With these observations from the dictionary in mind, it is clear that the King James Translators viewed the words "alway" and "always" as interchangeable terms.
Bryan C. Ross in The King James Bible In America: an Orthographic, Historical and Textual Investigation.
We are confronted with Pastor Bryan C. Ross’s explanation of why interchanging the words “alway” and “always” is not a problem when printing a King James Bible. Pastor Ross sees the distinction between the two as the difference between an archaic usage of a word and a more modern usage. He sees them as the same word. To be fair to Pastor Ross, he documents his findings very well out of the Oxford English Dictionary, Noah Webster and other dictionaries that sought to shed light on 17th century English words. Those who are familiar with my writing know that I would highly commend that as part of a good approach.
Regardless of any dictionary, a definition rendered for a King James Bible word must agree with the context in which a word is used. I know places where the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) and the King James Bible differ on the definition of a word. The OED is a great tool. Its limitation is that a bunch of 19th and 20th century scholars often wrestled with King James words and often tried to define them from within their theology. “Charity” and “Gulf” are two such examples. Noah Webster was a fine man and his dictionary was certainly a standard-setting work. It did come 217 years after the King James Bible and has serious flaws when looking up some King James words. See “striker” as an example.
What greatly weakens Pastor Ross’s argument is that he resorts to Greek. He quotes Matthew Verschuur’s booklet, Glistering Truths: Distinctions in Bible Words. Verschuur who writes as the Bible Protector defines “always” as “at every time” and “on every occasion”. He defines “Alway” as “all the time” and “perpetually”. Since Verschuur has a spot-on definition of the two words, Ross faults him for not looking at the underlying Greek text. He wants us to know that the Greek word translated here is translated different ways by the translators themselves. “Bible Protector makes no mention of the fact that the same Greek word translated “always” in John 12:8 is elsewhere rendered “ever” six times, “alway” five times, and “evermore” two times by the King James Translators.”
That is Mickey Mouse scholarship at best. A defender of the King James Bible should learn very quickly in his studies that the King James Translators never confined themselves to one single definition of any given Greek or Hebrew word. One of the great truths to the King James Bible is that the translators were versed in the Greek Language from their youths up. They could read it with ease. They were familiar with every extant use of the language whether it be the Iliad, the Peloponnesian Wars, the writings of Socrates, Plato or whoever. In no way would they ever be so foolish or naïve as to render one word with any slavish form. Instead they weighed the context with which each word was used and wrote the most exact word possible for that context.
The issue at hand is whether when the translators chose the word “alway” as opposed to the word “always” they had a distinction of meaning in their own minds. Before we take time to look at the two words in their context, we need to clean up a couple of misconceptions. Bryan Ross was taken in by Professor David Norton’s work, A Textual History of the King James Bible.
Professor Norton and I are the only two people that I know of who have handled and attempted to collate the 1629 Cambridge, the 1638 Cambridge, the 1701 Bishop Lloyd (Oxford), the 1762 Paris Bible (both versions), the 1769 Blayney, the 1873 Paragraph Bible (Scrivener working for Cambridge). We diverge when Professor Norton examined the Cambridge Concord Edition for his example of a modern King James Bible in which they and Oxford attempted to print the same text, word for word, orthography for orthography. I examine the Cambridge Text edited by A. W. Pollard during WWI.
Norton’s work suffers from many flaws. Manifest above them all is his morphing of his entire work into a reasoning that since the actual words used by the King James Bible have always been in flux, Cambridge University Press and Professor Norton are justified in printing the New Cambridge Paragraph Bible with Professor Norton’s snazzy word substitutions. In all of Norton’s charts he assumes that every time he sees a word switched out in various editions through the centuries it is because the editor retranslated that passage. That is a false premise. The lure of getting a royalty for every new bible that Cambridge printed seems sufficient in this case to warp the conclusion. There is another plausible reason for those word changes.
