Nineteenth Century English Versions

"The Bible is the chief moral cause of all that is good, and the best corrector of all that is evil in human society; the best book for regulating the temporal concerns of men, and the only book that can serve as an infallible guide to future felicity. With this estimate of its value, I have attempted to render the English version more useful, by correcting a few obvious errors, and removing some obscurities, with objectionable words and phrases; and my earnest prayer is that my labors may not be wholly unsuccessful."


Noah Webster, 1833

1808. [Thomas Belsham et al.,] The New Testament, in an Improved Version, upon the Basis of Archbishop Newcome's New Translation: with a Corrected Text, and Notes Critical and Explanatory. London: Richard Taylor & Co., 1808. An American edition was distributed by William Wells of Boston in 1809. A fourth London edition "with corrections and additions" was printed by Richard and Arthur Taylor in 1817. This Unitarian revision of Newcome's version (1796) provoked much indignation when it appeared. → Further information.

1808. Charles Thomson, The Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Covenant, Commonly called the Old and New Testament; Translated from the Greek, by Charles Thomson, Late Secretary to the Congress of the United States. 4 vols. Philadelphia: Jane Aitken, 1808. Thomson was secretary of the Continental Congress from 1774-1789. Volumes 1-3 present the first English translation of the Septuagint. The Old Testament was reprinted by S. F. Pells in 1904 (London: Skeffington), and revised by C. A. Muses in 1954 (Indian Hills, Colorado: Falcon's Wing).

1823. Abner Kneeland, H KAINH DIAQHKH. The New Testament, in Greek and English; the Greek According to Griesbach; the English upon the basis of the fourth London edition of the Improved Version, with an attempt to further improvement from the translations of Campbell, Wakefield, Scarlett, MacKnight, and Thomson. In Two Volumes. By Abner Kneeland, Minister of the First Independent Church of Christ, called Universalist, in Philadelphia. Philadelphia: Abner Kneeland, 1823. This Greek-English diglot gave side-by-side the Greek text of Griesbach 1805 and a revision of Thomas Belsham's English version (1808). Also in 1823 Kneeland issued The New Testament: Being the English Only of the Greek and English Testament, etc., in one volume. Like Belsham, Kneeland was a Unitarian, and also a Universalist. He changed several verses of Belsham's version according to his own opposition to the doctrine of eternal punishment. He later renounced Christianity altogether, and became a deist. For a discussion of his version see Paul Gutjahr, An American Bible, pages 95-100.

1826. Alexander Campbell, ed., The Sacred Writing of the Apostles and Evangelists of Jesus Christ, Commonly Styled The New Testament. Translated from the Original Greek, by George Campbell, James MacKnight, and Philip Doddridge, Doctors of the Church of Scotland. With Prefaces to the Historical and Epistolary Books; and an Appendix, Containing Critical Notes and Various Translations of Difficult Passages. Buffaloe, Virginia: Alexander Campbell, 1826. → Further information.

1828. Alexander Greaves, The Gospel of God's Anointed, the Glory of Israel, and the Light of Revelation for the Gentiles: or, the Glad Tidings of the Service, Sacrifice, and Triumph of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God; and of the gracious and mightily operative powers of the Holy Spirit, which were the first-fruits of that labour of divine love: being a recent version, in two parts, of the Christian Greek Scriptures (commonly called the New Testament) in which is plainly set forth the New Covenant promised by God through Moses and the Prophets. London: A. Macintosh, 1828.

1828. John Gorham Palfrey, The New Testament in the common Version, conformed to Griesbach's Standard Greek Text. Boston: Gray & Bowen, 1828. Third edition, 1830. Palfrey, a Unitarian, published this version anonymously. It is a revision of the King James version in accordance with Griesbach 1805. This is perhaps the earliest example of a scholar's attempt to fully inform the public at large of the results of the new textual criticism pioneered by Griesbach. → Further information.

1833. Noah Webster, The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, in the Common Version. With Amendments of the Language. New Haven: Durrie and Peck, 1833. Reprinted Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1987. A conservative revison of the KJV, in which obsolete words and constructions are replaced with modern equivalents. → Further information.

1833. Rodolphus Dickinson, A New and Corrected Version of the New Testament; or, a minute revision, and professed translation of the original histories, memoirs, letters, prophecies, and other productions of the Evangelists and Apostles: to which are subjoined a few, generally brief, critical, explanatory and practical notes. Boston: Lilly, Wait, Colman and Holden, 1833. A foppish translation by an Episcopal rector, based on the text of Griesbach 1805. Luke 1:41 is translated thus: "And it happened, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the embryo was joyfully agitated".

1836. Granville Penn, The Book of the New Covenant of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, being a critical revision of the text and translation of the English version of the New Testament, with the aid of most ancient manuscripts unknown to the age in which that version was last put forth by authority. London: James Moyes, for James Duncan, 1836.

