References on AV Majesty

Steven Avery

The Church Eclectic (1899)
George Hamilton McKnight

BISHOP HALL, of Vermont, in a courteous note in the February Church Eclectic, takes me to task for saying that the evidence for the reading of I. Tim. hi. 16 in the Authorized Version is “overwhelming.” Possibly the expression was too strong, and yet I think it may be excused when I give the grounds of mv opinion.


Bishop Pearson, in his great work on the Creed, strongly contends for Oeos as the only consistent or intelligible rendering of the Greek. ... In addition to this testimony as to the internal evidence Dr. Bloomfield says...

“It has been shown by Bishop Bull, Archbishop Magee, Dr. Nolan, Dr. Barton, the British critic, and Kinck, that the o<s is liable to almost every objection in interpretation and violates all the rules of construction."

Secondly. The presumptive evidence, I regard in the fact, that so the authors of the King James Version render this passage; that it has been indorsed by the whole Anglican Church and accepted by the English-speaking race for more than three hundred years. I am perfectly aware that the members of the commission in 1611 had not the advantages of some of the ancient manuscripts in the reach of the scholars of 1881, yet that they were accomplished linguists no one will deny; that some of them spoke and wrote with ease and fluency, Hebrew, Greek and Latin, we all know,indeed we have reason to believe that of some of them it might have been said, as of Tyndale, in the preceding century:

“Who was so complete a master of seven languages, viz., Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French, Italian, Spanish and English, that you would fancy that whichever he spoke in, was his native tongue.”

Of how many of the Revisers of 1881 could this be said? The truth is, that was an age when the importance of linguistic studies was magnified—queens and royal dames spoke fluently in Greek and Latin, as Elizabeth and Mary, and some also had mastered the Hebrew. Of Lady Jane Grey, a young girl of sixteen, it is said that she attained “excellent learning both in Hebrew, Greek and Latin tongues and also in the study of Divinity.” In fact she was so well posted in theology that all the efforts of Feckenham, a Roman priest, could not confuse her, or shake her faith in the reformed doctrines of the English Church. Where are the misses now who have passed through the curriculum of the “higher education” who are equal in learning to this most noble and accomplished princess?

But let us look for a moment at the composition of the Revising Board in 1611. The express command of the King was that only the men of the most profound learning in his Kingdom — men distinguished as scholars and theologians, should be selected, and then the work was done in the most thorough manner.

These men, forty-seven in number, were divided into six companies, and met for their work simultaneously in Westminster, Oxford and Cambridge, two companies in each place, one on the Old and the other on the New Testament. Every portion passed through thirteen and sometimes sixteen examinations before being accepted by the whole number, or before final judgment was pronounced. Now, I submit that the final judgment, under these circumstances, upon any disputed passage is entitled to the most respectful consideration even by modern critics and scholars. They had a number of versions before them; the great and critical learning of Erasmus was within their reach, and Tyndale’s Version, of which a distinguished Roman Catholic priest says: “ If accuracy and strictest attention to the letter of the text be supposed to constitute an excellent version, this is of all the versions the most excellent.” While then we recognize the superior advantages of modern critics in the way of ancient manuscripts and versions, yet we are not to ignore the fact that there were great scholars and men of pre-eminent abilit\’ and learning among the Revis-