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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: January ::
Re: Psalm 46
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0067  Friday, 15 January 1999.

[1]     From:   David Kathman <
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        Date:   Thursday, 14 Jan 1999 08:37:09 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0055 Re: Psalm 46

[2]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Thursday, 14 Jan 1999 09:04:02 -0800
        Subj:   SHK 10.0060 Re: Psalm 46

[3]     From:   Thomas Larque <
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        Date:   Friday, 15 Jan 1999 05:49:26 -0000
        Subj:   SHK 10.0055 The KJV Translators

[4]     From:   Thomas Larque <
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        Date:   Fri, 15 Jan 1999 05:55:39 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0048 Re: Psalm 46


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Kathman <
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Date:           Thursday, 14 Jan 1999 08:37:09 -0600
Subject: 10.0055 Re: Psalm 46
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0055 Re: Psalm 46

I believe I may be the "scholar" Mike Jensen is referring to who posted
some material last year on the King James Bible and the Psalm 46 issue.
(If so, thanks for the flattery, Mike; you make me blush.)  It was
posted this past November 13, and here it is:

---------------------------------------------
Sarah K. Scott wrote:

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

No, incorrect.  There is no evidence that Shakespeare worked on the King
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:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Thursday, 14 Jan 1999 09:04:02 -0800
Subject: Re: Psalm 46
Comment:        SHK 10.0060 Re: Psalm 46

> > Mike Jensen wrote:
> > put a steak through the heart of this discussion. . .
> Would he like that rare or medium?
> Joanne

Rare, Joanne.  The more rarely I encounter critical thinking errors, the
richer my life.

And thank you Larry Weiss for point out my spelling slip.  Not
everyone's life is richer.

Ceers,
Mike Jensen

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Larque <
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Date:           Friday, 15 Jan 1999 05:49:26 -0000
Subject: The KJV Translators
Comment:        SHK 10.0055 The KJV Translators

>the KJV, naming names, criteria for being on the team, etc. ...
>Will someone please repost that and put a steak through the heart of the
>current discussion before it gets any sillier.

I didn't post it originally, but I have two similar references to hand
which include some of the information you're referring to.

"For the translation of the Bible the King hath set down that the work
shall be divided among three bodies of translators, the one at London,
the other two at Cambridge and Oxford, and the books are divided as
followeth.  At Westminster, the Pentateuchon and the story from Joshua
to the first book of the Chronicles; and the translators are Dr.
Lancelot Andrewes, Dean of Westminster, Dr. John Overall, Dean of
Paul's, Mr. Dr. Saravia, Mr. Dr.  Richard Clark, Mr. Dr. John Leifeld,
Mr. Dr. Robert Tighe, Mr. Burleigh, Mr. Geoffrey King, Mr. Richard
Tomson and Mr. William Bedwell.
At Cambridge, from the First of Chronicles with the rest of the Story
and the Hagiographi, viz., Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Canticles,
Ecclesiastes; and the translators Mr. Edward Lively, the Regius
Professor of Hebrew, Mr. John Richardson, Mr. Lawrence Chaderton, Master
of Emmanuel College (that was present at the Conference), Mr. Francis
Dillingham, Mr. Thomas Harrison, Mr.  Roger Andrewes, Mr. Robert
Spalding and Mr. Andrew Byng.  Also at Cambridge, the Prayer of Manasses
and the rest of the Apocrypha, to be underaken by Dr.  Duport, Master of
Jean's College, Dr. William Branthwart, Dr. Jeremiah Radcliffe, Mr. Ward
of Emmanuel; Mr Andrew Downs, the Regius Professor of Greek, Mr. John
Boyes, Mr. Ward of King's College.

At Oxford, the four Greater Prophets, with the Lamentations, and the
twelve lesser Prophets, which are assigned to Dr. John Harding, Regius
Professor of Hebrew, Dr. John Reynolds (who was also at the Conference),
President of Corpus Christi College, Dr. Thomas Holland, Regius
Professor of Divinity, Dr. Richard Kilby, Rector of Lincoln College, Mr.
Miles Smith, Mr. Richard Brett, and Master Richard Fairclough.

The places and persons agreed upon for the Greek are, at Oxford, Dr.
Thomas Ravis, Dean of Christchurch, Dr. George Abbot, Dean of
Winchester, Dr.  Edward Edes, dean of Worcester, Dr. Giles Tomson, Dean
of Windsor, Sir Henry Savile, Provost of Eton, Dr. John Perne, Regius
Professor of Greek, and Mr.  John Harmer.  These undertake the four
Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and Apocalypse.

At Westminster, Dr. William Barlow, Dean of Chester, Dr. Ralph
Hutchinson, President of St. John's College in Oxford, Dr. John Spenser,
Mr. Roger Fenton, Mr. Michael Rabbett, Mr. Thomas Sanderson, and Mr.
William Dawkins, Professor of Divinity in Gresham College ...

It is laid down that the ordinary Bible read in the Church (commonly
called the Bishop's Bible) shall be followed and as little altered as
the truth of the original shall permit; and old ecclesiastical words
shall be kept, viz.  'church' not to be translated 'congregation' ...

