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Friday, 21 October 2011

William Tyndale - a Rock foundation

William Tyndale - His influence on the KJV

Tyndale is the unsung hero:

Newspaper headlines still quote Tyndale, though unknowingly, and he has reached more people than even Shakespeare. (1)
Really? Even more than Shakespeare? We are being taught to appreciate and revere the name of this unsung hero: see external links (at the foot).

How influential was he?

A writer in Contemporary Review says,

[Tyndale] is the mainly unrecognised translator of the most influential book in the world. Although the Authorised King James Version is ostensibly the production of a learned committee of churchmen, it is mostly cribbed from Tyndale with some reworking of his translation.

Describing their work as “cribbed” is inaccurate for two reasons: First, each KJV committee was led by a Director who was committed to ensure King James’ guidelines for translation were strictly followed. A foundation rule was that each translator make his own draft translation of a passage before it was discussed in committee, and that the final draft should then be compared with previous translations. Second, these articles have shown that the KJV translators were more than adequately equipped to make a scholarly and independent judgement, as to how to translate any word, phrase or sentence.

The Directors of the six translation committees working on a designated portion of the Text were men of great academic distinction: Lancelot Andrewes(Genesis - 2 Kings), William Barlow (Romans - Jude), John Harding (Isaiah - Malachi), Thomas Ravis
(Gospels, Acts, Apocalypse), Edward Lively/Laurence Chaderton (1 Chronicles - Ecclesiastes), and John Duport (Apocrypha). A ‘hyperlink-glance’ at their attainments should convince the reader that these Directors were able to ensure that the translation process, as guided by them, received the diligent thoroughness required by the King’s specific guidelines.

The flyleaf of most printings of the Authorized Version observes that the text had been "translated out of the original tongues, and with the former translations diligently compared and revised, by His Majesty's special command." James' instructions included several requirements that kept the new translation familiar to its listeners and readers. The text of the Bishops' Bible would serve as the primary guide for the translators, and the familiar proper names of the biblical characters would all be retained. If the Bishops' Bible
was inadequate, as was frequently the case, the translators were allowed to consult from a pre-approved list, the Tyndale Bible, the Coverdale Bible,Matthew's Bible, the Great Bible, and the Geneva Bible. Every verse of the Bible can readily be compared online, as between these and other Versions.

How much of the KJV is Tyndale’s work?

In answering this question, David Daniell accepts the work of Mormon writers Jon Nielson and Royal Skousen. They noted that previous estimates of Tyndale's contribution to the KJV 'have run from a high of up to 90% (Westcott) to a low of 18% (Butterworth)'. They tested this by using a statistically accurate and appropriate method of sampling - based on eighteen portions of the Bible - to show that Tyndale's contribution to the New Testament amounts to about 83% of the text, and in the Old Testament 76%.

What were William Tyndale’s linguistic skills?

Born in or around 1494, Tyndale’s life-aim from the age of ten(!) onwards was to translate the Bible into good English. All his energy was deliberately focused to achieve this aim. Tyndale showed an unusual aptitude for languages even as a child at Lady Berkeley's Grammar School at Wotton under Edge, where he learned to read Latin with ease. He went up to Oxford aged 12, where [so Foxe reports] ‘by long continuance he grew and increased in the knowledge of tongues and other liberal arts,’ and was ‘singularly addicted to the study of the Scriptures.’ By the time he was eighteen, William Hychyns (an alternative family name for Tyndale) graduated BA at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, in 1512. He sat at the feet of three great Christian humanists: William Grocyn, William Latimer and Thomas Linacre. Having been made MA three years later he began to study theology. Foxe records that he ‘read privily to certain students and fellows of Magdalen College some parcel of divinity, instructing them in the knowledge and truth of the scriptures’ (Foxe, ed. Pratt, 5.114–15).(4) Erasmus’ freshly published (1516) Greek NT may have been the foundation of these studies. Tyndale then went to Cambridge, where Greek studies had received a strong injection from the visit of Erasmus, who taught Greek there for several years while Tyndale was still at Oxford.

