Thus we close the best record, which, with very great care and research, we have been able to make, of this roll of ancient scholars. Their united labors, bestowed upon the common English version of the Bible, have produced a volume which has exerted a greater and happier influence on the world, than any other which has appeared since the original Scriptures themselves were given to mankind.
Several other persons were employed in various stages of the work. In a letter from the King to the Bishop of London, dated July 22d, 1604, the monarch says,--”We have appointed certain learned men, to the number of four and fifty, for the translating of the Bible.” As the authentic lists contain but forty-seven names, it is presumed that the others were certain “divines” referred to in the fifteenth article of the royal instructions as to the mode of prosecuting the work. In this fifteenth article it is provided, that besides the several directors or presidents of the different companies, “three or four of the most ancient and grave divines in either of the Universities, not employed in translating, be assigned by the Vice-Chancellor, upon conference with the rest of the Heads, to be overseers of the Translation, as well Hebrew as Greek, for the better observance of the fourth rule.” That rule required, that among the different meanings of any word, that one should be adopted which is most sanctioned by the Fathers, and is most “agreeable to the propriety of the place, and the analogy of the faith.” It is not known who those supervisors were; but if one of the Universities designated three of them, and the other designated four, it would make out the requisite number.
When the six companies had gone through with their part of the undertaking, three copies were sent to London; one from the two companies at Cambridge, another from those at Oxford, and the third from those at Westminster. Each company also delegated two of its ablest members to go up to London, and prepare a single copy from these three. When the Synod of Dort was discussing the subject of preparing a version to be authorized for the use of the Dutch churches, Dr. Samuel Ward, one of the members, informed that celebrated body as to the manner in which that business had been conducted in England. He then stated, that this last single copy was arranged by twelve divines “of good distinction, and thoroughly conversant in the work from the beginning;” and he, as one of the Translators, must have known the number.
This oft revised and completed copy was then referred, for final revision in preparation for the press, to Dr. Smith, one of the most active of the Translators, and soon after made Bishop of Gloucester, and to Dr. Bilson, then Bishop of Winchester. These two prepared the summary of contents placed at the head of the chapters, and carefully saw the work through the press in the year of grace, 1611.