Collation of the English Bible

American Bible Society
Thirty-Sixth Report 1851
The Minutes of the Report On Versions


A digital copy of the report in book form can be obtained here: of the History and recent Collation of the English Version of the Bible.

The friends of the Society have been informed, by previous Reports, that measures were in operation for preparing and adopting a standard English Bible. This undertaking has been brought to a close, and a detailed report in relation to it is submitted to the Board, by the Committee entrusted with the same. The report has also been adopted by the Board, and a limited number of copies published and distributed. But as this distribution has been but partial, the Managers have deemed it expedient to give in this place such extracts from the report referred to, as shall furnish to all who may desire, an intelligible view of the changes which have been made in our Bibles as the result of the collation. After stating that the Board referred this subject to the Committee in 1847, they proceed as follows:

Three years and a half have now elapsed since the subject of such a collation was first brought to the attention of the Committee. They have regarded it from the beginning as a matter of high importance; connected as it is with the purity of that Holy Word, which it is the object and business of this Society to diffuse as widely as possible.

The Committee then showed the origin of the present version, and the relation which it sustains to the various versions which preceded it. They next stated the circumstances which attended the preparation of the present version of King James. They then specified various editions where changes have been made from the first edition. We give a few of them:

 An edition of King James' Bible was printed in octavo at Amsterdam, in 1664, with a preface by John Canne, a leader of the English Brownists. His purpose was to make Scripture the interpreter of Scripture, by the addition of important marginal references "so far as the margin could contain."

In England "many parallel texts" were added by Dr. Scattergood, in an edition published at Cambridge in 1678.

Two years later, 1680, an edition was issued at Oxford, with the insertion of Usher's Chronology.

More important was the Bible published in folio and quarto in 1701, under the direction of Dr. Tenison, archbishop of Canterbury. In this edition Dr. Lloyd, then bishop of Worcester, added the chronological dates at the head of the columns, and a further collection of parallel Scriptures. At the end were also appended tables of Scripture measures, weights, and coins, by Dr. Cumberland, bishop of Peterborough.

The most complete revision of the English Bible was that undertaken at Oxford by Dr. Blaney, about A.D. 1767, under the direction of the Vice Chancellor and other Delegates of the Clarendon press. According to his instructions, the Oxford copies were carefully collated with the folio edition of 1611, that of Dr. Lloyd in 1701, and two Cambridge editions of a late date. The work occupied between three and four years; and in 1769 both a quarto and a folio edition were published at the Clarendon press: of which the folio was supposed to be the most perfect.


Your Committee are not aware that any later general revision of collation of the English Bible has taken place in Great Britain. About twenty years ago, the public mind in that country and in our own, was for a time agitated by the charge openly made against our present English Bibles, that they had been greatly corrupted from the original edition; and that what we now have is not the 'English version as prepared by King James' translators.

In consequence of this charge the Clarendon press issued in 1833, in quarto, an exact reprint in roman letter of the folio edition of 1611 in black letter. "the reprint is so exact, as to agree with the original edition page for page, and letter for letter; retaining throughout the ancient mode of spelling and punctuation, and even the most manifest errors of the press."

The publication of this reprint tranquillized the public mind; for it presented ocular demonstration that with the exception of typographical errors, and of the changes conformed to, and required by, the progress of orthography in the English language, the text of our present Bibles remains unchanged, and is without variation from the original copy as left by the translators.

Appended to this reprint is a collation made with one of the copies of the year 1613, two years after the original edition. the variations are about 375 in number, exclusive of the apocrypha. Whether the editions of 1613 were printed under the supervision of the translators, probably cannot now be known. The variations may be divided into three classed, viz: Manifest errors of the press in the copy of 1611; manifest errors of the press in the copy of 1613; other variations from the reading of 1611, but whether with or without design is not always certain. We subjoin specimens of each class, in the modern orthography. It may be proper here to add, that with the exception of the first class, or errors of the press, the present copies of the Bible accord throughout with the edition of 1611.


