|The Superiority of the King James Bible Translators
by Dr. D.A. Waite
Let us take a look at the superiority of two of the New Testament translators of the KING JAMES BIBLE.
1. The Activities of Henry Savile. Sir Henry Savile was in Company Four, the Oxford group. That group had the task of translating six books: the Gospels, Acts, and Revelation. Here is some of the background of Henry Savile:
a. First, he became, very early, famous for his Greek and mathematical learning.
b. Second, he became tutor in Greek and Mathematics to Queen Elizabeth.
c. Third, he translated the histories of Cornelius Tacitus and published the same with notes. Tacitus was a Latin historian, and Savile translated his work into English. The translators of these new versions, I'm sure, wouldn't be able to translate anything this complicated in Latin. In our country, Latin used to be required in the lower grades. In many schools it was a requirement for graduation from High School. Years ago that was the case; but now, in some schools, you don't have to take any foreign language at all. Some require you to take one--maybe French, German or Spanish. I took a year of Latin in college, but didn't have to take it in High School. I took Spanish there, and French in college. Of course I studied Hebrew and Greek in Seminary.
d. Fourth, Henry Savile published, from the manuscripts, the writings of Bradwardin against Pelagius, the Writers of English History Subsequent to Bede, and Prelections on the Elements of Euclid. Euclid was concerned with geometry and wrote in Greek. Savile translated that, and other learned works in English and Latin. He certainly had to have tremendous skill in order to do so. Some of the works in Greek are most difficult.
e. Fifth, he is chiefly known, however, for being the first to edit the complete work of Chrysostom, the most famous of the Greek Fathers. John Chrysostom had many pages that he wrote to the people to whom he ministered, and Savile was the first to completely edit his work. His edition of 1,000 copies was made in 1613, and makes eight immense folios. A folio is the size of a large dictionary or encyclopedia. That was a monumental task. I don't know any of the modern translators of the new versions (or perversions) who come anywhere near the superiority and skill of this man.
f. Sixth, Sir Henry Savile was one of the most profound, exact, and critical scholars of his age and "meet and ripe" [as McClure noted] to take a part in the preparation of our incomparable version. [Cf. McClure's Translators Revived, pp. 164-169]
2. The Academics of John Bois. One more New Testament translator, John Bois, was in Company Six, the Cambridge group, which translated all the books of the Apocrypha.
a. Why We Do NOT Accept the Apocrypha. Since we have brought up the Apocrypha, the doubtful books, that the Roman Catholic Church has added to their Old Testament, I want to repeat that the Church of England in their Thirty-Nine Articles, Clearly stated that the Apocrypha had no Scriptural standing. It is not the Word of God. It is not inspired. But the 1611 KING JAMES BIBLE did contain the Apocrypha. They translated it as history between the Old and New Testaments. Modern versions of the KING JAMES do not use the Apocrypha. Let me quote from McClure's, TRANSLATORS REVIVED-BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES ON THE KJB TRANSLATORS, concerning the Apocrypha.
|[Page 185] "The sixth and last company of KING JAMES BIBLE translators met in Cambridge. To this company was assigned all the Apocryphal books, which, in those times were more read and accounted of than now, though by no means placed on a level with the canonical books of Scripture."
Then there's a footnote:
"The reasons assigned for not admitting the Apocryphal books into the canon, or list of inspired Scriptures are briefly the following:
1. Not one of them is in the Hebrew language, which was alone used by the inspired historians and poets of the Old Testament. [All but one are in Greek. The other one is in Latin].
2. Not one of the writers lays any claim to inspiration. [Not one says, "The Lord spoke through me," or "These are the words of God."]
3. These books were never acknowledged as sacred Scriptures by the Jewish Church, and therefore were never sanctioned by our Lord.
4. They were not allowed a place among the sacred books during the first four centuries of the Christian Church.
5. They contain fabulous statements [in the sense of being fables] and statements which contradict not only the canonical Scripture but themselves; as when in the two books of Maccabees Antiochus Epiphanes is made to die three different deaths in as many different places.
