came afterwards from the Jews; for, about the year 1430, Rabbi Nathan, an eminent Jew, publishing a concordance to the Hebrew Bible, adopted the division into chapters made by Cardinal Hugo, and divided the chapters by affixing numeral letters in the margin. About one hundred years after this Vatablus, a Frenchman and eminent Hebrew scholar, taking his pattern from him, published a Latin Bible with chapters and verses, numbered with figures; and this example has been followed in all subsequent editions, in all languages, published in the western parts of Christendom. The present division of the New Testament into verses was made by Robert Stephens, an eminent printer at Paris, who introduced it into his edition of 1551. Dean Prideaux,
The Bible comprehends, in the grandest and most magnificent order, the various dispensations of God to mankind, from the forming of this earth to the consummation