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(b) We have arranged the Sacred Text in paragraphs, after the precedent of the earliest English Versions, so as to assist the general reader in following the current of narrative or argument. The present arrangement will be found, we trust, to have preserved the due mean between a system of long portions which must often include several separate topics, and a system of frequent breaks which, though they may correctly indicate the separate movements of thought in the writer, often seriously impede a just perception of the true continuity of the passage. The traditional division into chapters, which the Authorised Version inherited from Latin Bibles of the later middle ages, is an illustration of the former method. These paragraphs, for such in fact they are, frequently include several distinct subjects. Moreover they sometimes, though rarely, end where there is no sufficient break in the sense. The division of chapters into verses, which was introduced into the New Testament for the first time in 1551, is an exaggeration of the latter method, with its accompanying inconveniences. The serious obstacles to the right understanding of Holy Scripture, which are interposed by minute subdivision, are often overlooked; but if any one will consider for a moment the injurious effect that would be produced by breaking up a portion of some great standard work into separate verses, he will at once perceive how necessary has been an alteration in this particular. The arrangement by chapters and verses undoubtedly affords facilities for reference: but this advantage we have been able to retain by placing the numerals on the inside margin of each page.
(c) A few words will suffice as to the mode of printing quotations from the Poetical Books of the Old Testament. Wherever the quotation extends to two or more lines, our practice has been to recognise the parallelism of their structure by arranging the lines in a manner that appears to agree with the metrical divisions of the Hebrew original. Such an arrangement will be found helpful to the reader; not only as directing his attention to the poetical character of the quotation, but as also tending to make its force and pertinence more fully felt. We have treated in the same way the hymns in the first two chapters of the Gospel according to St. Luke.
(d) Great care has been bestowed on the punctuation. Our practice has been to maintain what is sometimes called the heavier system of stopping, or, in other words, that system which, especially for convenience in reading aloud, suggests such pauses as will best ensure a clear and intelligent setting forth of the true meaning of the words. This course has rendered necessary, especially in the Epistles, a larger use of colons and semicolons than is customary in modern English printing.
(e) We may in the last place notice one particular to which we were not expressly directed to extend our revision, namely, the titles of the Books of the New Testament. These titles are no part of the original text; and the titles found in the most ancient manuscripts are of too short a form to be convenient for use. Under these circumstances, we
have deemed it best to leave unchanged the titles which are given in the Authorised Version as printed in 1611.
We now conclude, humbly commending our labours to Almighty God, and praying that his favour and blessing may be vouchsafed to that which has been done in his name. We recognised from the first the responsibility of the undertaking; and through our manifold experience of its abounding difficulties we have felt more and more, as we went onward, that such a work can never be accomplished by organised efforts of scholarship and criticism, unless assisted by Divine help.
We know full well that defects must have their place in a work so long and so arduous as this which has now come to an end. Blemishes and imperfections there are in the noble Translation which we have been called upon to revise; blemishes and imperfections will assuredly be found in our own Revision. All endeavours to translate the Holy Scriptures into another tongue must fall short of their aim, when the obligation is imposed of producing a Version that shall be alike literal and idiomatic, faithful to each thought of the original, and yet, in the expression of it, harmonious and free. While we dare to hope that in places not a few of the New Testament the introduction of slight changes has cast a new light upon much that was difficult and obscure, we cannot forget how often we have failed in expressing some finer shade of meaning which we recognised in the original, how often idiom has stood in the way of a perfect rendering, and how often the attempt to preserve a familiar form of words, or even a familiar cadence, has only added another perplexity to those which already beset us.
Thus, in the review of the work which we have been permitted to complete, our closing words must be words of mingled thank giving, humility, and prayer. Of thanksgiving, for the many blessings vouchsafed to us throughout the unbroken progress of our corporate labours; of humility, for our failings and imperfections in the fulfilment of our task; and of prayer to Almighty God, that the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ may be more clearly and more freshly shewn forth to all who shall be readers of this Book.