Saturday, January 12, 2008

Apocrypha in the 1611 King James Version

As most people who are familiar with the Apocrypha know, the Authorized King James Version of the Bible includes a translation of the Apocrypha. However, I was surprised to read the other day in my Interpreter's Bible commentary that it in the original 1611 edition, the Apocrypha was placed within the Old Testament in its original "catholic" order, as found in the Septuagint and Vulgate.

My commentary noted that this was also the case in the authorized English bibles which preceded the KJV--the Great Bible and the Bishop's Bible. It explained that around 1629 the Apocrypha was pulled out from its Septuagint order and placed in its own section between the testaments, as is commonly done today in non-Roman Catholic translations. I had not heard this anywhere before, nor can I confirm it in another source. Anyone out there have any insight to share?

Also, as the Geneva Bible waned in popularity and the "protestants" in England began using the KJV, there was an increasing objection to its presence (for it had not been printed in the Geneva Bible). Accordingly, after much debate, the British and American Bible Societies stopped printing the Apocrypha in the editions they distributed in 1827. Thereafter, most publishers began to omit the Apocrypha in KJV Bibles (except in "pulpit editions"), especially outside England.

Please join me this Spring at St Alban's for a study of the Apocrypha in our Sunday School class meeting in Room 10 at 9:15am.

Update: Here is the quote from the Interpreter's Bible commentary (Vol. 1, p. 396, emphasis mine):

All English editions of the Bible prior to 1629 contained the Apocrypha, either with the canonical books or relegated to an appendix: "Thomas Matthew" (1537, in which the Prayer of Manasses appeared for the first time in English ), the Great Bible (1539), the Geneva Bible (1560, in which for the first time in English some of the Apocrypha were translated from the Greek instead of the Latin), the Bishop's Bible (1568), and the King James or Authorized Version (1611, made from the Hebrew and Greek, in which the the Apocrypha are scattered among the canonical books). But as early as 1629 the Apocrypha were omitted in some editions of the English Bible and, following some bitter controversies, the British and Foreign Bible Society has excluded them since 1827 from all printings of the Bible (except some pulpit Bibles).

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