  16111613 and present copies
Exo38:11 hoops of the pillars hooks of the pillars
Lev 4:35 shall burnt them shall burn them
Lev 13:56 the plaine be the plague be
Lev 17:14 Ye shall not eat Ye shall eat
Jer 5:24 rain...the later rain...the latter
Jer 22:3 deliver the spoiler deliver the spoiled
Jer 50:29 hath done unto her hath done, do unto her
Ez 6:8 that he may have that ye may have
Ez 24:7 poured it upon poured it not upon
Hos 6:5 shewed them by the prophets hewed them by the prophets
  1611 and present copies1613
Gen 42:31 we said unto him we said unto them
Lev 7:25 the fat of the beast the fast of the beast
Lev 19:10 shalt not glean shalt glean
Lev 26:24 also walk contrary also wake contrary
Deut 19:5 slippeth from the helve slippeth from the helme
1 Kings 3:15 and offered peace offerings


1 Kings 20:3 even the goodliest even thy goodliest
2 Kings 22:3 eighteenth year of eighteenth were of
2 chron 6:10 in the room of David in the throne of David
Job 29:3 I walked through darkness I shined through darkness
Isaiah 59:7 shed innocent blood shed blood
Hos 13:3 smoke out of the chimney smoke out the chimney
Matt 13:8 some sixty fold


1 Cor 2:8 would confirm your love would continue your love
1 Cor 11:17 I praise you not, that I praise you that
  1611 and present copies1613
Gen 2:24 and shall cleav and cleave
Gen 12:14 she was very fair she was fair
Gen 27:44 fury turn away fury pass away
Lev 26:40 the iniquity the iniquities
Judges 16:30 upon all the people upon the people
Isaiah 7:3 Ahaz, thou, and shear-jashub Ahaz, and Shear-jashub
Isaiah 49:2 mouth like a sharp sword mouth a sharp sword
John 5:3 a great multitude a great company
Rev 2:18 feet are like fine brass feet are like brass
Rev 5:4 no man was found worthy no man was worthy


A careful examination of the preceding lists, and the evident absence of all plan in the deviations from the edition of 1611, except in the first class, will probably lead most minds to the conclusion, that the alterations of the above third class are also mostly, if not all, merely errors of the press, which have been corrected in later editions.


The results of the preceding historical investigation may be thus stated:

That the edition of 1611, although prepared with very great care, was not free from typographical errors; and that, while most of these were corrected in the editions of 1613, others in much greater number were nevertheless then introduced, which have since been removed.

That the edition of Dr. Lloyd in 1701 was disfigured by like errors of the press; and these were increased to such an extent, that in 1724 the correctors of the press employed by the various patentees were required to be approved by the archbishop of Canterbury and the bishop of London.

That the revision of Dr. Blaney, was made by collating the then current editions of Oxford and Cambridge with those of 1611 and 1701, had for its main object to restore the text of the English Bible to its original purity; and that this was successfully accomplished, to as great a degree as can well be expected in any work of like extent.


It may perhaps be supposed, that, after such a revision, and especially after the corrected copies of 1806 and 1813, it would be no difficult matter keep up the standard of correctness at the same elevated point. Such an expectation, however, could never be cherished by those, who have had much practical experience in relation to the press. And especially, when we take into account, that the printing of Bibles is carried on in Great Britain at four different places, and in this country entirely ad libitum; and that each copy contains, on an average, more than a thousand closely printed pages: it must be regarded as beyond the the power of all human skill, even with the aid of stereotype plates, to prevent the occasional occurrence of minor errors and variations, arising sometimes from accidents, and sometimes from the inadvertence of proof readers. Along with all these, too, there is certainly the possibility, that some slight oversights may have remained uncorrected throughout all the editions, even from the very beginning.

Some specimens of these mistakes are given by committee, but for which we have not room. After this historical sketch of the present English Version, the Committee turned to the detail of their labours.


The attention of the Committee was first drawn to the subject under consideration at their meeting, Oct 6th, 1847. At that time Mr. Secretary Brigham communicated to them, that the Superintendent of printing found many discrepancies still existing between our different editions of the English Bible; and also between our editions and those issued by the British and foreign Bible society.


Several specimens of such discrepancies were exhibited to the committee, relating mostly to the use of Italic words, Capital letters, and the Article a or an. After consideration, the committee submitted the matter to the Board of Managers for counsel and direction.

At the meeting of the Board of Managers on the next day, Oct 7th, 1847, the matter was taken up and considered; and was referred back to the Committee on Versions, with directions to have the necessary collation made, and report the result to the Board.

