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The sun. (New York [N.Y.]) 1916-1920, August 10, 1919, Section 3 Magazine Section, Image 25

Image and text provided by The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundation

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Most People, Including Not
able Scholars, Are Content.
With King James V ersion,
Henrv Ford to the Con-
- - ...,
trary, Notwithstanding
A REMARK made on the witness
stand by Henry Ford to bo
effect that ho had considered
backing a plan to have the Bible re
written In simple language started to
life again the rumor that a committee
of scholars, unknown or undesignated,
s at work somewhere upon a re
TUion of the Holy Book.
To discover a band of linguistic
divines working In secret on a task
of so great and universal Interest
would bo a sensation indeed, but ,lf
they exist and are so employed they
hive left no trail. The great publish-
In; houses whoso main - output Is
Bibles and religious volumes deny with
one accord that there Is any such work
being done.
The King James version of the
Bible issued to the people In 1611, fiVo
years before the death of Shakespeare,
Li the one still In general use.
Published 300 years ago, 1b It
osibIe that the Scriptures do not
contain words and phrases that have
sunk out of current use and become
almost Impossible to understand? It
I of course highly possible, but It Is
not strange that despite these neolo
tlsms people brought up on the King
James version give a scant welcome to
my other. The Bible as it reads there
as their religious wet nurse Just as
their poetic wet nurse was Shakespeare.
Commentator after commentator has
-wrought hla will with the text of
Shakespeare's plays, but the poet's
Holators pay little attention to these
labors. They go on reading the bard
whether they get his meaning or not
la the obscure passages.
Bible ITonao Denies Tale.
Secretary Chamberlain of the Amer
ican Bible House had this to say re
cording the rumor that a new revision
ot the Bible was under way and some
thing more about the Bible In general
"This rumor Is constantly cropping
up. but wo believe that we would be
mong the first to hea"r of any new
committee appointed by a religious
dy to go back to the sources and
"Vise the Scriptures. I think that It
, aay be definitely denied.
"In our distribution of Bibles, free
' w at a nominal cost, amounting In
number to millions a year, wo are
Prepared to say what version li
wanted, and that la the St. Jamea
vrsion. it bllll serves as the' basis
'or revisions and in now translations
"ado for non-Englsh speaking peo-
Wtt It Is an authority.
"For an Instance, tho Arablo Bible,
tl latest translation Into a tongue for
amcng the Moslem races, Is taken
'rom the King James Bible. Between
r and four aUUa H Urn
In Arabic have been distributed. The
first missionary Bible was translated
from that version by John Eliot for
the American. Indians. It Is the King
James version In Indian.
"What people forget la that there
has been thorough revision, so far as
it was expedient or necessary. In the
text of this authorized version, nor do
they remember the labors of tho great
English and American committees,
carried on during'the years 1881-85. If
they did remember these things and
would consult tho standard edition of
the Bible which resulted from these
labors they would not talk so freely of
the necessity of making a new version
by going over translations and revert
ing to the source manuscripts.
The Revised Text Copyrighted.
"This American Standard Blblo is
copyrighted to insure purity of texts,
and the date of copyright being 1901 it
will soon expire. Then it Is possible
that the Cost of this Bible, coming
down, it may rival in popularity tho
King James version. I cannot prophesy
as to that and can but repeat that the
King Jamos Bible is what the public
"On the question of simplifying the
text of that version I may add that
this was done by the great and com
prehensive committee to which I have
referred. Changes were not so great
as many Hebrew scholars anticipated,
but' where simplicity was tho object It
was sought without weakening the
dignity of the older and revered ver
sion. In the frontlspleco of tho American
Standard Bible may be read the fol
lowing: "Being tho version set forth A. D.
1611, compared with the most ancient
authorities and revised A. D. 1881-85,
and newly edited by the American Re
vision Committee A. D. 1901."
The latter phrase demands explana
tion. It Is given In thewords of Samuel
F. Areson, secretary of Thomas Nelson
& Sons : "At the completion of tho work
of revision latest to date tho Ameri
can revision committee was not satis
fied that enough time had been given
to 'the work, but accepted tho plea
that the university presses of Oxford
and Cambridge were calling for It, and
claimed to bo satisfied if the Ameri
cans' preferences in readings were pub
lished as an appendix to the volumes.
This bolng acceded tho American com
mittee agreed not to publish or to
countenance tho publication of any
other revised edition of the Bible for
a period of fourteen years. That em
bargo of time expired in 1899,
Tnthe Interim the American com-
laltte onlln.u4 it labors. JEhey. did
NEW YOFiC, SUNDAY, AUGUST 10, 1919. covvnau. win. tv ie sun print.
