The

Darby Bible

 

—its various editions compared

 

 

By S D Noble

 

(This article was originally published in a booklet form which will explain some of the language and layout employed. Copies of the booklet are available free of charge while stocks last - see the contact link on the home page).

 


Preface

 

I hope my readers will excuse me if I begin with a few words of a personal nature. Several years ago I was sitting in a public Bible study when attention was drawn to a footnote in the Darby Bible. I was somewhat startled to find that the note did not exist in my copy—even though it was the oldest edition obtainable (but published after Darby’s death). Up until this juncture I had somewhat naively assumed that what I held in my hands was the Darby translation as Darby had bequeathed it to the Church of God. This set me on a quest of research comparing the various editions of that Bible that have been produced, and seeking to find what was truly Darby and what was really the work of others sheltering beneath an esteemed name. For those of us who know little or nothing of the original languages, there has to be an element of trust in the translator (though not in the sense of slavery to his opinions)—which is why I want certainty about the origin of this version of the Bible. I also believe in honesty. Revisions of what others have produced, even adaptations and abbreviations, all have their place—as long as the reader is adequately apprised of what has been done. Although this booklet can only be said to have skimmed the surface of its subject, it is clear that the Darby Bible has suffered at the hands of its editors. To those who object to my publishing a work of this nature, I would only say that having the truth, even if it is uncomfortable truth, is far better than being deceived, even if that deception be ever so slight. Those who value Mr Darby’s translation (would that there were more) surely have a right to know.

 

December 2016

 

Many years ago an honoured servant of Christ was engaged with a few brethren in some important translation, which the Lord had laid on his and their hearts, and at which they assisted him in their little measure. One morning, on beginning their work, he noticed a little spot of ink in his book, He took out his penknife, and whilst erasing with the greatest care the little blot, so that hardly a trace of it could be discerned, said, as if speaking to himself rather, than to those with him: “I hate spots”. The writer of these lines, who was one of them, never forgot the lesson conveyed, though perhaps never intended, by those three words. They were the most practical interpretation of the divine injunction, “hating even the garment spotted by the flesh”, and “abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good”, which, amongst the rest, formed the subject of their translation.[1]

 

The Darby Bible—its various editions compared

 

The English New Testament

 

John Nelson Darby (1800–1882) published an English translation of the New Testament in 1867, with revised editions in 1871 and 1884[2]. There were apparently three initial printings of the 1884 edition (1884, 1886 and 1888, with minor changes in the last two). The third printing has been continued by several publishers to the present day[3]. According to R A Huebner[4]  the publisher George Morrish put out a new edition in 1904. Another printing was issued in 1920, though presumably this was still the 1884 edition. Huebner also refers to the fact that Loizeaux Bros, (the publishing house in the USA associated with F W Grant), issued the 1884 edition under their own imprint in 1890.

Notwithstanding Darby’s remark in the preface to his English New Testament that “it is my own translation”, he was not working alone[5]. The work was the result of a team of labourers, with Darby acting as principal editor. This process applied to the English translation as well as the German and French editions. The names of many of these co–labourers are known, but the publishers (initially George Morrish, then Stow Hill Bible and Tract Depot) would not be sympathetic to their work being noticed, as most of them (if not all) became ecclesiastically separated from the Raven–Taylor group of Exclusive Brethren. The French translation team included W J Lowe and P Schlumberger. The German translation team was made up of J A E W von Poseck, C Brockhaus, H C Voorhoeve and others. Brief accounts of how Darby worked on his translation are given in F W Grant: his life, ministry and legacy, 1995, pp33–34 by John Reid and The Translation Work of John Nelson Darby: Blessing or Burden?, 1024project.com by Gilles Despins.

 

The Complete English Bible

 

Darby died in 1882 without completing his English Old Testament translation. According to the Introductory Notice to the 1890 edition of the Old Testament, he revised only “the first few books” before his death. The mybrethren.org website contains information to the effect that he had “personally checked the Old Testament translation into English up to the book of Joshua”.[6] Since Darby died in 1882, and the complete Bible in English was not published until 1890, this delay seems to imply that the input of others was considerable. The use of the word revised is significant, suggesting that translation was complete, but that checking the text was not. Revision can, of course, result in significant changes being made. Huebner[7] infers that Darby did not translate his German and French texts into English himself: “Most of the work was by his followers on the basis of his French and German Old Testaments. He did some revising of it”. The work on the Old Testament was finished (principally by W J Lowe), working from Mr Darby’s French and German translations. Huebner says E E Whitfield was also involved.[8] The complete Darby Bible[9] was first published in 1890[10] and included Darby’s 1884 edition of the New Testament. Further editions of the Bible were published in 1939 and 1961[11].