Arriving later in London (1523?) Tyndale sought to commend his scholarly aspirations to Cuthbert Tunstall, Bishop of London, so to obtain his help in publishing an English translation of the entire Bible. Tyndale had taken with him his translation of an oration of the Greek rhetorician Isocrates, with which to prove his highly-skilled attainments in Greek. He was later praised by the German scholar Hermann Buschius for his mastery of seven languages: Greek, Latin, Hebrew, German, Spanish, and French, as well as English.

Tyndale’s trail-blazing energy

William Tyndale published the entire New Testament in 1526/1535. He then translated and published the Pentateuch, and the book of Jonah. John Rogers continued Tyndale’s work after the latter’s martyrdom at the hands of Henry VIII.

The publication was called the Matthew’s Bible, in order to conceal from the authorities Tyndale’s posthumous involvement. What of the remainder of the Old Testament? David Daniell’s view is that, the Matthew Version containing the Books of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, First and Second Samuel, First and Second Kings, and First and Second Chronicles, were all William Tyndale‘s work. Tyndale worked directly from the Hebrew and Greek, occasionally consulting the Vulgate and Erasmus’s Latin version, and he used Luther's Bible for the prefaces, marginal notes and the biblical text. The remaining prophetic and poetic books of the Old Testament (and the Apocrypha) in the Matthew Bible were the work of Myles Coverdale. A. S. Herbert, Bible cataloguer, says of the Matthew Bible:
This version, which welds together the best work of Tyndale and Coverdale, is generally considered to be the real primary version of our English Bible upon which later editions were based, including the Geneva Bible and King James Version. Thus the Matthew Bible, though largely unrecognized, significantly shaped and influenced English Bible versions in the centuries that followed its first appearance. (2)

How did the KJV translators use earlier Versions?

The Bishops Bible was chosen to be the primary guide and orientation to spring-board a discussion, and a way of comparing a translators’ own first drafts. Nicolson gives a helpful example of how this worked by quoting Dr Ward Allen, who showed from a 1602 edition of the Bishops Bible how the revision worked. In this Bible, an individual translator has privately marked first suggestions for revision, ready for the impending weekly meeting with his colleagues. There his textual choices were aired, discussed and analysed.

Adam Nicolson's book

A quotation follows, which illustrates using an example from Luke 1:57.

In Luke 1:57, the moment when Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, the herald of Christ, gives birth, the Bishops’ Bible text reads:
Elizabeth’s time came that she should bee delivered, and she brought forth a son.
This, incidentally, is almost exactly the wording of William Tyndale’s 1526 New Testament. It is an uncomplicated and straightforward moment, almost certainly too prosaic for Jacobean taste, and, in one minute particular, inaccurate. The King James Translator on his own in his room marked the verse very carefully with Greek letters as follows:
kElizabeth’s time lcame that she should bee delivered, and she brought forth a son.
and in the margin beside it wrote ‘k Now’ and ‘l was fulfilled’, with the intention presumably that the verse should read:
Now Elizabeth‘s time was fulfilled that she should bee delivered, and she brought forth a son.
That is the suggestion that he took to the weekly meeting. His co-Translators didn’t entirely like what he had done. They accepted his inclusion ‘Now’, translating a word which is in the Greek, and giving an extra flick of vitality and of conversational engagement to the verse, the storyteller drawing you in. But his other suggestion was rejected. The phrase ‘was fulfilled’ was a brave attempt at just the kind of lexical enrichment the Jacobeans enjoyed, and on which the King James Bible, almost subliminally, often relies. It carries a double hidden pun: not only has the time come for Elizabeth’s son to be born, but she was both filled full with the child in her womb and fulfilled in her role and duty as mother of the Baptist.

The idea is marvelous but the word is not quite right, a little dense, even a little technical. So ‘ was fulfilled’ is crossed out in the margin and replaced with ‘full time came’. As a result, the reading in the King James Bible, with which the English-speaking world has been familiar ever since, is Tyndale plus first Oxford Translator plus revision by the Oxford company:

Now Elizabeth’s full time came that she should bee delivered and she brought forth a sonne.
’It is undoubtedly the best, more accurate for its inclusion of ‘Now’ and wonderfully subtle in the phrase they landed on. ‘Full time came’ is irreproachably English, simple, accessible, conceptually rich, as full of potent and resonant meanings as Elizabeth was with child. In Jacobean English, full can mean plump, perfect and over brimming, and all of those meanings are here. (3)

Tyndale’s influence lives on

A well-known quotation of William Tyndale is his comment to a biblically illiterate priest:

‘I defy the Pope and all his laws, and if God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plough shall know more of the Scriptures than thou doest.’
Fifteen years later, Tyndale was killed, first strangled by the hangman at the stake, then ‘with fire consumed.’ Approximately one year later, in 1537, Tyndale’s entire work was published in the Matthew Bible. It was a Bible written in blood.

