Looking at notes of Samuel Ward and previous Bible translation efforts in English

Al over the world bible scholars are looking for treasures in the archives concerning religious events. An American scholar came all the way down to Great Britain to find what many hot see at the archive at the University of Cambridge.

Jeffrey Miller

In an unassuming notebook, which dates from 1604 to 1608, Jeffrey Alan Miller, an assistant professor of English at Montclair State University in New Jersey, last year found an important new clue to the earthly processes behind the masterpiece of 1611 which was going to change the whole English church community. It is so far the earliest known draft, and the only one definitively written in the hand of one of the roughly four dozen translators who worked on it. He is now in the process of preparing a book-length edition and study of the manuscript.

Samuel Ward’s translation for part of the King James Bible.

Samuel Ward’s translation for part of the King James Bible. – Master and Fellows of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge; Maria Anna Rogers

Samuel Ward (1572–1643).jpg

Samuel Ward (1572–1643)

The text is handwritten by Samuel Ward, an English academic and a master at the University of Cambridge, who served as one of the delegates from the Church of England to the Synod of Dort. He served in the “Second Cambridge Company” charged with translating the Apocrypha. During this time he made the acquaintance of the prolific scholar and church leader James Ussher, whom he assisted in patristic researches. Five years after he was chosen as a Fellow of the new Sidney Sussex College Ward as chaplain of King James I was requested by his master to work on a Bible translation for the English people. Recognised as a moderate with Calvinist views, strongly attached to the Church of England;

While the notebook has yet to be examined by other scholars, experts who have reviewed Miller’s research and read his article in The Times Literary Supplement, called it perhaps the most significant archival find relating to the King James Bible in decades.

Previously Professor Miller also had come across a notebook which had been catalogued in the 1980s as a “verse-by-verse biblical commentary” with “Greek word studies, and some Hebrew notes.” Doing more research he thought it was a draft of parts of the King James Version of the Apocrypha, a disputed section of the Bible that is left out of many editions, particularly in the United States.

David Norton, an emeritus professor at the University of Wellington in New Zealand and the author of several books about the King James Bible, called it “a major discovery” — if not quite equal to finding a draft of one of Shakespeare’s plays, “getting on up there.”

Gordon Campbell, a fellow in Renaissance studies at the University of Leicester and a consultant for the planned Museum of the Bible in Washington, said the new manuscript shed fresh light on how the King James translators actually did their work, as opposed to how they had been told to do it.

At the moment so much preparation work for this authorised version is missing and after its first appearance already so many altered versions are published that users today should know that often what they claim to be the only right Bible to use, their King James Version, has nothing to do with the original 1611 version.

Bp John Whitgift.jpg

John Whitgift (c. 1530 – 29 February 1604) was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1583 to his death.

This draft, dating 1604, goes back to the time when James I of England, the Anglican bishops and representatives of the Puritans held the Hampton Court Conference and when The Table Alphabeticall, the first known English dictionary to be organized by alphabetical ordering, was published. Until then printers of biblical and Marprelate tracts, who claimed that the bishops would be the Antichrist, were brought in front of the the Court of High Commission to appear in front of the  Archbishop of Canterbury John Whitgift, who died on February 29 . Whitgift, who had crowned James I,  strongly calvinist, vigorously defended episcopacy and Anglican liturgy and ritual and tried to maintain a middle course in the Reformation, upholding the recently established doctrine of the Church of England.

One year before the Elizabethan Age had come to an end by the death on March 24, 1603, It was as if the critics of her style of rule and her concept of government had been waiting patiently for her to step down. It was almost with relief that men looked forward to the problems of a new dynasty and a new century, as well as to a man, not a woman, upon the throne. {Encyclopaedia Britannica}

In the region where the population had nearly doubled over the previous century, and many different sorts of preachers wanted to have their say about the Divine Creator, the small titular peerage composed of between 75 and 100 peers who formed the apex of the social structure saw them getting lots of attention from the rural people (85 percent of the population).

The monarch’s claim to be God’s vice-regent on earth was relatively uncontroversial, especially since his obligations to God included good governance. Except in dire emergency, the monarch could not abridge the laws and customs of England nor seize the persons or property of his subjects.

The archbishop of Canterbury was the leading churchman of the realm, and he advised the king, who was the head of the established church. The Privy Council, descended from the Curia Regis, which was made up of the king’s tenants in chief, household officials, and other advisers, advised the king on foreign and domestic policy and was charged with the administration of government. It communicated with the host of unpaid local officials who governed in the communities, ordering the justices to enforce statutes or the deputy lieutenants to raise forces. In these tasks the privy councillors relied not only upon the king’s warrant but upon their own local power and prestige as well. Thus, while the king was free to choose his own councillors, he was constrained to pick those who were capable of commanding respect.

