Date: May 15, 2018 11:05PM
"Dr. Nicholas Hardy, an early modern scholar at the University of Birmingham, has unearthed new sources that point to the participation of French scholar Isaac Casaubon in the translation of the KJV. Though a prominent scholar in his own day, Casaubon was not previously thought to have been involved in the project at all. But correspondence between Casaubon and John Bois, one of the KJV translators, and Casaubon’s diary in which he records conversations with Andrew Downes (another KJV translator) reveal that the KJV was not an all-English affair. In fact, Casaubon was hardly proficient in English. As Hardy writes in an article, Casaubon’s diary reveals that he struggled to follow English language sermons in church. The British like to think of the KJV as an all-English production that is closely tied in the cultural imagination to national identity, but actually, as Hardy told me, “England was a massive net importer of biblical scholarship in this period, and that situation wouldn’t change for at least a half-century.” It might be the King James Bible, but it was put together with the help of one of France’s greatest minds.
But the discoveries of this correspondence, together with Hardy’s discovery of a copy of the Old Testament that was heavily annotated by Bois, can tell us a great deal about the kinds of philological and interpretive issues faced by the KJV’s translators.
In trying to produce accurate translations that made sense of the Greek, Bois and Causaubon used methods that today would be called “historical-critical.” They struggled with inconsistencies in the chronology of books of the Hebrew Bible and used Greek literature to deduce the meaning and function of passages of the Bible. In their correspondence Bois points to an article Causabon had written on riddles in Greek literature as a parallel to a passage in the Old Testament apocrypha (a part of the King James Version people often don’t know exists). That they are using historical methodologies is stunning; not only because we tend to associate these techniques with the Enlightenment period and the rise of science, but also because, today, conservative fundamentalists consider these methods to be an attack on the Bible itself."