Updated: Feb 15
It seems strange to introduce the 5th purification of the King James Bible as a forerunner to the Revised Version of 1888. The 1873 Cambridge Paragraph Bible has earned both distinctions. Frederick Henry Ambrose Scrivener was commissioned by the Cambridge Press to take another look at the King James Bible and to root out those remaining errors that had evaded editors over the years. However he was at the same time among those scholars who would overthrow the King James Bible by the introduction of Westcott and Hort's new Greek text and the Revised Version of the English Bible.
His work accomplished two things. He found and rooted out errors such as the word "fleeth" in Nahum 3:16 which he correctly changed back to "flieth". Secondly he undermined the faith of the English Speaking public in the King James Bible by italicizing I John 5:7 making his readers think that it was a spurious contrived reading; and by deemphasizing the verse markings by printing the text in paragraph rather than verse form.
Another correction that Scrivener instituted and for which the bible reading public is indebted to him is Joshua 19:2. And they had in their inheritance Beersheba, or Sheba, and Moladah. An error had crept into the printing process of the bible and had been standard in the Blayney text that said, "and Sheba" instead of "or Sheba". That would be the equivalent to saying, "I have been to both San Francisco and Frisco", or I have been to South Carolina, North Carolina and to the Carolinas. Anyone familiar with those places would know that you were unfamiliar with your subject. Sheba is Beersheba. Someone does not go to Sheba and Beersheba, it should have been stated Sheba, or Beersheba. the verse is stating it both ways since both ways were used to designate the place.
There is still a difference in the Oxford and Cambridge texts to this day with each printing house editing Nahum 3:16 and Joshua 19:2 differently. Scrivener got it right and for this reason his text is listed as the 5th purification of the King James Bible. What he did next was harmful and for this reason his bible is and was harmful and it is a shameful thing that Fundamentalist Printers have begun reprinting it. We will look at his error in I John 5:7 more in our next post. We will also look at the importance of a versified bible as opposed to a paragraph bible in subsequent postings.