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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: August ::
Re: Bibles: KJV and Geneva
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0744  Friday, 7 August 1998.

[1]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Thursday, 06 Aug 1998 12:50:14 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0736  Re: KJV

[2]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Thursday, 06 Aug 1998 15:23:28 -0700
        Subj:   SHK 9.0736  Re: KJV

[3]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Thursday, 06 Aug 1998 16:20:10 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0736  Re: KJV

[4]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Thursday, 06 Aug 1998 16:36:26 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0734  Q: Geneva Bible


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Thursday, 06 Aug 1998 12:50:14 -0700
Subject: 9.0736  Re: KJV
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0736  Re: KJV

> It is strange also that King James paid not a pound of gold to support
> these men through the years of their great study and travail,

They all held semi-official government posts.  Cranmer wasn't paid for
on a quid pro quo basis for handling legalities dealing with Henry
VIII's divorce, either.  To the best of my knowledge, Lloyd Axworthy
hasn't been given a bonus for the land mines treaty, either.

> nor did he
> repay them by mention when this gigantic effort was laid to the press,

If they were looking for glory, they would have lacked the humility of
good Bible translators.  Besides which, the important thing about the
KJV wasn't that it was written by X, and we can disagree with the
translation because we know X did it (like Tyndale, the Bishop's Bible,
etc.).  The important was that it was the "Authorized Version", designed
to rise above such petty squabbles.

> nor did he pay the printers the cost of the printing.

Of course not.  Handing them the rights to the best-selling English book
of all time was quite enough of a windfall.  I wouldn't be surprised if
they had paid him.

> And it is a wonder-some say
> it is a miracle-that a 54 man committee, as it were, could construct
> such a beautiful and lofty tower to God, and not fall a-babbling and
> a-scattering of words amongst themselves.

Not really.  The homilies were also written by committee and
anonymously.  I suppose that you're going to say that Shakespeare wrote
those, also?  It would explain the heavy links between Taming of the
Shrew and a Homily on Matrimony...

Cheers,
Sean.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Thursday, 06 Aug 1998 15:23:28 -0700
Subject: Re: KJV -Reply
Comment:        SHK 9.0736  Re: KJV -Reply

Oh, the KJV.  Can't we have done with this, and give Ms. Hughes a break
from grasping at straws, by just agreeing that the Earl of Oxford single
handedly translated the King James Version of the Bible - even though he
was long dead?

Ironically yours,
Mike Jensen

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Thursday, 06 Aug 1998 16:20:10 -0700
Subject: 9.0736  Re: KJV
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0736  Re: KJV

> > To some people's ears, any good Elizabethan writing sound Shakespearean.
> > The King James is very well written, but it doesn't sound anything like
> > Shakespeare's writing to me.  And all the evidence seems to tell against
> > it.
>
> Except the evidence of common sense.

What common sense?  That a writer of tawdry dramas with few
ascertainable theological leanings (and those heretical) would be chosen
to produce a definitive edition of the Bible?  That's mad!

> Sorry for lack of clarity. I don't claim anything for Shakespeare. I
> simply think that it's odd that none of the truly great writers of the
> day appear to have been involved in this important undertaking.

On the contrary, the evidence of a great writer is her or his writing.
Insofar as the KJV translators are the KJV translators, they are great
writers.

You seem to think that in order to be great translators of the KJV, they
would also have to prove their capabilities with other works, in totally
unrelated genres.  On the contrary, Cranmer left practically nothing of
note behind except the Book of Common Prayer.  I'm not of the school
that turns it into some sort of Anglican Tower of Babel, but it's really
much better than his other work, and constitutes his *only* major work.
There's no reason why people who otherwise wrote dense theological
tracts shouldn't rise to the occasion of brushing up Tyndale, et. al.,
for a new and more diplomatic printing.

> There you go, Carl. 47 of 54. Who were the missing seven, and why were
> they missing?

