Robert is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Robert is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The historic King James Bible draft was hiding in plain sight, says academic.

A New Jersey professor may have found the earliest draft of the King James Bible. Jeffrey A. Miller, an Assistant Professor of English at Montclair State University was visiting the University of Cambridge in the hopes of learning more about Dr. Samuel Ward, a Biblical scholar of the 17th century and one of the men behind the King James Version, so that he could have enough material for a new book on those who contributed to the effort.

At Sidney Sussex College, where there are several papers of Dr. Samuel Ward, he found a 70-page notebook belonging to the scholar that had Biblical verse-by-verse comments and also notes on Greek and Hebrew. He took photographs of the pages, and only a month later did he realize that what he had been looking at was Ward's draft of the King James Version, with 1 Esdras in full and the Wisdom of Solomon partially complete. There are no full drafts of the King James Version because it was the effort of several translators, whose works came together to form the KJV.

The King James Version of the Holy Bible is called so because it originated during the reign of King James I of England, who convened the Hampton Court Conference in 1604 with representatives of the Church of England in response to the Puritans, who belonged to the same church, having problems with earlier translations. The King James Version, meant to serve as the de-facto standard for the Church of England, was officially released in 1611.

Modern-day Biblical scholars have confirmed the authenticity of the notebook, whose pages are dated between 1604 and 1608.

Samuel Ward was a student at Cambridge for many years, first joining the university's Christ College in 1589. He obtained his degree B.A. four years later, and an M.A. after another three years. He got his Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1603 and was awarded the Doctor of Divinity degree after he became Master of Sidney Sussex College in 1610, which was said to be the most Puritan of all Cambridge University schools. He continued there until his death in 1643, even becoming Royal Chaplain to King James I. He was the first ever person to be buried in the college's chapel.

Samuel Ward was proficient in Hebrew, among other languages, but had a speech impediment, causing one of his students to liken him to Moses, the Biblical character believed to have suffered likewise, and more importantly, was humble, a trait that Ward too seemed to possess.

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