6. It inculcates doctrines at variance with the Bible, such as prayers for the dead, [that is why the Roman Catholic Church prays for the dead] and sinless perfection.
7. It teaches immoral practices, such as lying [it couldn't be the Word of God and say it's all right to lie], suicide, assassination and magical incantations. [God is against that in His Word--necromancers, those with familiar spirits, and wizards that "peep", as the Bible says, all are forbidden in Scripture].
For these and other reasons, the Apocryphal books which are all in Greek, except one which in extant only in Latin, are valuable only as ancient documents, illustrative of the manner, language, opinions and history of the East." [My words in brackets].
The Classical Greek language has a number of divisions as far as its history. You go way back in the early Greek and you have the Homeric Greek. I studied Homeric Greek while majoring in Classical Greek and Latin at the University of Michigan. We studied Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. Now that is an entirely different Greek and hard to understand. Then Classical Greek is a little different in spelling, dialect, rules, and grammar. The Classical Greek had Ionic, Doric, and Attic. The Attic Greek was the branch that became what we call the Koine Greek. But before that was the Byzantine Greek. The Septuagint Greek was Koine Greek. The Koine period was roughly from 300 B.C. to 300 A.D. The Koine Greek, the common Greek, used in everyday language, was the Greek of the New Testament. Then we have modern Greek which is somewhat different and pronounced differently. But Bois used the Classical Greek and had twelve of the hardest authors in prose and poetry.
I remember when I studied Classical Greek at the University of Michigan. I was first of all majoring in Science and Math and was in the Pre-Medical major, intending to be a medical doctor. Then the Lord called me to His service, and changed my direction. I had to go to Seminary, so I changed my major. The seminary I was intending to enter (Dallas Theological Seminary), at that time, required eight hours of Greek before you could enter. So I majored in Greek and Latin, taking thirty hours between them. Before that, I had not had any language at all of a technical nature. I knew Spanish, but Greek was difficult at first. I took the beginning Classical Greek and took the advanced Classical Greek from Dr. Warren E. Blake who was head of the Classical Department at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He was a scholar and very competent in his understanding of the Greek language. I remember we had to translate various authors in Attic Greek, especially Plato's Apology, the life of Socrates which told how he would refute all those who would argue with him. It was difficult Greek! I would look at English translations and then look at the Greek. The trouble was the translations weren't literal translations like the KING JAMES BIBLE is, so it was hard to figure out what the Greek was actually saying.
I remember many a time the Professor would give a deep sigh as I was trying to translate, making no sense whatever out of the Greek words, but I did the best I could. So I think of John Bois, and twelve of the most difficult authors his teacher could find as Bois went flying successfully through them.
(5) Fifth, John Bois'' library contained one of the most complete and costly collections of Greek literature that had ever been made. So, he was not only skilled as to his ability, but also had an extensive library to go with it. [TRANSLATORS REVIVED, p.203].
(6) Sixth, he was equally distinguished for his skill in Greek and Hebrew.
(7) Seventh, he was one of the twelve translators who were sent, two from each company, to make the final revision at Stationer's Hall in London. This lasted nine months. If there were a problem in Hebrew or Greek, he had the answers.
(8) Eighth, he took notes of all the proceeding of this committee. He was the secretary. His notes, by the way, are some of the only evidences we have today telling us how they went about things. [TRANSLATORS REVIVED, p.204].
(9) Ninth, he left at his death as many leaves of manuscript as he had lived days in his long life. I looked up his age, and he lived eighty-three years and eleven days. That totals 30,306 days. Imagine leaving over 30,000 pages of writing. A voluminous writer, scholar, reader, and worker.
(10) Tenth, he was so familiar with the Greek Testament that he could, at any time, turn to any word that it contained. [TRANSLATORS REVIVED, pp.199-208].
So we have some translators here that certainly are superior by any standard you can think of or imagine. For the other translators, consult B.F.T. #1419, #584, or #804 referred to above. We never need to be ashamed of the men who gave us the KING JAMES BIBLE. They were skilled builders, building on the proper foundation with every tool at their disposal. They knew English, Greek, Hebrew, and the cognate sister languages. They applied their skills and did the job in a superior fashion.