The Committee, Feb 1st, 1848, resolved, "that a suitable person be employed to collate the principal editions of the English Bible published by this Society with the latest British editions, and report from time to time to the Committee." A well qualified collator was soon engaged, and commenced the collation of the English Bible, as directed by the Board, beginning with the New Testament.

After several further meetings, the following series of resolutions were adopted, as expressing the general views to which the Committee had been led by their examinations and experience hitherto, and to serve as rules for their further guidance.

  1. That the royal octavo edition of the English Bible, issued by this society, be adopted as the basis for corrections.

  2. That the said american copy be compared with recent copies of the four leading British editions, viz: those of London, Oxford, Cambridge, and Edinburgh; and also with the original edition of 1611.

  3. That the comparison include the Orthography, Capital Letters, Words in Italic, and Punctuation. {To these were added in practice the Contents of the chapters, and the running Heads of the columns.}

  4. That so far as the four English copies are uniform, the American copies be conformed to them, unless otherwise specially ordered by the Committee.

  5. That the collator be instructed, in his further labours, to apply the principles and cases previously adopted and decided by this Committee; and that hereafter he lay before the committee only such cases as have not before been acted upon, or such as may seem to need further consideration.

  6. That in respect to the indefinite article, the form 'an' be used before all vowels and diphthongs not pronounced as consonants, and also before h silent or unaccented; and that the form 'a' be employed in all other cases.

  7. That in cases where the four recent British copies, and also the original edition and our own copy, vary in Punctuation, the uniform usage of any three of the copies shall be followed.

  8. That when the London, Oxford, and Cambridge editions agree in the use or omission of the hyphen in compound words, the same usage be adopted.

  9. That when the term Scripture or Scriptures refers t the whole volume of the Inspired Truth, it begin with a capital letter; but when the reference is to some particular portion, it begin with a small letter.

With these definite rules laid down, it was considered best to appoint a Sub-committee, to meet frequently with the collator, to see that the rules adopted were followed, and when any new question arose, to convene the whole Committee. This course was pursued with great patience and thoroughness, both by the Committee and Sub-Committee, and their doings, frequently made known to the Board as they proceeded.

We have room to to give only some brief views of the corrections which have been made by the Committee in our english Version as used in these later days. those who desire a more minute account, must seek for their entire report.



It will be apparent, from an inspection of the rules above given, that the great and leading object of the Committee has every where been uniformity. It is only where the British copies differ, that any question has been raised; except in a few instances to be noted in the sequel. It has been the wish and endeavour of the Committee, to see the English Version restored, so far as possible, to its original purity; saving the necessary changes of orthography and other like variations, which would assuredly be acceptable to the translators themselves, were they living at the present day. The Committee have had no authority and no desire to go behind the translators; nor in any respect to touch the original version of the text; unless in cases of evident inadvertence or inconsistency, open and manifest to all.

  1. Words: Here on the very threshold, we light upon an inconsistency in respect to the gender of a pronoun in the edition of 1611, which all the modern editions have only made worse. Thus in Ruth 3:15, all the present copies read: "and she went into the city;" but the Hebrew and the translators have it: "and he went into the city." Again, in Cant 2:7, all the present copies read: "till she please." Yet in Cant 3:5 and 8:4, where the Hebrew is precisely the same, the translators and all the copies have; "till he please." All these instances have of course been corrected according to the Hebrew.

    In Isaiah 1:16, the present copies read, "Wash you," where the translators put "Wash ye." This is according to the Hebrew, and has been restored.

  2. Orthography: The committee entertain a reverence for the antique forms of words and orthography in the Bible, where they do not conflict with a clear understanding of the sense. But when these forms have become obsolete and unintelligible : or have already been changed in some places and not in others; or where in themselves they are of no importance; there seems to be no valid reason for longer retaining them. the following examples still occur in the English editions, but have mostly already been changed in the Edinburgh and American copies. Many of them are variations from the editions of 1611.