, BIBLE Wfl Lfc
oris wnin WrZLTZX ,rwrT
' suborn WM Kjrr
fn since sWh Lr
1 LJ
so without compensation and with an
unselfish desire to benefit their fel
low men. They were divided into two
companies, one taking the Old Testa
ment and the other tho Now Testa
ment. Expense Met T Subscription.
"The expenses of the enterprise were
met solely by tho voluntary subscrip
tions of friends of tho work in this
country. In the prosecution of its task
the American committeo had the writ
ten notes, records and opinions of
every one who' had served on either
the English or American boards. Tho
members had in addition the advan
tage of tho criticisms which the Eng
lish revision had evoked and of the
new light thrown on the subject by
tho aroused .Interest of Hebrew and
Greek scholars,
"This continuous jwork to 1901 is, I
believe," said Mr. Areson, "what has
given rise to the rumor you are trying
to- trace that a religious body Is at
work on a new revision. In that year
the standard revision Issued from the
printing press. It has been so well ro.
celved that another version should
seem to be unnecessary, at least until
the language changes.
"And as for simplicity of language
this' latest edition Is really a .simplified
Bible.. It appears in language of every
day UBe, but without weakening the
dignity of tho old King James version.
The copyright on tho volumo is not
placed for commercial protection, but
to Insure tho text purity. It has had
no effect on the prlco of the Standard
Bible, which is sold In its cheapest form
for CO cents. 'Therefore neither to pro-
euro a better nor a cheaper Bible need
the labors of any new committee be
George B. Day secretary of the
American Revision Committee and of
the Old Testament Company, and J.
Henry Thayer, secretary of the New
Testament Company, certify to the
aforesaid Bible being the only one aur .
thorized by the American Committee
of Revision.
The Pioneers Trying; Task.
By comparison with the toll of these
modern revisers some notion may bo
gained of the all but Impossible task
that the assembly of divines called to
gether at Hampton Court undertook.
They had no such aids as their mod
ern brethren in discoveries in the- sci-
entlflo and archaeological worlds, they
wrought over, .impure text that wero
colled GENE SIS.
CHAP. 1. )
ThtcrfioonofHfJUenindEjrth, Tine
tjltf, 6 odhcfiraumeot, j cltbceinhfc
fjuttd from the witett, 11 and nude fruit
lull, 14 ofihSunnc,MoonfladSu(Tci,
to dfifhindfowlf, 14 oUftiandut
tc9, tt of Mm inthe huge of CoJ. 13 Al
io lit ippota tmtnt of foou.
sab rrtxtirj flit
out fime. ami
1 nrffV twit Tntvtn
Miii 1 mini - - F "
,.. .r , vmp Ann the smutt
ii sink ui y-
of co& niooiuo upon UK fact or tot
. -vHxtN, rtthmr Unfit:
J - "X-
iMAftftnncnn rxtttfirfi'the BflK ITOin
- - - - -
s iiB wuu t4iw w . -
mo let a W86c ttKttawsfrontl)
T aBW oeo nuMi w"""'
full of obscurities. The errors of the
Latin Bibles, Mazarln, and later bopks
and the wretched editions existing In
English had to bo the beginning of
their investigations, and that they
did not ' And these insurmountable
redounds Immensely to their patience
and hard work. The picture one gets
of theso famous men called together
uj i.ing James prayerfully trying to
delve tho right meaning out of
crabbed Greek and Latin and ancient
Hebrew Is only presented when ono
tries to learn the history of the Bible
preceding thtlr era.
Tho original manuscripts of the
sixty-six books of the Blblo were writ
ten during a period comprising 1,600
years. The Old Testament Scriptures
wero In Hebrew written by Job, Daniel,
Isaiah, Solomon and a score of other
prophets and poets on skins and papy
rus. Not a single one of theso manu
scripts is now in existence, and has not
been for hundreds of years, but before
these were lost or destroyed copies and
translations were made of them and
from these copies and. translations
from the Hebrew, Syrlac, Greek. Latin
and Anglo-Saxon tests, tho Bible as
it exists to-day has come.
Revision has been constant from the
very beginning. In the days before
Christ, when tho scholars had com
pleted their revisions they cared no
longer tor the .manuscripts, and au
Chap.), of the world.
