"The 1611 King James TRANSLATORS Letter TO THE READER"

In the original publishing of the King James Version Bible (KJV) in 1611 England, long before the A.V. and R.V., the translators included this letter to the Readers, at the time.

Because it has not been included in subsequent versions of the KJV Bible, most modern readers have never seen this important letter before.

It should also be noted that the 15 Books of the Apocrypha were included in the 1611 KJV Bible.

These Books included:

  • 1 Esdras
  • 2 Esdras
  • Tobit
  • Judith
  • Ester
    (chapters 10-16)
  • Wisdom of Solomon
  • Ecclesiasticus
  • Baruch
  • Letter of Jeremiah
  • Prayer of Azariah
  • Susanna
  • Bel and the Dragon
  • Prayer of Manassah
  • 1 Maccabees
  • 2 Maccabees

Notwithstanding, the 17 sections of this letter served as an admonition to the conditions under which, they made the choices they made in their translations from the Hebrew, Latin and Greek texts.

The politics of the day, between the "heretical" Protestant Church and the Roman Catholic Church, all played a part, as well as upholding the doctrines of the Church of England.

This letter is written in an archaic form of English, where certain characters for letters do not conform to modern English useage, which may take some scrutiny to read through with understanding.

The following is a verbatim transcription of the letter from the Translators to the Reader, c.1611 A.D.:


Zeale to promote the common good, whether it be by deuising any thing our selues, or reuising that which hath bene laboured by others, deserueth certainly much respect and esteeme, but yet findeth but cold intertainment in the world.

It is welcommed with suspicion in stead of loue, and with emulation in stead of thankes: and if there be any hole left for cauill to enter, (and cauill, if it doe not finde a hole, will make one) it is sure to be misconstrued, and in danger to be condemned.

This will easily be granted by as many as know story, or haue any experience.

For, was there euer any thing proiected, that sauoured any way of newnesse or renewing, but the same endured many a storme of gaine-saying, or opposition?

A man would thinke that Ciuilitie, holesome Lawes, learning and eloquence, Synods, and Church-maintenance, (that we speake of no more things of this kinde) should be as safe as a Sanctuary, and out of shot, as they say, that no man would lift vp the heele, no, nor dogge mooue his tongue against the motioners of them.

For by the first, we are distinguished from bruit-beasts led with sensualitie: By the second, we are bridled and restrained from outrageous behauior, and from doing iniuries, whether by fraud or by violence: By the third, we are enabled to informe and reforme others, by the light and feeling that we haue attained vnto our selues: Briefly, by the forth being brought together to a parle face to face, we sooner compose our differences then by writings, which are endlesse: And lastly, that the Church be sufficiently prouided for, is so agreeable to good reason and conscience, that those mothers are holden to be lesse cruell, that kill their children assoone as they are borne, then those noursing fathers and mothers (wheresoeuer they be) that withdraw from them who hang vpon their breasts (and vpon whose breasts againe themselues doe hang to receiue the Spirituall and sincere milke of the word) liuelyhood and support fit for their estates.

Thus it is apparent, that these things which we speake of, are of most necessary vse, and therefore, that none, either without absurditie can speake against them, or without note of wickednesse can spurne against them.

¶ 2

Yet for all that, the learned know that certaine worthy men haue bene brought to vntimely death for none other fault, but for seeking to reduce their Country-men to good order and discipline: and that in some Common-weales it was made a capital crime, once to motion the making of a new Law for the abrogating of an old, though the same were most pernicious: And that certaine, which would be counted pillars of the State, and paternes of Virtue and Prudence, could not be brought for a long time to giue way to good Letters and refined speech, but bare themselues as auerse from them, as from rocks or boxes of poison: And forthly, that hee was no babe, but a great clerke, that gaue foorth (and in writing to remaine to posteritie) in passion peraduenture, but yet hee gaue foorth, that hee had not seene any profit to come by any Synod, or meeting of the Clergie, but rather the contrary: And lastly, against Church-maintenance and allowance, in such sort, as the Embassadors and messengers of the great King of Kings should be furnished, it is not vnknowen what a fiction or fable (so it is esteemed, and for no better by the reporter himselfe, though superstitious) was deuised; Namely, that at such time as the professours and teachers of Christianitie in the Church of Rome, then a true Church, were liberally endowed, a voyce forsooth was heard from heauen, saying; Now is poison powred down into the Church, &c.

Thus not only as oft as we speake, as one saith, but also as oft as we do any thing of note or consequence, we subiect our selues to every one censure, and happy is he that is least tossed vpon tongues; for vtterly to escape the snatch of them it is impossible.

If any man conceit, that this is the lot and portion of the meaner sort onely, and that Princes are priuiledged by their high estate, he is deceiued.

As [the sword deuoureth aswell one as the other], as it is in Samuel, nay as the great Commander charged his souldiers in a certaine battle, to strike at no part of the enemie, but at the face; And as the King of [Syria] commanded his chiefe Captaines [to fight neither with small nor great, saue onely against the King of Israel:] so it is too true, that Enuie striketh most spitefully at the fairest, and at the chiefest.

[David] was a worthy prince, and no man to be compared to him for his first deedes, and yet for as worthy an acte as euer he did (euen for bringing backe the Arke of God in solemnitie) he was scorned and scoffed at by his own wife.

[Solomon] was greater than [David], though not in virtue, yet in power: and by his power and wisdome he built a Temple to the Lord, such a one as was the glory of Israel, and the wonder of the whole world.

But was that his magnificence liked of by all? We doubt of it.

Otherwise, why doe they lay it in his sonnes dish, and call vnto him for ³³ easing of the burden, Make, say they, [the grieuous seruitude of thy father, and his sore yoke, lighter.]

Belike he had charged them with some leuies, and troubled them with some carriages; Hereupon they raise vp a tragedie, and wish in their heart the Temple had neuer bene built.

So hard a thing it is to please all, euen when we please God best, and doe seeke to approue our selues to euery ones conscience.

¶ 3

If wee will descend to later times, wee shall finde many the like examples of such kind, or rather vnkind acceptance.

The first Romane Emperour did neuer doe a more pleasing deed to the learned, nor more profitable to posteritie, for conseruing the record of times in true supputation; then when he corrected the Calendar, and ordered the yeere according to the course of the Sunne: and yet this was imputed to him for noueltie, and arrogancie, and procured to him great obloquie.

So the first Christened Emperour (at the leastwise that openly professed the faith himselfe, and allowed others to doe the like) for strengthening the Empire at his great charges, and prouiding for the Church, as he did, got for his labour the name [Pupillus,] as who would say, a wastefull Prince, that had neede of a Guardian, or ouerseer.

So the best Christened Emperour, for the loue that he bare vnto peace, thereby to enrich both himselfe and his subiects, and because he did not seeke warre but find it, was iudged to be no man at armes, (though in deed he excelled in feates of chiualrie, and shewed so much when he was prouoked) and condemned for giuing himselfe to his ease, and to his pleasure.

To be short, the most learned Emperour of former times, (at the least, the greatest politician) what thankes had he for cutting off the superfluities of the lawes, and digesting them into some order and method?

This, that he hath been blotted by some to bee an Epitomist, that is, one that extinguished worthy whole volumes, to bring his abridgements into request.

