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NOTES CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY.
PUBLISHED BY A SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE AND
THE PRACTICE OF VIRTUE BY THE DISTRIBUTION OF BOOKS.
No offenee can justly be taken for this new labour; nothing prejudicing any other man's
Archbishop Parker's Preface to the Bishops' Bible.
FROM THE LONDON EDITION.
FOR W. WELLS.
ORIGIN, PROGRESS, AND DESIGN OF THE WORK.
In the year 1791, a Society was formed in London, the professed
design of which was to promote religious knowledge and the practice of virtue by the distribution of books. Of this Society, from its first origin, it has always been a principal object to publish an Improved Version of the Holy Scriptures, and particularly of the New Testament. With this view, a deputation of the Society was commissioned about twelve years ago to wait upon the late pious and learned Gilbert Wakefield, to request his permission to republish and to circulate his new and accurate Translation of the New Testament at the expense of the Society ; to which that gentleman most readily expressed his assent, and at the same time promised to revise his translation with great care, and to give it to the Society in its most perfect state. It appeared, however, in the sequel, that the engagement, into which he had entered with his bookseller upon the publication of his second edi. tion, precluded him from fulfilling his promise to the Society till that edition was disposed of. In the mean time those unfortunate events took place, which are but too well known to the public; and, to the great and irreparable loss of religion and literature, the life of that eminent scholar was closed in the midst of its career.
After the decease of Mr. Wakefield, it being found impracticable to make use of his Translation, the design for some time lay dormant, till it was resumed by another Society in the West of England, which was formed upon the same principles with the Society in London. This effort proved abortive in consequence of the sudden and much lamented removal of that active, zealous, and persevering advocate of pure and uncorrupted christianity, the late reverend and learned Timothy Kenrick of Exeter.
The design, however, of publishing an Improved Version of the New Testament was never totally abandoned : and it was resumed with great unanimity and spirit at the annual meeting of the London Society, in April 1806, when a Committee was appointed, consisting of all the ministers who were members of the Society, together with some gentlemen of the laity, to carry the intentions of the Society into effect with all convenient despatch. To this Committee it appeared, on many accounts, more eligible to adopt as the basis of their Work a known and approved translation already existing, than to make a new and original Version. And Mr. Wakefield's being unattainable, they fixed their choice upon the excellent Translation of the late most reverend Dr. William Newcome, Archbishop of Armagh, and Primate of all Ireland, a worthy successor of the venerable and learned Archbishop Usher. And to this choice they were induced, not only by the general accuracy, simplicity, and fidelity of the Primate's Translation, but principally because he professes to have followed the text of Griesbach's edition, which, having been formed from a careful collation of many manuscripts and versions, exhibits a text by far the most correct of any, which have been published since the revival of learning in the fifteenth century.
Having selected Archbishop Newcome's Translation as their basis, it became an object with the Committee to guard, as much as possible, against giving their improved Version a motley appearance, by departing unnecessarily from the Primate's text. To this end they assumed it as a principle, that no alteration should be made in the Primate's Translation, but where it appeared to be necessary to the correction of error or inaccuracy in the text, the language, the construction, or the sense And so closely have they adhered to this rule, that, in some instances, they have rather chosen to place, what appeared to them the more eligible translation, at the foot of the page, than to alter the Primate's text where some judicious readers might think it unneces. sary. In justice to the Archbishop, they have placed the words of his Translation at the bottom of the page, wherever they have deviated from it in the Improved Version ; and where it was thought necessary, a short note has been subjoined, assigning the reasons for the alteration, which, to the candid and discerning, they flatter themselves will generally appear satisfactory. Also, in every instance, in which either the Primate's Version or their own differs from the Received Text, they have placed the words of the Received Test at the foot of the page: and in all important cases they have cited the authorities by which the variation is supported.
The Committee have also added Notes for the illustration of difficult and doubtful passages, which are chiefly collected from critics and commentators of the highest reputation. They cannot flatter them.