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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: November ::
Re: Isabella
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1134  Friday, 13 November 1998.

[1]     From:   David Kathman <
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        Date:   Thursday, 12 Nov 1998 10:25:10 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1128  Re: Isabella

[2]     From:   Karen Elizabeth Berrigan <
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        Date:   Thursday, 12 Nov 1998 13:23:57 -0400 (AST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1128  Re: Isabella

[3]     From:   Frances K. Barasch <
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        Date:   Thursday, 12 Nov 1998 17:37:31 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1128  Re: Isabella

[4]     From:   Karen E Peterson-Kranz <
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        Date:   Friday, 13 Nov 1998 13:20:28 +1000 (GMT+1000)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1128  Re: Isabella


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Kathman <
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Date:           Thursday, 12 Nov 1998 10:25:10 -0600
Subject: 9.1128  Re: Isabella
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1128  Re: Isabella

Sarah K. Scott wrote:

> . . .  Also, Shakespeare did work on the King James Bible, correct?

No, incorrect.  There is no evidence that Shakespeare worked on theKing
James Bible and no reason to think he would have, since the translators
were almost all Hebrew or Greek scholars from the Universities.  Here is
an excerpt from the book *The Literary Lineage of the King James Bible,
1340-1611* by Charles C.  Butterworth, pp. 207-9, which discusses the
translators:.

*****************************
The preliminary arrangements seem to have been entrusted to the Regius
Professors of Hebrew for the two universities-Dr. John Harding for
Oxford, and Mr. Edward Lively for Cambridge-and to the Dean of
Westminster, Lancelot Andrewes, for that place.  The general management
of the project the King entrusted to the Bishop of London, Richard
Bancroft, who had practically taken over the duties of the aged
Archbishop Whitgift and who was promoted to the primacy upon Whitgift's
decease near the end of the year...

On July 22 [1604], the King notified Bancroft that he had appointed
"certain learned men, to the number of four and fifty, for the
translating of the Bible," and he laid upon Bancroft the duty of
appealing to the bishops and the clergy to see that the expenses of
these men might be provided for while they were engaged in the work of
translation.  We do not possess a complete list of the fifty-four men
thus appointed; indeed, the fullest list we have includes but
forty-seven names.  The list shows them to have been divided into six
companies, to each of which a different section of the Scriptures was
assigned to be translated.  These companies were maintained at three
places-Westminster, Cambridge, and Oxford- two companies at each place,
one to work on the Hebrew text, the other on the Greek, according to the
following schedule:

  I.  Westminster: Old Testament (Genesis to II Kings)
  II. Cambridge: Old Testament (I Chronicles to Song of Solomon)
  III. Oxford: Old Testament (Isaiah to Malachi)
  IV. Cambridge: Apocryphal Books (Greek)
  V. Oxford: New Testament (Gospels, Acts, and Revelation)
  VI. Westminster: New Testament (The Epistles)

In 1618, seven years after the King James Bible was finally published, a
synod of the Dutch Reformed Church convened at Dordrecht (or Dort) to
which certain English divines were invited.  Among these were one or two
who had taken part in the preparation of the Bible of 1611, and they
contributed a brief report of their work (in Latin) in which they stated
that "the entire text of the Bible was distributed into six parts; and
for the translation of each part seven or eight eminent men were
appointed who were well skilled in the languages."

[There then follows a list of the roster of translators, with some
mention of the prominence of many of them in the Church.]

Indeed, the basis for choosing all these men seems to have been a just
regard for their skill in the original tongues of the Scriptures.  It
has been pointed out, as evidence of the wealth of material available,
that John Boys (of whom more hereafter) was employed upon the Greek text
in Cambridge, though he was highly esteemed for his knowledge of several
ancient languages; but his biographer tells us that, having finished his
assignment on the Apocryphal Books, he was invited to assist a member of
the other Cambridge group at work on the Old Testament.  Another very
distinguished Orientalist was William Bedwell, who was famous for his
knowledge of Arabic.  Another, Dr. Saravia, was of foreign parentage,
but found a welcome in England on account of his erudition and his
Protestant faith...
***********************************

> What
> is known about his work on this text? Any help on these 2 issues would
> be greatly appreciated.

The one piece of "evidence" that people sometimes present for
Shakespeare's involvement with the King James Bible is Psalm 46.  If you
take Psalm 46 and count 46 words from the beginning (ignoring the
introductory formula "To the chief musician for the sons of Korah, a
song upon Alamoth"), you get the word "shake".  Then if you count 46
words from the end (ignoring the final word "Selah"), you get the word
"spear".  "Shake-spear"-get it?  Plus, William Shakespeare was 46 years
old in 1610, the year before the King James Bible was published.
Against this "amazing coincidence", I must point out that the Geneva
Bible, translated before Shakespeare was born, has almost the same thing
in Psalm 46, as the KJV translators only made relatively minor changes
in the wording.  And I've heard that some earlier English Bibles had the
same "shake-spear" coincidence in Psalm 46, though I haven't confirmed
it.  But given the fact that it's necessary to ignore inconvenient words
to get the alleged cipher to work, and the fact that William Shakespeare
was not a Hebrew or Greek scholar in one of the universities, and the
fact that his name does not appear on any of the surviving lists of
translators, I seriously doubt that he had anything to do with the King
James Bible.

Dave Kathman

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[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Elizabeth Berrigan <
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Date:           Thursday, 12 Nov 1998 13:23:57 -0400 (AST)
Subject: 9.1128  Re: Isabella
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1128  Re: Isabella

A paper on Isabella as Mary Magdelene sounds interesting but I would not
limit myself to the bible.  Mary Magdelene was one of the most popular
female saints of the Middle Ages and she has beengiven a noble pedigree
by many writers such as Osbern Bokenham's _Legendys of Hooly Wummen_.
She is also a colourful character in many Corpus Christi plays which
would seem to make for a nice comparison to the Renaissance play.  I'm
sure you are going to get many responses from people who know more than
I about Shakespeare and the bible but I'm pretty sure that scholars have
discounted the story that he worked on the King James.  Good luck on
your paper.

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Frances K. Barasch <
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Date:           Thursday, 12 Nov 1998 17:37:31 EST
Subject: 9.1128  Re: Isabella
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1128  Re: Isabella

To Sarah Scott:  Strongly recommended for Mary Magdalen studies is "Mary
Magdalen" by Susan Haskins (HarperCollins, 1993; paper 1994).  On the
King James Bible: It's unlikely to definitely no that Shakespeare was on
the writing committee.  frances k. barasch

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen E Peterson-Kranz <
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Date:           Friday, 13 Nov 1998 13:20:28 +1000 (GMT+1000)
Subject: 9.1128  Re: Isabella
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1128  Re: Isabella

Sarah,

Your Mary Magdelene idea is interesting and deserves to be pursued
further.  Isabella's "structural" position seems rather different from
Mary Magdelene's position in the various NT accounts, but perhaps you
can account for that.

As far as Shakespeare working on the King James translation...Hmm.
People have speculated on this, but I am unaware of any recent
scholarship which seriously propounds this idea.  Just from style,
syntax, and vocabulary (especially the latter), it seems farfetched.
The King James version uses a relatively small vocabulary; style and
syntax are much simpler, too.  Shakespeare's Latinate vocabulary and
frequent inverted sentence structures, figures and puns are not
characteristic of the King James version.

Nevertheless, stranger things have happened and I may have missed some
recent study of this topic.  I hope the rest of the list responds to
your query.  Best wishes for your paper and your graduate study.

Karen Peterson-Kranz
 

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