This is the measure that he hath been rendred to excellent Princes in former times, euen, [Cum benŠ facerent, malŠ audire], For their good deedes to be euill spoken of.

Neither is there any likelihood, that enuie and malignitie died, and were buried with the ancient.

No, no, the reproofe of [Moses] taketh hold of most ages; [You are risen vp in your fathers stead, an increase of sinfull men. What is that that hath beene done? that which shall be done: and there is no new thing vnder the Sunne], saith the wiseman: and [S. Steuen, As your fathers did, so doe you].

This, and more to this purpose, His Maiestie that now reigneth (and long, and long may he reign, and his offspring for euer, [Himselfe and children, and childrens children alwayes] knew full well, according to the singular wisdome giuen vnto him by God, and the rare learning and experience that he hath attained vnto; namely that whosoeuer attempteth any thing for the publike (specially if it pertaine to Religion, and to the opening and clearing of the word of God) the same setteth himselfe vpon a stage to be glouted vpon by euery euil eye, yea, he casteth himselfe headlong vpon pikes, to be gored by euery sharpe tongue.

For he that medleth with mens Religion in any part, medleth with their custome, nay, with their freehold; and though they finde no content in that which they haue, yet they cannot abide to heare of altering.

Nothwithstanding his Royall heart was not daunted or discouraged for this or that colour, but stood resolute, [as a statue immoueable, and an anuile not easie to be beaten into plates,] as one saith; he knew who had chosen him to be a Souldier, or rather a Captaine, and being assured that the course which he intended made much for the glory of God, & the building vp of his Church, he would not suffer it to be broken off for whatsoeuer speaches or practises.

It doth certainely belong vnto Kings, yea, it doth specially belong vnto them, to haue care of Religion, yea, to know it aright, yea, to professe it zealously, yea to promote it to the vttermost of their power.

This is their glory before all nations which meane well, and this will bring vnto them a farre most excellent weight of glory in the day of the Lord Iesus.

For the Scripture saith not in vaine, [Them that honor me, I will honor], neither was it a vaine word that [Eusebius] deliuered long agoe, that pietie towards God was the weapon, and the onely weapon that both preserued [Constantines] person, and auenged him of his enemies.

¶ 4

But now what pietie without trueth? what trueth (what sauing trueth) without the word of God? what word of God (whereof we may be sure) without the Scripture?

The Scriptures we are commanded to search. Ion 5:39. Esa 8:20.

They are reproued that were vnskilled in them, or slow to beleeue them. Mat 22:29. Luk 24:25.

They can make vs wise vnto saluation. 2 Tim 3:15.

If we be ignorant, they will instruct vs; if out of the way, they will bring vs home; if out of order, they will reforme vs, if in heauines, comfort vs; if dull, quicken us; if colde, inflame vs.

[Tolle, lege; Tolle, lege], Take vp and read, take vp and read the Scriptures, (for vnto them was the direction) it was said vnto S. [Augustine] by a supernaturall voyce.

[Whatsoeuer is in the Scriptures, beleeue me], saith the same S. [Augustine], [is high and diuine; there is verily trueth, and a doctrine most fit for the refreshing and renewing of mens mindes, and truely so tempered, that euery one may draw from thence that which is sufficient for him, if hee come to draw with a deuout and pious minde, as true Religion requireth].

Thus S. [Augustine]. And S. [Hieroine]: [Ana scripluras,& amabit te sapientia &c.]. Loue the Scriptures, and wisdome will loue thee.

And S. [Cyrill] against [Iulian; Euen boyes that are bred up in the Scriptures, become most religious, &c].

But what mention wee three or foure vses of the Scripture, whereas whatsoeuer is to be beleeued or practised, or hoped for, is contained in them? or three or foure sentences of the Fathers, since whosoeuer is worthy the name of a Father, from Christs time downeward, hath likewise written not onely of the riches, but also of the perfection of the Scripture?

[I adore the fulnesse of the Scripture], saith [Turtullian] against [Hermogenes].

And againe, to [Apelles] an heretike of the like stampe, he saith; [I doe not admit that which thou bringest in (or concludest) of thine own] (head or store, de tuo) without Scripture.

So Saint [Iustin Martyr] before him; [Wee must know by all meanes, saith hee, that it is not lawfull (or possible) to learne (anything) of God or of right pietie, saue onely out of the Prophets, who teach vs by divine inspiration].

So Saint [Basill] after [Turtullian, It is a manifest-falling away from the Faith, and a fault of presumption, either to reiect any of those things that are written, or to bring in (vpon the head of them, Šãeiå çeiv) any of those things that are not written.

Wee omit to cite to the same effect, S. [Cyrill B. of Hierusalem] in his 4 [Cataches].

Saint [Hierome] against [Heluidius], Saint [Augustine] in his 3 booke against the letters of [Petilian], and in very many other places of his workes.

Also we forbeare to descend to latter Fathers, because wee will not wearie the reader.

The Scriptures then being acknowledged to bee so full and so perfect, how can wee excuse our selues of negligence, if we doe not studie them, of curiositie, if we be not content with them?

Men talke much of [epeå¡avn], how many sweete and goodly things it had hanging onto it; of the Philosophers stone, that it turneth copper into gold; of [Cornu-copia], that it had all things necessary for foode in it; of [Panaces] the herbe, that it was goode for all diseases; of [Catholicon], the drugge, that it is in stead of all purges; of [Vulcans] armour, that it was an armour of proofe against all thrusts, and all blowes, &c.

Well, that which they falsely or vainely attributed to these things for bodily good, wee may iustly and with full measure ascribe vnto the Scripture, for Spirituall.

It is not onely an armour, but also a whole armorie of weapons, both offensiue, and defensiue; whereby we may saue our selues and put the enemie to flight.

It is not an herbe, but a tree, or rather a whole paradise of trees of life, which bringeth foorth fruit euery moneth, and the fruit thereof is for meate, and the leaues for medicine.

It is not a pot of [Manna], or a cruse of oyle, which were for memorie onely, or for a meales meate or two, but as it were a showre of heauenly bread sufficient for a whole host, be it neuer so great; and as it were a whole cellar full of oyle vessels; whereby our necessities may be prouided for, and our debts discharged.

In a word, it is a Panary of holesome foode, against fenowed traditions; a Physions-shop (Saint [Basill] calleth it) of preseruatiues against poisoned heresies; a Pandect of profiable lawes, against rebellious spirits; a treasurie of most costly iewels, against beggerly rudiments; Finally, a fountaine of most pure water springing vp vnto euerlasting life.

And what maruaile? The originall thereof being from heauen, not from earth; the author being God, not man; the enditer, the holy spirit, not the wit of the Apostles or Prophets; the Pen-men such as were sanctified from the wombe, and endewed with a principall portion of Gods spirit; the matter, veritie, veritie, pietie, puritie, vprightnesse; the forme, Gods word, Gods testimonie, Gods oracles, the word of trueth, the word of saluation, &c. the effects, light of vnderstanding, stablenesse of perswasion, repentance from dead workes, newnesse of life, holinesse, peace, ioy in the holy Ghost; lastly, the end and reward of the studie thereof, fellowship with the Saints, participation of the heauenly nature, fruition of an inheritance immortall, vndefiled, and that neuer shall fade away: Happie is the man that delighteth in the Scripture, and thrise happie that meditateth in it day and night.