1840. Samuel Sharpe, The New Testament, translated from the Text of J.J. Griesbach. London: John Green, 1840. Second edition, 1844; third edition, 1856; fourth edition, 1859; fifth edition, 1862; seventh edition, 1881. A translation of Griesbach 1805, by a Unitarian. Sharpe also published a light revision of the KJV Old Testament in 1865. A one-volume edition of the complete Bible appeared in the year of his death, 1881.

1841. John T. Conquest, ed., The Holy Bible, containing the Authorized Version ... with twenty thousand emendations. London: Longman, Brown & Co.; Bungay: John Childs and Son, 1841.

1850. Spencer H. Cone and William H. Wyckoff, The Commonly Received Version of the New Testament of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, with Several Hundred Emendations, edited by Spencer H. Cone and William H. Wyckoff. New York: Lewis Colby, 1850. Cone and Wyckoff were Baptists, and founders of the American Bible Union. Their limited revision of the King James Version substitutes "immerse" for "baptise." → Further information.

1851. James Murdock, The New Testament; or, the Book of the Holy Gospel of our Lord and our God, Jesus the Messiah. A literal translation from the Syriac Peshito version.. New York: Stanford and Swords, 1851.

1853. Isaac Leeser, The Twenty-four Books of the Holy Scriptures: Carefully Translated According to the Massoretic Text, On the Basis of the English Version, After the Best Jewish Authorities; and Supplied with Short Explanatory Notes. By Isaac Leeser. Philadelphia, 1853. → Further information.

1857. [George Moberly, Henry Alford, William G. Humphry, Charles J. Ellicott, and John Barrow,] The Gospel According to St. John, after the Authorized Version. Newly Compared with the Original Greek and Revised by Five Clergymen. London: John W. Parker and Son, 1857. Followed by The Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans, after the Authorized Version Newly Compared with the Original Greek and Revised by Five Clergymen in 1858; The Epistles of St. Paul to the Corinthians, after the Authorized Version. Newly Compared with the Original Greek and Revised by Five Clergymen in 1858; and The Epistles of St. Paul to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, after the Authorized Version. Newly Compared with the Original Greek and Revised by Four Clergymen in 1861. Although this revision of the KJV New Testament was not carried through to completion, it has special significance because of the eminence of the “five clergymen” (minus Barrow for the fourth volume) who produced it. It was in some respects a preparation for the Revised Version of 1881, in which Moberly, Alford, Humphry, and Ellicott participated.

1858. Leicester Ambrose Sawyer, The New Testament, Translated from the Original Greek, with Chronological Arrangement of the Sacred Books, and Improved Divisions of Chapters and Verses. Boston: J. P. Lewett, 1858. A modern version, based on the Greek text published by Tischendorf in 1849, retaining "thou" only in prayers; an innovative system of text divisions based on sense units. Revised by Sawyer in 1891.

1859. Charles Wellbeloved, George Vance Smith, and John Scott Porter, The Holy Scriptures of the Old Covenant, in a Revised Translation, by the late Rev. Charles Wellbeloved, the Rev. George Vance Smith, B.A., the Rev. John Scott Porter. 3 volumes. London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, and Roberts, 1859-1862. A limited revision of the KJV. Volume 1 (1859) contains the Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, and Ruth. Vol. 2 (1861) contains the books of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job and Psalms. Vol. 3 (1862) contains Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Prophets. Wellbeloved is the reviser of the Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Minor Prophets. Smith is the reviser of Samuel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the Lamentations. Porter is the reviser of Kings, Chronicles, Ezekiel and Daniel.

1863. Robert Young, The Holy Bible ... literally and idiomatically translated out of the original languages. Edinburgh: A. Fullarton and Co., 1863. Revised edition 1887. Third edition 1898. Reprinted frequently under the title, The Holy Bible, consisting of the Old and New Covenants, translated according to the Letter and Idioms of the Original Languages. Reproduces Hebrew and Greek idioms by an exceedingly literal translation (in the New Testament based on Estienne 1550). → Further information.

1863. Herman Heinfetter [Pseudonym of Frederick Parker], A Literal Translation of the New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, on definite rules of translation, from the text of the Vatican Manuscript. 6th ed. London: Evan Evans, 1863. Although this is called the "sixth edition," in fact it is the first edition of Parker's translation of the entire New Testament. The parts had been issued separately in preceding years. By the same author: A Collation of an English version of the New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, from the text of the Vatican Manuscript, with the Authorized English version (London: Evan Evans, 1864); and Corrections of the copies of the New Testament portion of the Vatican Manuscript (London: Evan Evans, 1866). Parker's translation of Codex Vaticanus is based upon Cardinal Mai's edition of the manuscript.

