Boy Was Scrivener Wrong

220px-ScrivenerI wish F.H.A. Scrivener, the editor of a version of the Textus Receptus that mimicked the textual critical choices of the King James translators, had been right when he wrote the following in 1873. I have taken the liberty of bolding every erroneous prediction.

If a judgment may be formed from previous experience in like cases, the revised and unrevised Versions [namely the English Revised Version and the KJV, respectively], when the former [the ERV] shall be at length completed, are destined to run together a race of generous and friendly rivalry for the space of at least one generation, before the elder of the two shall be superseded in the affections of not a few devout persons, who, in so grave a matter as the daily use of Holy Scripture, shall prove slow to adopt changes which yet they will not doubt to be made, on the whole, for the better.

Scrivener wrote this in the foreword to a critical edition of the KJV; that is, an edition which corrected printer errors and took the translation back to the state its original translators meant it to be in. He continues…

With such a struggle before it, it is only right that the Authorized or King James’s Bible should be represented, so far as may be, in the precise shape that it would have assumed, if its venerable Translators had shewn themselves more exempt than they were from the failings incident to human infirmity; or if the same severe accuracy, which is now demanded in carrying so important a volume through the press, had been deemed requisite or was at all usual in their age.

The Cambridge Paragraph Bible: Of the Authorized English Version (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1873), ix.

Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.


  1. Duncan Johnson on October 11, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Should Scrivener’s 1873 Cambridge Paragraph Bible be seen as the ancestor of the New Cambridge Paragraph Bible done by Norton in the 2005, or is there no organic relationship between the two?

    I have a copy of Norton back at the office, but I can’t remember what Norton says about his use of Scrivener, if anything.

  2. Mark Ward on October 13, 2014 at 8:27 am

    I wondered the same thing, Duncan. I’m certain Norton was aware of Scrivener’s work and imagine he must have consulted it. But I don’t recall reading that.

  3. Duncan Johnson on October 14, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Hmm, OK. I just skimmed over the preface in my copy of Norton’s Bible, and I see no mention of the Scrivener edition there or on the copyright page. Funny that he didn’t even mention it!

    Perhaps he mentions it in somewhere in his Textual History, but unfortunately I don’t have a copy of that, so I guess I won’t be able to know.

  4. Mark Ward on October 14, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    Got it!

  5. Duncan Johnson on October 16, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Thanks Mark, great find!

    Interesting how Norton discovered he had to more or less re-do much of Scrivener’s work in preparing his edition that was originally supposed to be nothing more than an update.

    And now the mystery of the relationship between the two editions is resolved. I really need to use Amazon previews more often!

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