 

Alterations to the Preface.

 

It is interesting to note that the 1890 edition of the Darby Bible only contains a revised preface to the second edition of the English New Testament 1871. To their credit, the original, unrevised preface is given in Bible Notes from the 1871 edition of the New Testament, English New Translation by J N Darby, annotated by the translator (Bible & Gospel Trust, 2013). In the revised preface, the old paragraph 7 by Darby was deleted (apart from the first sentence, which was tagged onto the end of paragraph 6). The deleted paragraph reads as follows:

 

All edited MSS I have compared. I was helped by an index to Tischendorf, Lachmann, Sinaitic, most carefully formed, first in part by a deceased and valued friend, then by Mr Charles Pridham, and they have been verified for the most part by Mr William Kelly with other MS authority, with a very careful and useful revision of the English result and other critical editions by the Publisher himself. The observation of details is a peculiar gift, and not mine, so that I have much to thank these friends for. But I have worked it all myself with the edited MSS to come to a decision. But, I repeat, my object was not a learned work, or critical edition, but to furnish a correct translation of the best ascertained text I could succeed in procuring; and this labour I owed to the word of God, and to the Lord’s people who value it.

 

The later excision of the reference to W Kelly is petty in the extreme. If thanks were due to Kelly in the unrevised preface, they were certainly still due in the revised preface. The reason for the reviser’s action is not difficult to deduce: the 1890 edition was published by Brethren who had become ecclesiastically separated from Kelly in 1881.

The curious reference to a “deceased and valued friend” might suggest an individual who had asked to remain anonymous, or, alternatively, someone whom Darby himself did not wish to identify. I have no information on C Pridham apart from the following:

 

Mr C. Pridham, who helped not only in that English version, but also in the Englishman’s Greek Concordance, and in the late Sir C. L. Brenton’s (a deceased P.B) Septuagint, as well as in some of the best Bagster works, is also an excellent Biblical scholar[12].

 

The statement in the introductory notice to the 1961 edition of the Bible that it contains “Mr Darby’s own Revised Preface to the Second Edition (1871) of the New Testament” (my emphasis) is quite misleading. I have seen no evidence that he was responsible for the revised version of his preface.

 

The 1939 and 1961 Revision Committees

 

The revision committees of the 1939 and 1961[13] editions contained no linguistic scholars of note. Spiritual judgment is of course vital, but no amount of spiritual judgment will enable a person to grasp the nuances of Hebrew or Greek. To dismiss textual scholarship (as some do), is ignorant and foolish (indeed, without it there would be no reliable English Bible). In any case, by 1961 the spiritual competence of the revision committee could rightly be called into question. The publishers were so–called Taylor Brethren, and though this company still had outstanding gift among them that is not the same thing as spirituality. I am not one of those who reject the ministry of James Taylor senior wholesale, but the fact that the following bad (and ridiculous) teaching was allowed to pass without resistance is indicative of the Corinthian state of Taylor Brethren well before 1961 (see 1 Cor. 4: 8):

 

J.T. Well, no doubt, we are being recovered, but I would not make it entirely what is recovered, because there are fresh things coming out, the Lord has been reserving things to bring them out in view of the end. Of course the word in Isaiah applies in a general way, “a remnant shall return” that is what Shear–jashub means. That is the burden of the book of Isaiah; but then we do not need to limit ourselves to the idea of remnant, because God is God and He is insisting on the fact that He is God; and the Holy Spirit is God, and the three Persons are each One of Them God, for there is only one God; and there are fresh things coming out, things that perhaps the early Christians did not touch; and why should we not allow that liberty to the Lord in our day?[14]

 

 J.T. I would add that the times we are living in now are greater than simply remnant times; the Lord is bringing out fresh things for us from the Scriptures, or rather I should say the Spirit is doing it. The Lord said, “He will shew you things to come”, and “He shall guide you into all the truth”. We have not got all the truth, maybe we are getting some now. Rem. Would the words of Haggai suggest that: his words that the latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former? J.T. That is a good confirmation, so that we might expect the latter glory to be greater than that at the beginning.[15]

 

 A E Myles went even further in an address at Park Street, Islington in 1954: “No. I believe, speaking humbly, the service of God is now carried on in a way it has never been known before, not even back in the apostles’ day”. He was opposed (feebly), but the fact that such a thing could be said publicly (let alone put into print) is utterly incredible. Sadly, it could be said for the simple reason that Taylor Brethren were in thrall to the words of their leadership.