It is in order here simply to list a few other KING JAMES BIBLE translators with a brief highlight about some of their linguistic qualifications.
I'll just give the man's name, the highlight, and the page reference in McClure's book, THE TRANSLATORS REVIVED: BIOGRAPHICAL MEMOIR OF THE AUTHORS OF THE ENGLISH VERSION OF THE HOLY BIBLE.
1. John Overall. Dr. Overall received his doctor's degree at Cambridge University. He was celebrated for the appropriateness of his quotations from the Church Fathers. He had spoken Latin so long, it was troublesome to him to speak English in a continued oration. His long familiarity with other languages made him will fitted to discern the sense of the sacred original. He was on the Old Testament Westminster group. [McClure, op. cit., pp.88-93]
2. Hadrian Savaria. Dr. Savaria received his doctor's degree in 1590. He published several Latin treatises against Beza, Danaeus, and other Presbyterians. He was educated in several languages, especially the Hebrew. He was also on the Old Testament Westminster group that translated the twelve books from Genesis through Kings. [McClure, op. cit., pp.93-96]
3. Robert Tighe. Dr. Tighe was characterized as "an excellent textuary and profound linguist." He was also assigned to the Old Testament Westminster group of translators. [McClure, op. cit., p.98]
4. Geoffry King. He was the Regius Professor of Hebrew at Cambridge University. He was in the Old Testament Westminster group. [McClure, op. cit., p.99]
5. Edward Lively. He was "one of the best linguists in the world." He was the King's Professor of Hebrew at Cambridge University. He had surpassing skill in the oriental tongues. Edward Lively was the author of a Latin exposition of five of the Minor Prophets as well as a work on chronology. Dr. Pusey of Oxford, stated that Lively was, "next to Pococke, the greatest of our Hebraists." He was the chairman of the Old Testament Cambridge group that translated the ten book of 1 Chronicles through Ecclesiastes. [op.cit., pp.103-4]
6. John Richardson. Dr. Richardson was a "most excellent linguist." He often debated various scholars, as the custom was in those days, entirely in the Latin language at the University of Cambridge. He later became Vice Chancellor of that university. He was also on the Old Testament Cambridge group under Edward Lively. [op. cit., pp.104-7]
7. Lawrence Chaderton. "He made himself familiar with the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew tongues, and was thoroughly skilled in them....His studies were such as eminently qualify him to bear an important part in the translating of the Bible....He was a scholar, and a ripe and good one."
8. Francis Dillingham. He often took part in a "Greek Act" which was a "debate carried on in the Greek tongue." He was called the "Great Grecian" because of his skill and knowledge of that language. He was a part of the Old Testament Cambridge group. [McClure, op. cit., p.116-17]
9. Thomas Harrison. "Because of his exquisite skill in the Hebrew and Greek idioms, he was one of the chief examiners in the university [Cambridge] of those who sought to be public professors of these languages." He was a part of the Old Testament Cambridge group. [McClure, op. cit., p.118]
10. Robert Spaulding. Dr. Spaulding succeeded Edward Lively as the Regius Professor in Hebrew at Cambridge University. He was a part of the Old Testament Cambridge group. [McClure, op. cit., p.119]
11. Andrew King. Dr. King also became Regius Professor in Hebrew at Cambridge University. He was Dr. Spaulding's successor in that post. He was a part of the Old Testament Cambridge group. [McClure, op. cit., p.119]
12. John Harding. He had been Royal Professor of Hebrew in Oxford University for thirteen years. Dr. Harding was chairman of the Old Testament Oxford group that translated the seventeen books of Isaiah through Malachi. [McClure, op. cit., pp.120-21]
13. Thomas Holland. Dr. Holland "had a wonderful knowledge of all the learned languages....He was mighty in the Scriptures; and so familiarly acquainted with the Fathers, as if he himself had been one of them...." He was in the Old Testament Oxford group. [McClure, op. cit., pp.134-37]