English copies Corrected
Gen 8:1 asswaged assuaged
Gen 11:3 morter mortar
Gen 11:3 throughly thoroughly {Tr. Cam.}
Gen 11:37 strakes streaks
Gen 31:10 grisled grizzled
Gen 39:6 ought aught
Gen 49:27 ravin raven
Ex 7:18 lothe loathe {Tr.}
Ex 12:22 bason basin
Ex 31:10 cloths clothes {Tr.}
Ex 33:22 clift cleft
Lev 14:42 plaister plaster
Lev 25:9 jubile jubilee
Num 10:25 rereward rearward
Deut 15:17 aul awl
Deut 24:6 milstone {Tr. Lond.} millstone {Ox.}
Judges 5:22 pransings prancings
2Sam 15:12 counseller {Tr. Lond. Cam.} counsellor {Ox.}
2 Chr 2:16 flotes floats
Neh 9:1 sackclothes sackcloth {as in Joel 1:13
Isaiah 41:7 sodering soldering
Isaiah 59:17 cloke cloak {Tr.}
Jer 2:22 sope soap
Ez 40:31 utter court outer court
Matt 27:48 spunge sponge
Acts 7:28 diddest didst
Acts 14:6 ware aware
1Tim 2:9 broidered {Tr. Broided} braided
Rev 14:20 horse bridles horses' bridles {so the Greek}


In expressing the Plurals of such Hebrew words as are not rendered in the text, the translators adopted the plural form of the Hebrew in—im, but with the superfluous addition of an s; cherubims, seraphims, Nethinims, Anakims, etc. This is strictly wrong, and is not in accordance with present usage. The 's' has therefore every where been dropped in such words; as gen 3:24, Is 6:2,6 etc.

In respect to the Particles of Exclamation, O and Oh, it appears on examination that the former {O} is every where used before a vocative case; while before an Optative we find both: "O that," Deut 32:29; Ps 55:6 and "Oh that," Job 6:2; Jer 9:1. In order to maintain the proper distinction, the form 'Oh' has every where been retained with the Optative; leaving 'O' as the sign of the vocative.

The forms of the Indefinite Article, 'a' or 'an' have been adjusted throughout according to the sixth rule above given. In order to show the necessity of the rule, the following examples of inconsistency in all the copies from first to last, as here selected:


Gen 25:2
Gen 27:11
an hairy
a hairy
  Matt 5:14
Joshua 24:23
an hill
a hill
Judges 4:2
Jer 23:291
an hammer
a hammer
  Ex 28:32
2 King 12:9
an hole
a hole
Gen 38:15
Joel 3:3
an harlot
a harlot {Ox.}
  Ex 19:6
Is 30:29
an holy
a holy
1 Sam 16:16
1 Sam 10:5
an harp
a harp
  Matt 10:12
Mark 3:35
an house
a house
Isaiah 25:2
Isaiah 17:11
an heap
a heap
  Ruth 1:12
Ruth 1:12
an husband
a husband Ox.}


3. PROPER NAMES: There exists in the Old Testament a very considerable diversity in writing Hebrew proper names in English. Thus the names of the first seven patriarchs of the world, as they appear in Gen ch 4, and as they are now usually written, are: Adam, Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch. but in 1 Chr 1: the same are recorded as: Adam, Sheth, Enosh Kenan, Mahalaleel, Jered, Henoch; the Hebrew forms being in both places precisely the same. When such names occur singly inthe narrative, and there would arise no marked difference in the pronunciation the form in the Old Testament has been restored.


Former Reading



Former Reading


Matt 2:6 Juda Judah   Acts 7:30 Sina Sinai
Matt 16:15 Gomorrha Gomorrah   Heb 5:6 Melchisedec Melchizedek
Matt 21:5 Sion Zion   Heb 11:11 Sara Sarah
Matt 24:37 Noe Noah   Heb 11:32 Gedeon Gideon
John 1:42 Jona Jonah   Jude 11: Core Korah
Acts 7:11 Channaan Canaan   Rev 2:14 Balac Balak


4. COMPOUND WORDS: The eight rule prescribes, that the usage of the english copies be followed in respect to the insertion or omission of the hyphen in compound words.

