Third Millennium Bible®
The Updaters to the Reader
from the opening pages of the
You have in your hand, dear reader, a copy of the Third Millennium Bible®, which for brevity and convenience we refer to as the TMB®. The TMB is an updating of the complete text of the nonpareil Authorized Version of the Holy Bible, first published in England in A.D. 1611. A somewhat shortened edition of the Authorized Version is currently referred to on the American continent as the King James Version.
The Third Millennium Bible (TMB) is the direct successor of the Authorized Version of the Holy Bible - entire, word-for-word and unchanged, except for a modest updating as described hereafter.
But first, what of the Authorized Version of 1611?
In that year, almost four hundred years ago in England, fifty-four of the greatest scholars and translators of that age--and of any other age--after seven years of arduous effort completed the translation of the Holy Bible into English from the original Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic languages. It became the historic standard for all English-language Bibles over the entire world as the most honored, the most often quoted, and most nearly universal of all Bibles. It has been printed in more copies for a longer period of time than any other Bible in history.
Read what scholars, literary critics, and theologians have said about the Authorized Version: Charles A. Dinsmore, for many years professor at Yale Divinity School, in his great work The English Bible as Literature, wrote of "the unique and sovereign greatness of our standard English Version," saying:
William Lyon Phelps, educator, essayist, and longtime professor of English literature, said:
Social and literary critic H.L. Mencken, rarely extravagant in his praise, said:
Thomas B. Macaulay, the author of the classic multi-volume History of England, comments that the translators of the Authorized Version produced a book which:
The preceding testimonials by authorities from widely differing perspectives, among countless others, bring into focus the supreme position of the historic Authorized Version in the culture and world of the Second Millennium.
But for all its beauty, poetry and power, the Authorized Version of 1611 is, far more importantly, the inspired Word of God, which has been preserved in all its purity to this present day. Because the Word of God deserves all reverence, these updaters and publishers are acutely aware of the responsibility that we assume in this work. To be accurate and true to the text has been our fervent and prayerful endeavor.
At the outset we as updaters disclaim any efforts on our part to improve this masterpiece. In a sense, we are merely caretakers in delivering it unabridged, complete, and unsullied into the Third Millennium. This updating is solely to remove obstacles to understanding while leaving the inspiring and uplifting language of the original text undiminished. It is simply our wish to make it more readable and comprehensible.
But at this point it is reasonable to ask: why is it necessary in any way to update or amend this titular giant of poetry and prose, this paragon of faith, truth, and wisdom? The answer is simple. This work has been undertaken to adapt the Authorized Version to changes in the English language over the almost four hundred years that have passed since its publication. A host of contemporary translators have tried to retranslate the Bible with varying degrees of success, but all tend to fall short in these critical respects: they have lost its majestic beauty and singular power to move men's souls; they have permitted the contemporary secular culture to influence their translating efforts; and they have significantly changed and shortened the text.
In the following paragraphs, some of the identifying features of the Third Millennium Bible which make it unique among modern Bibles are briefly described.
It is through the application of the principles of twentieth century linguistics that we have carried out our updating of the text of the Authorized Version. We referred frequently to the most complete and authoritative modern American dictionary, Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition, Unabridged, a dictionary much sought after by modern authors, essayists, and editors as being unsurpassed for the clarity and precision of its definitions. The Webster Second Edition purportedly contains every dictionary English word since Chaucer and defines over one hundred thousand more words than more recently printed unabridged American dictionaries. Also very helpful in our updating efforts were its many hundreds of quotations from the Authorized Version to illustrate which words are now either outdated or in proper modern usage. In a manner of speaking, we have impacted the greatest Bible of the Second Millennium with the greatest American dictionary of the twentieth century.
This updating in part consists of the careful replacement of obsolete and archaic words not readily understood, by the most exact modern synonyms to assure no change in meaning or nuance. To illustrate from among the hundreds of words that have been replaced, the word bewray has been replaced by betray, murrain by pestilence, sith by since, minish by diminish, assayed by attempted, wist by knew. Also where the meaning of words currently in use has changed since 1611, the original words have been replaced by the most exact modern equivalents. To cite only a few examples among many, carriage in the Authorized Version has been replaced by baggage; similarly, prevent has been replaced by precede, conversation has been replaced by manner of living, and so forth. Please note that all word changes are in conformity with language changes over time, and not under any circumstance with a view to altering the meaning of the text.
