Bible Translation

The Earliest Baptist Critics of the KJV: Leonard Busher (1614) and Henry Jessey (Part 2)

Read Part 1.

Naturally enough, we would like to know specifically what it was that Jessey and the 17th century English Baptists found objectionable in the KJV, and our curiosity is soon satisfied by his biographer, who gives a sampling of the kinds of things Jessey sought to remedy with a revised translation. Speaking of Bible translating in the 16th and 17th centuries, and Jessey’s view of it, Edward Whiston wrote:

He acknowledged in the first place touching that work, that since the Reformation the Lord hath stirred up in this and other Protestant countries diverse and learned and (some of them) godly men to advance it. And many of these in King James’ time, had they been as well conscientious in point of fidelity, and godliness, as they were furnished with abilities [emphasis added] they would not have moulded it to their own Episcopal notion rendering episkopen (the office of oversight) by the term bishop, Acts 1:20, etc. as they do in 14 more places. (p. 44)

Did Jessey acknowledge that all translations would fall short of the perfections of the original language Scriptures?

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The Earliest Baptist Critics of the KJV: Leonard Busher (1614) and Henry Jessey (Part 1)

Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at

(An earlier form of this study was published in Baptist Biblical Heritage, volume 2, no. 1, Spring 1991, pp. 5-8. It appears here in revised and updated form)

Aesop had his fables, the brothers Grimm had their fairy tales, and certain self-styled “defenders of the faith” have their doctrine of an infallible English Bible translation.

To hear some fellows tell it, you might suppose that Baptists historically and almost universally have rejected the final authority of the Old Testament in Hebrew and the New Testament in Greek, and have instead clung to the belief in an infallible, inspired, and perfectly preserved English translation of the Bible as the final and absolute standard of their beliefs. The truth be told, this substitution of the King James Version for the Bible in the original languages as the standard of our doctrine and beliefs is a modern-day phenomenon, contrary to Baptist history, and one never embraced by leading theologians, pastors or missionaries in the forefront of Baptist orthodox at any time.

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Giovanni Diodati, Italian Bible Translator

Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at

Giovanni Diodati was born in 1576 in Geneva, Switzerland (though some authorities trace his birth to Italy) and died there in 1649. His family were Protestant refugees from papal persecutions in Italy. Giovanni grew up speaking both Italian and French, and was trained in Latin, Greek and Hebrew. It is reported that he was so adept at Hebrew that Theodore de Beza hired him to teach Hebrew in the Academy in Geneva when Diodati was only 21 years old. He was both a noted preacher and an active academic for his entire life, and labored long and hard for the souls of men. His most notable achievement was the single-handed translation of the whole Bible into Italian, the first edition appearing in 1607 (and consulted by the KJV translators), the second, heavily annotated edition appearing in 1641. Diodati did for Italian speakers what Luther did for the Germans in the 16th century and Jerome did for Latin speakers a millennium and more earlier—he gave them the whole Bible in their own language. His translation remained unrivaled as the Bible of Protestant Italians for centuries, and is still in print in up-dated editions. Later, Diodati produced a complete revised French version (1644) which met with considerably less success, due to opposition from the pastors of Geneva, who favored the Geneva French Bible of 1588.

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Wycliffe Associates develops technology to protect Bible translations in remote regions

"Each kit, worth $2,500, provides access to all the Bible translation software a language group needs, along with a built-in satellite internet connection. When one language group receives a BTAK and translates the Scriptures into their own heart language, they pass along what they’ve learned to other language groups in their region, according to Wycliffe." - C.Post

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