The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

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Friday, October 16, 2015

That KJV Will Not Go Away - Literate People Appreciate the English Version of Luther's Bible


Earliest known draft of King James Bible found in Cambridge

The earliest known draft of the King James Bible, regarded as the most widely read work in English, has been unearthed among ancient papers lodged in a Cambridge college.
American scholar Jeffrey Miller announced his year-old discovery in the Times Literary Supplement this week, saying it would help fill in gaps in understanding how the bible, published in 1611, came to be.
Miller found a notebook, dating from 1604 to 1608, in archives at Sidney Sussex College, containing about 70 pages of almost illegible handwriting. They included biblical commentary, with Greek and Hebrew notes.
“There was a kind of thunderstruck, leap-out-of-the-bathtub moment,” Miller, of Montclair State University in New Jersey, told the New York Times. “But then comes the laborious process of making sure you are correct.”
The King James Bible was the work of 47 translators working in teams, or “companies”, working in London, Oxford and Cambridge. They had been charged by King James I to produce an authorised version of the bible that would support the Church of England over Puritan influence in earlier texts.
Its poetic language has won plaudits from secular literary critics, and it has been described as one of the greatest influences in English literature alongside the works of Shakespeare. Common phrases in English, such as “salt of the earth” and “drop in the bucket”, originate from the King James Bible.
But there has been an incomplete understanding by scholars of the composition process. Following Miller’s discovery, a number of gaps “can at last begin to be filled”, he wrote in the TLS.
The notebook belonged to Samuel Ward, one of a team of seven men in Cambridge working on translation. “For centuries, Ward’s paper in the college lay almost entirely neglected and uncatalogued,” wrote Miller. As he examined the notebook, “the manuscript’s true significance suddenly came into focus”.
The true value of Ward’s draft lies in what it “helps to reveal about one of the 17th century’s most extraordinary cultural achievements. It points the way to a fuller, most complex understanding than ever before of the process by which the KJB, the most widely read work in English of all time, came to be.”