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Appendix C

The Translators of the Authorized Version


Forty-seven men of highest Christian commitment and a profound knowledge of biblical languages translated the Authorized Version of 1611. Initially fifty-four were chosen, but seven either died or withdrew before the project commenced.

The translators were divided into six groups which consisted of varying numbers ranging from seven to ten. These committees were assigned the following translations:1

  • (A) Genesis to 1 Chronicles葉he First Westminster Committee consisting of ten men.

  • (E) 2 Chronicles to the Song of Solomon葉he First Cambridge Committee consisting of eight men.

  • (C) Isaiah to Malachi葉he Oxford Old Testament Committee consisting of seven men.

  • (F) The Apocrypha葉he Second Cambridge Committee consisting of seven men.

  • (D) Matthew to Acts and the Revelation葉he Oxford New Testament Committee consisting of eight men.

  • (B) Romans to Jude葉he Second Westminster Committee consisting of seven men.

  • The procedure adopted is of interest. In each group the participants individually translated the Scripture portion assigned. Only then did the group meet, analyze each contribution and finally produce an agreed translation.

    When this provisional draft was completed it was distributed to each of the other five groups for careful checking and suggestions. Finally a select committee went through the entire text and two members of this select committee made a final check of each translation.

    Thus utmost care was taken to ensure the fullest input of each expert into the translation of the entire Authorized Version.

    While space precludes the presentation of even short biographies of all forty-seven translators, we present a few as typical. We are indebted to D.O.Fuller, Which Bible?, Chapter One, for the biographies included. But first we will provide an alphabetical list of the translators.2

  • Dr. George Abbot, D.D., Master of University College, Oxford; Vice Chancellor of Oxford, Bishop of Lichfield, Archbishop of Canterbury (D)

  • Dr. Lancelot Andrewes, M.A., D.D., Fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge; Bishop of Ely and Winchester, Dean of Westminster (A)

  • Dr. Roger Andrewes, D.D., Fellow of Pembroke College, Master of Jesus College, Cambridge (E)

  • Dr. William Barlow, M.A., D.D., Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge; Bishop of Rochester, Bishop of Lincoln (B)

  • William Bedwell, M.A., St. John痴 College Cambridge (A)

  • John Boys, Fellow of St. John痴 College Cambridge; Rector of Boxworth (F)

  • Dr. William Brainthwaite, Fellow of Emmanuel College, Master of Gonville and Gaius College, Deputy Margaret Professor of Divinity, Cambridge (F)

  • Dr. Richard Brett, D.D., Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford (C)

  • Dr. F. Burleigh, D.D., Fellow of King James College, Chelsea (A)

  • Professor Byng, Fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge, Professor of Hebrew, Cambridge (E)

  • Dr. Laurence Chaderton, Fellow of Christ痴 College, Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge (E)

  • Dr. Richard Clarke, D.D., Fellow of Christ痴 College, Cambridge (A)

  • Professor William Dakins, M.A., B.D., Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge; Professor of Divinity, Gresham College (B)

  • Francis Dillingham, M.A., B.D., Fellow of Christ痴 College, Cambridge (E)

  • Professor Andrew Downes, M.A., B.D., Fellow of of St. John痴 College, Cambridge; Regius Professor of Greek, Cambridge (F)

  • Dr. John Duport, M.A., D.D., Fellow and Master of Jesus College, Cambridge; Vice-Chancellor Cambridge University (F)

  • Dr. R. Eedes, Dean of Worcester (D)

  • Mr. Fairclowe, Fellow of New College, Oxford (C)

  • Dr. Roger Fenton, D.D., Fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge (B)

  • Professor John Harding, President of Magdalen College and Regius Professor of Hebrew, Oxford (C)

  • Professor John Harmar, M.A., Professor of Greek, Oxford; Headmaster of Winchester, Warden of St. Mary痴 College (D)

  • Dr. Thomas Harrison, B.A., D.D., Vice-Master of Trinity College, Cambridge (E)

  • Dr. Thomas Holland, M.A., D.D., Regius Professor Divinity, Oxford (C)

  • Dr. Ralph Hutchinson, M.A., D.D., President of St. John痴 College, Oxford (B)

  • Dr. Richard Kilbye, M.A., D.D., Regius Professor of Hebrew, Oxford (C)

  • Professor Geoffrey King, Regius Professor of Hebrew, Cambridge; Fellow of King痴 College, Cambridge (A)

  • Dr. John Layfield, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge; Lecturer in Greek, Cambridge; expert on architecture (A)

  • Professor Edward Lively, M.A., Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge; Regius Professor of Hebrew, Cambridge (E)

  • Dr. John Overall, D.D., Regius Professor of Divinity, Cambridge; Bishop of Coventry, Litchfield and Norwich, Dean of St. Paul痴 (A)

