Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Do minor changes make the KJV an imitation? Part Two.

Matthew Verschuur has committed a great deal of research to the orthography of the Bible. The effort and extent of his research is commendable.[i] Verschuur offers the following examples (see below) of how to know you have a “pure” King James Bible. According to him, “It is important to have the correct, perfect and final text of the King James Bible, since there are correctors (e.g. publishers) who have changed some aspects of King James Bible texts. The final form of the King James Bible is the Pure Cambridge Edition (circa 1900), which conforms to the following:”
1. “or Sheba” not “and Sheba” in Joshua 19:2
2. “sin” not “sins” in 2 Chronicles 33:19
3. “Spirit of God” not “spirit of God” in Job 33:4
4. “whom ye” not “whom he” in Jeremiah 34:16
5. “Spirit of God” not “spirit of God” in Ezekiel 11:24
6. “flieth” not “fleeth” in Nahum 3:16
7. “Spirit” not “spirit” in Matthew 4:1
8. “further” not “farther” in Matthew 26:39
9. “bewrayeth” not “betrayeth” in Matthew 26:73
10. “Spirit” not “spirit” in Mark 1:12
11. “spirit” not “Spirit” in Acts 11:28
12. “spirit” not “Spirit” in 1 John 5:8
Notice the following comments about Matthew Verschuur’s examples.
  • No. 2. 2 Chronicles 33:19 in the 1611 printing has neither “sin” nor “sins”. The word there is “sinne”, which agrees with the PCE in number but not in spelling. 
  • No 4. Jeremiah 34:16 in the 1611 printing has “whome yee”. The word “yee” agrees with the PCE in number but not in spelling. 
  • No. 5. “Spirit of God” not “spirit of God” Ezekiel 11:24 in the 1611 printing has both “the spirit” and “spirit of God” with a small “s”, which disagrees with the PCE.[ii]
  • No. 8. Matthew 26:39 in the 1611 printing has “further”. Further and farther are variants and/or synonyms, but can also have a different connotation. According to Merriam-Webster, “Further is the older of the two, with farther originating from it as a variant in Middle English. For much of their history the words have been used interchangeably. As adverbs, they still are interchangeable when applied to distance (of the spatial, temporal, and metaphorical varieties).” Few if any people will get a different understanding from either word, in context.
  • No. 9. Matthew 26:73 in the 1611 printing has “bewrayeth”. There is some difference in the connotation of these words, though betray is used as a synonym for bewray. 
  • No. 12. 1 John 5:8 in the 1611 printing has a capital “S” “Spirit”, disagreeing with the PCE. The context shows that a capital “S” is correct (that is, as far as we understand capitals today). Notice that verse 6 says Jesus the Son of God “came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.” These are the same three elements of verse 8 – water, blood, and the Spirit. The Spirit in verse 6 is the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit. The three mentioned in verse 8 are the same as the three in verse 6, and the capital “S” would be right, signifying the Holy Spirit. The 1611 printing has all three words of verse 8 with capital letters – “And there are three that beare witnesse in earth, the Spirit, and the Water, and the Blood: and these three agree in one.”
There are disagreements of the 1611 printing of the Bible with the Pure Cambridge Edition (PCE) in four examples that are given above.[iii] Thorough research of the two Bibles would yield even more. It is neither consistent nor useful to establish one’s own “perfect orthography” of the Bible and demand others acquiesce to it. The decisions are quite arbitary as to what is an acceptable change and what is not.
Even though alternate spellings still mean the same thing, I prefer that we not go rambling through the Bible to find spellings to update. On the other hand, good honest Bible believers who happen to buy and use a King James Bible with some variant spellings should not be charged with using a Bible that is not “pure.” This causes confusion and dissension, sets up a select few as authorities over us all, and turns fellow KJV supporters into opponents rather than allies. May we avoid such pitfalls.

[i] Recognizing that, however, does not require others to accept all of his conclusions.
[ii] Interestingly, Ezekiel 11:1 has a capital “S” – though Verschuur does not take notice of that verse. Overall, I suspect that there is some type of theological disagreement behind some of the conclusions about the capitalization of the word Spirit/spirit.
[iii] It is my understanding that there are some typographical differences even in the first two printings of the new translation by King’s Printer Robert Barker.

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