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Printers to the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty;
THE PARAGRAPH BIBLE.
The edition of the English Bible now presented to the reader, is a correct reprint of the Authorized version in general use; but it differs from other editions in two particulars, namely:- First, it is divided into paragraphs, according to the changes or divisions in the subjects treated of, and the pauses in the narrative; but the numbers of the chapters and verses are retained in the margin for the sake of easy reference, and also that it may correspond with other editions. Secondly, the metrical parts, such as the Psalms and Prophetical Books, are printed in parallelisms; according to the natural order of the original. These parallelisms give the reader a more accurate impression of the spirit and beauty of the inspired writings, and often assist materially in the correct understanding of their meaning. The advantages of presenting the poetical parts of Scripture to the reader in this form, have been fully shown by Lowth, Jebb, and many other writers, and will be seen at once on reference to these portions. Let it, therefore, be clearly understood, that this edition of the Bible has all the advantages of those in general use, with the additional one of being so printed, as to be read with more clearness and with a more perfect connexion as to the sense.
It may be well to state, that the divisions into chapters and verses in our common Bibles are no way connected with the original form, in which the inspired writings were given. The present division into chapters was made by Cardinal Hugo de Sancto Charo, about the year 1250. The present arrangement of verses appears to have originated with Robert Stephens, a celebrated printer of Paris, who thus divided an edition of the Greek Testament, printed by him, A. D. 1551; but he placed the figures in the margin, as in the present edition, which is a better plan than to break every verse into
a distinct paragraph, by which the sense is often affected. The English Bibles of the Genevese or Reformers' version, printed in the early part of the reign of queen Elizabeth, first exhibited the method now commonly in use, and it was continued in the subsequent version called the Bishops' Bible, and in the present Authorized version made by direction of king James I., and first printed A. D. 1611. The most eminent Biblical writers, however, have al. ways admitted, that the arbitrary nature of these divisions and breaks often affects the sense, and interrupts the narrative or argument, so as frequently to weaken the impression which the words of the inspired writers would otherwise convey. The statement of Stephens himself, that the verses in the New Testament were marked by him during a journey from Paris to Lyons, sufficiently shows that they were made without that full consideration and attentive care which the subject demanded; but as, in the first instance, the numbers were only placed in the margin, the inconveniences of his plan did not then fully appear.
An attempt to free the English Bible from these disadvantages was made about forty years ago by John Reeves, esq., one of the patentees of the office of King's printer, who published some editions of the Bible, divided into paragraphs, with the numbers of the chapters and verses placed in the margin, according to the original plan. These Bibles were highly approved, but were far too costly for general use; and though reprinted a few years since by the University of Oxford in a cheaper form, yet, not having been adopted by the Societies, through which far the largest number of English Bibles are now circulated, the advantages of this form of division into paragraphs are not yet sufficiently known or duly appreciated. The plan of Mr. Reeves also was objected to, on account of the great length of many of the paragraphs, and because he printed the poetical parts in the same form as the common Bibles..
The attention of the Rev. Dr. Coit, Rector of Christ Church, Cambridge, in the State of Massachusetts, North America, was directed to this subject, and, in 1834, he printed an edition of the English Bible, divided into paragraphs, with the poetical portions in parallelisms. In the former he improved upon Reeves' divisions, and in the latter he had reference to the original, yet retaining the exact rendering of the Authorized version. This Bible, as edited by Dr. Coit (now President of Transylvania University, Lexington,
in the State of Kentucky, North America,) is offered to the English public, by the Religious Tract Society, in the hope that it will be found both acceptable and useful. It has received additional correction and revision, and some further improvement as to the divisions of the paragraphs.
In addition to the two particulars mentioned above, a third may be stated. Great care has been taken in the present edition to give an accurate reprint of the Authorized version. Any person accustomed to use English Bibles printed fifty years ago or more, must have observed many misprinted words, and also numerous errors in punctuation. The printers have taken great pains of late years to correct these errors, and their recent editions will be found far superior to the earlier ones in these respects; still it was evident that another careful revision was desirable, and great care has been taken with this edition. Besides collation with the best modern editions, frequent reference to the first edition of 1611 has been made, and various errors, which had at different times crept in, have been discovered and removed. It is true that these did not affect the doctrine or the truths of Scripture, but the removal of such errors certainly was desirable, as will be seen by the following instances:
EARLY AND CORRECT EDITIONS. Judges x. 8. And that year they vexed Judges x. 8. And that year they vexed
and oppressed the children of Israel and oppressed the children of Israel : eighteen years, &c.
eighteen years, &c. Prov. xix. 20. That thou mayest be wise Prov. xix. 20. That thou mayest be wise in the latter end.
in thy latter end. Rom. iv. 1. What shall we then say that Rom. iv, 1. What shall we then say that
Abraham, our father as pertaining to Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found ?
the flesh, hath found ? 2 Cor. xii. 2. I knew a man in Christ 2 Cor. xii. 2. I knew a man in Christ about fourteen years ago.
above fourteen years ago. Heb. x. 12. But this man, after he had Heb. 8. 12. But this man, after he had
offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God. sat down on the right hand of God.
In addition to these corrections, uniformity in printing, as to the use of capitals, especially in the names of the Deity, and in compound words, has been attended to. It will be seen that paragraphs commencing with words in capitals, mark the change in the argument, or in the time and place of the narrative. Occasionally, in the poetical parts, the mark -- has been used to point out the antithesis.