  • Dr. John Perin, Fellow St. John痴 College, Oxford; Canon of Christ Church, Professor of Greek, Oxford (D)

  • Michael Rabbett, Rector of St. Vedast, Foster Lane (B)

  • Dr. Jeremiah Radcliffe, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge (F)

  • Dr. Ralph Ravens, Fellow of St. John痴 College, Oxford (D)

  • Dr. Thomas Ravis, M.A., D.D., Vice Chancellor of Oxford, Bishop of Glouchester (D)

  • Dr. John Reynolds, D.D., President of Corpus Christi College and Regius Professor of Divinity, Oxford; Dean of Lincoln (C)

  • Dr. John Richardson, D.D., Fellow of Emmanuel College, Master of Peterhouse College, Master of Trinity College, Regius Professor of Divinity, Cambridge (E)

  • Mr. Thomas Sanderson, Rector of All Hallows (B)

  • Dr. Adrian Saravia, Professor of Divinity at Leyden University, Prebendary at Canterbury and Westminster (A)

  • Sir Henry Saville, Fellow of Merton College, Oxford; Provost of Eton, Tutor to Queen Elizabeth I (D)

  • Dr. Miles Smith, M.A., D.D., Bishop of Glouchester (C)

  • Professor Robert Spalding, Fellow of St. John痴 College, Cambridge; Professor of Hebrew, Cambridge (E)

  • Dr. T. Spenser, President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford (B)

  • Dr. William Teigh, Archdeacon of Middlesex, Rector of All Hallows, Barking-by-the-Tower (A)

  • Dr. Giles Thompson, Dean of Windsor, Bishop of Glouchester (D)

  • Richard Thomson, M.A., Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge (A)

  • Dr. Ward, D.D., Fellow of King痴 College, Cambridge; Prebendary of Chichester (F)

  • Dr. Samuel Ward, D.D., Margaret Professor of Divinity, Cambridge; Master of Sidney Sussex College (F)

  • Brief Biographies

    The following brief biographies of a few of the translators will be of interest.

    Dr. George Abbott began his university studies at Balliol College, Oxford in 1578 and soon became known for his strong Calvinism and Puritanism. In 1593 he took his B.D., in 1597 his D.D., and in the same year became Master of University College at the age of thirty-five; and a few years later he was Vice Chancellor. He very strongly opposed the Romanizing influence of Laud [Archbishop of Canterbury] and was very severe in his denunciation of anything which savored of "popery." Nevertheless he accepted some high offices in the Church of England and in 1609 became Bishop of Lichfield and Archbishop of Canterbury in 1611. He was regarded as the head of the Puritans within the Church of England, and he vigorously opposed the King痴 declaration permitting sports and pastimes on [Sunday]. He encouraged James to request the States General to dismiss Vorstius from his professorship at Leyden because of his Arminianism.

    Lancelot Andrewes, a member of the Westminster Committee, had his early education at Coopers Free School and Merchant Taylors School, where his rapid progress in the study of the ancient languages was brought to the notice of Dr. Watts, the founder of some scholarships at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge. Andrewes was sent to that College, where he took his B.A. degree and soon afterward was elected Fellow. He then took his Master痴 degree and began to study divinity and achieved great distinction as a lecturer. He was raised to several positions of influence in the Church of England and distinguished himself as a diligent and excellent preacher, and became Chaplain to Queen Elizabeth I. King James I promoted him to be Bishop of Chester in 1605 and also gave him the influential position of Lord Almoner. He later became Bishop of Ely and Privy Counsellor. Toward the end of his life he was made Bishop of Winchester.

    It is recorded that Andrewes was a man of deep piety and that King James had such great respect for him that in his presence he refrained from the levity in which he indulged at other times. A sermon preached at Andrewes funeral in 1626 paid tribute to his great scholarship"His knowledge in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac and Arabic, besides fifteen modern languages, was so advanced that he may be ranked as one of the rarest linguists in Christendom.

    "A great part of five hours every day he spent in prayer, and in his last illness he spent all his time in prayer預nd when both voice and eyes and hands failed in their office, his countenance showed that he still prayed and praised God in his heart, until it pleased God to receive his blessed soul to Himself."

    William Bedwell, M.A., St. John痴 College, Cambridge, had established his reputation as an Arabic scholar before 1603 and is recognized as "the Father of Arabic studies in England." He was the author of the "Lexicon Heptaglotton" in seven folio volumes, including Hebrew, Syriac, Chaldee and Arabic. He also commenced a Persian dictionary and an Arabic translation of the Epistles of John (now among the Laud MSS in the Bodleian Library).

