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This article is taken from PN Review 24, Volume 8 Number 4, March - April 1982.

'Profit to the Godly Reader' Gerald Hammond


. . . wee haue not tyed our selues to an uniformitie of phrasing, or to an identitie of words, as some peraduenture would wish we had done, because they obserue, that some learned men some where, haue beene as exact as they could that way. . . . But, that we should expresse the same notion in the same particular word; as for example, if we translate the Hebrew or Greeke word once by Purpose, neuer to call it Intent; if one where Iourneying, neuer Traveiling; 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 wisedome, and that rather it would breed scorne in the Atheist, then bring profite to the godly Reader, For is the kingdome of God become words or syllables? (from 'The Translators to the Reader': Preface to the 1611 Authorized Version)

Nearly four hundred years on, 'yes' is, ironically, the answer which the advocate of the Authorized Version must make to that question. 'Yes' because there has been so great a shift in our attitude to translating the Bible. The whole range of Renaissance approaches, from Puritan pedantry to Catholic dogmatism, stands in one camp utterly opposed to what the modern translator attempts- and at the basis of the opposition is the way ...

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