¶ 5

But how shall men meditate in that, which they cannot vnderstand? How shall they vnderstand that which is kept close in an vnknown tongue? as it is written, [Except I know by the power of the voyce, I shall be vnto him that speaketh, a Barbarian, and he that speaketh, shalbe a Barbarian to me].

The Apostles excepeth no tongue; not Hebrewe the ancientest, not Greeke the most copious, not Latin the finest.

Nature taught a naturall man to confesse, that all of vs in those tongues which wee do not vnderstand, are plainly deafe; wee may turn the deafe eare vnto them.

The [Sythian] counted the [Athenian], whom he did not vnderstand, barbarous; so the [Romane] did the [Syrian], and the [Iew], (euen S. [Hierome] himselfe called the Hebrew tongue barbarous, belike because it was strange to so many) so the Emperour of [Constantinople] calleth the [Latine] tongue, barbarous, though Pope [Nicolas] do storme at it: so the [Iewes] long before [Christ], called all other nations, [Lognazim], which is little better than barbarous.

Therefore as one complaineth, that alwayes in the Senate of [Rome], there was one or other that called for an interpreter: so lest the Church be driuen to the like exigent, it is necessary to have translations in readinesse.

Translation it is that openeth the window, to let in the light; that breaketh the shell, that we may eat the kernel; that putteth aside the curtaine, that we may looke into the most Holy place; that remoueth the couer of the well, that wee may come by the water, euen as [Iacob] rolled away the stone from the mouth of the well, by which meanes the flocks of [Laban] were watered.

Indeede without translation into the vulgar tongue, the vnlearned are but like children at [Iacobs] well (which was deepe) without a bucket or some-thing to draw with: or as that person mentioned by [Esay], to whom when a sealed booke was deliuered, with this motion, [Read this, I pray thee, hee was faine to make this answere, I cannot, for it is sealed].

¶ 6

While God would be knowen onely in [Iacob], and haue his Name great in [Israel], and in none other place, while the dew lay on [Gideons] fleece onely, and all the earth besides was drie; then for one and the same people, which spake all of them the language of [Canaan], that is, [Hebrewe], one and the same originall in [Hebrewe] was sufficient.

But when the fullnesse of time drew neere, that the Sunne of righteousnesse, the Sonne of God should come into the world, whom God ordeined to be a reconciliation through faith in his blood, not of the [Iew] onely, but also of the [Greeke], yea, of all them that were scattered abroad; then loe, it pleased the Lord to stirre vp the spirit of a [Greeke] Prince ([Greeke] for descent and language) euen of [Ptolome Philadelph] King of [Egypt], to procure the translating of the Booke of God out of [Hebrewe] into [Greeke].

This is the translation of the [Seventie] Interpreters, commonly so called, which prepared the way for our Sauior among the Gentiles by written preaching, as Saint [Iohn] Baptist did among the [Iewes] by vocall.

For the [Grecians] being desirous of learning, were not want to suffer bookes of worth to lye moulding in Kings libraries, but had many of their seruants, ready scribes, to copie them out, and so they were dispersed and made common.

Againe, the [Greeke] tongue was wellknowen and made familiar to most inhabitants in [Asia], by reason of the conquest that there the [Grecians] had made, as also by the Colonies, which thither they had sent.

For the same causes also it was well vnderstood in many places of [Europe], yea, and of [Affrike] too.

Therefore the word of God being set foorth in [Greeke], becommeth hereby like a candle set vpon a candlesticke, which giveth light to all that are in the house, or like a proclaimation sounded foorth in the market place, which most men presently take knowledge of; and therefore that language was fittest to containe the Scriptures, both for the first Preachers of the Gospel to appeale vnto for witnesse, and for the learners also of those times to make search and triall by.

It is certaine that that Translation was not so sound and so perfect, but that it needed in many places correction; and who had bene so sufficient for this worke as the Apostles or Apostolike men?

Yet it seemed so good to the holy Ghost and to them, to take that which they found, (the same being for the greatest part true and sufficient) rather then by making a new, in that new world and greene age of the Church, to expose themselues to many exceptions and cauillations, as though they made a Translation to serue their own turne, and therefore bearing witnesse to themselues, their witnesse not to be regarded.

This may be supposed to bee some cause, why the Translation of the [Seventie] was allowed to passe for currant.

Notwithstanding, though it was commended generally, yet it did not fully content the learned, no not of the [Iewes].

For not long after [Christ], [Aquila] fell in hand with a new Translation, and after him, [Theodotion], and after him, [Symmachus]: yea, there was a fift and a sixt edition, the Authours whereof were not knowen.

These with the [Seventie] made up the [Hexapla], and were worthily and to great purpose compiled together by [Origen].

Howbeit the Edition of the [Seventie] went away with the credit, and therefore not onely was placed in the midst by [Origen] (for the worth and excellencie thereof aboue the rest, as [Epiphanius] gathered) but also was vsed by the [Greeke] fathers for the ground and foundation of their Commentaries.

Yea, [Epiphanius] above named doeth attribute so much vnto it, that he holdeth the Authours thereof not onely for Interpreters, but also for Prophets in some respect: and [Iustinian] the Emperour enioying the [Iewes] his subiects to vse specially the Translation of the [Seventie], rendreth this reason thereof, because they were as it were enlightened with propheticall grace.

Yet for all that, as the [Egyptians] are said of the Prophet to bee men and not God, and their horses flesh and not spirit: so it is euident, (and Saint [Hierome] affirmeth as much) that the [Seventie] were Interpreters, they were not Prophets; they did many things well, as learned men, but yet as men they stumbled and fell, one while through ouersight, another while through ignorance, tea, some times they may be noted to adde to the Originall, and some times to take from it; which made the Apostles to leaue them many times, when they left the [Hebrew], and to deliuer the sense thereof according to the trueth of the word, as the spirit gave them vtterance.

This may suffice touching the [Greeke] Translations of the old Testament.

¶ 7

There were also within a few hundreth yeeres after [Christ], translations many into the Latine tongue: for this tongue was also very fit to conuey the Law and the Gospel by, because in those times very many Countreys of the West, yea, of the South, East and North, spake or vnderstood Latine, being made Prouences to the [Romanes].

But now the Latine Translations were too many to be all good, for they were infinite ([Latini Interpretes nullo modo numerari possunt]), saith S. [Augustine].

Againe they were not out of the [Hebrewe] fountaine (wee speake of the [Latine] Translations of the old Testament) but out of the [Greeke] streame, therefore the [Greeke] being not altogether cleare, the [Latine] deriued from it must be muddie.

This moued S. [Hierome] a most learned father, and the best linguist without controuersie, of his age, or of any that went before him, to vndertake the translating of the old Testament, out of the very fountaines themselues; which hee performed with that euidence of great learning, iudgement, industrie and faithfulnes, that he hath for euer bound the Church vnto him, in a debt of speciall remembrance and thankefulnesse.