    John Boys, (or Bois). Fellow of St. John痴, Cambridge, and Greek lecturer there. He was born in 1560 and at a very early age showed an unusual interest in languages. He began to read Hebrew at the age of five years and was admitted to St. John痴 College, Cambridge, when he was fourteen. There he very soon distinguished himself by his knowledge of the Greek language, which he sometimes studied in the library from 4 a.m. until 8 p.m.

    When he was elected Fellow of his college he was suffering from smallpox, but he was so anxious not to delay his career that, at some risk to himself and fellow-scholars, he persuaded his friends to wrap him in blankets and carry him in. After studying medicine for some time he gave up this course and applied himself to the study of Greek. For ten years he was the chief Greek lecturer in his college. At four in the morning he voluntarily gave a Greek lecture in his own room which was frequented by many of his fellows.

    After twenty years of university life he became Rector of Boxworth in Cambridgeshire, and while he was there he made an arrangement with twelve other ministers that they should meet each Friday in each other痴 homes in turn and share the results of their studies.

    When the translation of the Bible was begun he was chosen to be one of the Cambridge translators, and eventually he not only undertook his portion but also the part allotted to another member of the committee. When the work was completed John Boys was one of the six translators who met at Stationers Hall to revise the whole. This task took them about nine months, and during this period the Company of Stationers made them an allowance of thirty shillings each per week. Some of the notes made by John Boys during the final revision were recently discovered in Corpus Christi College Library at Oxford, edited by Professor Ward Allen, and published in 1970 under the title "Translating for King James." John Boys "Exposition of the Epistles and Gospels Used in the English Liturgy" furnishes ample evidence of his competent scholarship and doctrinal soundness.

    After a long life of profitable study, ministry, translating and writing, he died at the age of eighty-four, "his brow without wrinkles, his sight quick, his hearing sharp, his countenance fresh and his body sound."

    Dr. Richard Brett, Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford, D.D., well versed in classical and Eastern languages, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Chaldee, Arabic and Ethiopic.

    Dr. John Richardson, Fellow of Emmanuel College, D.D., Regius Professor of Divinity, 1607, Master of Peterhouse and later Master of Trinity.

    Francis Dillingham, Fellow of Christ痴 College, Cambridge, M.A. in 1590 and B.D. in 1599. According to Fuller, he was "an excellent linguist and subtle disputant." His works include "A disswasive from Poperie, containing twelve effectual reasons by which every Papist, not wilfully blinded, may be brought to the truth."

    Professor Andrew Downes, St. John痴 Cambridge, B.A. 1567, Fellow 1571, M.A. 1574, B.D. 1582, Regius Professor of Greek 1585. Downes and Boys revived the study of Greek at St. John痴. Downes was professor of Greek for nearly forty years, and was acknowledged to be one the of the best Greek scholars of the age. These two men joined Miles Smith on the subcommittee which subjected the whole translation to a final careful process of checking and correction.

    John Harmar, M.A., New College, Oxford, Professor of Greek in 1585. Headmaster of Winchester 1588, warden of St. Mary痴 College 1596. He was well read in patristic and scholastic theology and a noted Latinist and Grecian. His works include translations of Calvin痴 sermons on the Ten Commandments, several of Beza痴 sermons, and some of the Homilies of Chrystostom.

    Dr. Thomas Harrison, St. John痴 College, Cambridge, B.A. in 1576. Fellow, Tutor and Vice-Master of Trinity, D.D., noted Hebraist and chief examiner in Hebrew. According to Professor W.F. Moulton ("History of the English Bible") he was also credited with an excellent knowledge of Greek. He was a convinced Puritan.

    Dr. Thomas Holland, Balliol and Exeter Colleges, Oxford, B.A. 1571, M.A. 1575, B.D. 1582, D.D. 1584. Master and Regius Professor of Divinity 1589. He achieved so much distinction in many fields of learning that he was not only highly esteemed among English scholars but also had a good reputation in the universities of Europe. Like Apollos, he was mighty in the Scriptures, and like the Apostle, he was faithful in explaining them. His example went hand in hand with his precepts, and he himself lived what he preached to others. Among the translators he was probably the most strongly opposed to Rome, and it is recorded that whenever he went on a journey away from his college he would call the men together and "commend them to the love of God and to the abhorrence of popery."

    His biographer writes "He loved and he longed for God, for the presence of God, and for the full enjoyment of Him. His soul was framed for heaven, and could find no rest till it came there. His dying prayer was 舛ome, O come, Lord Jesus, Thou Morning Star! Come Lord Jesus; I desire to be dissolved, and to be with Thee! "

    Dr. Richard Kilbye, Lincoln College, Oxford, B.A. 1578, M.A. 1582, B.D. and D.D. in 1596 and Regius Professor of Hebrew in 1610. Author of a work on Exodus prepared from Hebrew commentators. An interesting story is found in Walton痴 biography of Bishop Sanderson illustrating the truth of the old proverb, "a little learning is a dangerous thing." Dr. Kilbye, an excellent Hebrew scholar and Professor of this language in the university, also expert in Greek and chosen as one of the translators, went on a visit with Sanderson, and at church on Sunday they heard a young preacher waste a great amount of the time allotted for his sermon in criticizing several words in the then recent translation. He carefully showed how one particular word should have been translated in a different way. Later that evening the preacher and the learned strangers were invited together to a meal, and Dr. Kilbye took the opportunity to tell the preacher that he could have used his time more profitably. The Doctor then explained that the translators had very carefully considered the "three reasons" given by the preacher, but they had found another thirteen more weighty reasons for giving the rendering complained of by the young critic.

