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revision of the headings of chapters and pages would have involved so much of indirect, and indeed frequently of direct interpretation, that we judged it best to omit them altogether.
Our communications with the American Committee have been of the following nature. We transmitted to them from time to time each several portion of our First Revision, and received from them in return their criticisms and suggestions. These we considered with much care and attention during the time we were engaged on our Second Revision. We then sent over to them the various portions of the Second Revision as they were completed, and received further suggestions, which, like the former, were closely and carefully considered. Last of all, we forwarded to them the Revised Version in its final form; and a list of those passages in which they desire to place on record their preference of other readings and renderings will be found at the end of the volume. We gratefully acknowledge their care, vigilance, and accuracy; and we humbly pray that their labours and our own, thus happily united, may be permitted to bear a blessing to both countries, and to all English-speaking people throughout the world.
The whole time devoted to the work has been ten years and a half. The First Revision occupied about six years; the Second, about two years and a half. The remaining time has been spent in the consideration of the suggestions from America on the Second Revision, and of many details and reserved questions arising out of our own labours. As a rule, a session of four days has been held every month (with the exception of August and September) in each year from the commencement of the work in June 1870. The
average attendance for the whole time has been sixteen each day; the whole Company consisting at first of twenty-seven, but for the greater part of the time of twenty-four members, many of them residing at great distances from London. Of the original number four have been removed from us by death.
At an early stage in our labours, we entered into an agreement with the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge for the conveyance to them of our copyright in the work. This arrangement provided for the necessary expenses of the undertaking; and procured for the Revised Version the advantage of being published by Bodies long connected with the publication of the Authorised Version.
III. We now pass onward to give a brief account of the particulars of the present work. This we propose to do under the four heads of Text, Translation, Language, and Marginal Notes.
1. A revision of the Greek text was the necessary foundation of our work; but it did not fall within our province to construct a continuous and complete Greek text. In many cases the English rendering was considered to represent correctly either of two competing readings in the Greek, and then the question of the text was usually not raised. A sufficiently laborious task remained in deciding between the rival claims of various readings which might properly affect the translation. When these were adjusted, our deviations from the text presumed to underlie the Authorised Version had next to be indicated, in accordance with the fourth rule; but it proved inconvenient to record them in the margin. A better mode however of giving them publicity has been found, as the University Presses have undertaken to print them in connexion with complete Greek texts of the New Testament.
In regard of the readings thus approved, it may be observed that the fourth rule, by requiring that 'the text to be adopted' should be *that for which the evidence is decidedly preponderating,' was in effect an instruction to follow the authority of documentary evidence without deference to any printed text of modern times, and therefore to employ the best resources of criticism for estimating the value of evidence. Textual criticism, as applied to the Greek New Testament, forms a special study of much intricacy and difficulty, and even now leaves room for considerable variety of opinion among competent critics. Different schools of criticism have been represented among us, and have together contributed to the final result. In the early part of the work every various reading requiring consideration was discussed and voted on by the Company. After a time the precedents thus established enabled the process to be safely shortened ; but it was still at the option of every one to raise a full discussion on any particular reading, and the option was freely used. On the first revision, in accordance with the fifth rule, the decisions were arrived at by simple majorities. On the second revision, at which a majority of two thirds was required to retain or introduce a reading at variance with the reading presumed to underlie the Authorised Version, many readings previously adopted were brought again into debate, and either re-affirmed or set aside.
Many places still remain in which, for the present, it would not be safe to accept one reading to the absolute exclusion of others. In these cases we have given alternative readings in the margin, wherever they seem to be of sufficient importance or interest to deserve notice. In the introductory formula, the phrases 'many ancient authorities,' some ancient authorities,' are used with some latitude to denote a greater or lesser proportion of those authorities which have a distinctive right to be called ancient. These ancient authorities comprise not only Greek manuscripts, some of which were written in the fourth and fifth centuries, but versions of a still earlier date in different languages, and also quotations by Christian writers of the second and following centuries.
2. We pass now from the Text to the Translation. The character of the Revision was determined for us from the outset by the first rule, to introduce as few alterations as possible, consistently with faithfulness. Our task was revision, not re-translation.
In the application however of this principle to the many and intricate details of our work, we have found ourselves constrained by faithfulness to introduce changes which might not at first sight appear to be included under the rule.