Norton himself should have understood the fallacy of that argument. He well documents the hubbub that was raised whenever the public perceived that the old book had been tampered with. That neither Blayney nor Scrivener retranslated the text is obvious from the dog that did not bark. Each man in his own right sought to purge the King James Bible from printing errors. As long as the public saw it as that, they were quiet. To understand what the 1638 editors did, Paris did, Blayney did, Scrivener did and Pollard did, we need to understand just how terrible the art of printing was in the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries. I’ll quote from a larger history of the Bible that is currently forming and in my word processor.
To give the reader some idea of just how difficult a task it was to correctly print large works, I will transport the reader 160 years ahead in time from 1611 to the year 1771 and share a little of John Wesley’s grief in the impossibility of getting accurate printing done. Mr. Wesley had hoped to gather all his tracts into one volume for printing when he discovered that they needed far more help than just collating.
"But a far more necessary work than that of methodizing was the correcting of them. The correcting barely the errors of the press is [sic] of much more consequence than I had conceived, till I began to read them over with much more attention than I had done before. These in many places were of such as not only obscured, but wholly destroyed, the sense; and frequently to such a degree that it would have been impossible for any but me to have restored it. Neither could I do it myself, in several places, without long consideration: the word inserted having little or no resemblance to that which I had used."
Norton blithely assumes that every change he sees is an upgrade to the translation. It is to his advantage to do so. He planned on making many upgrades to the translation. Despite the many attempts by others to say that he did, Blayney never claimed to have retranslated. He made that clear. As the following passage from Further Thoughts on the Word of God, by John Asquith (me) made clear.
“Dr. Benjamin Kennicott was the outstanding Hebraist of his day. He had been writing a series of articles in Gentleman’s Magazine on his work collating the text of the Hebrew Bible. When Dr. Benjamin Blayney finished his revision of the King James Bible, Dr. Kennicott surrendered his space in the magazine to allow Dr. Blayney to publish his report to the Vice chancellor and delegates of Clarendon Press.
This report, which was published in the form of a letter to the Clarendon Press board, is about as grossly misused and misquoted as any document extant. At best the cropping of Dr. Blayney’s words are poor scholarship. At worst, Dr. Blayney’s letter is maliciously misquoted to cast aspersion on the Authorized Bible.
One phrase in particular has been trimmed to make it say exactly what Bible critics want it to say. “Frequent recourse had been made as to the Hebrew and Greek originals”. Left to itself the reader could only conclude that Dr. Blayney retranslated. The actual quote continues, “and as on other occasions, so with a special regards to the words not expressed in the Original Language, but which our Translators have thought fit to insert in Italics, in order to make out the sense after the English idiom, or to preserve the connexion.”
In other words he made recourse to the original languages to perfect the use of italics. He goes on to say that he was dissatisfied with some of Dr. Paris’ work in this regard. He also made use of the original languages to improve marginal notes. “Many of the proper names being left untranslated, whole etymology was necessary to be known, in order to a more perfect comprehension of the allusions in the text, the translation of them, under the inspection of the above named committee, as seen for the benefit of the unlearned supplied in the margin”.
There we have it. Blayney used the original languages for two purposes. He improved the use of italics and he translated untranslated words for the margins. Any other use of Dr. Blayney’s phrase “frequent recourse had been made to the Hebrew and Greek originals” is intellectually dishonest.
Another misuse of Dr. Blayney’s words is his statement, “Many errors that were found in former editions have been corrected, and the text reformed to such a standard of purity, as, it is presumed, is not to be met with in any other edition hitherto extant”. The implication is that Dr. Blayney purified the text through translation. He did not.”
