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Sidney Sussex College : Notebook of Samuel Ward (1572-1643)

Ward, Samuel, 1577-1640

Sidney Sussex College

<p style='text-align: justify;'><b>Introduction</b></p><p style='text-align: justify;'>First published in 1611, the King James Bible or 'Authorized Version' stands as both the Bible’s most enduring English translation and the most widely read work of English writing in the history of the language. The manuscript catalogued today as MS Ward B, held in the archives of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, contains the earliest known draft of any part of the King James translation. It also represents the only extant draft of the work in a hand definitively belonging to one of the King James translators themselves.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The King James Bible was commissioned by the newly crowned James I in 1604, with work on the translation initially divided among six teams or 'companies' of translators: two companies based in Cambridge, two in Oxford, and two in Westminster. Each company, most comprising around seven or eight men, bore responsibility for crafting a separation portion of the translation. The First Westminster Company, for instance, was assigned to the translation of Genesis through 2 Kings, while the First Cambridge Company took 1 Chronicles to the Song of Solomon. Beginning sometime in 1609 or 1610, a subsequent revisory committee, consisting by most accounts of two members from each of the six translation companies, then went on to meet in London to review and revise as a whole the various portions of the translation that the companies had produced.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Samuel Ward (1572-1643) belonged to the so-called Second Cambridge Company, charged with translating the biblical texts designated in the King James Bible as the Old Testament Apocrypha. These were books or segments of books absent from the Hebrew Bible but found in ancient versions either of the Septuagint, an early Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible prepared by Hellenistic Jews, or of the Old Latin Bible, the Vetus Latina, preceding the revised Vulgate of Jerome. Per convention in English Protestant Bibles of the period, though still not without controversy, the Apocrypha appeared in the King James Bible placed between the Old Testament and the New.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Having received his B.A. and M.A. as a student at Christ's College, Cambridge, in 1593 and 1596 respectively, Ward remained only a young fellow at the neighboring Emmanuel College at the time of his appointment as a member of the King James Bible's Second Cambridge Company. He was, in fact, the Second Cambridge Company's youngest member, and one of the youngest members on any of the six translation companies. By the time of the King James Bible's publication, however, Ward had become the Master of Sidney Sussex College; he held the position from 1610 until his death in 1643. Many of Ward's manuscripts and miscellaneous other papers accordingly found their way into Sidney Sussex's collections following his death, though some, likely including MS Ward B, took a rather circuitous route to get there, with a number not coming into the college's possession until the end of the seventeenth century. Yet whatever the precise timeline for their acquisition by the college, Ward's papers from there lay almost entirely neglected and uncatalogued for centuries. It was only in 1985 that historian Margo Todd published a pioneering overview of the Ward collection, bestowing the manuscripts with the alphabetical classifications they now possess and providing a brief description of each manuscript's contents.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'><b>Contents</b></p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The manuscript labeled by Todd as MS Ward B represents one of a host of notebooks maintained by Ward over the course of his life and surviving today at Sidney Sussex. Dated by Todd to circa 1600 and written from both ends, the notebook's contents are highly varied, featuring everything from an isolated entry on the notorious Roman consul Titus Manlius Torquatus (fo. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(3);return false;'>1r</a>) to a kind of table delineating the 'Sinnes of' the 'Prince', 'Councellors', 'Clergy', and 'Commons' (fol. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(96);return false;'>47v</a>). The contents are also deeply polyglot, with extensive writing both in English and in Latin, interspersed with much Greek and the occasional Hebrew. Aside from what adorns the notebook's parchment covering, the entirety of the notebook appears to be written in Ward's hand alone, save for ten pages regarding Romans 6 and Galatians 5 that seem to be in the hand of another, yet to be identified (fols <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(5);return false;'>2r-6v</a>). This portion of the notebook evidently not in Ward's hand, however, almost certainly predates Ward's own use of the volume, not least because the placement of some of Ward's writing has clearly been shaped by the other's presence.