Monday, February 27, 2012

An original-spelling edition?

David Norton begins his Editor’s Introduction to the New Cambridge Paragraph Bible with these words: “Though it is the most important book in the religious life and the culture of the English-speaking world, the King James Bible or Authorised Version of 1611 has never been perfectly printed.” He goes on to say, “what we now read as the King James Bible contains numerous deliberate and some accidental changes to the text, and these can be revised to make it more faithful to the King James translators’ own decisions as to how it should read.”

I wonder if there isn’t a need for an edition of the KJV that prints the very text, in its original spelling, that was agreed upon by the translators. Indeed, Norton claims in his Introduction that his work “gives the reader as closely as possible the exact text that the King James translators themselves decided on - but which was far from perfectly realised in the first edition.” Wouldn’t this goal be even better achieved with an original-spelling edition?

Personally, I am glad that the NCPB uses modern-spelling, but to finally publish after 400 years the Bible that the translators thought they had produced would be a great tribute to them and an asset to us. Oxford University Press recently published The King James Bible: 400th Anniversary Edition, but it is simply a transcription of the first edition of the KJV. As the publisher explains: “It follows the 1611 text page-for-page and line-for-line, reproducing all misprints rather than correcting them.”

I love David Daniell’s modern-spelling edition of Tyndale’s New Testament, but I am grateful that W. R. Cooper has produced an original-spelling edition for purists. To have a first edition KJV with all misprints corrected would be wonderful.

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