The next place where Professor Norton kicked wide of the goal posts is that he assumed the Scrivener was accurate. A. W. Pollard makes clear that he was not. He explained the simple historical error that Scrivener made in his 1873 Paragraph Bible. Another quote from my languishing manuscript:
Pollard had already begun to make a name for himself through his editing of secular manuscripts. Pollard came to scholastic attention when in 1903 and 1904 the Modern Language Quarterly praised his work on Chaucer’s Prologue and Knight’s tale. He also had extensive experience in editing Shakespeare’s portfolio. Pollard belonged to an exceptionally skilled and persnickety class of editors who had already made waves by their precise and unfailing work and by their lack of fear in criticizing the work of those living men who went before them. Pollard was considered the most respected figure in the bibliographical world at that time. When Cambridge Printers decided to release their 1911 reprint of the 1611 Bible they turned to A.W. Pollard to write an introduction. Pollard found that there was no single source for reading all of the historical documents. He set his unfailing work ethic and his scholarship to compiling all of the original documentation into one book called, Records of the English Bible. It is in this book that we find the nugget necessary to understand how the gap between Scrivener’s 1873 Paragraph Bible and the post WWI Cambridge Bible was bridged.
It was Pollard who caught Scrivener making too many edits. Pollard wrote;
“A more serious error was committed by the distinguished scholar, Dr. F.H.A. Scrivener, who in 1884 in his book entitled The Authorised Edition of the English Bible (1611): its subsequent reprints and modern representatives (an enlargement of his Introduction to the Cambridge Paragraph Bible of 1873) argued strenuously, but in entire ignorance of the customs of the book trade in the seventeenth century.”
Scrivener was under the mistaken assumption that as Barker reprinted the 1611 bible in subsequent years that each subsequent reprint would be cleaner and more pure than the next.
Accordingly Scrivener replaced words in the Cambridge Bible with Barker’s and others’ errors in his mistaken assumption that the King James Bible got better with each printing. It did not, it got worse with each of Barker’s printings. As the type was torn down and reset for various folios and editions, the work generally got sloppier. It took conscious work by editors to restore the AV 1611 to its purity, not conscientious work by printers. Scrivener happily took each new edition as evidence of more pure texts. They were anything but that. It is Pollard who discovered and documented this error and it is to Pollard that we must look when we compare the post WWI Cambridge text with the 1873 Cambridge Paragraph Bible and wonder who restored so many readings, and who kept the other Scrivener edits. It is this work by Pollard that has slipped into historical oblivion.”
Cambridge hired Norton to determine the history of the text and to enlighten them as to the orthography of certain “s”s in the text. The Cambridge University Press had become convinced that Scrivener was the go-to man for the text. This was a misconception that could be traced to an error by the PR staff at Cambridge when they wrote a pamphlet celebrating the 300th year of printing the King James Bible in 1929. Quoting from myself again;
In their celebratory pamphlet, Three Hundred Years of Printing the Bible 1629-1929, the Cambridge printers ascribe their current work to Scrivener. In that pamphlet they say, “In the course of his editorial labours, Dr. Scrivener made a detailed examination of the Cambridge standard copy of the Authorised Version from which all Cambridge editions since 1858 had been set up. Close and repeated examination disclosed remarkably few errata in the text or margins of that book which, amended in the light of Dr. Scrivener’s investigations, remains the standard of the Authorised Version text at Cambridge to the present day, and may be assumed to be as free from typographical error as human effort can provide.”
The problem with that statement is that Cambridge was not printing from Scrivener’s text and it doesn’t take long comparing Scrivener’s text to a Cambridge Bible Circa 1920 to today to see that. Amazingly, Norton never realized that. He never knew of the work done by Pollard. He didn’t know that Cambridge and Oxford diverged in text. (He told me that in an email) His work is a few fascinating glimpses into history for the apparent purpose of bamboozling people into buying the Cambridge Paragraph Bible which I am sure has benefited him handsomely.
Then to what should we attribute the various readings to when the King James Bible uses variant readings over the centuries? The first thing we must do is understand the original King James Bible which no living man has seen. From the blog Purecambridgetext.com:
The Original Manuscript
February 4, 2017
Dr. John M. Asquith
I want to make a couple of observations about the original King James Bible. No living person has ever seen it. The original King James Bible was a handwritten manuscript purchased by Robert Barker for 3500 English Pounds. To get an idea of what 3500 pounds was worth keep in mind that when George Abbot, one of the translators for the King James Bible accidentally killed a man, he compensated that man's widow handsomely by settling 30 pounds per year upon her. Barker paid an enormous sum of money for that original manuscript. That manuscript was the subject of court battles in those days therefore its existence is well documented in history. That manuscript was the result of a conference of representatives of the four translating committees. Its final editing and probably its handwriting were done by Miles Smith.