The ‘canon’ of the Hebrew Old Testament was not endorsed by Jewish authority until c. ce 100 by which time the Septuagint, its Greek translation (Alexandria, 3rd cent. bc) combined with other Greek writings (the Apocrypha), was prevalent amongst Hellenistic Jews. Though the western church had accepted ‘old Latin’ versions of the Septuagint, Jerome made a new Latin translation from the original Hebrew (390–410), known as the Vulgate,but now the people wanted a bible in their own tongue.

Whilst the first English translations were patchy and spasmodic — paraphrases attributed to Cædmon (c.680), Bede’s translation of part of John’s Gospel (673–735), 9th–10th-cent. glosses, free translations of Genesis 1–12, Psalms 1–50, the gospels (10th cent.), and Middle English metrical versions.

In this 19th-century illustration, John Wycliffe is shown giving the Bible translation that bore his name to his Lollard followers.

Great Britain had to wait until the 14th century to have New Testament translations from the Vulgate, made under lollard influence. Lollards (from middle Dutch lollaerd—a mumbler) were a motley group lacking theological coherence who followed the English religious reformer John Wycliffe. for them it was clear that the super rich church establishment was something against Jesus’ teaching. for that criticism John Wycliffe was was dismissed from the University of Oxford in 1381.

Not permitted or allowed manuscripts got ‘miraculously’ by many who love to read the Word of God. Though prohibited reading the students of the bible all over the country could find different parts of the Bible in their own language. The people in charge of the country tried to make an end to the illicit trade but did not manage.

The Bishops’ Bible was first published in 1568 and in this edition, Queen Elizabeth is flanked by allegorical virtues of Faith and Charity, representing Hope. – Beneath the portrait is a Latin text from Romans 1:16

Finding printings of the Vulgate (1456), the Hebrew text (1488), and Erasmus’ Greek NT (1516), William Tyndale decided to make the first English New Testament translation from the original Greek in Worms (1526) and of the Pentateuch from the original Hebrew (1529–30). As such Tyndale’s Bible is credited with being the first English translation to work directly from Hebrew and Greek texts. Based on this translation Coverdale first complete English Bible (1535) came into existing after Thomas Cromwell had asked him to make an official translation for use in every parish church. The ‘Great Bible’ was published in 1539. A new version (1557), issued in Geneva — the first with verse-divisions — formed the basis of the so-called Geneva Bible, dedicated to Elizabeth (1560) and widely read at all levels in her reign. Parker, however, authorized yet another, this time more Latinate, revision of the Great Bible, the Bishops’ Bible (1568) — also with verse-divisions, but ‘incompetent, both in its scholarship and verbosity’. Meanwhile exiled English Catholics in Rheims translated their own NT from the Vulgate (1582), followed by the OT at Douai (1609–10).

It would be interesting to see now how notes and parts were  taken from those previous efforts to bring God’s Word in the language of the English people. Perhaps the findings also can shed a light in how they worked and had the work divided under the six teams in 1608 to create a full version of the Word in English under the direction of King James.

The draft, Miller argues, dates from 1604, when the King James Bible was commissioned, to 1608, when the six teams were asked to send their work to the general committee for review. Unlike the other surviving drafts, which scholars date to later parts of the process, it shows an individual translator’s initial puzzling over aspects of the Greek text of the Apocrypha, indicating the reasoning behind his translation choices, with reference to Hebrew and Latin as well. It also shows its close connection to the previous English translation known as the Bishops’ Bible and helps to illuminate the role that Hebrew, Greek and Latin played in shaping the King James Bible’s iconic English.

Interesting to see what the bible scholars can find next on how those 17th century scholars managed to co-operate with each other.

Professor Miller said.

“It was incredibly collaborative,”

he continued.

“But it was done in a much more complicated, nuanced, and at times individualistic way than we’ve ever really had good evidence to believe.”

Dr. Miller’s full treatment and explanation of this discovery is being published as a chapter in The King James Bible: The Scholarly Context (edited by Mordechai Feingold for Brill).

For Biblical scholars, and perhaps even the more casual reader of the Bible, Dr. Miller’s work “points the way to a fuller, more complex understanding” of what would become not just the most enduring English translation of the Bible, but the most widely read work of English literature of all time.  Among other things, as Dr. Miller writes in the TLS, the discovery of Ward’s draft shows that the King James Bible “may be far more a patchwork of individual translations – the product of individual translators and individual companies working in individual ways – than has ever been properly recognized.” {Jeffrey A. Miller Discovers the Earliest Known Draft of the King James Bible}

Last year, clearing out a cupboard at his church Rev Dr Jason Bray stumbled upon the result of that co-operation, as he was taking stock at St Giles Parish Church in Wrexham town centre. At first he didn’t know it was a first edition of the King James Bible, when they sent photographs to the National Library of Wales and got confirmed that it was, dating back to 1611, they heard that there are believed to be fewer than 200 such Bibles still in existence, and they could be proud of being the owner of one such original print.