¶ 8

Now though the Church were thus furnished with [Greeke] and [Latine] Translations, euen before the faith of Christ, was generally embraced by the Empire: (for the learned know that euen in S. [Hieromes] time, the Counsul of [Rome] and his wife were both Ethnicks, and about the same time the greatest part of the Senate also) yet for all that the godly-learned were not content to haue the Scriptures in the language which themselues vnderstood, [Greeke] and [Latine], (as the good Lepers were not content to fare well themselues, but acquainted their neighbors with the store that God had sent, that they might also prouide for themselues) but also for the behoofe and edifying of the vnlearned which hungered and thirsted after Righteousnesse, and had soules to be saued aswell as they, they prouided Translations into the vulgar for their Countreymen, insomuch that most nations vnder heauen did shortly after their conuersion, heare Christ speaking vnto them in their mother tongue, not by the voyce of their Minister onely, but also by the written word translated.

If any doubt hereof, he may be satisfied by examples enough, if enough wil serue the turne.

First S. [Hierome] saith, [Multarum gentiu linguis Scriptura antŠ translata, docet falsa esse qux addita sunt, & c.i.].

[The Scripture being translated before in the languages of many nations, doth shew that those things that were added (by [Lucian] or [Hesychius]) are false. So S. [Hierome] in that place.

The same [Hierome] elsewhere affirmeth that he, the time was, had set forth the translation of the [Seventie], [sux lingux hominibus.i.] for his Countreymen of [Dalmatia].

Which words not onely [Erasmus] doth vnderstand to purport, that S. [Hierome] translated the Scripture into the [Dalmatian] tongue, but also [Sixtus Senensis], and [Alphonsus … Castro (that we speake of no more) men not to be excepted against by them of [Rome], doe ingeniously confesse as much.

So, S. [Chrysostome] that liued in S. [Hieromes] time, giueth euidence with him: [The doctrine of S. Iohn (saith he) did not in such sort (as the Philosophers did) vanish away: but the Syrians, Egyptians, Indians, Persians, Ethiopians, and infinite other nations being barbarous people, translated it into their (mother) tongue, and have learned to be (true) Philosophers], he meaneth Christians.

To this may be added [Theodorit], as next vnto him, both for antiquitie, and for learning.

His words be these, [Euery Countrey that is under the Sunne, is full of these words (of the Apostles and Prophets) [and the Hebrewe tongue] (he meaneth the Scriptures in the Hebrewe tongue) is turned not onely into the language of the Grecians, but also of the Romanes, and Egyptians, and Persians, and Indians, and Armenians, and Sycthians, and Sauromatians, and briefly into all the Languages that any nation vseth.

So he.

In like manner, [Vlpilas] is reported by [Paulus Diaconus] and [Isidor] (and before them by [Sozomen]) to haue translated the Scriptures into the [Gothicke] tongue: [Iohn] Bishop of [Siuil] by [Vasseus], to have turned them into [Arabicke], about the yeere of our Lord 717: [Beda] by [Cistertiensis], to have turned a great part of them into Saxon: [Efnard by Trihemius], to have abridged the French Psalter, as [Beda] had done the [Hebrewe], about the teere 800: King [Alured] by the said [Cistertiensis], to have turned the Psalter into Saxon: [Methodius by Auentinus] (printed at [Ingolstad]) to have turned the Scriptures into ³³ [Sclauonian]: [Valdo] Bishop of [Frising] by [Beatus Rhenanus], to haue caused about that time, the Gospels to be translated into [Dutch]-rithme, yet extant in the Library of [Corbinian]: [Valdus], by diuers to have turned them himselfe, or to haue gotten them turned into French, about the yeere 1160: [Charles] the S. of that name, surnamed [The wise], to have caused them to be turned into French, about 200. yeers after [Valdus] his time, of which translation there be many copies yet extant, as witnesseth [Beroaldus].

Much about that time, euen in our King [Richard] the seconds dayes, [Iohn Treusia] translated them into [English], and many [English] Bibles in written hand are yet to be seene with diuers, translated as it is very probable, in that age.

So the [Syrian] translation of the New Testament is in most learned mens Libraries, of [Widminstadius] his setting forth, and the Psalter in [Arabicke] is with many, of [Augustinius Nebiensis] setting foorth.

So [Postel] affirmeth, that in his travaile he saw the Gospels in the [Ethiopian] tongue; And [Ambrose Thesius] alleageth the Psalter of the [Indians], which he testifieth to have bene set forth by [Potken], in [Syrian] characters.

So that, to haue the Scriptures in the mother-tongue is not a quaint conceit lately taken vp, either by the Lord [Cromwell] in England, or by the Lord [Radeuil in Polonie], or by the Lord [Vngnadius] in the Emperours dominion, but hath bene thought vpon, and put in practice of old, euen from the first times of the conuersion of any Nation; no doubt, because it was esteemed most profitable, to cause faith to grow in mens hearts the sooner, and to make them to be able to say with the words of the Psalme, [As we have heard, so have we seene].

¶ 9

Now the Church of Rome would seeme at the length to beare a motherly affection towards her children, and to allow them the Scriptures in their mother tongue: but indeede it is a gift, not deseruing to be called a gift, an vnprofitable gift: they must first get a License in writing before they may vse them, and to get that, they must approve themselues to their Confessor, that is, to be such as are, if not frozen in the dregs, yet sowred with the leaven of their superstition.

Howbeit, it seemed too much to [Clement the S.] that there should be any License granted to have them in the vulgar tongue, and therefore he ouerruleth and frustrateth the grant of [Pious] the forth.

So much are they afraid of the light of the Scripture, ([Lucifugae Scriplurarum] as [Turtullian] speaketh) that they will not trust the people with it, no not as it is set foorth by their owne sworne men, no not with the License of their owne Bishops and Inquisitors.

Yea, so vnwilling they are to communicate the Scriptures to the peoples vnderstanding in any sort, that they are not ashamed to confesse, that wee forced them to translate it into [English] against their wills.

This seemeth to argue a bad cause, or a bad conscience, or both.

Sure we are, that it is not he that hath good gold to bring it to the touch-stone, but he that hath the counterfeit; neither is it the true man that shunneth the light, but the malfactour, lest his deedes should be reproued: neither is it the plaine dealing Merchant that is vnwilling to haue the waights, or the meteyard brought in place, but he that vseth deceit.

But we will let them alone for this fault, and returne to translation.

¶ 10

Many mens mouths haue bene open a good while (and yet are not stopped) with speeches about the Translation so long in hand, or rather perusals of Translations made before: and aske what may be the reason, what the necessitie of the employment: Hath the Church bene deceiued, say they, all this while?

Hath her sweet bread bene mingled with leauen, her siluer with drosse, her wine with water, her milke with lime? ([Lacte gypsum malŠ miscetur] saith S. [Ireney]). We hoped that we had bene in the right way, that we had the Oracles of God deliuered vnto vs, and that though all the world had cause to be offended and to complaine, yet that we had none.

Hath the nurse holden out the breast, and nothing but winde in it?

Hath the bread bene deliuered by the fathers of the Church, and the same proued to be [lapidosus], as [Seneca] speaketh?

What is it to handle the word of God deceitfully, if this be not?

Thus certaine brethren.

