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Oldest King James Bible Draft Believed Found in Notebook

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By    |   Friday, 16 Oct 2015 10:35 AM

The oldest draft of the King James Bible was possibly discovered among documents of Samuel Ward, one of the original translators who King James I commissioned to create an English version of the Christian text in the early 17th century.

Montclair State University assistant English professor Jeffrey Miller said he found the book's manuscript in a notebook among Ward's work in an obscure archive at the University of Cambridge, reported Live Science.com.

Miller wrote about his finding in the Times Literary Supplement that was posted on Wednesday. He said Ward was one of seven people charged by the king to translate the Bible into English.

"For centuries, Ward's papers in the college lay almost entirely neglected and uncatalogued," said Miller. "This situation persisted until 1985. That year, Margo Todd published a landmark study of the collection, in which she supplied the Ward manuscripts with the alphabetical classifications they now possess and gave a brief description of each manuscript's contents."

Miller said the supplement was in one of the notebooks organized by Todd. In it he found what was described as "verse-by-verse biblical commentary." 

"And as I sought to determine the biblical verses concerned, and which translation Ward seemed to be using, the manuscript's true significance suddenly came into focus," said Miller.

"It is worth saying something about the term 'draft' as it applies to the (King James Bible), for an ill-fitting notion of what a draft of the work might resemble may be one of the reasons why so few have ever been discovered." 

The notebook itself dates back to 1604 to 1608, said The New York Times. The King James Bible was published in 1611 in London, Oxford and Cambridge. The authorized version was printed to support the Church of England against the Puritan influence seen in some earlier translations.

Miller told the Times that Ward's draft contained parts of the King James version of the Apocrypyha, a controversial section of the Bible that was left out of many editions.

"You can actually see the way Greek, Latin and Hebrew are all feeding into what will become the most widely read work of English literature of all time," said Miller. "It gets you so close to the thought process, it's incredible."


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The oldest draft of the King James Bible was possibly discovered among documents of Samuel Ward, one of the original translators who King James I commissioned to create an English version of the Christian text in the early 17th century.
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