David Daniell says:

William Tyndale's Bible translations have been the best-kept secrets in English Bible history…Astonishment is still voiced that the dignitaries who prepared the 1611 Authorized Version for King James spoke so often with one voice—apparently miraculously. Of course they did: the voice (never acknowledged by them) was Tyndale's. (5)

The Bible’s Old Testament is about the bloodline of Israel, and the world‘s future destiny in the Messiah of God. The New Testament is about the sacrificial nature and effects of the blood of Jesus Christ. How suitable, then, that our English Bible too was written in blood. As William Tyndale was about to lose consciousness at the stake, he cried ’with fervent zeal and a loud voice: “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.” The prayer Tyndale made for Henry VIII is the prayer we too should make for our fellow countrymen. Tyndale’s prayer was abundantly answered within two years, when a Bible was chained to every church lectern in the land. God will answer our prayers for a quickened nation in the same way, if we are prepared by God’s Spirit to follow Tyndale’s example of dedication and single-mindedness.

Tyndale's death

(1) Daniell, David (1994) William Tyndale: A Biography Yale University Press, p. 2.
(2) Herbert, A. S. Historical Catalogue of Printed Editions of the English Bible 1525–1961, London: British and Foreign Bible Society; New York: American Bible Society, 1968
(3) Nicolson, Adam. (2003) Power and glory: Jacobean England and the making of the King James Bible, Lon: Harper. p. 152-153.
(4) Daniell, David. (2004) Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
(5) Daniell, David, Introduction to Tyndale’s New Testament (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1995). See the video (The Bible Revolution) on the King James Bible Trust website at
Index of translators

Monday, 17 October 2011

John Layfield - adventurous chronicler

Early days

John Layfield was born in 1562/3 was the son of Edward Layfield, a prebendary of St Paul's Cathedral. Layfield was educated at Merchant Taylors' School, Northwood before proceeding to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated BA in 1582 and became a Fellow in 1583. He proceeded MA in 1585 and BTh in 1592. He was also lector in Greek in 1593 and examiner in grammar in 1599. He later married Elizabeth in 1603 at St Mary, Whitechapel, and had two sons and a daughter. (1)

Adventures abroad

George Clifford

In 1598 Layfield accompanied George Clifford, third earl of Cumberland as his chaplain and chronicler, during a violent and dangerous expedition to the West Indies, when hundreds died (2). Clifford wanted to see Reformed truth spread across the globe. Layfield wrote a long account of the voyage to Puerto Rico in ‘Purchas his Pilgrimes.’ Cumberland's biographer says Layfield's ‘detailed description of the whole voyage is the most reliable as well as the most complete of the extant accounts’ (Spence, 144).
Nicolson says of the writer’s value to the expedition:
John Layfield . . . was an explorer and prose writer of real distinction, who left one of the most civil-minded and generous accounts ever written of the English arrival in the New World. . . . What Layfield brought to this exciting subject . . . was an unabashed manliness of style, a smart brisk way of telling a story in which piety or an adopted moralism had no part. . . . Even before they leave Portsmouth, Layfield displays his gift for clear and dramatic narrative, for instant characterisation, for a scene brought utterly alert. . . . Layfield’s chronicle is as bright-colored as anything by Robert Louis Stevenson . . . . Nothing about Layfield is cynical or even prejudiced. (2)

Translator of the KJV

In 1606 he was one of the Greek and Hebrew scholars appointed by James I to produce what became the Authorized Version of the Bible. Layfield was one of ten who met at Westminster to work on the Old Testament, Genesis to 2 Kings inclusive. It was said that "being skilled in architecture, his judgment was much relied on for the fabric of the tabernacle and temple" as described in the book of Leviticus.