Also the aduersaries of [Iudah] and [Hierusalem], like [Sanballat in Nehemiah], mocke, as we heare, both at the worke and the workemen, saying; [What doe these weak Iewes, &c. will they make the stones whole againe out of the heaps of dust which are burnt? although they build, yet if a foxe goe vp, he shall euen break down their stony wall].

Was their Translation good before? Why doe they mend it now? Was it not good?

Why then was it obtruded to the people?

Yea, why did the Catholicks (meaning [Popish Romanists]) always goe in ieopardie, for refusing to goe to hear it?

Nay, if it must be translated into English, Catholicks are fittest to doe it.

They have learning, and they know when a thing is well, they can [manum de tabul…].

Wee will answere them both briefly: and the former, being brethren, thus, with S. [Hierome], [Dainnamus veteres? MinimŠ, se… post poruin studia in domo Domini quod possumus laboramus]. That is, [Doe we condemne the ancient? In no case: but after the endeavours of them that were before us, wee take the best paines we can in the house of God.

As if hee said, Being prouoked by the example of the learned that liued before my time, I have thought it my duetie, to assay whether my talent in the knowledge of the tongues, may be profitable in any measure to Gods Church, lest I should seeme to haue laboured in them in vaine, and lest I should be thought to glory in men, (although ancient) aboue that which was in them.

Thus S. [Hierome] may be thought to speake.

¶ 11

And to the same effect say wee, that we are so farre off from condemning any of their labours that traueiled before vs in this kinde, either in this land or beyond sea, either in King [Henries] time, or King [Edwards] (if there were any translation, or correction of a translation in his time) or Queene [Elizabeths] of euer renouned-memorie, that we acknowledge them to have beene raised vp of God, for the building and furnishing if his Church, and that they deserue to be had of vs and of posteritie in euerlasting remembrance.

The iudgement of [Aristoile] is worthy and well knowen: [If Timotheus had not bene, we had not had much sweet inusicke; but if Phrynis (Timoteus his master) had not beene, wee had not had Timotheus].

Therefore blessed be they, and most honoured be their name, that breake the yce, and glueth onset vpon that which helpeth forward the sauing of soules.

Now what can bee more auailable thereto, then to deliuer Gods booke vnto Gods people in a tongue which they vnderstand?

Since of an hidden treasure, and of a fountaine that is sealed, there is no profit, as [Ptolomee Philadelph] wrote to the Rabbins or masters of the Iewes, as witnesseth [Epiphanius]: and as S. [Augustine] saith; [A man had rather be with his dogge then with a stranger (whose tongue is strange vnto him).

Yet for all that, as nothing is begun and perfited at the same time, and the later thoughts are though to be the wiser: so, if we building vpon their foundation that went before vs, and being holpen by their labours, doe endeauour to make that better which they left so good; no man, we are sure, hath cause to mislike vs; they, we perswade our selues, if they were aliue, would thanke vs.

The vintage of [Abiezer], that strake the stroake: yet the gleaning of the grapes of [Ephraim] was not to be despised.

See Iudges 8. verse 2. [Ioash] the king of [Isreal] did not satisfie himselfe, till he had smitten the ground three times; and yet hee offended the Prophet, for giuing ouer then.

[Aquila], of whom wee spake before, translated the Bible carefully, and as skilfully as he could; and yet he thought good to goe ouer it againe, and then it got the credit with the Iewes, to be called, kaça …kpiáeiav, that is, accurately done, as Saint [Hierome] witnesseth.

How many bookes of profane learning haue bene gone ouer againe and againe, by the same translators, by others?

Of one and the same booke of [Aristotles] Ethicks, there are extant not so few as sixe or seuen seuerall translations.

Now if this cost may bee bestowed vpon the goord, which affordeth vs a little shade, and which today flourisheth, but to morrow is cut downe; what may we bestow, nay, what ought we not to bestow vpon the Vine, the fruite whereof maketh glad the conscience of man, and the stemme whereof abideth for euer?

And this is the word of God, which we translate.

[What is the chaffe to the wheat, saith the Lord? Tante vitreum, quanteverum margaritum (saith Tertullian,) if a toy of glassebe of that reckoning with vs, how ought wee to value the true pearle?

Therefore let no mans eye be euill, because his Maiesties is good; neither let any be grieued, that wee haue a Prince that seeketh the increase of the Spirituall wealth of Israel (let [Sanballats] and [Tobiahs] doe so, which therefore doe beare their iust reproofe) but let vs rather blesse God from the ground of our heart, for working this religious care in him, to haue the translations of the Bible maturely considered of and examined.

For by this meanes it cometh to passe, that whatsoeuer is sound alreadie (and all is sound for substance, in one or other of our editions, and the worst of ours farre better then their authentike vulgar) the same will shine as gold more brightly, being rubbed and polished; also, if any thing be haulting, or superfluous, or not so agreeable to the Originall, the same may bee corrected, and the trueth set in place.

And what can the King command to bee done, that will bring him more true honour than this? and wherein will could they that haue beene set a worke, approue their deutie to the King, yea their obedience to God, and loue to his Saints more, then by yeelding their seruice, and all that is within them, for the furnishing of the worke?

But besides all this, they were the principall motiues of it, and therefore ought least to quarrell it: for the very Historicall trueth is, that vpon the importunate petitions of the Puritanes, at his Maiesties comming to this Crowne, the Conference at Hampton Court hauing bene appointed for hearing their complaints: when by force of reason they were put from all other grounds, they had recourse at the last, to this shift, that they could not with good conscience subscribe to the Communion booke, since it maintained the Bible as it was there translated, which was as they said, a most corrupt translation.

And although this was iudged to be but a very poore and emptie shift; yet euen hereupon did his Maiestie beginue to bethink himselfe of the good that might ensue by a new translation, and presently after gaue order for this translation which is now presented vnto thee.

Thus much to satisfie our scrupulous Brethren.

¶ 12

Now to the later we answere; that wee do not deny, nay wee affirm and auow, that the very meanest translation of the Bible in English, set foorth by men of our profession (for wee haue seene none of theirs of the whole Bible as yet) containeth the word of God, nay, is the word of God.

As the Kings Speech which hee vttered in Parliment, being translated into [French, Dutch, Italian and Latine], is still the Kings Speech, though it be not interpreted by euery Translator with the like grace, nor peraduenture so fitly for phrase, nor so expresly for sense, euery where.

For it is confessed, that things are to take their denomination of the greater part; and a naturall man could say, [Ver—m vbi multa nitent in carmine, non ego paucis offendor maculis, &c.]

A man may be counted a vertuous man, though hee haue made many slips in his life (els, there were none vertuous, for [in many things we offend all]) also a comely man and louely, though hee hath some warts vpon his hand, yea, not onely freckles vpon his face, but also skarres.

No cause therefore why the word translated should bee denied to be the word, or forbidden to be currant, notwithstanding that some imperfections and blemishes may be noted in the setting foorth of it.

For whateuer was perfect vnder the Sunne, where Apostles or Apostolike men, that is, men indeued with an extrodinary measure of gods spirit, and priuiledged with the priuiledge of infallibilitie, had not their hand?