As for the manner of the work, every particular man of each company to
take the same chapters, and, having translated or amended them severally
by himself where he thinketh good, then all to meet together to confer
and agree; and as soon as one company shall have despatched any one book
in this manner they shall send it to the rest to be considered of; and
of this point his Majesty is very careful.  If any company, upon review,
should doubt or differ upon any place then to send word, and if the
translators agree not, the difference to be compounded at the general
meeting at the end of the work.  When any place of special obscurity is
doubted of, lettters are to be directed by Authority to any learned man
in the land for hs judgement; and the Bishops are to send letters to all
learned men amongst their clergy, admonishing them of this translation
in hand, and to move as many as be skilful in the tongues to send his
particular observations to the company, either at Westminster, Cambridge
or Oxford."

Printed in A.W. Pollard's Introduction to his 1911 Facsimile of the
Authorised Version of 1611 (pp. 27-30).  Reprinted by G.B. Harrison in
"A Jacobean Journal" (pp. 165-167).

"The King hath concluded that fifty-four learned men shall undertake the
translation of the Bible, and since divers of them have either no
ecclesiastical preferment at all or else so very small as the same is
unmeet for men of their desert, it is required none shall be admitted to
any prebend or parsonage rated at twenty pounds and upwards until his
Majesty's pleasure be known.  Moreover, the Bishops shall inform
themselves of all learned men in their dioceases who, having special
skill in the Hebrew and Greek tongues, have taken pains in their private
studies of the Scriptures for clearing of obscurities in the Hebrew or
Greek, or touching any difficulties or mistakings in the former English
translation.  These men shall be written unto and earnestly charged to
send their observations either to M. Lively, the Hebrew Reader in
Cambridge, or Dr. Harding, the Hebrew Reader in Oxford, or to Dr.
Andrewes, Dean of Westminster, to be imparted to the rest of their
companions.

Of late Mr. Hugh Broughton took upon himself to propound to his Majesty
directions and rules how to proceed in this work.  He would have many to
translate a part, and when they have brought a good English style and
true sense, others should make an unniformity that diverse words might
not be used where the original word was the same.  He would have
seventy-two persons set to translate in memory of the ancient
seventy-two Greek translators, and that artificers should be brought in
to help for terms, as embroiderers for Aaron's ephod, geometricians,
carpenters, masons about the Temple of Solomon and Ezekiel; and
gardeners for all the boughs and branches of Ezekiel's tree."

Printed in Strype's "Whitgift", Book 4, Chapter 33.  Reprinted in G.B.
Harrison's "A Jacobean Journal" (pp. 152-153).

Thomas.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Larque <
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Date:           Fri, 15 Jan 1999 05:55:39 -0000
Subject: 10.0048 Re: Psalm 46
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0048 Re: Psalm 46

>>in "Midsummer Night's Dream", the name "Peter" appears in
>>1.2.8 and the word "Grove" appears in 2.1.28.
>
>Well now, you see, that's the thing.  The trouble with the Psalm 46 deal
>is that it's perfect.  "Shake" is 46 down; "spear" is 46 up.  And
>they're in the 46th Psalm.  And in 161O, when the thing was being
>written, Our Will was 46, etc.  That's it, no finagling.

As Peter Hillyar-Russ has pointed out the "Psalm 46" code doesn't work
without the suppression of the word "Selah" at the end of the Psalm.
That sounds suspiciously like "finagling" to me.

Of course, I'm not going to waste time defending my "128 code" - which
was never intended to be hugely convincing.  My only point was that you
can turn up numerical coincidences of this kind in seconds - and in a
world of infinite minor coincidences there are always going to be some
more impressive examples.

In my view "Psalm 46" is on a higher scale of coincidence, but is
produced by exactly the same sort of method that produces apparent
references to Peter Groves, and many others, in Shakespeare's plays.  Of
course it would take a good deal longer, and a great deal more effort,
to find a more exact parallel for the "Psalm 46" reference, but I'm sure
that there is something out there and I'm certainly willing to skim
through some texts in my spare time to see whether I can turn anything
up.  Since I'll be doing this manually and in idle moments, it will take
some time.

A preliminary flick through the earliest poems in Ben Jonson's
"Epigrams" turns up a possible "encoded" name in the second poem - "To
My Book".  Unfortunately "Will Dearly" remains every bit as elusive as
Oscar Wilde's "Will Hewes" (in a Wilde short story, a hypothetical boy
actor who was the Fair Youth of Shakespeare's Sonnets - whose name can
be found within them).  If anybody comes across a real life "William
Dearly" who could be paired with the reference then I would be amused
and interested to hear about him.

I hope to find some more familiar names as my research progresses.

And you have my word, John, no "finagling".

Thomas.

P.S - I was re-reading Charles Nicholl's "The Reckoning" yesterday.  The
book contains ample references to one John Savage who made "a solemn
'oath' to kill Queen Elizabeth", and took part in the Babington plot.
Another enjoyable coincidence.
 

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