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The most substantial section of the notebook spans sixty-six pages in total (fols <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(14);return false;'>6v-39r</a>). In her brief description of MS Ward B, Todd characterized the long sequence of notes occupying these pages as constituting a 'verse-by-verse biblical commentary', with 'Greek word studies, and some Hebrew notes', and it does indeed resemble as much. Ward, however, left unspecified both the biblical book being addressed and the precise English translation of it on which – curiously for a biblical commentary undertaken by someone like Ward in the period – the notes appeared to be based. (For a theologian such as Ward, the far more common thing would have been to base one's commentary on a Latin text of the Bible, or on a version in Hebrew, Greek, or some other ancient language.)</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>It was only decades later that the true nature of these notes in MS Ward B came to be recognized by modern scholars. As detailed in an essay first published in The Times Literary Supplement in 2015, one can see on closer inspection that the notes at issue in fact concern the book known as 1 Esdras or 3 Ezra, placed first in the King James Bible among the Apocrypha, and that the English text of 1 Esdras to which the notes refer corresponds to the version found in what was known as the Bishops' Bible, the official translation of the English church prior to the King James. Furthermore, it becomes clear that the notes show Ward not really 'commenting' on the Bishops' Bible's translation but rather systematically drafting proposed revisions to it. Elsewhere in MS Ward B, there appears another, shorter sequence of notes, these written from the back, crafting additional proposed revisions to the Bishops' Bible in precisely the same manner, only there with respect to the translation of the book known as the Wisdom of Solomon or simply Wisdom, another part of the Apocrypha. Specifically, this further sequence of notes finds Ward drafting proposed revisions to the translation of Wisdom 3-4. Together, it has been demonstrated, these notes concerning 1 Esdras and Wisdom in MS Ward B represent an early, seemingly initial draft by Ward of the revised English translation of the books that would appear in the King James Bible.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'><b>Translation as revision of the Bishops' Bible</b></p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Why might a draft of the King James translation have taken such a form? The short answer is that the translators were expressly ordered to approach their work as a revision of the Bishops' Bible, changing 'as little' as possible, rather than setting out to compose an entirely new translation of their own. As it happened, of course, the translators ultimately came to revise the text of the Bishops' Bible quite a bit more than the 'little' stipulated, but everything that has yet come to light about the translation's composition process nonetheless indicates that the translators took this injunction to treat their work as a revision seriously. The few other extant drafts of the King James translation to be identified prior to Ward's likewise attest to this, each in their own fashion. In the case of two later drafts of much of the King James translation of the Old Testament and Gospels respectively, now bound together and kept at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, proposed revisions to the Bishops' Bible's rendering have been recorded by way of emendations and marginal annotations made directly to a Bishops' Bible's pages. Similarly though not identically, a draft of the King James version of the New Testament Epistles, now in Lambeth Palace Library, provides a fair copy of verses from the Bishops' Bible's translation to which changes have been made but, with very few exceptions, leaves only numbered, otherwise blank spaces for the verses unrevised.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'> With regard to Ward's draft, it too shows Ward approaching the work of composing the King James Bible as a process of revising the Bishops' Bible. Sometimes this entails Ward writing out a revised translation of a verse in its entirety. (See, for example, Ward's proposed revision of 1 Esdras 4:26, located at the bottom of fol. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(27);return false;'>13r</a>.) At other points, however, it finds Ward suggesting that only a single word from the Bishops' Bible be altered, as he when he proposes (at the top of fol. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(15);return false;'>7r</a>) that the Bishops' Bible's translation of the Greek word στήσας in 1 Esdras 1:2 be changed from 'he set' to 'having sett'. In this by turns sweeping and quite targeted manner of revising the Bishops' Bible, Ward's draft mirrors what one observes in the other extant drafts of the King James translation as well.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>In other respects, however, Ward's draft crucially differs from any other draft of the translation now known to survive. For one thing, as noted above, the draft has been written in Ward's hand alone, making it the only extant draft of the translation unquestionably in the hand of one of the King James translators. Moreover, no previous draft of the translation appears to stand behind Ward's, whereas the few other extant drafts of the King James Bible all clearly originated after some amount of prior drafting of the text had already been done. Ward's draft, in other words, appears uniquely to have been a first one. This manifests itself in some of the draft's most distinctive features. The draft, for example, repeatedly shows Ward thinking through proposed revisions of the Bishops' Bible's translation, making mistakes, changing his mind, in a manner totally unlike what one finds in later drafts of the King James Bible, where the traces of all such prior work that might have lain behind a proposed revision have largely been effaced. Vividly, as an example, the draft in one moment shows Ward wrestling back and forth with part of the translation of 1 Esdras 6:32: he begins to write 'a tre', but then crosses it out, then writes 'out of h', but then crosses that out too, and then finally reverts back to the syntax with which he had initially begun, proposing that the line in the Bishops' Bible be revised to read, 'a tree should be taken out of his possession' (<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(57);return false;'>28r</a>).