The Romanistes therefore in refusing to heare, and daring to burne the Word translated, did no lesse then despise the spirit of grace, from whom originally it proceeded, and whose sense and meaning, as well as mans weakenesse would enable, it did expresse.

Iudge by an example or two.

[Plutarch] writeth, that after that [Rome] had beene burnt by the [Galles], they fell soone to builde it againe: but doing it in haste, they did not cast the streets, nor proportion the houses in such comely fashion, as had bene most sightly and conuenient; was [Caatiline] therefore an honest man, or a good Patriot, that sought to bring it to a combustion?

Or [Nero] a good Prince, that did indeed set it on fire?

So, by the story of [Ezrah], and the prophesie of [Haggai] it may be gathered, that the Temple built by [Zerubbabel] after the return from [Babylon], was by no means to bee compared to the former built by [Solomon] (for they that remembred the former, wept when they considered the later) notwithstanding, might this later either haue bene abhorred and forsaken by the [Iewes], or prophaned by the [Greekes]?

The like wee are to thinke of Translations.

The translation of the [Seventie] dissenteth from the Originall in many places, neither doeth it come neere it, for perspicuitie, grauitie, maiestie; yet which of the Apostles did condemne it?

Condemne it?

Nay, they vsed it, (as it is apparent, and as Saint [Hierome] and most learned men doe confesse) which they would not haue done, nor by their example of vsing it, so grace and commend it to the Church, if it had bene vnworthy the appellation and name of the word of God.

And whereas they vrge for their second defence of their vilifying and abusing of the [English] Bibles, or some pieces thereof, which they meete with, for that heretikes (forsooth) were the Authours of the translations, (heretikes they call vs by the same right that they call themselues Catholikes, both being wrong) wee marueile what diuinitie taught them so.

Wee are sure [Turtullian] was of another minde: [Ex personis probamus fidem, an ex fide personas]?

Doe we trie mens faith by their persons? we should trie their persons by their faith.

Also S. [Augustine] was of another minde: for he lighting vpon certaine rules made by [Tychonius a Donatist], for the better vnderstanding of the word, was not ashamed to make vse of them, yea, to insert them into his own booke, with giuing commendation to them so farre foorth as they were worthy to be commended, as is to be seene in S. [Augustines] third booke [De doctrinƒ Christianƒ].

To be short, [Origen], and the whole Church of God for certaine hundred yeeres, were of another minde: for they were so farre from treading vnder foote, (much more from burning) the Translation of [Aquila] a Proselite, that is, one that had turned [Iew]; of [Symmachus], and [Theodotion], both [Ebionites], that is, most vile heretikes, that they ioyned them together with the [Hebrewe] Originall, and the Translation of the [Seventie] (as hath bene before signified out of [Epiphanius]) and set them forth openly to be considered of and perused by all. But we weary the vnlearned, who need not know so much, and trouble the learned, who know it already.

¶ 13

Yet before we end, we must answer a third cauill and obiection of theirs against vs.

For to whom euer was it imputed for a fault (by such as were wise) to goe ouer that which hee had done, and to amend it where he saw cause?

Saint [Augustine] was not afraide to exhort S. [Hierome] to a [Palinodia] or recantation; the same S. [Augustine] was not ashamed to retractate, we might say reuoke, many things that had passed him, and doth euen give glory that he seeth his infirmities.

If we will be sonnes of the Trueth, we must consider what it speaketh, and trample vpon our owne credit, yea, and vpon other mens too, if either be any way an hinderance to it.

This to the cause: then to the persons we say, that of all men they ought to bee most silent in this case.

For what varieties haue they, and what alterations haue they made, not onely of their Seruice bookes, Portesses and Breuiaries, but also of their [Latine] Translation?

The Seruice booke supposed to be made by S. [Ambrose] (Officium Ambrosianum) was a great while in speciall vse and request: but Pope [Hadrian] calling a Councill with the ayde of [Charles] the Emperour, abolished it, yea, burnt it, and commanded the Seruice-booke of Saint [Gregorie] vniuersally to be vsed.

Well, [Officium Gregorianum) gets by this meanes to be in credit, but doeth it continue without change or altering?

No, the very [Romane] Seruice was of two fashions, the New fashion, and the Old, (the one vsed in one Church, the other in another) as is to bee seene in [Pamelius] a Romanist, his Preface, before [Micrologus].

The same [Pamelius] reporteth out of [Radulphus del Riuo], that about the yeere of our Lord, 1277. Pope [Nicholas] the third remoued out of the Churches of [Rome], the more ancient bookes (of Seruice) and brought into vse the Missals of the Friars Minorities, and commaunded them to bee obserued there; insomuch that about an hundred yeeres after, when the aboue named [Radulphus] happened to be at [Rome], he found all the bookes to be new, (of the new stampe).

Neither was there this chopping and changing in the more ancient times onely, but also of late: [Pius Quintus] himselfe confesseth, that euery Bishopricke almost had a peculiar kind of seruice, most vnlike to that which others had: which moued him to abolish all other Breuiaries, though neuer so ancient, and priuiledged and published by Bishops in their Diocesses, and to establish and ratifie that onely which was of his owne setting foorth, in the yeere 1568.

Now, when the father of their Church, who gladly would heale the soare of the daughter of his people softly and sleightly, and make the best of it, findeth so great fault with them for their oddes and iarring; we hope the children haue no great cause to vaunt of their vniformitie.

But the difference that appeareth betweene our Translations, and our often correcting of them, is the thing that wee are specially charged with; let vs see therefore whether they themselues bee without fault this way, (if it be to be counted a fault, to correct) and whether they bee fit men to throw stones at vs: [O tandem maior parcas insane minori]: they that are lesse sound themselues, ought not to obiect infirmities to others.

If we should tell them that [Valla, Stapulensis, Erasmus], and [Viues] found fault with their vulgar Translation, and consequently wished the same to be mended, or a new one to be made, they would answere peraduenture, that we produced their enemies for witnesses against them; albeit, they were in no other sort enemies, then as S. [Paul] was to tell the [Galatians], for telling them the trueth: and it were to be wished, that they had dared to tell it them plainier and oftener.

But what will they say to this, that Pope [Leo] the tenth allowed [Erasmus] Translation of the New Testament, so much different from the vulgar, by his Apostolike Letter & Bull; that the same [Leo] exhorted the [Pagnin] to translate the whole Bible, and bere whatsoeuer charges was necessary for the worke?

Surely, as the Apostle reasoneth to the [Hebrewes], that [if the former Law and Testament had been sufficient, there had beene no need of the latter]: so we may say, that if the old vulgar had bene at all points allowable, to small purpose had labour and charges bene vndergone, about framing of a new.

If they say, it was one Popes priuate opinion, and that he consulted onely himselfe; then wee are able to goe further with them, and to anerre, that more of their chiefe men of all sorts, euen their owne [Trent]-champions [Paiua & Vega], and their owne Inquisitors, [Hieronymus as Oleastro], and their owne Bishop [Isidorus Clarius], and their owne Cardinall [Thomas … Vio Caietan], doe either make new Translations themselues, or follow new ones of other mens making, or note the vulgar Interpretor for halting; none of them feare to dissent from him, nor yet to except against him.

