Baruch and Jacobus Rex

As an interesting comparison, below one may compare three editions of the King James Version of Baruch 3.9-14. The first is the text of the 1611 edition, in its original orthography. The second is the Oxford Bible text, the edition of the King James of 1769, which is what most of us are familiar with as the King James Bible. The third is the edition of David Norton, from the New Cambridge Paragraph Bible (paperback corrected edition, 2006). Norton’s editorial work or recovering the original text of the King James Bible is described in detail in A Textual History of the King James Bible. This text is very nice. Even though it’s a paperback, it’s rapidly becoming a favorite of mine in my Bible collection, for the sheer quality of the translation. We can look forward, the publisher told me, to further bindings of this corrected text of the New Cambridge Paragraph Bible later this year. In any case, notice the simple corrections that Norton has made to the text, and listen to how much better it flows, even in this obscure passage in Baruch. The text really does become poetry in Norton’s edition, metrically balanced, but not adhering to a rigid metric scheme. It’s truly free verse three hundred years before its time, really. Enjoy.

1611 Edition
Heare, Israel, the commandements of life,
giue eare to vnderstand wisedome.
How happeneth it, Israel, that thou art in thine enemies land,
that thou art waxen old in a strange countrey,
that thou art defiled with the dead?
That thou art counted with them that goe downe into the graue?
Thou hast forsaken the fountaine of wisedome.
For if thou hadst walked in the way of God,
thou shouldest haue dwelled in peace for euer.
Learne where is wisedome, where is strength, where is vnderstanding,
that thou mayest know also where is length of daies, and life,
where is the light of the eyes and peace.

1769 Edition
Hear, Israel, the commandments of life:
give ear to understand wisdom.
How happeneth it Israel, that thou art in thine enemies’ land,
that thou art waxen old in a strange country,
that thou art defiled with the dead,
That thou art counted with them that go down into the grave?
Thou hast forsaken the fountain of wisdom.
For if thou hadst walked in the way of God,
thou shouldest have dwelled in peace for ever.
Learn where is wisdom, where is strength, where is understanding;
that thou mayest know also where is length of days, and life,
where is the light of the eyes, and peace.

2006 Edition
Hear, Israel, the commandments of life:
give ear to understand wisdom.
How happeneth it, Israel, that thou art in thy enemies’ land,
that thou art waxed old in a strange country,
that thou art defiled with the dead,
that thou art counted with them that go down into the grave?
Thou hast forsaken the fountain of wisdom.
For if thou hadst walked in the way of God,
thou shouldst have dwelt in peace for ever.
Learn where is wisdom, where is strength, where is understanding,
that thou mayest know also where is length of days, and life,
where is the light of the eyes, and peace.

3 Replies to “Baruch and Jacobus Rex”

  1. Isn’t it, really? I was going to do the same, but the paperback is so inexpensive, I thought I’d take a peek. I’m exceedingly glad that I did!

    Both the hardback and a leather bound edition are still available (Mark Bertrand discusses the latter here with his usual dispassionate and welcome thoroughness), though the paperback notes in the introduction that there are “corrections” to the text included. As I noted in my other post, Cambridge is planning to publish smaller editions than the hardback and leather editions currently available and incorporating the corrections (and probably some more, I would suppose, as they’re found) later this year.

    In the meantime the paperback is actually quite nice, of a much better quality than the Penguin Classics that I have and have seen. It’s very thick, of course. T paper is not that cheap newsprint, but something very close to Bible paper, though more substantial, with no bleedthrough. The font is also large enough that it’s a pleasant read. It’s also much less expensive than the hardback and leather editions, which appear to be out of print and running out of stock already.

    While previously I’ve not been a fan of “paragraph” Bibles, I’m now a convert (with this and with the ESV Personal Size Reference Bible that Mark also suggested — which I’d like much more without the note and reference clutter in the text, though). It really does make for better reading, and having the poetic lines at their proper width is really, really, really welcome. This really is quite nice, which I never thought I’d say about a paperback Bible! And it’s only around $10, which is astonishing.

  2. I’m still kind of mixed about the ESV. I suppose my opinion right now is “it’s good enough.” It’s so very close to the RSV, though, that it doesn’t seem so bad. I really do like the RSV, but I’m highly annoyed by the way they’ve broken up most of the names into those ridiculous syllabically accented syllables, which try to lead readers into the ghastly traditional English pronunciation of the names. And I would like for the RSV to be available in different beautifully bound editions, which the ESV is taking advantage of.

    I have to admit that I’m still quite partial to the NIV. It was the first Bible translation that I spent a great deal of time reading, and they really did a fine job in their paraphrasing. What I think I most appreciate about it, however, is its consistency. The trick to this is something that no other Bible translation project has apparently tried: they employed a style consultant to go over the entire text. It really should be standard operating procedure. And though there are certainly quite a number of peculiarities of translation due to the avowed theology of the translating team, knowing about them is sufficient to be able to work around them. It certainly reads better than any other of the translations near the middle of the paraphrastic-literal spectrum.

    The NRSV, on the other hand, I have a real love/hate relationship with. I think of it as “Beauty and the Beast.” Textually, I think they did a very good job indeed, and the translation is quite good at times. But then, to adjust for gender-neutral language at the command of the commissioning agent, they ruined it. I could go on and on about that! It’s truly unfortunate. The howler I especially dislike is in Matthew 18: “If another member of the church” for “If your brother…” in verse 15 and “If my brother…” in verse 21. Why not “brother or sister” there instead? Ghastly! Tacky! Foolish and laughable! Thus the Beast! Yet the beauty is in the full Greek Esther, the long version of Tobit, and the very fine Sirach. (This reminds me that I should post a series of “corrections” of the NRSV sometime….)

  3. Isn’t that funny?! I suppose that since the NIV was the first Bible I spent much time reading, back in the early 80s when it was still new, that it’s simply that level of familiarity that makes me more comfortable with it than the NRSV. I do regularly use the NRSV, but I don’t find it as comfortable a read. The tortured circumlocutions to avoid those horrible words like “he” and “brother” are too irritating to me when I want to relax and just read. But, I suppose it depends upon the books in question. In the NRSV I really can’t stand the Psalms, and that’s what I generally think of in the “Beast” category. But the prophets are very good, and everything else. Some of the faddish readings (essentially punctuation changes) of the seventies and eighties have impressed themselves onto certain phrases in the NT (I’m sure you’ve noticed some of those, too), which I find irritating, as well, but they’re not so bad as the wholesale Biblical slaughter of the Psalms. But overall it’s quite good. The Apocalypse is really very nicely done. And the anaginoskomena are very well-done indeed. I also am a fan of the compact editions from Oxford, which are 4.5×6.5″ (12×17 cm), and just the text and its notes, nothing else, and have two in the NRSV and one in the first edition of the Catholic RSV (which I like quite a bit, too; I’ll take a look at the Ignatius, too–thanks for that!). Every once in a while I dive into a copy of the New Oxford Annotate Bible (3rd edition, which I don’t like as much as the 2nd edition) and mark up the text back toward the RSV to get rid of the awfullest bits. Someday when I’m done I’ll post all the results. I’ve also altered the NT text toward the Byzantine text, which was quite educational and fun, to boot.

    That Matthew 18, though: “member of the church” indeed! Gack!

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