Boy Was Scrivener Wrong

by Oct 11, 2014ChurchLife, KJV9 comments

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a race of generous and friendly rivalry for the space of at least one generation, before the elder of the two shall be superseded in the affections of not a few devout persons, who, in so grave a matter as the daily use of Holy Scripture, shall prove slow to adopt changes which yet they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.

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  1. Duncan Johnson

    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

    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

    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

    Got it!

  5. Duncan Johnson

    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!

  6. Robin Earle

    MPaul » Fri Aug 08, 2014 12:33 pm

    Here is an interesting quote on the Cambridge KJV from a post in a Baptist forum found at this link —
    The 1873 KJV is one of the most highly praised and acclaimed editions ever printed by Cambridge. KJV defender Edward Hills noted: “In the 19th century the most important edition of the King James Version was the Cambridge Paragraph Bible (1873), with F. H. A. Scrivener as its editor” (KJV Defended, p. 217). David Norton indicated that Scrivener was “more conservative” as an editor than Blayney was (Textual History, p. 124). Norton described this 1873 edition by Scrivener as “by far the most substantial and responsible work on the text after the work of the translators themselves” (p. 122). W. F. Moulton maintained that “the Cambridge Paragraph Bible, edited by Dr. Scrivener, is the classic edition of the Authorised Version, and is a monument of minute accuracy and unsparing labour” (History of the English Bible, p. 211). Dean John Burgon wrote: “English readers are reminded that Dr. Scrivener’s is the only classical edition of the English Bible” (Revision Revised, p. 238 note). In its review of this 1873 Cambridge edition in 1878, The London Quarterly Review stated: “The true restorers are critics like Dr. Scrivener, who set themselves to remove modern additions and bring out the original fabric in its ancient form and outline. Such a work demands high qualifications of learning, judgment, and discriminative skill, as well as great care and labour; and of all these the present work furnishes conspicuous proof” (Vol. 49, p. 451). J. Boyes asserted: “The Cambridge Paragraph Bible, edited by Dr. Scrivener, has been rightly designated the classic edition of the authorised version, and certainly seems to have reached as high a pitch of excellence as the version is capable of attaining” (Englishman’s Bible, p. 121). In 1885, P. W. Raidabaugh wrote: “The most accurate edition, in all respects, of the Authorized Version ever published is the one issued from the Cambridge Press in 1873, under the editorship of the Rev. F. H. Scrivener” (History, p. 62). In 1912, John Brown asserted that Scrivener’s 1873 edition “has ever since been regarded, as for correctness, the standard text of the Authorised Version” (History, p. 111). William Mounce maintained that this 1873 edition is “the best English KJV text” (Greek for the Rest of Us, p. 169). Donald Brake wrote: “Scrivener’s edition was the most accurate of all the Authorized Bibles” (Visual History of the English Bible, p. 215). David Daniell referred to this 1873 edition as an “important and elaborate attempt to publish a trustworthy text of King James’ version” (Bible in English, p. 691). Henry Barker wrote: “The best modern critical edition of the Authorized Version of 1611 is Dr. Scrivener’s Cambridge Edition of 1873” (English Bible, p. 187). The introduction of the 2001 Strongest Strong’s Concordance identified it as “the best modern edition of KJV” (p. x). This introduction noted that “Scrivener was commissioned by Cambridge University Press to create a standardized edition of the KJV to eliminate all of the errors and inconsistencies that had crept into the text” (p. x). In Oxford University Press’s new book entitled Bible The Story of the King James Version 1611-2011, Gordon Campbell maintained that “the quality of Scrivener’s text in the Cambridge Paragraph Bible is high” (p. 180).

    In a footnote, David Norton noted that this 1873 edition “was used as the text for the finely-printed Doves Press limited edition of 1905” (Textual History, p. 123). Edwin Rumball-Petre described the 1903-1905 Doves Press Bible edited by Scrivener as “one of the typographical masterpieces of all time” (Rare Bibles, p. 24). The text of this 1873 KJV edition was also used as the text in The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges that was printed in the early 1900‘s. In his history of Bible printing at Cambridge, W. H. T. Wredesuggested that Scrivener’s edition “remains the standard of the Authorised Version text at Cambridge” to his present day (Short History, p. 18). In his 1902 Book of Psalms, A. F. Kirkpatrick referred to Scrivener’s as “the standard edition of the A.V. from which the text in this edition is taken” (p. lxi). Jack Lewis maintained that “Blayney’s [1769] edition became the standard edition until the publication of the Cambridge Paragraph Bible, edited by Scrivener in 1873” (English Bible, p. 39).
    I love this Bible. It is just fantastic because it gives the KJV translators alternative translations of verses and because of the way it sets out poetic parallel verses. I do not think any KJV compares with it. But it is very expensive – even the New Cambridge Paragraph Bible.

    • Alexander Thomson

      The 1873 Bible is found at And it’s available from some of the reprint companies.I love the clean and poetic layout of the Norton edition (revised 2011); but I do wish he had put in a cross-reference system or used the one compiled by Scrivener (and used by several good editions of even modern translations)..I have never understood why AV/KJV Bibles published after 1873 continued to use the text revised by Blayney in 1769, the now-standard text.

  7. Vladimir Icorikov

    THE autograph-accurate truly-inerrant Greek Text of the New Testament is the 1894 one synthesized by FHA Scrivener based on Greek texts of Erasmus, Beza, Elzevir, and Stephens.
    It is found in website


      Also, Mary was bodily assumed into heaven and was born without original sin.

      My problem with this statement and yours is not that they are impossible or even unlikely. It’s that there is no biblical statement telling me that either is the case. And, therefore, to make these claims is at the same time to claim authority the Bible does not grant.