And call they this an vniform tenour of text and iudgement about the text, so many of their Worthies disclaiming the now receiued conceit?

Nay, doth not [Sixtus Quintus] confesse, that certaine that certaine Catholikes (he meaneth certaine of his own side) were in such a humor of translating the Scriptures into [Latine], that Satan taking occassion by them, though they thought of no such matter, did striue what he could, out of so vncertaine and manifold a varietie of Translations, so to mingle all things, that nothing might seeme to be left certaine and firm in them, &c?

Nay further, did not the same [Sixtus] ordaine by an inuiolable decree, and that with the Counsell and consent of his Cardinals, that the [Latine] edition of the olde and new Testament, which the Councill of [Trent] would haue to be authenticke, is the same without controuersie which he then sent forth, being diligently corrected and printed in the Printing- house of [Vatican]?

Thus [Sixtus] in his Preface before his Bible.

And yet [Clement] the eight his immediate successor, publisheth another edition of the Bible, containing in it infinite differences from that of [Sixtus], (and many of them waightie and materiall) and yet this must be authenticke by all meanes.

What is to haue the faith of our glorious Lord Iesus Christ with Yea and Nay, if this be not?

Againe, what is sweet harmonie and consent, if this be?

Therefore, as [Demaratus of Corinth] aduised the a great King, before he talked of the dissentions among the [Grecians], to compose his domesticke broils (for at that time his Queene and his sonne and heire were at deadly fuide with him) so all the while that our aduersaries doe make so many and so various editions themselues, and doe iarre so much about the worth and authoritie of them, they can with no show of equitie challenge vs for changing and correcting.

¶ 14

But it is high time to leaue them, and to shew in briefe what wee proposed to our selues, and what course we held in this our perusall and suruay of the Bible.

Truly (good Christian Reader) wee neuer thought from the beginning, that we should neede to make a new Translation, nor yet to make of a bad one a good one, (for then the imputation of [Sixtus] had bene true in some sort, that our people had bene fed with gall of Dragons in stead of wine, with whey in stead of milke:) but to make a good one better, or out of many good ones, one principall good one, not iustly to be excepted against; that hath bene our indeauour, that our marke.

To that purpose there were many chosen, that were greater in other mens eyes then in their owne, and that sought the trueth rather then their own praise.

Againe, they came or were thought to come to the worke, not [exercendi caus ] (as one saith) but [exercitati], that is, learned, not to learne: For the chiefe ouerseer and îpçoëiwktns vnder his Maiestie, to whom not onely we, but also our whole Church was much bound, knew by his wisdome, which thing also [Nazianzen] taught so long agoe, that it is a preposterous order to teach first and to learne after, yea that t— Šv ãiéw kepaæ¡av æavé velv to learne and practice together, is neither commendable for the workenam, nor safe for the worke.

Therefore such were thought vpon, as could say modestly with Saint [Hierome], [Et Hebraeum Sermonem ex parte didicimus, & in Latino penŠ ab ipsis incunabulis & c. detriti sumus].

[Both we have learned the Hebrewe tongue in part, and in the Latine wee have beene exercised almost from our verie cradle].

S. [Hierome] maketh no mention of the [Greeke] tongue, wherein yet hee did excell, because hee translated not the old Testament out of [Greeke], but out of [Hebrewe].

And in what sort did these assembly?

In the trust of their own knowledge, or of their sharpenesse of wit, or deepenesse of iudgement, as it were in an arme of flesh?

At no hand.

They trusted in him that hath the key of [David], opening and no man shutting; they prayed to the Lord the Father of our Lord, to the effect that S. [Augustine] did; [O let thy Scriptures be my pure delight, let me not be deceiued in them, neither let me deceiue by them].

In this confidence, and with this deuotion did they assemble together; not too many, lest one should trouble another; and yet many, lest many things haply might escape them.

If you aske what they had before them, truly it was the [Hebrew] text of the Olde Testament, the [Greeke] of the New.

These are the two golden pipes, or rather conduits, where-through the oliue branches emptie themselues into the golde.

Saint [Augustine] calleth them precedent, or originall tongues; Saint [Hierome], fountaines.

The same Saint [Hierome] affirmeth, and [Gratian] hath not spared to put it into his Decree, That [as the credit of the old Bookes (he meaneth of the Olde Testament) is to bee tryed by the Hebrewe Volumes, so of the New by the Greeke tongue], he meaneth by the originall [Greeke].

If trueth be to be tried by these tongues, then whence should a Translation be made, but out of them?

These tongues therefore, the Scriptures wee say in those tongues, wee set before vs to translate, being the tongues wherein God was pleased to speake to his Church by his Prophets and Apostles.

Neither did we run ouer the worke with that posting haste that the [Septuagint] did, if that be true which is reported of them, that they finished it in 72. dayes; neither were we barred or hindered from going ouer it againe, hauing once done it, like S. [Hierome], if that be true which himselfe reporteth, that he could no sooner write any thing, but presently it was caught from him, and published, and he could not have leaue to mend it: neither, to be short, were we the first that fell in hand with translating the Scripture into English, and consequently destitute of former helpes, as it is written of [Origen], that hee was the first in a manner, that put his hand to write Commentaries vpon the Scriptures, and therefore no marueile, if he ouershot himselfe many times.

None of these things: the worke hath not bene hvdled vp in 72. dayes, but hath cost the workemen, as light as it seemeth, the paines of twise seuen times seuentie two dayes and more: matters of such weight and consequence are to bee speeded with maturitie: for in a business of a moment a man feareth not the blame of conuienient slacknesse.

Neither did wee thinke much to consult the Translators or Commentators, [Chaldee, Hebrewe, Syrian, Greeke, or Latine], no nor the [Spanish, French, Italian, or Dutch]; neither did we disdaine to reuise that which we had done, and to bring backe to the anuill that which we had hammered: but hauing and using as great helpes as were needful, and fearing no reproach for slowenesse, nor coueting praise for expedition, wee have at the length, through the good hand of the Lord vpon vs, brought the worke to that passe that you see.

¶ 15

Some peraduenture would have no varietie to be set in the margine, lest the authoritie of the Scriptures for deciding of controuersies by that shew of vncertaintie, should somewhat be shaken.

But we hold their iudgement not to be so sound in this point.

For though, [Whatsoeuer things are necessary are manifest], as S. [Chrysostome] saith, and as S. [Augustine], [In those things that are plainely set downe in the Scriptures, all such matters are found that concern Faith, hope, and Charitie].

Yet for all that it cannot be disassembled, that partly to exercise and whet our wits, partly to weane the curious from loathing of them for their euery- where-plainenesse, partly also to stirre vp our deuotion to craue the assistance of Gods spirit by prayer, and lastly, that we might be forward to seeke ayd of our brethren by conference, and neuer scorne those that be not in all respects so complete as they should bee, being to seeke in many things our selues, it hath pleased God in his diuine prouidence, heere and there to scatter wordes and sentences of that difficultie and doubtfulnesse, not in doctrinall points that concerne saluation, (for in such it hath beene vouched that the Scriptures are plaine) but in matters of lesse moment, that fearfulnesse would better beseeme vs then confidence, and if we will resolue, to resolue vpon modestie with S. [Augustine], (though not in this same case altogether, vpon the same ground) [Melius est dubitare de occultis, qu…m litigare de incertis], it is better to make doubt of those things which are secret, then to strive about those things that are vncertaine.