Ofwh SAfi rfltlf It fft firni.lmprlf
AUW vwwiwnwv .1.1.
feaiim itntt the ruminaannrlieniBti
nmaoxtt tfc ftcona oav.
onoacbtijeaumbe 0to togrtQct
van one uu i vy uuw
10 iUt9 0U who ic vps imiUi
earttj , cn& tDe atOjtms tosttttrr oil
. . -- r . ... Am. Mh Atl I
mc iBsszn sousu uiiWhw mut www
11 4HIUWWWlwy"v""'i
6oH) 'gtaia.njt tint ftnoinBrtto,
niMnivAniiin w rrnir esxtti nnnu
tonrx,ri)Dot ttt ta B Rift, tipon tb
(jrrrg:nou;jiaw. . . . .
BTaOc.ind tree yttiwnfl fo aftnjus
ftto u tn tt ttlfi.a&nrju tonoc : ano
it nnnrhcrntnmaenDrotHlOtinS
let tftcm tt bt 0n m W wans,
noni DOTUsnof niii.
. - - - - r
Rnnamtnt of tbt hewn . tp buk Hflt)t
yp0H . ihrtn rrrr&t unfits !
rhftmauciiBtt to tuUrte Wp, ami
rtcuflttUfjtit otuunitmfltjt: le.rud
n'rir iEi Tr thnn m rht firm
WdK htautn.to nuu ug&mw
thorities say that they destroyed these
as imperfect. Also when a manuscript
became worn out by uso in tho syna
goguo it was copied, and tho old one
burled In order that it might not fall
Into tho hands of tho profane. The
oldest Old Testament manuscripts In
existenco aro by centuries younger
than the oldest New Testament manu
scripts, because the former were
copies. Ono of these is a manuscript
of Exodus, written in square Hebrew
characters. It has been successively
translated Into Syrinc, Greek, Latin,
Anglo-Saxon, Old English and finally
Into the English of to-day.
Toward the closo of the fourth cen
tury the old Greek and Latin versions
of both testaments wpr found to be so
full of errors that a scholar and priest.
one Euseblus Htcronyinus, also known
as St. Jeromq, was chosen to prepare
a new version in' Latin. Ho went to
tho oldest manuscripts then accessible
and produced the Vulgate. For nearly
1,000 years this was the parent of
every later version of the Scriptures in
western Europe. England at that time,
1384, was to recelvo hers from John
A century and a half later William
Tyndale, friend of Erasmus and con
temporary of Luther, caused to be
printed in the city of Worms the first
English New Testament. In 1635 Miles
Coverdale printed' tha first complete
od putiuMt, a$ooumo.
IfaxZ HENR.V 1!
English Bible, and he was followed by
John Rogers, who Issued his "Mat
thew's Bible," which was almost
wholly copied from Tyndalo's. In 1539
appeared Tavorner's, another Tyndalo
imitation. The famous "Great Blblo"
was Issued under royal authorization
and was compiled from Tyndalc's,
Rogers's and Coverdale's. The Geneva
Bible and tho Bishops' Blblo followed
in 1560 and 1568 respectively.
When J am ob VI. of Scotland be
came James I. of England by choice
of Parllament.'and began to reign over
Scotland, which was Presbyterian, and
over England, which was Anglican
or Episcopalian, ho foresaw a re
ligious schism' which might prove dis
astrous to both realms. In 1604 ho
summoned a conference at Hampton
Court to settle the religious policy of
tho Government. He was petitioned
to authorize a new translation of the
Bible and did so, entrusting tho work
to Archbishop Bancroft of Canterbury.
who appointed a commission of forty-
seven eminent scholars to prepare
what Is known as the Authorized or
IClng James version.
There Were Poets Anionic Them;
The Bishops' Bible was mado the
groundwork of the new translation;
but among tho forty-seven scholars
were poets who saved for us the vast
reaches and sweeps of the old Hebrew
poets and the cadence and rhythm of
tho Bible which gives out a sound of
muslo reminding of orchestras. Our
debt to them because of their care of
words Is Immeasurable. By means of
this nice choice they added something
of moral purity as well as beauty to
the version.
If the rhythm and cadence these
ancient divines put into their trans
lation were to be taken out of It the
English1 language would loso some ot
its most wonderful prose. The English
tongue would be poorer- by harmonies
and felicities unsurpassed and unsur
An alteration said to be of prime
importance In tho text of the IClng
James version is the substitution of
the name Jehovah for the words Lord
and God wherover they appear In the
old text. This was in deference to an
ancient superstition which regarded
the Divine Name as too sacred to be
uttered. 1 This superstition had not
hitherto been allowed to dominate in
tho translations, although it prevailed
in the Hebrew manuscripts.
jl amt changes may t shown to
f3rfj "HiE PRESENT
rffl MOTH v
a ImJt uwvfooo 1
MSTa ugoenvooD-
Revision of Scriptures Con
stant From Beginning
What Linguistic Divines
Have Accomplished in
Simplifying Text
exhibit the stylo, of peech that the
moderns call Improvements: In Gene
sis the Clng James version says "Let
tho waters bring forth abundantly the
moving CTeaturo that hath life, and
fowl that may fly above the earth."