The Rev Dr Jason Bray and the first edition King James Bible

Rev Dr Jason Bray with a King James Bible, known as the Authorised Version (AV) of the Bible in English, printed in London by Robert Barker, printers to King James I


Preceding articles:

Bible Word from God

God’s Blog recorded in a Book

Creator and Blogger God 11 Old and New Blog 1 Aimed at one man


Please find to read:

  1. Jeffrey A. Miller Discovers the Earliest Known Draft of the King James Bible
  2. Earliest Known Draft of King James Bible Is Found, Scholar Says
  3. Scholar finds earliest known draft of King James Bible wrapped in a stained piece of waste vellum
  4. Earliest Known Draft of 1611 King James Bible Is Found
  5. First edition of King James Bible from 1611 found in church cupboard
  6. Old and newer King James Versions and other translations #1 Pre King James Bible
  7. Old and newer King James Versions and other translations #2 King James Bible versions
  8. King James Bible Coming into being
  9. Dedication and Preaching Effort 400 years after the first King James Version
  10. Rare original King James Bible discovered
  11. Celebrating the Bible in English
  12. TheBible4Life KJV Jubileum
  13. The NIV and the Name of God
  14. Lord in place of the divine name
  15. Archeological Findings the name of God YHWHUse of /Gebruik van Jehovah or/of Yahweh in Bible Translations/Bijbel vertalingen
  16. יהוה , YHWH and Love: Four-letter words
  17. Accuracy, Word-for-Word Translation Preferred by most Bible Readers
  18. Hebrew, Aramaic and Bibletranslation
  19. Bible Translating and Concordance Making
  20. Comparisson Bible Books in English, Dutch and French
  21. Some Restored Name Versions
  22. Codex Sinaiticus available for perusal on the Web
  23. What English Bible do you use?
  24. The Most Reliable English Bible
  25. 2001 Translation an American English Bible
  26. NWT and what other scholars have to say to its critics
  27. New American Bible Revised Edition
  28. The NIV and the Name of God
  29. Anchor Yale Bible
  30. iPod & Android Bibles
  31. Perspectives on the Formation of the Book of the Twelve
  32. Scripture alone Sola Scriptora
  33. Who Gets to Say What the Bible Says?
  34. Forbidden fruit
  35. Obstacles to effective evangelism


Further reading

  1. 3,000-year-old text sheds light on biblical history
  2. The King James AV 1611 Bible VS. The New International Version
  3. Does The King James Bible Reveal The Identity Of The Antichrist?
  4. Did Shakespeare Write Psalm 46 in the King James Bible?
  5. Thou Shouldst Buy This Book
  6. Top Ten Religious Fallacies About The Holy Bible Revealed
  7. Twelve Papalist (Roman Catholic) Questions
  8. All Things “New”
  9. The Bible
  10. The Bible: A Remarkable Book
  11. The Bible: Kept Pure in All Ages
  12. The Received Text
  13. Everyday Phrases We Use That Came From The King James Bible
  14. Some Notes on Bible Translations
  15. 7 Bible Translations You Should Look At Regularly
  16. Double Inspiration and the Debate Over the Best Bible Version
  17. The King James Bible
  18. The KJV Is An Independent TR Variety
  19. The King James Bible and the Restoration
  20. Why King James Bible?
  21. KJV Only
  22. KJV Only?
  23. King James Only? … The Final Word
  24. The King James Only Controversy: Can We Trust Modern Translations?
  25. Six Reasons To Not Follow “King James Version-onlyism”
  26. Thees, Thous, and Wot Nots
  27. Everyday Phrases From The King James Bible
  28. 65 commonly used English terms, proverbs, & idioms from the KJV
  29. The Wicked Bible
  30. God’s Good Word: The Difference
  31. The New Testament in the Book of Mormon: A Primer
  32. The Breeches Bible
  33. Brooke Foss Westcott (1825-1903) and Fenton John Anthony Hort (1828-1892) Part 1
  34. Christian Scholars Admit To Corrupting The Bible
  35. New Translation Of The Bible Is Made With Emoijis For Millenianls (This Has Got To Be A Joke!!)
  36. Facts and History of the Bible, Know ‘yer Bible
  37. God’s Good Word
  38. The #Apostles were #Protestant.
  39. How Hollywood Copies the Bible
  40. Try It, Then Critique


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