By Dr. Laurence M. Vance
First published in 1568, the Bishops’ Bible was issued in its last edition in 1602. The first of the fifteen rules given for the guidance of the King James translators stated that the Bishops’ Bible was to be followed “and as little altered as the truth of the original will permit.” Rule fourteen further specified certain English translations to be used when they agreed “better with the text than the Bishops’ Bible.” The Authorized Version was both a revision of the earlier English Bibles and a translation from the original languages, all based on the Bishops’ Bible.
The immediate concern of this work, then, is why the Bishops’ Bible, and the extent to which the King James Bible is indebted to it. And secondarily, the degree to which the King James Bible relies on the earlier English translations, other possible sources that might have influenced the translators, and evidence of the translators at work as they transformed the Bishops’ Bible into the Authorized Version. The book includes a detailed history of the Bishops’ Bible and its editions as well as a complete collation of the New Testament of the 1602 Bishops’ Bible with the 1611 Authorized Version.