On the grounds that the other 47 were all learned clergymen, we would
expect that the remaining seven are learned clergymen, as well.  I think
Carl made that point quite clear.  To treat a large sample as
representative of the whole is the usual way of doing statistics.

It is, moreover, the only solution which makes any sense in this case.
No one would choose a professional hack to translate the Bible on the
grounds of his wordsmithing, any more than you'd choose a good mechanic
to do brain surgery on the basis of his manual dexterity.  There are
whole fields of further expertise required, all of which are careers
unto themselves, especially for the Renaissance.  Lancelot Andrewes, who
is confidently considered a translator of the KJV, spent every day
between his morning prayers and noon in intensive theological and
linguistic study.  He spoke oodles of languages, and was widely
consulted as an expert on things theological.  As Carl has shown,
everyone else on the translating committee made a *career* out of
languages and theology.  We most certainly know that Shakespeare did
not.

> I'm not saying they didn't know how to write, or to translate. I'm
> saying that's a lot of university dons who were able to write clearly,
> succinctly, and beautifully. And I'm doubting it.

Why not?  Cranmer was a university don.  More recently, so was C. S.
Lewis. All the previous versions had been the products of career
theologians and translators.  Luther's German version, still used in
some churches, I believe, was not the product of a poet.  Neither was
Jerome's Bible the work of anyone who had built up a reputation as an
author of popular works.

> > We should not be surprised-in our far more
> > democratic age we do not find the names of Iris Murdoch or John Updike
> > or Toni Morrison or David Mamet or Adrienne Rich or Harold Pinter or
> > Brian Friel or Tony Kushner among the translators of the New Revised
> > Standard or New English or Anchor Bibles.   Those most significant late
> > C20 translations, like the AV, were produced  by scholars, not by
> > novelists or poets or playwrights.
>
> Which is, perhaps, why it makes such dull reading, and why it is so
> curious that the KJV is so beautiful.

Actually, I rather like the NIV.

> In any case, the production of an authorized version of the Bible would
> have been an extremely delicate matter at that time, and the choice of
> translators would have been equally delicate. The story as it has come
> down to us seem to me to have been cooked up for public consumption.
> Spread the responsibility as far as possible throughout the community of
> top level clergymen, and because poetry had a bad reputation in those
> days, best not to mention them.

The delicacy of choosing translators actually works against you. Any
theologians, especially those within the established church, would have
been far more closely scrutinized for their theological views than any
professional wordsmith.  The former were, by the nature of their
positions,
involved in sometimes very acrimonious theological controversy, where
the latter were not.  Using a Bible translated by certain bishops would
have been at least disconcerting to arch-protestants, and using one
translated by Calvinists wouldn't have appealed to neo-Catholics.  If
any names were to be hidden in order to allow for better public
consumption, it would most certainly have been the theologians, not your
hypothetical seven theological dilettantes.

Cheers,
Sean.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Thursday, 06 Aug 1998 16:36:26 -0700
Subject: 9.0734  Q: Geneva Bible
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0734  Q: Geneva Bible

Thomas F. Connolly wrote:

> Does anyone know of an inexpensive edition (new or used) of the Geneva
> Bible?  Searches on bibliofind or with the Massachusetts Bible Society
> produce only expensive editions ($35.00 and up).

Regent College, a local school of theology, has a copy from Pilgrim
Classic Commentaries, from 1989.  It's a facsimile softcover, with all
of the annotations intact, as you would expect.  Anyway, it's listed at
$33.25 Canadian; the editor is named Gerald T. Shephard.  Given the
precipitate decline of the Canadian dollar, it might even be worth your
time to order it from Regent, though I suppose that I shouldn't say
this, since I've been coveting the one copy on their shelves for some
time!

Incidentally, they also have the David Daniel edition of Tyndale's New
Testament from Yale for $21.95 Canadian.

Cheers,
Sean.
 

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