All basic Christian concepts have been uncompromisingly affirmed in the Third Millennium Bible. An example in the New Testament is the use of the word Christ in numerous instances where many modern translators have substituted the word Messiah. In the TMB the word Christ is used exactly as it appears in the Authorized Version and properly reflects the intent of the original language. Similarly, the traditional words Holy Ghost have been retained to identify with precision the third person of the Trinity; whereas Holy Spirit, a less specific term, is used in those same instances in many contemporary translations.
What has been historically known as Biblical English has been retained throughout the updating process. It is readily distinguishable from the colloquial language of business, commerce, and the media used in contemporary Bible translations. Biblical English may be intuitively recognized as the traditional language of worship and prayer, a liturgical language, used for centuries in English-speaking churches everywhere. It is not, as has often been alleged, the Shakespearean language of the early seventeenth century. It has indeed never been used in ordinary secular discourse anywhere, but owes its character to faithful translation from the original biblical languages. It is the language which has found its acceptance in Scripture and liturgy for more than five hundred years in over ninety percent of the English-speaking churches throughout the world. Only in the late twentieth century does one find secular English permeating Bible translations.
By retaining Biblical English in this updating, other priceless advantages have been preserved. Its poetic cadence and rhythm serve to facilitate, indeed to invite, memorization. Memorization and recitation of Scripture have traditionally served as a link among Christians of all backgrounds as a reminder of a common Christian heritage and purpose. In recent years memorization of passages from Scripture has become an ever-diminishing art. A return to the use of Bibles employing Biblical English may indeed reverse this unfortunate trend. Also, the powerful, reverent, and poetic quality of Biblical English distinguishes the eternal message from more transient secular communications, thus reinforcing the singular significance of the biblical text.
The Third Millennium Bible has retained the grammatical distinction between the second person singular (thou, thee, thy and thine) and the second person plural (ye, you, and your) in personal pronouns, a distinction entirely lost in contemporary translations. In the Third Millennium Bible, as well as in the historic translations, this distinction is immediately apparent: when an individual is addressed, the second person singular forms are used; when a group is addressed, the second person plural forms are used. By contrast, in all contemporary versions the undifferentiated, generic you refers to both the singular and the plural, resulting in linguistic impoverishment and the consequent loss of important biblical insight. Here as in many other instances, contemporary translations are incapable of conveying the finesse and precision of many passages in the original Hebrew and Greek texts.
We have meticulously combed the text to eliminate multiple spellings of biblical names which frequently confuse the modern reader. For example, we have consistently used Jeremiah for Jeremy or Jeremias, Isaiah for Esaias, and Elijah for Elias. Standardized modern spelling of proper nouns is used throughout where a consensus of the best references is found. Where no consensus exists, the spelling of the Authorized Version has been retained.
In most contemporary translations the biblical text has been made to conform in important respects to the ever-changing views of translators, social scientists, and politicians. The Word of God has become subject to the vagaries of any current state of scientific knowledge and cultural trend. It is unfortunate in our times that publishing the Bible has often become a business dictated by factors other than fidelity to the historic text. The result is that the Bible-reading public is overwhelmed by the revamping and reworking of the biblical text, often finding the Word of God reduced to a kind of wet clay upon which divers translators, representing numerous agendas, have sought to impose their own sometimes questionable views upon Scripture. Some omit whole passages or change key words to create distorted shades of meaning, retranslating, for example, envy to greed, soul to creature, judgment to justice, perfection to excellence, reverence to respect, hell to hades, virgin to young woman, kill to murder, charity to love, manfully to bravely, father to parents, virtue to power, malefactors to criminals, and servants to slaves. You will find no such remodeling here. Word changes, such as enumerated above, most often alter both the spiritual and social content of the biblical message. Forms of linguistic distortion, including the use of gender-neutral language, have no proper place in the sacred Scriptures. Under the seemingly innocent guise of improved scholarship and superior translating techniques, many modern translators have become, in a sense, linguistic engineers, moving the Judeo-Christian culture of more than three millennia in a secular, collectivist direction.
