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task of revising the language of the common version of the scriptures, and of presenting to the public an edition with such amendments, as will better express the true sense of the original languages, and remove objections to particular parts of the phraseology.
In performing this task, I have been careful to avoid unnecessary innovations, and to retain the general character of the style. The principal alterations are comprised in three classes.
1. The substitution of words and phrases now in good use, for such as are wholly obsolete, or deemed below the dignity and solemnity of the subject.
2. The correction of errors in grammar.
3. The insertion of euphemisms, words and phrases which are not very offensive to delicacy, in the place of such as cannot, with propriety, be uttered before a promiscuous audience.
A few errors in the translation, which are admitted on all hands to be obvious, have been corrected ; and some obscure passages, illustrated. In making these amendments, I have consulted the original languages, and also several translations and commentaries. In the body of the work, my aim has been to preserve, but, in certain passages, more clearly to express, the sense of the present version.
The language of the Bible has no inconsiderable influence in forming and preserving our national language. On this account, the language of the common version ought to be correct in grammatical construction, and in the use of appropriate words. This is the more important, as men who are accustomed to read the Bible with veneration, are apt to contracte predilection for its phraseology, and thus to become attached to phrases which are quaint or obsolete. This may be a real misfortune; for the use of words and phrases, when they have ceased to be a part of the living language, and appear odd or singular, impairs the purity of the language, and is apt to create a disrelish for it in those who have not, by long practice, contracted a like predilection. It may require some effort to subdue this predilection ; but it may be done, and for the sake of the rising generation, it is desirable. The language of the scriptures ought to be pure, chaste, simple and perspicuous, free from any words or phrases which may excite observation by their singularity; and neither debased by vulgarisms, nor tricked out with the ornaments of affected elegance.
As there are diversities of tastes among men, it is not to be expected that the alterations I have made in the language of the version will please all classes of readers. Some persons will think I have done too little; others, too much. And probably the result would be the same, were a revision to be executed by any other hand, or even by the joint labors of many hands.
All I can say is, that I have executed this work in the manner which, in my judgment, appeared to be the best.
To avoid giving offense to any denomination of christians, I have not knowingly made any alteration in the passages of the present version, on which the different denominations rely for the support of their peculiar tenets.
In this country there is no legislative power which claims to have the right to prescribe what version of the scriptures shall be used in the churches, or by the people. And as all human opinions are fallible, it is doubtless for the inter
est of religion that no authority should be exerted in this case, except by commendation.
At the same time, it is very important that all denominations of christians should use the same version, that in all public discourses, treatises and contro1. versies, the passages cited as authorities should be uniform. Alterations in the
popular version should not be frequent; but the changes incident to all living
languages render it not merely expedient, but necessary at times to introduce r such alterations as will express the true sense of the original languages, in the
current language of the age. A version thus amended may require no alteration for two or three centuries to come.
In this undertaking, I subject myself to the charge of arrogance; but I am not conscious of being actuated by any improper motive: I am aware of the
sensitiveness of the religious public on this subject; and of the difficulties which i attend the performance. But all men whom I have consulted, if they have I thought much on the subject, seem to be agreed in the opinion, that it is high j time to have a revision of the common version of the scriptures; although no
person appears to know how or by whom such revision is to be executed. In į my own view, such revision is not merely a matter of expedience, but of moral
duty; and as I have been encouraged to undertake this work, by respectable į literary and religious characters, I have ventured to attempt a revision upon my
own responsibility. If the work should fail to be well received, the loss will
be my own, and I hope no injury will be done. I have been painfully solicit1
ous that no error should escape me. The reasons for the principal alterations introduced, will be found in the explanatory notes.
The Bible is the chief moral cause of all that is good, and the best corrector of all that is evil, in human society; the best book for regulating the temporal concerns of men, and the only book that can serve as an infallible guide to future felicity. With this estimate of its value, I have attempted to render the English version more useful, by correcting a few obvious errors, and removing some obscurities, with objectionable words and phrases ; and my earnest prayer is, that my labors may not be wholly unsuccessful.
N. W. New Haven, September, 1833.
Note.—The copy used by the compositors was the quarto Bible, prepared for the press by the late President Witherspoon, and published by the late Isaac Collins, of New York. The proof-sheets were read and compared by another copy, either one published by the American Bible Society, or a copy from the authorized Edinburgh press, or other approved edition. No material differences in the copies have been discovered.
The principal alterations in the language of the common version of the Scrip
tures, made in this edition, stated and explained.
Who is substituted for which, when it refers Evening for even and even-lide. Gen. 19. 1, to persons.