    Dr. John Reynolds, Merton College, Oxford, moved to Corpus Christi and became Fellow in 1566. He took his D.D. in 1585 and became Regius Professor of Divinity. After several years as Dean of Lincoln he was made president of Corpus Christi College in 1598. He represented the Puritans at the Hampton Court Conference at which he suggested that a new translation of the Bible should be undertaken. His reputation as a Hebrew and Greek scholar was sufficient warrant for his inclusion among the translators, and Hall relates that "his memory and reading were near to a miracle." He worked on the translation of the Prophets until his death in 1607. During this period the Oxford translators met at his residence once a week to compare and discuss what they had done.

    Dr. Adrian Saravia, Professor of Divinity at Leyden University in 1582, became Prebendary of Canterbury and Westminster. In the controversies of that period he is often referred to as "that learned foreigner." His Spanish descent and his residence in Holland qualified him to assist the translators with his first-hand knowledge of the work of Spanish and Dutch scholars. He was also proficient in Hebrew.

    Sir Henry Saville, Brasenose College, Oxford, Fellow of Merton College in 1565 and Warden in 1585, Provost of Eton in 1596, Tutor to Queen Elizabeth I. He was a pioneer in many branches of scholarship and the founder of the Savillian Professorships of Mathematics and Astronomy at Oxford. His works include an eight volume edition of the writings of Chrystostom.

    Dr. Miles Smith, M.A., D.D., Corpus Christi, and Brasenose and Christ Church, Oxford, Bishop of Gloucester in 1612. He provided more evidence of his contribution than any of the others, as it was left to him to write the long Translators Preface "The Translator to the Reader," which used to be printed at the beginning of most English Bibles. His knowledge of the oriental languages made him well qualified for a place among the translators of the Authorized Version of the Bible. He had Hebrew at his fingers ends; and he was so conversant with Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic, that he made them as familiar to him as his native tongue. He persisted in this task from its commencement to its completion and was himself the last man engaged in the translation.

    The work of the whole company was revised and improved by a small group selected from their number, and was then finally examined by Bilson and Miles Smith. The latter then wrote the famous preface, beginning "Zeal to promote the common good. . . ."

    Richard Thomson, M.A., Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, B.D. 1593, described by Richard Montagu as "a most admirable philologer . . . better known in Italy, France, and Germany than at home."3

    When we read these biographies we are struck not only with the learning of the translators but also with the depth of their Christian commitments and their abhorrence of the apostasy which was rampant in the Roman Catholic Church. God could use such noble men. With translators of such firm Protestant convictions, it is little wonder that the Roman Catholics find no use for the King James Version of Scripture.

    Although comparisons are said to be odious, there is value in comparing the translators of the King James Version with those of modern versions. The Revised Standard Version is cited as an example.

    One of the translators of the Revised Standard Version was H.M. Orlinsky, a Jewish scholar who naturally would not accept the divinity of Christ. Perhaps this fact is a clue as to why the term virgin was altered to young woman in Isaiah 7:14. It also accounts for the conclusion of Professor R.C. Foster, Professor of Greek and New Testament at the Cincinnati Bible Seminary, when he stated:

    The Revised Standard Version is frankly unitarian and offers a very subtle attack upon the deity of Christ. R.C.Foster, Church News Letter, July 1946 3

    It has further been suggested:

    Some of the translators [of the RSV] have written articles which indicate that they do not acknowledge the Bible doctrine of the Deity of Christ, His pre-existence, His Virgin Birth, His Atoning Sacrifice and present intercession in heaven. Trinitarian Bible Society Article No. 13, The Divine Original, 9

    It is little wonder that the Revised Standard Version reflects the unbelief of some of its translators.

    1 The letters at the end of each reference refer to the committee to which each man belonged. A, First Westminster; B, Second Westminster; C, Oxford Old Testament; D, Oxford New Testament; E, First Cambridge; F, Second Cambridge <BACK>

    2. The letters at the end of each reference refer to the committee to which each man belonged. A, First Westminster; B, Second Westminster; C, Oxford Old Testament; D, Oxford New Testament; E, First Cambridge; F, Second Cambridge <BACK>




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