I personally have no doubts that it was what the translators called it, a perfect translation. There are no historical references of it after the great London fire of 1666. It probably was burnt. Since that time editors of the King James Bible have relied on eye witness reports of what it said and what copies were extant in the files of the translators themselves. A good case can be made that Cambridge had copies of that manuscript in one form or another until at least the early 1760's. The best way of knowing what that manuscript actually looked like is to examine the bibles printed by men who saw it. The first such printing was done in 1611.
If you have an original printing of the King James Bible or one of its facsimiles you have one of the worst printing jobs ever. Eventually Barker would go to jail over his sloppy printing and he was sued in court many times over it. In 1611 Barker printed two different copies, one complete bible and a New Testament. They do not agree. The most common estimate for how many individual pieces of type had to be put in place by hand to print the 1611 is 5,000,000. Many errors were made in typesetting. Barker was immediately in debt upon purchasing the manuscript and hastily churned out editions to recoup his money.
He was not careful. An original printing of that manuscript and the original manuscript are two different things. To hold an original printed edition of the King James Bible or its facsimile is to hold a book with an estimated 5000 errors. Each subsequent printing done by Mr. Barker tended to add errors. That fact will become important when we later examine the 1873 Cambridge Paragraph Bible edited by Scrivener. Scrivener mistook each of those changes for corrections assuming that Barker operated like a printer would in the mid 1800's. As a result his Paragraph Bible and his published tables of changes are erroneous. It is unfortunate that certain fundamental printers are reprinting that bible. It is a forerunner to the RSV. For example it puts I John 5:8 in italics as if it had no manuscript justification. In my upcoming posts I hope to familiarize my readers with the seven editings of the King James Bible that purified it in a furnace of earth until by its seventh editing when it had been restored to the purity of the handwritten manuscript.
There are certain words that differ between a 1611 printing of the King James Bible and the Paris Bible of 1762. Many of them can be ascribed to printing errors that were caught as Paris collated all existing bibles. There are others that make absolutely no appearance in any printed edition until 1762. They are rare, but they do exist. Dr. Norton immediately assumes that Paris and later Blayney changed them in accordance with their own sense of the translation or retranslated them. That is one possible explanation. There is another.
Paris had been working at The Cambridge University Press since at least 1743. In that time there was little fundamental change in the printing process or in the establishment itself. In fact Cambridge had quit printing bibles for many decades. There is every reason to believe that the translators’ notes were still intact and available. Both Ward and Bois were active in the 1638 Cambridge Bible which shows evidence of their notes. Keep in mind that the manuscript that they helped create was sold for the princely sum of 3500 English Pounds. Of course they kept their copies. The Cambridge University Press suffered a major fire in the decade after Paris’s work was done and that probably quenched any further use of the translators’ copies of the original manuscript.
To not consider that Paris used the translators’ copy of that original manuscript and to not consider that Ward and Bois used their copy is unscientific and unprofessional. I admit that by faith I claim the later explanation. To claim that explanation gives life and credence to my and many others’ claim that the King James Bible is infallible and that all errors and differences in early editions can be traced to printing errors. Some of those errors were regional and easy to correct by collating existing bibles. Others were there from the start, were not caught by Ward and Bois and were subsequently caught by Paris. Since there is no earlier justification for certain words, (See He feedeth of ashes, Isaiah 44:20 in the 1611, the 1629, the 1638 and its change to He feedeth on ashes in the 1762.) I have no problem ascribing that change to Ward and Bois’s copy of the original manuscript.