5. WORDS I ITALICS: These were inserted by the translators to fill out the English idiom, in cases where the Hebrew and Greek usage omits the copula or other connecting or dependent words. These insertions were carefully revised and compared with the original, by Dr. Blaney; but notwithstanding his diligence, quite a number of errors have been detected, some of which belong to the translators. The following are examples:

Ex 8:22, 22:24, 29:31. Here the recent copies all read: "swarms of flies;" while in Ps. 78:45 and 105:31, the same Hebrew word is rendered: "divers sorts of flies," without Italics. In all these passages the edition of 1611 has no Italics.

Judg 9:53. The edition of 1611 and all others here read: "and all to brake his skull." This has been often misunderstood, and has been sometimes printed: "and all to break." But "all to" is an antique form signifying "altogether", and was last so used by Milton. It here gives an emphasis to "brake" which is not in the Hebrew. The Committee have therefore put "all-to" in Italics, with a hyphen.

6. PARENTHESES: Our collation has shown, that very many parentheses have been introduced into the text since the edition of 1611. Some of these are fit and proper; but in general they only mar the beauty of the page, without adding any thing to perspicuity. In some instances, too, they have the force of commentary. For these reasons, those not inserted by the translators have been in great part omitted; as in rom 5:13-17, 11:8, 2 cor 12:2, Gal 1:1, Rev 2:9 etc.


As these constitute no part of the text, the Committee have made some changes to avoid quaint, obsolete, ambiguous, and inappropriate words. A few specimens are given:

Gen 20. He is healed by Abraham's prayer.
Corrected: At the intercession of Abraham he is healed.
Gen. 22 Isaac is exchanged with a ram.
Corrected. A ram is sacrificed instead of Isaac.
Gen 50. He dieth, and is chested.
Corrected. He dieth, and is embalmed.
Num 3. The firstborn are freed by the Levites.
Corrected. The firstborn are taken instead of the Levites.
Num 14. Moses persuadeth God, etc.
Corrected. Moses intercedeth with God, etc.
Deut 20. Trees of man's meat.
Corrected. Fruit trees.
1Sam 16. Samuel sent by God, under pretence of a sacrifice, cometh to Bethlehem.
Corrected. Samuel sent to Bethlehem to anoint one of the sons of Jesse.
Esth 5. he buildeth for him a pair of gallows.
Corrected. he buildeth a gallows for him.
Is 45. He convinceth the idols of vanity.
Corrected. The vanity of idols.
Eze 18. God reproveth the unjust parable of sour grapes.
Corrected. God reproveth the people for their unjust parable of the sour grapes.
Matt 1. The angel satisfieth the misdeeming thoughts of Joseph.
Corrected. The angel removeth the doubts of Joseph.

Such is the account which the Committee have render to the Board of Managers of their stewardship in this work; although this account, and the few specimens above presented, can, of course, afford no adequate idea of the time, the attention, and the labour bestowed on the work by the Sub-Committee and the Collator during the period of three years.

As illustrating the necessity of the present collation, and the remarks already made upon the exposure to variation and error in the printing of so many millions of copies, it may suffice here to mention, that the number of variations recorded by the collator, solely in the text and punctuation of the six copies compared, falls but little short of Twenty-four Thousand. Yet of all this great number, there is not one which mars the integrity of the text, or affects any doctrine or precept of the Bible.

In thus closing their labours, the Committee desire, with grateful praise to god, distinctly and formally to state, that no decision whatever has been made, and nothing whatever has been done, except with ENTIRE UNANIMITY on the part of the Committee and those acting with them.

In behalf also of their able coadjutor, the Rev. Mr. McLane, the Committee would record their testimony to his fidelity, diligence, and accuracy, in the work of collation, and in bringing to their notice the various points which required attention. His task has been one of great labour, requiring minute accuracy and much patience. 

In conclusion, the committee would present for consideration and adoption by the Board the two following Resolutions:

  1. That the Octavo Reference Bible, now in the course of preparation under the direction of the Committee on Versions, be adopted as the Standard Copy of this society; to which all future editions published by the Society shall be conformed.
  2. That, in order to carry out the preceding Resolution, the committee on Versions be charged with the supervision of the Press and the Superintendent of Printing and the proof readers be responsible to them.

Signed by the Committee on Versions

Gardiner Spring,
Thomas Cock,
Samuel H. turner,
Edward Robinson,
Thomas E. Vermilye,
Richard S. Storrs, Jr.

Bible House, May 1st, 1851