In evaluating the reliability of almost all contemporary versions one must take into account some little-known history of Bible translations. The principal Greek New Testament text from which almost all contemporary translators worked is known as the Codex Sinaiticus, discovered by archeologist Konstantin von Tischendorf at the foot of Mt. Sinai in 1844. This manuscript is shorter than the text used in translating the Authorized Version by almost three thousand words. This shorter Greek New Testament text was unused and ignored for more than fifteen hundred years in the life of the church, and was reflective of Gnostic and secular influences of the Alexandrian and Hellenistic cultures of antiquity. It was never used in any English Bible translation until 1881. It is worthwhile to note that the New Testament of the Authorized Version finds its support in over five thousand ancient Greek manuscripts, more than any writing in the entire history of literature. By contrast, contemporary versions are supported by a mere handful of ancient manuscripts.
Contemporary Bible translators and publishers attempt to defend their use of the shorter text in their translations by arguing that theirs is more ancient than the manuscripts supporting the text used in the Authorized Version. But recent scientific examination of fragments of Greek manuscripts which are still more ancient casts much doubt on such claims.
Faithfulness to the ancient primary biblical texts makes the Third Millennium Bible different in scope and completeness in still another respect from most modern Bibles. You will find in the TMB fourteen books (more than 126,000 words) not found in the majority of contemporary Protestant Bibles. These comprise the wise, beautiful, and historically important books known as the Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical Books, placed here, as in the original Authorized Version of 1611, between the Old and the New Testaments. In restoring the Authorized Version's Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical Books to their original place, the Third Millennium Bible stands in the historic tradition of the great English-language Bibles of the past, including the Wycliffe Bible (1382), the Coverdale Bible (1535), the Great Bible (1539), the Geneva Bible (1560), the Bishop's Bible (1568), the Douay-Rheims Version (1609), and the Authorized Version (1611). These beautiful writings were also included in the original German Luther Bible, the Latin Vulgate, the Greek Septuagint, the Syriac Peshitta, and Ethiopic Ge`ez, Armenian, Coptic, and Old Church Slavonic versions.
To enhance the verbal appeal of the text, the updaters have arranged poetic portions of the Third Millennium Bible in prosodic format and in a manner that they may be read responsively. Other features include a clear, readable typeface in single-column format, and modern punctuation and paragraphing. All the chapter summaries from the original Authorized Version, suitably updated, are included. The words of Christ are printed in a larger italic type style for emphasis. Most personal pronouns referring to the Godhead have been capitalized to give due reverence and to promote understanding.
The Third Millennium Bible is not intended to be a study Bible in the strict sense of the term. Study Bibles are generally for the purpose of explaining textual meaning from a denominational or sectarian point of view. In this connection, we affirm the words which appear in the preface of the Coverdale Bible, a venerable predecessor of the Authorized Version, that it had "not wrested one word for the maintenance of any sect." The Third Millennium Bible reflects no sectarian preference either in its text or its footnotes.
This Bible was prepared with fellow Christians in mind as a Bible for all of Christendom. But we shut no doors: we passionately desire to share the TMB with all people who seek truth, beauty, wisdom, inspiration, and solace for the troubled times in which we live.
And what may we expect of the thousand years of history waiting to be written? No one can predict the course of the Third Millennium. But one thing seems clear, that in the wisdom of God, through the natural course of customs and usages, without political decree but entirely spontaneously, a universal tongue is in the process of development and dissemination: the English language. Mankind is dynamically flowing toward a communal intimacy never known before by the adoption of English as the preferred world-wide means of communication.
It has been suggested that the First Millennium was an era of faith; the Second Millennium, one of conflict; and the Third Millennium holds forth the hope of being a millennium of reconciliation. Might not this quest for reconciliation be aided by the continuing growth of English as a universal language? Might not it also be aided by the availability of a Bible for all of Christendom?
For all the tribulations on this beleaguered planet, a flame of hope still burns brightly that all people may someday live together in brotherhood and peace. There continues to be a longing for peace on earth and good will toward men. It is our prayer that the Third Millennium Bible may help in some measure to illumine the path ahead toward a millennium of reconciliation in Christ "that they all may be one" (John 17:21).
The Updating Staff
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