&c. Its is substituted for his, when it refers to E.cpire, generally for give or yield up the plants and things without life.
ghost, Gen. 49. 33, &c. or yield the breath. Job To is used for unlo. This latter word is not | 11. 20; 14. 10. found in the Saxon books, and as it is never Custody, in some cases, for ward. Gen. 40. used in our present popular language, it is evi-3, &c. dently a modern compound. The first sylla- Perhaps or it may be, in some cases, for perble un adds nothing to the signification or force adventure. Gen. 27. 12; 31.31, &c. of to ; but by increasing the number of unim- Cows for kine. The latter is nearly obsoportant syllables, rather impairs the strength lete, and the former is used in several passages of the whole clause or sentence in which it oc- of the version; it is therefore judged expedicurs. It has been rejected by almost every ent to render the language uniform. Gen. 32. writer, for more than a century.
15, &c. Why is substituted for wherefore, when in- Employment or occupation for trade. The quiry is made; as, “why do the wicked live ?" latter, as the word is now used, is improper. Job 21.7.
Gen. 46. 32. 34. Vy and thy are generally substituted_for Severe, grievous or distressing, for sore, and mine and thine, when used as adjectives. The corresponding adverbs, or bitterly for sorely. latter are wholly obsolete.
Gen. 41.56, 57, &c. In some passages, a difWherein, therein, whereon, thereon, and other ferent word is used. See Gen. 19. 9; Judges similar compounds, are not wholly obsolete, 10.9. but are considered, except in technical lan- People or persons, for folk. Gen. 33. 15; guage, inelegant. I have not wholly rejected Mark 6.5, &c. these words, but have reduced the number of Kinsmen for kinsfolk. Job 19. 14; Luke 2. them; substituting in which, in that or this, in 44, &c. it, on which, &c.
Male-child for man-child. Gen. 17. 10, &c. Assemble, collect, or convene, for the tautolo- Interest for usury. Usury originally signigical words gather together. In some cases, fied what is now called interest, or simply a gather is retained and together omitted as su- compensation for the use of money. The Jews perfluous. Collection for gathering together. were not permitted to take interest from their Gen. 1. 10.
brethren for the use of money loaned; and Knoo or knero, for wist, wit and wot. Ex. when the Levitical law forbids the taking of 16. 15. Gen. 21. 26, &c.
usury, the prohibition intended is that of any Part for deal, as a tenth part of flour. Ex. gain or compensation for the use of money or 29. 40. Deal, in this sense, is wholly antiqua- goods. Hence, usury in the scriptures is what ted.
we call interest. The change of signification Bring for fetck, in most cases.
in the word usury, which now denotes unlawSuppose for troro. Luke 17.9.
ful interest, renders it proper to substitute inFalsehood for leasing. Ps. 4. 2; 5. 6. terest for usury. Ex. 22. 25; Lev. 25. 36, &c.
Skillful for cunning, when used of persons ; Hinder for let, Rom. 1. 13: Restrain. 2 and curious for the same word, when applied Thess. 2. 7. to things. Gen. 23. 27; Ex. 26. 1, &c.
Number for tale, when the latter has that Surely or certainly, for, “of a surety.” The signification. Ex.5.8, &c. latter word is now used exclusively for securi- Button for tache. Ex. 26. 6, &c. ty against loss, or for the person who gives bail Ale, in many cases, for did eat. Gen. 3. 6; for another. In the phrase of a surety, the 27. 25, &c. word is now improper. Gen. 15. 13, &c. Boiled for sodden. Ex. 12.9; Lev. 6. 28, &c.
Number for tell, when used in the sense of Strictly for straitly. Gen. 43.7; Ex. 13. 19; count. Gen. 15. 5, &c.
1 Sam. 14. 28. Sixty for three score, and eighty for four score. Staffs for staves. It seems that staves, in the Tico score and five score are never used. It ap- translation, is nsed for the plural of staf'; an pears to me most eligible to retain but one mode anomaly, I believe, in our language. The conof specifying pambers. Uniformity is prefer-sequence is, in this country, it coincides in orable to diversity. Gen. 25. 26; Ex: 7.7, &c. thography with the plural of stare, a piece of
Go or depari, for get thee, get you, get ye. timber used in making casks, an entirely difGen. 12. 1; 19. 14; 34. 10, &c.
ferent word, in modern usage. I have given
the word its regular plural form. Ex. 25. 13; to express the idea, than avoid; for a person 40.20, &c.
may avoid evil, without intending it; shun im. Capital for chapiter, the top of a column; the plies intention. latter being entirely obsolete. Ex. 36. 38; 38. Plant or herb, for hay. Prov. 27. 25; Is. 15. 28, &c.
6. Hay is dried grass or herbs. The use of Fortified for fenced and defenced. Fence, hay, therefore, in the passages cited is impro fenced, are not now used in the sense which per. What a strange expression must this apthey generally have in the present version of pear to be to a farmer in our country. the scriptures. As applied to cities
and towns, hay appeareth, and the tender grass showeth the sense is now expressed by fortify, fortified itself.” Deut. 3.5; Num. 32. 17; Is. 36. 1, &c.