Paine quotes a lengthy passage from Layfield’s Carribean chronicle, describing the island of Dominica, and notes his exact and charming vocabulary:

Though we can prove nothing by mere diction, there are many words in this passage that are found in the King James Bible: apparel, attired, discovered, nakedness, boring ears, covered, profitable. The rhythms of Layfield also may remind us of those in the books on which he laboured. (3)

Nicolson quotes as an example from the opening chapters of Genesis:

9And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow euery tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and euil. 10And a river went out of Eden to water the garden;
[Layfield] had a hand in writing this . . . . As he did so he would have had in mind those incomparable forests of Dominica, where ‘the trees doe continually maintaine themselves, in a greene-good liking’ - extraordinary phrase - ‘partly of many fine Rivers, which to requite the shadow and coolenesse they receive from the Trees, give them back again a continuall refresshing of very sweete and tastie water.‘ The seventeenth century English idea of Paradise, a vision of enveloping lushness, was formed by the seduction of an almost untouched Caribbean. (2)

No doubt Lancelot Andrewes chose him as a member of his Westminster group, more for his ability with English style, than in understanding Hebrew - Layfield was more the Greek scholar than Oriental.

Church appointments

Layfield was Rector of Aldwincle St Peter's, Northamptonshire from 1598 to 1602, and then became rector of St Clement Danes, London, resigning his fellowship at Trinity in 1603.

Layfield was admitted to the Inner Temple in 1606. Four years later, he became one of the first fellows of Chelsea College, newly founded to resist a return to Papal authority, by the production of an anti-Catholic polemic.

In 1613 he contributed laudatory verses to the preface of Sir William Leighton's Tears or Lamentations of a Sorrowful Soul. He died, probably in his London rectory, in 1617. In his will, he left land in Old Cleeve, Somerset, and Royston, Hertfordshire, to his wife for her lifetime, with remainder to their eldest son, Edward.

(1) Bayne, Ronald (2004) Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
(2) Nicolson, Adam. (2003) Power and glory: Jacobean England and the making of the King James Bible, Lon: Harper. pp. 102-103
(3) Paine, Gustavus, (1959/1977)The men behind the King James version, MI: Baker p. 36.
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Sunday, 16 October 2011

Francis Burleigh - an unremarkable choice

Francis Burleigh (Burley, Burghley) is not quite anonymous, although there appears no evidence as to when or where he was born, or when or where he died. Is there not a currently living member of the Burleigh family, willing to research the records to discover more about this member of the committee, which bequeathed the Book of Books to the English-speaking world?
The Wikipedia site awaits.

Chelsea College, London

Burleigh was made a fellow of Chelsea College (1), founded in London by royal charter two years before the KJV was published. Other translators among the original fellows were John Overall, Miles Smith, John Spenser, and John Boys. Other original fellows included John Layfield and Richard Brett. Burleigh was appointed to contribute to Lancelot Andrewes' "First Westminster Company," in the translating of the first twelve books of the Bible. Presumably, the need to graduate in Classics and/or divinity at Oxford or Cambridge, was an essential requirement for this task.

Church appointments

Nicolson tells us he was appointed as Vicar of Bishop's Stortford by Lancelot Andrewes in 1590. (2) He is also named as Rector of St. James the Great Church Thorley, Hertfordshire, from 1594 - 1610.

St. James the Great, Thorley

He was appointed a third living as rector of St Benet Paul's Wharf, London. (3)

(1) Bobrick, Benson. (2001) The Making of the English Bible Lon: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, p. 231.
(2) Nicolson, Adam. (2003) Power and glory: Jacobean England and the making of the King James Bible, Lon: Harper. p. 253.
(3) Westbrook, Vivienne (2004) Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

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Saturday, 8 October 2011

Geoffrey King - Hugh Broughton’s friend

Details about Geoffrey King’s life are mostly unknown. His place and date of birth (and death) are seemingly unrecorded. In adulthood, he became a fellow of King’s College Cambridge. King has a double claim to be remembered. First he was chosen to be part of the team of Lancelot Andrewes at Westminster, which translated the first books of the Old Testament. Secondly, he became Professor of Hebrew at King’s College, Cambridge, succeeding Robert Spaulding.