What does become clear when examining the editions through the years is that no one started from scratch when laying out a new printing of the bible other than Barker in 1611. From that time on, the King James Bible was taken in its latest form and edited to comply with the editors sense of correctness regardless of where he got that sense. This accounts for the errors which pop up in one generation and are copied in subsequent generations. This accounts for such differences as “flieth” versus “fleeth” in Nahum 3:16. “Fleeth” first appears in Paris’s work. It is kept by Blayney. Scrivener changed it back to “flieth” and Pollard confirmed it. Oxford kept Paris’s misprint and it is in their text to this day.
Getting back to our original premise for what I am writing, Ross greatly erred in giving Norton the credence that he does. Secondly, Ross errs in not checking his decision to throw out the possibility that “alway” and “always” could have separate meanings by testing that proposition verse by verse. The 1611 Bible has been around for over 400 years, but the scholarship justifying it is in its infancy. There were many men who took it as the word of God itself prior to the mid-20th century, but they were mostly unlearned men (not all). Joey Faust’s excellent little book; The Word: God Will Keep It, conclusively shows that the great mass of English speaking people thought of the King James Bible as the word of God itself. Only in the last century have scholars taken that premise seriously and begun to write about it. Studying the nuances of word choice is also in its infancy. Pastor Bryan C. Ross is hurting that very cause and he errs when he does so.
I have an advantage over Pastor Ross. I have read Paul Scott’s blog post on “Alway or Always” also published in the Purecambridgetext.com blog. Paul Scott is attempting to do what has eluded so many. He is trying to understand the subtil differences in King James words. From his February 16th, 2017 post, Brother Scott writes this;
Always = on every occasion; not sometimes, but every time.
“When Bro Bill preaches, he always goes too long.” That is, each and every time He preaches.
The emphasis is on fully, totally:” …give you peace always by all means” (2 Thes. 3:16).
It also indicates an occasion, an event, a circumstance: “…I make mention of you always in my prayers” (Romans 1:9) — Every time Paul prayed, he mentioned the Romans.
Alway= A duration of time, continuous, perpetually without interruption, throughout (time).
“Always remember me in your prayers and in your trials, but rejoice alway.”
If it helps, compare a similar case: Some time (a duration of time) and sometimes (separate occasions). Add an (s) to “some time” and the meaning changes
“He appeared that way for some time.”—Implies his appearance was constant over a period of time.
“He sometimes appeared that way.”—Implies his appearance was variable.
Let’s return to “Alway” and let the Bible define itself:
1. “And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before me alway” (Exodus 25:30).
Hmmm, is this alway a mistake? Alway(s) is used just a little later in Exodus 27:20.
Remember that alway stresses duration or continuance over time:
“Behold, I build an house…and for the continual shewbread” (2 Chron. 2:4)
What kind of shewbread? Continual. Alway.
There is a clear cross reference, verifying the continual nature of the shewbread.
The lamps, which required daily dressing and relighting (Exodus 30: 7,8) are properly designated with an always (Exodus 27:20).
2. “…, but Mephibosheth thy master’s son may have food to eat bread alway at my table”
(2 Samuel 9:11).
Notice alway is used. How does this change the emphasis?
“So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king’s table.
3. “…Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back
alway” (Romans 11:10).
Did Paul, when quoting David from Psalm 69, make a mistake by using alway? I think not.
“Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not; and make their loins continually to shake.
And, one more example of this nuance, of the emphasis applied by using alway:
“Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways” (Hebrews 3:10).
Paul added alway when retelling Psalm 95. Why?
Perhaps he was stressing the constant faithlessness of the fathers; however, I think he is setting the tone for his primary argument, in this context: “if we hold the confidence steadfast, unto the end” (v. 14). Hold fast, without interruption, for the duration. Alway works!
We can see that Paul Scott actually applied his definition to each verse. We will go farther than that. Let’s take Mephibosheth as an example; but Mephibosheth thy master's son shall eat bread alway at my table, 2nd Samuel 9:10. Does that mean that Mephibosheth can never eat bread at any other table? No, it means that Mephibosheth has a lifelong guarantee of eating bread at David’s table. The King James Bible is sharp sword. To meld “alway” and “always” into one word dulls that sword.