The latest version is: "Let the waters
swarm with swarms of living crea
tures, and let birds fly above the
A passage of Exodus has in the
King James version: "Every woman
shall borrow of her neighbor." The
American and English Revising Com
mittee went back to the original and
restored these words: "Every woman
shall ask of her neighbor."
In the XlXth Psalm tho King James
version reads: "There Is no speech
nor language, where their voice Is not
heard," while tho new version says
this: "There is no speech nor lan
guage; their voice is not heard. "
A Grammatical Chance,
And in tile CXXIst Psalm tho
change is grammatical only: "Behold
he that keepeth Israel shall neither
slumber nor sleep'' is altered lo "Be
hold he that keepeth Israel wlll.nelther
slumber nor sleep." ,
In tho following two passages real
obscurities are' removed: In Isaiah
xxxv. 8 wo find "Tho unclean shall not
pass over It, but tt shall bo for them."
This has been changed to read "it
shall be for the redeemed."
In Hosea 11., 2, "As they called them,
so they went from them," now reads,
"Tho more tho Prophet called them
the more they went from him."
Thero Is no assertion mode any
where that the Bible itself is changed,
but that a general 'rectification has
been made of translations and a re
turn to originals tho meaning and
spirit of which tfiad not boon caught.
Words havo been changed only when
they were obsolete and served as
stumbling blocks. Frequently thero
appear In tho King James version
words and phrases thought to be of
somewhat questionable tasto to tho
present generation. In the original
the words from which these are taken
are often unobjectionable and the
fault, If it is one, is to be found in
the broader or grosser standards of
Shakespeare's day. The newest trans
lators havo found modern equivalents
for the words In the Hebrew which
do not offend the nineteenth century,
and so theso obstacles fade away.
Such Instances of changes as have
beon shown occur In the collaborated
version put out by the British and
American committees. The continued
study of the latter committee is said
to have been fruitful and to throw new
light upon th manuscripts of the
Bible, while tho contemporary labor
of Asayriologlsts have brought discov
eries of times anterior to Moses. The
famous "Sayings of Jesus," although
fragmentary, proved highly valuable
In establishing the verity of "The
Acts," and by similar discoveries, Dan
lei, whoso very existenco had beon
doubted, is shown to have been a verl
tablo person. Sargon, too, an Assyrian
'king, over whose namo the earlier
translators hesitated, several of them
doubting that such a monarch ever
reigned, was revealed as a historical
monarch. In brief, the mass of new
Biblical evidence, new manuscripts,
new meanings of words, while highly
interesting to the scholar, did not
strike tho ordinary readers as involv
ing a new version of what so long had
been their Bible.
Ordinary Headers Unlnteresta.
That this view was taken of the
matter generally' Is shown by the way
tho ordinary Blblo reader acted. He
displayed a. languid curiosity over all
these llnds and ho went on buying' and
reading the King James version. Ha
didn't know how to account for his
preference, perhaps, but realized that
tho simple old Blblo of his forefathers
had held Its own, In fact had been
strengthened In Its own by modern re
search and discovery.
In so far ho is not dissatisfied thai
tho early manuscripts have been again
so carefully scrutinized with the result
that tho truth of the historical Bl
has been completely attested and holds
tho highest credence of minds not nat
urally sceptical, minds that resent and
discourage doubt and call it disaster.
Tho simple are rarely sceptical ol
moral truths. Doubt unsettles, scares
and shocks them. They would be opl
to resent, too, any attempt to "simpli
fy" the "Book," which in a limited
way but a sufficient way they compre
hend. A really new and different Holy
Book would smack to them of sacrl
lego. It would shake to Its founda
tions their respect for tho printed
Wo have to go back to the Bible ii
we wish to know (and It is not nlwayi
easy to know) what Is responsible foi
mankind's faith in, the printed Word,
In truth tt dates from the first book,
that Ik, from tho Bible. Litcraturo be v.
gan as religion. Every nation's earli
est books are sacred books. Thui
springs the nlmost pathetic belief men
hold In books. "I read it in a book1"
In equivalent to saying a thing la true.
By its qualities of inspiration and sin
cerlty the Bible in the King Junei
version and its children, the modem
versions, reaches the ear of the peoplo

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