14. Richard Kiley. "He was considered so accurate in Hebrew studies, that he was appointed the King's professor in that branch of literature [at Oxford University]....Dr. Kiley was a man of so great learning and wisdom, and so excellent a critic in the Hebrew tongue, that he was made professor of it in this university [Oxford]; and was also so perfect a Grecian, that he was by king James appointed to be one of the translators of the Bible...." He was part of the Old Testament Oxford group. [McClure, op. cit., pp.138-41]
15. Richard Brett. "He was skilled and versed...in the Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Chaldee, Arabic, and Ethiopic tongues. He published a number of erudite works, all in Latin." He was a member of the Old Testament Oxford group. [McClure, op. cit., p.144]
16. George Abbot. "In 1598, Dr. Abbot published a Latin work which was reprinted in Germany." He was a member of the New Testament Oxford group that translated the six books of the Gospels, Acts, and Revelation. [McClure, op. cit., pp.152-61]
17. John Peryn. "He was the King's Professor of Greek in the university [that is, Oxford University]." He was a member of the New Testament Oxford group. [McClure, op. cit., pp.169-70]
18. John Harman. "He was appointed King's Professor of Greek in 1585,...He stood high in the crowd of tall scholars, the literary giants of the time. He published several learned works, among them, Latin translations of several of Chrysostom's writings,...The master of an excellent English style, and adept in the difficult art of translating....He was a most noted Latinist, Grecian, and divine...He was always accounted a most solid theologist, admirably well read in the Fathers and schoolmen...." He was a member of the New Testament Oxford group. [McClure, op. cit., pp.170-72]
19. John Spencer. "He was elected Greek lecturer for that college [that is, Corpus Christi College, Oxford University] being but nineteen years of age....Of his eminent scholarship there can be no question. He was a valuable helper in the great work of preparing our common English version." He was part of the New Testament Westminster group that translated the twenty-one books of Romans through Jude. [McClure, op. cit., pp.177-180]
20 William Dakins. "He became bachelor in Divinity in 1601. The next year he was appointed Greek lecturer [that is, at Trinity College, Cambridge University]....He was considered peculiarly fit to be employed in this work, on account of his skill in the original languages." he was a member of the New Testament Westminster group. [McClure, op. cit., pp.183-84]
21. John Duport. Dr. Duport was a "distinguished Greek professor and divine." He was the chairman of the Apocrypha section of the Cambridge group. [McClure, op. cit., pp.186-9]
22. Andrew Downes. For full forty years he was Regius Professor of Greek in that famous university [that is, Cambridge University]....This venerable professor is spoken of as 'one composed of Greek and industry.'" Dr. Downes was a member of the Apocrypha section of the Cambridge group. [McClure, op. cit., pp.198-199]
23. Leonard Hutten. "He was well known as an 'excellent Grecian,' and an elegant scholar. He was well versed in the Fathers, the Schoolmen, and the learned languages, which were the favorite studies of that day...." Dr. Hutten helped as a translator, but was not assigned to any one group. [McClure, op. cit., pp.210-14]
24. Thomas Bilson. Dr. Bilson was "so complete in divinity, so well skilled in languages, so read in the Fathers and Schoolmen, so judicious in making use of his readings, that at length he was found to be no longer a soldier, but commander in chief in the spiritual warfare." He also helped as a translator, but was not a part of any one group. [McClure, op. cit., pp.214-16]
Above you have listed the most learned men of all time. Who can match their wisdom and understanding? This is not the complete list of translators of the King James Bible. There were other great men among the translators. Like Lancelot Andrews and Miles Smith. Lancelot Andrews private devotions were made up entirely in the Greek language. At his funeral Dr. Buckeridge said that Dr. Andrews was conversant in 15 languages. Miles Smith is the man that had the honor to write preface to the KING JAMES BIBLE.
I would challenge anyone to search all the modern scholars of the new perversions and see if they compare to these great men. You will quickly see that these men stand head and shoulders above all modern scholars. That is the greatness of the King James Bible, God raised up these great men at the precise time in history to translate His Word for all people.