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Archaeology & History

Oldest draft of King James Bible discovered

By T.K. Randall
October 18, 2015 · Comment icon 12 comments

A portrait of Samuel Ward, the man who wrote the newly found draft. Image Credit: PD - Valentine Ritz
A 17th century English translation of the book has turned up more than 400 years after it was written.
Found among notes and manuscripts in an obscure archive at the University of Cambridge, the draft had been written by Samuel Ward - one of 54 people commissioned by King James to create a new English translation of the Bible which better reflected the principles of the Church of England.

The manuscript, which is written in messy handwriting and contains pages of notes and scribblings, is not only the earliest known draft of the King James Bible but is also the only surviving draft of the book to have been written by any of the original translators.
"Ward's draft alone bears all the signs of having been a first draft, just as it alone can be definitively said to be in the hand of one of the King James translators themselves," wrote Jeffrey Miller, an assistant professor of English at Montclair State University in New Jersey.

The King James Bible itself, which was first pushed back in 1611, went on to become one of the most influential books in English literature and was the origin of several phrases that are still used today such as "at their wit's end" and "eat, drink and be merry."

"One of the things I hope is that the draft that I found leads us to discover more drafts of the King James Bible, because maybe we have a better idea of what that might look like," said Miller.

Source: Live Science | Comments (12)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #3 Posted by TheSpoonyOne 8 years ago
No one spoke Old English in 1611, it would have been Early Modern English.
Comment icon #4 Posted by stevemagegod 8 years ago
So it wasn't really discovered. More like re discovered
Comment icon #5 Posted by pbarosso 8 years ago
I used to argue with my non catholic Christian friends who were militantly anti-Catholic. I am catholic and they could be real *******s about their views on religion...I used to always say that who were they to criticize the church when king james had the bible retranslated to better serve the church of England. like any kook, they would argue in circles and change the subject.
Comment icon #6 Posted by bubblykiss 8 years ago
Scholastically, freaking awesome. Newsworthy, not so much. But I am a language nerd, so this is exciting news to me.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Anomalocaris 8 years ago
But I am a language nerd, so this is exciting news to me. I knew it
Comment icon #8 Posted by la_paloma_blanca 8 years ago
I used to argue with my non catholic Christian friends who were militantly anti-Catholic. I am catholic and they could be real *******s about their views on religion...I used to always say that who were they to criticize the church when king james had the bible retranslated to better serve the church of England. like any kook, they would argue in circles and change the subject. So true! I love the ones who accuse us catholics of being false idol worshiping heathens who drink blood and eat human flesh. Haha
Comment icon #9 Posted by paperdyer 8 years ago
Using the term "first draft" indicates a few rewrites. We all know what happens during rewrites. The story get embellished.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Sundew 8 years ago
No one spoke Old English in 1611, it would have been Early Modern English. I stand corrected, however, it is not modern English as we speak today, it has changed quite a bit and that was my point.
Comment icon #11 Posted by KaysonMire 8 years ago
I like the new king James version... But the old one is brilliant. Very hard to read sometimes though.
Comment icon #12 Posted by acute 8 years ago
Using the term "first draft" indicates a few rewrites. We all know what happens during rewrites. The story get embellished. If Methuselah didn't really live to be 969 years old, I may have to rethink my stance on the whole 'bible being the Word of God' thing, and question its non-fiction status.


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