</p><p style='text-align: justify;'><b>Ward and the King James Version</b></p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Such features of the draft also point to what may be the most noteworthy thing that the draft reveals: initially at least, Ward very much appears to have been crafting his proposed revisions to 1 Esdras and Wisdom 3-4 on his own, rather than doing so in the context of a group meeting of the Second Cambridge Company as a whole or even in part. This cuts against the longstanding tendency in discussions of the King James Bible to presume that the translation must always have been crafted in groups of translators throughout the process. It also conflicts, at least somewhat, with the official instructions given at the time to the translators for how the work was supposed to be undertaken, for Ward appears not just to be initially drafting his proposed revisions on his own but, in the case of 1 Esdras, to have been tasked with doing so for that book alone, with the company's other members seemingly having been assigned to other portions of the Apocrypha. That is to say, Ward's draft appears to indicate that the Second Cambridge Company began its work on the Apocrypha by assigning the translation of individual books or parts of books to individual members of the company. As a result, evidence both within and outside of MS Ward B suggests, Ward thus only turned to crafting proposed revisions of Wisdom 3-4 after the translator or translators in the company to whom that book had initially been assigned fell behind on the job or required assistance for some other reason.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>This does not mean that Ward should therefore be regarded as the sole or even primary translator responsible for the King James Bible's eventual published version of 1 Esdras and Wisdom 3-4. Broadly speaking, Ward's proposed revisions to the Bishops' Bible's translation found in the draft can be divided into three general categories. Many revisions proposed by Ward went on to be reflected exactly as he suggested in the King James translation: Ward's aforementioned revision of 'he set' to 'having set' in 1 Esdras 1:2 represents one of these. In the case of many other of Ward's proposed revisions, however, only a portion of what Ward recommended went on to be finally adopted: his proposed translation of 1 Esdras 4:26, noted above, stands as an instance of this. Still, numerous other revisions proposed by Ward in the draft were not incorporated into the King James translation at all, and, likewise, numerous changes that were ultimately made to the Bishops' Bible's translation of 1 Esdras and Wisdom 3-4 in the composition of the King James receive no mention in Ward's draft whatsoever. There are thus a multitude of instances of each where Ward's draft gets one all the way to the translation that would be enshrined in the King James Bible, where Ward's draft gets one part of the way, and where the draft gets one none of the way. Even those latter roads not taken, with which the draft abounds, have important things to tell us.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>It should also be noted that even Ward's draft of 1 Esdras and Wisdom 3-4 itself, while entirely in his own hand, shows signs of having not been entirely his own doing. Namely, in various instances across the draft, Ward has gone back and added certain things to the manuscript, and at least some of these changes made by Ward to the initial text of his draft appear to have come at the behest of other members of the Second Cambridge Company. In corresponding fashion, a stray entry on the folio in MS Ward B immediately succeeding Ward's draft of Wisdom 3-4 (when reading from the back of the notebook, as both the draft of Wisdom and the entry in question have been written) may similarly attest to Ward himself having made suggestions regarding the translation of other portions of the Apocrypha as well. There, on fol. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(98);return false;'>48v</a>, one finds Ward jotting a note, drawn from a commentary on the Apocrypha by the French Jesuit Nicolaus Serarius, concerning the translation of a word that appears in Judith 2:26.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The contents of MS Ward B, all of which is to say, do not then disprove the cherished notion of the King James translation of the Bible as having been a thoroughly collaborative endeavour on the part of its storied teams of translators. Rather, MS Ward B and the early draft of part of the King James translation that it contains point the way to a deepened understanding of how, both collaboratively and otherwise, one of the most important works in the history of the world came to be.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Professor Jeffrey Alan Miller, Montclair State University</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>February 2017</p><p style='text-align: justify;'><br />Digitisation and description generously funded by John Osborn</p>

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