Let’s take each example of “alway” in order. It is shocking that Bryan Ross never seems to have taken the time to prove his thesis from the actual text itself.
And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before me alway, Exodus 25:30. According to Paul Scott, it means in perpetuity. If we changed it to always, we would be saying that this is what they need to be doing constantly without stopping. What do you do at work? I’m always cleaning up. That’s all I ever do. That is not the commandment here. They are to put the shewbread on the table forever. The modern inarticulate meaning can go either way. That is sufficient for Pastor Ross. It’s not a very sharp sword.
So it was alway: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night, Numbers 9:16. If we applied Paul Scott’s definition here, it would be saying that as long as Israel was in the wilderness, this is the process whereby the cloud and the pillar worked. It would be difficult to use this text alone to argue either case. In the generic blah, blah alway, always; what’s it matter approach, it could mean this the way God always did it when he so operated. It would be difficult in this verse to prove either by context.
Yet if we expand the context to include Numbers 9:22, we see this; Or whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in their tents, and journeyed not: but when it was taken up, they journeyed. The cloud was not always covering the tabernacle. Sometimes it was taken up. Nevertheless, the process of covering the tabernacle by day and the pillar of fire by night continued.
Therefore thou shalt love the LORD thy God, and keep his charge, and his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments, alway, Deuteronomy 1:11. I would argue that in the context of the whole chapter that “alway” in the Paul Scott definition is correct. It’s not as clear here.
The fruit of thy land, and all thy labours, shall a nation which thou knowest not eat up; and thou shalt be only oppressed and crushed alway, Deuteronomy 28:33. As long as Israel continues as a nation, this edict will be in force. To say that it is always oppressed and crushed would fly in the face of much of Daniel and Esther.
2nd Samuel 9:10 has been dealt with.
And unto his son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light alway before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there, 1st Kings 11:36. There is not always a son of David on the throne. There wasn’t one from the fall of Jerusalem until Jesus Christ is crowned. What is consistent is that the scepter that Jacob prophesied to Judah would stay on the head of Judah. Joseph’s blessing was extended to the crown of Joseph. That is why the crown of the Northern Kingdom could pass from tribe to tribe. David’s crown stayed in the family in perpetuity.
Yet the LORD would not destroy Judah for David his servant's sake, as he promised him to give him alway a light, and to his children, 2nd Kings 8:19. Ditto.
I loathe it; I would not live alway: let me alone; for my days are vanity, Job 7:16. Here Job is saying that he cannot imagine a time in which he would prefer to live.
For the needy shall not alway be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever, Psalm 9:18. This particular verse defines itself. In perpetuity.
I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end, Psalm 119:112. Again, it is self-defining.
Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief, Proverbs 28:14. If we apply Paul Scott’s definition, Solomon is talking about a man who does not quit fearing God at any time in his life. We see many kings who quit fearing god in their latter life. Solomon was just such a king.
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen, Matthew 28:20. I believe in eternal security as much as the next man. That isn’t what is being promised here. The emphasis is on him being with them unto the end of the world.
Then Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready, John 7:6. The emphasis here is on a timeline. There is never a time in which they cannot show their works.
A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway, Acts 10:2. Is there anyone willing to make the argument that this professional Roman soldier never stopped praying. Wouldn’t it be much wiser to state that his use of prayer was not a fad while he was with Jews, but something that he continued doing at the appropriate times. Did Daniel always pray, or did he alway pray three times a day?
Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back always, Romans 11:10. Paul Scott dealt with this earlier.
For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh, 2nd Corinthians 4:10. It would be foolish to see Paul as “always” being delivered unto death. The translators clearly severed the word “alway” apart from “always”. This verse speaks of the perpetual state of those who live in Christ and preach to others. There will never be a time when the jeopardy of serving Christ ceases.
As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things, 2nd Corinthians 6:10. Here again, the perpetuity of rejoicing is stressed. To think that you could have followed the Apostle Paul around for a year or two and not found one single moment when he was not rejoicing is silly.