The alterations which we have made in the Authorised Version may be roughly grouped in five principal classes. First, alterations positively required by change of reading in the Greek Text. Secondly, alterations made where the Authorised Version appeared either to be incorrect, or to have chosen the less probable of two possible renderings. Thirdly, alterations of obscure or ambiguous renderings into such as are clear and express in their import. For it has been our principle not to leave any translation, or any arrangement of words, which could adapt itself to one or other of two interpretations, but rather to express as plainly as was possible that interpretation which seemed best to deserve a place in the text, and to put the other in the margin.
There remain yet two other classes of alterations which we have felt to be required by the same principle of faithfulness. These are,-Fourthly, alterations of the Authorised Version in cases where it was inconsistent with itself in the rendering of two or more passages confessedly alike or parallel. Fifthly, alterations rendered necessary by consequence, that is, arising out of changes already made, though not in themselves required by the general rule of faithfulness. Both these classes of alterations call for some further explanation.
The frequent inconsistencies in the Authorised Version have caused us much embarrassment from the fact already referred to, namely, that a studied variety of rendering, even in the same chapter and context, was a kind of principle with our predecessors, and was defended by them on grounds that have been mentioned above. The problem we had to solve was to discriminate between varieties of rendering which were compatible with fidelity to the true meaning of the text, and varieties which involved inconsistency, and were suggestive of differences that had no existence in the Greek. This problem we have solved to the best of our power, and for the most part in the following way.
Where there was a doubt as to the exact shade of meaning, we have looked to the context for guidance. If the meaning was fairly expressed by the word or phrase that was before us in the Authorised Version, we made no change, even where rigid adherence to the rule of translating, as far as possible, the same Greek word by the same English word might have prescribed some modification.
There are however numerous passages in the Authorised Version in which, whether regard be had to the recurrence (as in the first three Gospels) of identical clauses and sentences, to the repetition of the same word in the same passage, or to the characteristic use of particular words by the same writer, the studied variety adopted by the Translators of 1611 has produced a degree of inconsistency that cannot be reconciled with the principle of faithfulness. In such cases we have not hesitated to introduce alterations, even though the sense might not seem to the general reader to be materially affected.
The last class of alterations is that which we have described as rendered necessary by consequence ; that is, by reason of some foregoing alteration. The cases in which these consequential changes have been found necessary are numerous and of very different kinds. Sometimes the change has been made to avoid tautology ;
sometimes to obviate an unpleasing alliteration or some other infelicity of sound; sometimes, in the case of smaller words, to preserve the familiar rhythm; sometimes for a convergence of reasons which, when explained, would at once be accepted,
but until so explained might never be surmised even by intelligent readers.
This may be made plain by an example. When a particular word is found to recur with characteristic frequency in any one of the Sacred Writers, it is obviously desirable to adopt for it some uniform rendering. Again, where, as in the case of the first three Evangelists, precisely the same clauses or sentences are found in more than one of the Gospels, it is no less necessary to translate them in every place in the same way. These two principles may be illustrated by reference to a word that perpetually recurs in St. Mark's Gospel, and that may be translated either ‘straightway,' 'forthwith,' or 'immediately.' Let it be supposed that the first rendering is chosen, and that the word, in accordance with the first of the above principles, is in that Gospel uniformly translated straightway.' Let it be further supposed that one of the passages of St. Mark in which it is so translated is found, word for word, in one of the other Gospels, but that there the rendering of the Authorised Version happens to be ‘forthwith’ or 'immediately.' That rendering must be changed on the second of the above principles; and yet such a change would not have been made but for this concurrence of two sound principles, and the consequent necessity of making a change on grounds extraneous to the
This is but one of many instances of consequential alterations which might at first sight appear unnecessary, but which nevertheless have been deliberately made, and are not at variance with the rule of introducing as few changes in the Authorised Version as faithfulness would allow.
There are some other points of detail which it may be here convenient to notice. One of these, and perhaps the most important, is the rendering of the Greek aorist. There are numerous cases, especially in connexion with particles ordinarily expressive of present time, in which the use of the indefinite past tense in Greek and English is altogether different; and in such instances we have not attempted to violate the idiom of our language by forms of expression which it could not bear. But we have often ventured to represent the Greek aorist by the English preterite, even where the reader may find some passing difficulty in such a rendering, because we have felt convinced that the true meaning of the original was obscured by the presence of the familiar