1864. Benjamin F. Wilson, The Emphatic Diaglott. Geneva, IL: B. F. Wilson, 1864. Originally published by the author in parts, which were bound together in 1864, and reprinted in 1865 and 1866. Later editions were published by Samuel R. Wells (later Fowler & Wells) of New York in 1873, 1870, 1871, 1872, 1873, and in 1882. The 1873 and 1882 reprints are titled, The Emphatic Diaglott: containing the original Greek Text of what is commonly styled the New Testament, according to the Recension of Dr. J.J. Griesbach, with an interlineary word for word English Translation; a new Emphatic Version, based on the interlineary Translation, on the Renderings of eminent Critics, and on the various Readings of the Vatican Manuscript, No. 1209 in the Vatican Library, together with illustrative and explanatory Footnotes, and a copious Selection of References, to the whole of which is added a valuable alphabetical Appendix. This is the Greek text of Griesbach 1805, printed with a literal interlinear English version, and beside it in a parallel column there is a very peculiar English version, with certain words made "emphatic" by typography. Brief notes and references are given at the foot of the page. At the end is an "Alphabetical appendix of the geographical and proper names, weights, measures ... etc." This version is of interest chiefly because of its subsequent use by the "Jehovah's Witness" organization, which also reprinted it for the use of its members.

1864. The New Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Common English Version, Corrected by the Final Committee of the American Bible Union. New York: American Bible Union, 1862-64. A revised edition appeared in 1865. Further information.

1865. Samuel Sharpe, The Hebrew Scriptures, Translated by Samuel Sharpe, Being a Revision of the Authorized English Old Testament, in three volumes. London: J. Russell Smith, 1865. 2nd ed, 1871; 3rd ed., 1876; 4th ed. (in one volume with the New Testament) 1881. A light revision of the KJV Old Testament, by an English Unitarian. Genesis 1:2 is translated “and the breath of God moved upon the face of the waters,” eliminating the reference to the Spirit of God. Sharpe (1799-1881) had published his own version of the New Testament in 1840. A detailed account of Sharpe’s life and work is given in Peter W. Clayden, Samuel Sharpe: Egyptologist and Translator of the Bible (London: Kegan Paul, Trench and Co., 1883).

1866. Henry T. Anderson, The New Testament Translated from the Original Greek, by H.T. Anderson. Louisville, Kentucky: John P. Morton & Co., 1866. → Further information.

1867. John Nelson Darby, The Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Book of Revelation: Commonly called the New Testament. A New Translation from a Revised Text of the Greek Original. London: G. Morrish, 1867. Second edition 1872. Third edition 1884. → Further information.

1867. Joseph Smith, Jr., The Holy Scriptures, Translated and Corrected by the Spirit of Revelation, by Joseph Smith, Jr. the Seer ... Plano, Illinois: Published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Joseph Smith, I.L. Rogers, E. Robinson, Publishing Committee, 1867. → Further information.

1869. George R. Noyes, The New Testament: Translated from the Greek text of Tischendorf, by George R. Noyes, D.D., Hancock Professor of Hebrew and Other Oriental Languages, and Dexter Lecturer on Biblical Literature, in Harvard University. Boston: American Unitarian Association, 1869. An English version of Tischendorf 1856, by a Unitarian. The manuscript was at the printer when Noyes died in 1868, and it was seen through the press with some editorial alterations by Ezra Abbott. → Further information.

1872. Rotherham Version. Joseph Bryant Rotherham, The New Testament: newly translated from the Greek text of Tregelles and critically emphasised, according to the logical idiom of the original; with an introduction and occasional notes. London: Samuel Bagster and Sons, 1872. → Further information.

1875. Samuel Davidson, The New Testament. Translated from the Critical Text of Von Tischendorf; with an Introduction on the Criticism, Translation, and Interpretation of the Book. London: Henry S. King and Company, 1875. A translation of Tischendorf's eighth edition of the Greek text.

1876. Julia E. Smith, The Holy Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments; Translated Literally from the Original Tongues. Hartford, Conn.: American Publishing Company, 1876. The first Bible translation by a woman. → Further information.

1881. The English Revised Version. C.J. Ellicott, ed., The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Translated out of the Greek: Being the Version Set Forth A.D. 1611, Compared with the Most Ancient Authorities and Revised, A.D. 1881. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1881. → Further information.

1886. John Wesley Hanson, The New Covenant: Containing I. An accurate translation of the New Testament. II. A Harmony of the Four Gospels. III. A Chronological Arrangement of the Text. IV. A Brief and Handy Commentary. By J.W. [John Wesley] Hanson, A.M., D.D., two volumes (Boston: Universalist Publishing House, 1884, 1886). A second edition of volume 1 (containing the Gospels) appeared in 1888. Hanson's preface explains that his translation was designed to support Universalist teachings. The version was the subject of a long and mostly negative review article by H.P. Forbes in the Universalist Quarterly and General Review of April, 1884 (pp. 212-221); to which Hanson responded at even greater length in the issue of October 1884 (pp. 465-483).

1897. Robert D. Weekes, Η ΚΑΙΝΗ ΔΙΑΘΗΚΗ. The New Dispensation. The New Testament translated from the Greek by Robert D. Weekes. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Co., 1897.

1898. Francis Aloysius Spencer, The Four Gospels: A New Translation from the Greek Text Direct, with Reference to the Vulgate and the Ancient Syriac Version. New York: William H. Young & Company, 1898. One of the first translations of the Greek text done by a Roman Catholic. The complete New Testament appeared in 1937.

1898. George Barker Stevens, The Epistles of Paul in Modern English: A Paraphrase. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1898. → Further information.