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An interesting discussion on twitter led me to a man who roundly asserted that King James I issued a list of instructions to the translators of the King James version of the bible, with an eye to getting his own sins omitted from it. It sounded quite improbable. In fact it is complete nonsense; but it drew my attention to the matter.
The King James Version or KJV has long been obsolescent and is now little used in England. In some ways this is rather a pity; but it is now quite unfit for daily use by any other than antiquarians. But it stands forever as a classic of the English language.
Cambridge - Version - KJV - David - Norton
In 2005 Cambridge printed a version of the KJV, edited by David Norton, who also produced a book on the subject, his A Textual History of the King James Bible. Norton inevitably emphasises that the “original” 1611 edition has become changed in little ways as the centuries have passed; for, of course, he was producing his own edition. But the book contains much interesting information.
We know only a little about how the KJV was made. King James did not, of course, supervise the work personally, deputising to Bancroft, Bishop of London. But we do have three copies of a set of rules which seem to have been circulated among the translators. These are extant in manuscript. Norton tells us that British Library Add. 28721, fol. 24r; BL Harley 750; and BL Egerton 2884 fol. 6r contain the text. The first two omit rule 15, suggesting that it was an afterthought. Here is the text as he gives it, modernised from BL Add. 28721:
Bible - Read - Church - Bishops - Bible
1. The ordinary Bible read in the Church, commonly called the Bishops’ Bible, to be followed, and as little altered as the truth of the original will permit.
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