There be many words in the Scriptures, which be neuer found there but once, (hauing neither brother nor neighbour, as the [Hebrewes] speake) so that we cannot be holpen by conference of places.

Againe, there be many rare names of certaine birds, beastes, and precious stones, &c. concerning which the [Hebrewes] themselues are so diuided among themselues for iudgement, that they may seeme to haue defined this or that, rather because they would say something, because they were sure of that which they said, as S. [Hierome] somewhere saith of the [Septuagint].

Now in such a case, doth not a margine do well to admonish the Reader to seeke further, and not to conclude or dogmatize vpon this or that peremptorily?

For as it is a fault of incredylitie, to doubt of those things that are euident: so to determine of such things as the Spirit of God hath left (euen in the iudgement of the iudicious) questionable, can be no lesse than presumption.

Therefore, S. [Augustine] saith, that varietie of Translations is profitable for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures: so diuersitie of signification and sense in the margine, where the text is not so cleare, must needes doe good, yea, is necessary, as we are perswaded.

We know that [Sixtus Quintus] expresly forbiddeth, that any varietie of readings of their vulgar edition, should be put in the margine, (which thought it be not altogether the same thing to that wee haue in hand, yet it looketh that way) but we thinke he hath not all of his owne side his fauourers, for this conceit.

They that are wise, had rather haue their iudgements at libertie in differences of readings, then to be captiuated to one, when it may be the other.

If they were sure that their hie Priest had all lawes shut vp in his breast, as [Paul] the second bragged, and that he were as free from errour by speciall priuiledge, as the Dictators of [Rome] were made by law inuiolable, it were another matter; then his word were an Oracle, his opinion a decision.

But the eyes of the world are now open, God be thanked, and haue bene a great while, they find that he is subiect to the same affections and infirmities that others be, that his skin is penetrable, and therefore so much as he prooueth, not as much as he claimeth, they grant and embrace.

¶ 16

An other thing we think good to admonish thee of (gentle Reader) that wee haue not tyed our selues to an vniformitie of phrasing, or to an identitie of words, as some peraduenture would wish that we had done, because they obserue, that some learned men some where, haue been as exact as they could that way.

Truly, that we might not varie from the sense of that which we had translated before, if the word signified the same thing in both places (for there bee some wordes that bee not of the same sense euery where) we were especially carefull, and make a conscience, according to our deutie.

But, that we should expresse the same notion in the same particular word; as for example, if we translate the [Hebrewe] or [Greeke] word once by [Purpose], neuer to call it [Intent]; if one where [iourneying], neuer [Travelling] ; if one where [Thinke], neuer [Suppose]; if one where [Paine], neuer [Ache]; if one where [Ioy], neuer [Gladnesse], &c.

Thus to minse the matter, wee thought to sauour more of curiositie then wisdome, and that rather it would breed scorne in the Atheist, then bring profit to the godly Reader.

For is the kingdom of God become words or syllables?

Why should wee be in bondage to them if we may be free, vse one preciselywhen wee may vse another no lesse fit, as commodiously?

A godly Father in the Primitiue time shewed himselfe greatly moued, that one of newfanglenes called kp ááaçov åk¡æãous, though the difference be little or none; and another reporteth, that hee was much abused for turning [Cucurbita] (to which reading the people had beene vsed) into [Hedera].

Now if this happened in better times, and vpon so small occasions, wee might iustly feare hard censure, if generally wee should make verball and vnecessary changings.

We might also be charged (by scoffers) with some vnequall dealing towards a great number of good English wordes.

For as it is written of a certaine great Philosopher, that he should say, that those logs were happie that were made images to be worshipped; for their fellowes, as good as they, lay for blockes behinde the fire: so if wee should say, as it were, vnto certaine words, Stand vp higher, haue a place in the Bible alwayes, and to others of like qualitie, Get ye hence, be banished for euer, wee might bee taxed peraduenture with S. [Iames] his words, namely, [To be partiall in our selues and iudges of euill thoughts].

Adde hereunto, that nicenesse in wordes was alwayes counted the next step to triffling, and was so to bee curious about names too: also that we cannot follow a better patterne for elocution then God himselfe; therefore hee vsing diuerse wordes, in his holy writ, and indifferently for one thing in nature: we, if wee will not be superstitious, may vse the same libertie in our English versions out of [Hebrewe & Greeke], for that copie or store that he hath giuen vs.

Lastly, wee haue on the one side auoided the scrupulositie of the Puritanes, who leaue the olde Ecclesiasticall words, and betake them to other, as when they put [Washing] for [Baptisme], and [Congregation] in stead of [Church]: as also on the other side we haue shunned the obscuritie of the Papists, in their [Azimes, Tunike, Rational, Holocausts, Prxpuce, Pasche], and a number of such like, whereof their late Translation is full, and that of purpose to darken the sense, that since must needs translate the Bible, yet by the language thereof, it may be kept from being vnderstood.

But we desire that the Scriptures may speake like itselfe, as in the language of [Canaan], that it may bee vnderstood euen of the very vulgar.

¶ 17

Many other things wee might giue thee warning of (gentle Reader) if wee had not exceeded the measure of a Preface alreadie.

It remaineth, that we commend thee to God, and to the Spirit of his grace, which is able to build further then we can aske or thinke.

Hee remoueth the scales from our eyes, the vaile from our hearts, opening our wits that wee may vnderstand his word, enlarging our hearts, yea, correcting our affections, that wee may loue it aboue gold and siluer, yea that we may loue it to the end.

Ye are brought vnto fountaines of liuing water which ye digged not; doe not cast earth into them with the Philistines, neither preferre broken pits before them with the wicked Iewes.

Others haue laboured, and you may enter into their labours; O receiue not so great things in vaine, O despise not so great saluation!

Be not like swine to treade vnder foote so precious things, neither yet like dogs to teare and abuse holy things.

Say not to our Sauior with the [Gergesites], Depart out of our coasts; neither yet with [Esau] sell your birthright for a messe of potage.

If light be come into the world, loue not darkenesse more then light; if foode, if clothing be offered, goe not naked, starue not your selues.

Remember the aduise of [Nazianzene], [It is a greuious thing] (or dangerous) [to neglect a great faire, and to seeke to make markets a afterwards]: also the encouragement of S. [Chrysostome], [It is altogether impossible, that he that is sober (and watchful) should at any time be neglected]: Lastly, the admonishion and menacing of S. [Augustine], [They that despise Gods will inuiting them, shal feele Gods will taking vengeance of them].

It is a fearefull thing to fall into the hands of the liuing God; but a blessed thing it is, and will bring vs into euerlasting blessednes in the end, when God speaketh vnto vs, to hearken; when he setteth his word before vs, to read it; when hee strecheth out his hand and calleth, to answere, Here am I; here we are to doe thy will, O God.

The Lord worke a care and conscience in vs to know him and serue him, that we may be acknowledged of him at the appearing of our Lord Iesus Christ, to whom with the holy Ghost, be all prayse and thankesgiuing.