King's College, Cambridge

Of the Westminster group, Nicolson says:

Several of Andrewes’ team remain little more than names: Richard Clarke, a fellow of Christ’s college, Cambridge, whose sermons were said to be “a continent of mud’; Robert Tighe, vicar of All Hallows, Barking, the church in which Lancelot Andrewes had been christened; Geoffrey King, another Christ’s man, and in time Professor of Hebrew at Cambridge; and Francis Burleigh, who had been a scholar at Pembroke, Andrewes’ own college. Even among the obscure the connections continued to work. Those four have the look of workhorses, men flattered to be included, who could be asked to do much of the legwork. . .(1)

The influence of Hugh Broughton

King was reputed to be a personal friend of the controversialist Hugh Broughton (1549–1612). This gives us a clue as to whether King was dedicated to the mastery of Hebrew. Broughton was distinguished both in preaching and intense study, becoming an outstanding Hebrew scholar. He was thus intensely disappointed not to be invited to join the KJV translation committee.

Since his learning was beyond question, their refusal to give due recognition to Broughton's merits as a scholar was no credit to the selectors of the Authorized Version. However, it may be justly assumed that he was not invited to co-operate on account of his arrogance and intolerance. Because he was so waspish and cantankerous in controversy, other scholars were unwilling to associate with him. He would have been a troublesome collaborator.(2)

Broughton put himself offside with fellow scholars by a habit of writing excessive negative criticism concerning the writings and ministry of others. His first book was itself attacked in public lectures by two key members of the KJV committee, John Rainolds, president of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and by Edward Lively, Regius professor of Hebrew at Cambridge.

Notwithstanding these reservations, and despite his intemperate outbursts, Hugh Broughton was a popular teacher and much loved by those he taught. He is said to have been a jovial dinner companion and a loyal friend. Whether as a pupil or colleague, Geoffrey King would have been much influenced by Broughton’s views as to the nature, importance and need for serious Hebrew study. It is thus important to understand Broughton’s views.

Broughton's writings demonstrate that he may justifiably be regarded as the most proficient English Hebraist of his day. Not only was he able to read the Old Testament in the original, he was familiar at first hand with a wide range of post-biblical Jewish authors. His contribution to Old Testament studies includes a translation of Daniel into English and Latin with explanatory notes and comments (1596), a commentary on Ecclesiastes with an accompanying English translation of the text (1605), an English rendering of Lamentations (1606), and an English version of the book of Job (1610). In what became known as the ‘battle of the vowel points’ Broughton shared the rabbinic attitude towards the Masoretic vocalization of the Hebrew Bible. He argued against the Catholics that the vowels were a part of the original text, not a late invention of the rabbis and therefore untrustworthy. (2)

Elohim in Hebrew Bible

Broughton dedicated himself to the interpretation of biblical apocalyptic writings. To succeed in this he believed it needed to be based on a thorough mastery of Hebrew and the study of traditional Jewish exegesis. In teaching his students privately, he believed daily Bible readings and conversations in Hebrew were essential. Samuel Clarke claimed that in Broughton's published works:

[T]he serious and impartial reader will find … a winning and inciting enforcement to the reading of the Scriptures, with a greater seriousness, and more than ordinary searching into them. . . . [Among ordinary students] some such there were, that being excited and stirred up by his books, applied themselves to the study of the Hebrew tongue and attained to a great measure of skill and knowledge therein. (2)

Influence upon on the new translation

As a friend of Broughton, Geoffrey King would have sought his advice on various questions of translation.
Among the papers of John Rainolds are some Broughton comments and advice set down with respect for his learning. Broughton made his own partial version from the Bible from which the King James men appear to have taken some wordings. Speaking of wild horses, Broughton said of the horse, in Job 39:19, “Canst thou clothe his neck with thunder? . . . . Thunder is a figure for that which quivers; what a splendid phrase we lose if we object to “clothed his neck with thunder.” We can thank rabid Hugh Broughton for his inspired word.(3)

(1) Nicolson, p. 99
(2) Lloyd Jones, National Dictionary of Biography
(3) Paine, p. 107
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