Provision for victual or victuals. In the Repent for repent him. The latter form is singular number, victual is now wholly obsowholly obsolete. Deut. 32. 36; Ps. 90. 13, &c. lete; and its signification in the plural is much
Invite for bid, when the latter has this sig- more limited than that in which it occurs in nification. Zeph. 1. 7; Matt. 22. 9; Luke 14. several passages of the scriptures, which ex12, &c.
tends to provisions in general, whether preAdvanced for stricken, in age or years. Gen. pared for eating or not. In present usage, tic 18. 11; Josh. 13. 1, &c.
tuals are articles for food dressed or prepared Encamped for pitched, when applied to for the table. When the word, in our version, troops, companies, or armies; but pitched used is not thus limited, I have substituted for it of tents is retained. Ex. 17. 1; Num. 12. 16. provisions. Gen. 14. 11; Josh. 1. 11, &c.
Explore, in some passages, for spy out. Num. Treated for entreated, when it signifies to 13. 16; 21. 32.
use, or entertain. Gen. 12. 16; Ex. 5. 22. Profane for pollute, in a few instances. See Aflict, harass, oppress, distress, or a word Is. 56. 2. 6; Jer. 34. 16. To pollute the sab- of like import for vez. This word has sufbath, to pollute the name of God, are expres- fered a material change or limitation, since sions unknown in modern usage.
our version of the scriptures was made. In Meited for molten, when used as a participle. that version, it is equivalent to a flict, harass, Ezek. 24. 11; Micah 1. 4.
distress, grieve, in a general or indefinite Cover for shroud. Ezek. 31. 3.
sense; in modern usage, it is nearly synony. Border or limit, for coast. In present usage, (mous with irritate, a limited sense, I believe, coast is never used to express the border, fron- not intended in any passage of scripture, untier, or extremity of a kingdom, or district of less there may be three or four exceptions, in inland territory. Its application is wholly or which I have retained the word. Num. 25. chiefly to land contiguous to the sea. Its ap- 17; 20. 15; 33. 55; Judges 10.8; Lev. 18. plication in the scriptures is, in most cases, io 18, &c. a border of inland territory. For this word I Afflict for plague. Plague, as used in our have therefore substituted, in this sense, border version, comprehends almost any calamily or limit. Deut. 19.8; Ex. 10. 14, &c. Its use that befalls man or beast. But used as a verb, in most passages of scripture is as improper it is now too low or vulgar for a scriptural now, as the coast of Worcester, in Massachu- word. I have therefore used in the place of it, setts, or the coast of Lancaster, in Pennsyl- afflict. Gen. 12. 17; Ex. 32. 35; Ps. 73.5, 14. vania.
Multiply for increase. Multiply is properly Creeping animal for creeping thing. The applied to numbers; increase to size, dimenword thing signifies an event, as in the phrase, sions, or quantity. Hence, in some passages "after these things.” In popular usage, it is of the present version, it is improperly used, applied to almost any substance, but its appli- and I have substituted for it increase. Deut. calion to an animal is improper, and vulgar. 8. 13. On the other hand, I have, when the Indeed, such application often implies con- sense requires it, inserted multiply for increase. tempt. Besides, this application makes no dis- Hosea 10. 1. tinction between an animal and a plant. A Killed for slew. In Daniel 3. 22, we read creeping thing is more properly a creeping that the flame of the fire slew the men that plant, than a reptile. Gen. 1. 24. 26, &c. threw Shadrach and his companions into the
Food for meat. In the common English ver- furnace. This use of slew is improper, so sion of the scriptures, meat never signifies much so, that the most illiterate man would flesh only, but food in general, provisions or perceive the impropriety of it. Slay is used whatever is eaten by animals for nourishment. Jio denote killing by striking with any weapon Fruits, grass, herbs, as well as flesh are denom- whatever; but we never say a man is slain by inated meat. Gen. 1. 29, 30. But the word is poison, by drowning, or by burning. This disnow used almost exclusively for fesh used or tinction proceeds from the original significaintended for food for mankind. For this wordtion of slay, which was to strike. See Acts I have therefore substituted food, except in a 13. 28. few cases, where the plural is used, food not Diffuse. "The lips
the wise disperse admitting the plural number. But I have re- knowledge." Prov. 15. 7. To disperse is to tained meat-ofering, though composed of veg- dissipate or scatter so as to destroy the thing. etable substances. We have no word in use This cannot be the meaning of the author. which can be substituted for it; and it has ac- He meant to say, spread or diffuse knowledge. quired a kind of technical application, so to Careful, carefulness had formerly a more speak, which renders it expedient to retain it. intensive sense, that at present. Carefulness See Gen. 1. 29, 30; Deut. 20. 20; Matt. 3. 4, is now always a virtue; formerly it had the &c.
sense of anxiety, or undue solicitude. Pani Shun for eschew. Job 1. 1. 8; 2. 3; 1 Pet. says to the Corinthians, "I would have you 3.11. Shun seems to be a more correct word without carefulness.” I Cor. 7. 32. But cer