I have much more confidence in the spirituality of the 1939 revision committee, but even here, there are serious issues of credibility. The following is an extract from an account of a meeting held in 1954 concerning the work of the Stow Hill Bible Depot and the 1939 edition of the Darby Bible:

 

The notes in the New Translation Bible were then referred to, since there has been a measure of doubt with some as to the reliability and authenticity of these. The manuscripts and records, by which all could have been verified, were unfortunately lost when the Paternoster Row Depot was destroyed during the war, but Mr Gardiner said that careful enquiry had been made and he had been assured that every one of the notes had been passed by the three brothers who undertook to go through them before the first Stow Hill edition of the New Translation was published. These three brothers were Mr C. A. Coates, Dr C. C. Elliott, and Mr Edward Raven, all of whom were now with the Lord. The notes were based on the New Translation Bible, published by Morrish in 1890, supplemented by some of Mr Darby's notes taken from the French and German editions of his New Translation. The notes in Morrish's 1890 Bible contained many words in Hebrew and Greek characters, and many allusions to various manuscripts, and in order that they might be serviceable to the average reader careful examination of them was made by the three brothers mentioned, the latter two of whom were known to be Greek scholars. The reference to “reliable sources” in the introductory notice to the New Translation (which was written by Mr Coates) was thought to refer especially to Mr Wigram’s concordances of the Old and New Testaments, though other similar works of reference may be included[16].

 

I have not been able to verify the level of competency of the Greek scholarship ascribed to C C Elliott and E Raven. How were they “known as Greek scholars”? This only has value if it means that they were recognised as such by members of the same peer group i.e. other Greek scholars, and preferably including scholars outside a narrow ecclesiastical circle. It is not enough simply to know Greek. According to the mybrethren.org website, E Raven was educated “to degree standard”, which may or may not be relevant. Dr Elliott, being a doctor of some kind, was also clearly well–educated—but this, in itself, would not make him a Greek scholar. The extract also overlooks the fact that most of the Bible is written in Hebrew not Greek. Mr Darby was more of a Greek scholar, but he would have had easy access to Hebrew experts, both inside Brethren (such as C E Stuart) and beyond. C C Elliott, C A Coates and E Raven, however, were not so blessed. They themselves were not Hebraists, their particular branch of Brethren no longer contained any Hebraists, and their increasing exclusivism had cut them off from the outside help that might be available. Thus the scholarship attached to the 1939 revision is questionable.

 

Capitalisation in the 1961 Edition

 

The opening paragraph of introductory notice to the 1961 edition of the Darby Bible (originally published by Stow Hill Bible and Tract Depot) states  that it is a reprint of the 1890 and 1939 editions, “save for the fact that a very few needed adjustments, particularly in the use of capital letters, have been made. No change has been made in the wording of the text”. Leaving aside the fact that we are nowhere told what the adjustments other than the use of capital letters are[17], the statement as it stands is deeply troubling. Changes in the use of capital letters can lead to a significant alteration in the apparent meaning of the text—indeed, in some instances, to the same degree as any changing of the wording of the text (which the editors are so anxious to say they have not done). As the original Greek manuscripts are either wholly in capitals (uncials) or wholly lower case (cursives), and there are no capitals at all in Hebrew, one is entitled to wonder why the editors took it upon themselves to change Mr Darby’s text[18]. The use of capital letters in an English translation is a matter of opinion, not translation, and it is extraordinary that the view was taken not only to correct Darby’s opinion, but then to more or less present it as his own. At the very least, the adjustments ought to have been noted by means of footnotes, as the reader has no means of knowing what has been altered (apart from laboriously comparing the editions)[19]. It would also have been helpful if the reasons for the adjustments had been given (why, for example, has the word spirit in Ps. 139: 7 been capitalised by the editors of the 1961 edition, but not in Ps. 51: 11?). It is wholly unsatisfactory to blithely talk of “needed adjustments” without saying why they were needed. Of course it is quite possible that some of the changes may have been warranted, but the somewhat underhand way in which it has been done does not inspire confidence. One is left wondering if the editors chose a particular ‘adjustment’ simply because it suited their own purposes. Again, it might be argued that the editors merely updated the Darby Bible with what they had found in his ministry, but even allowing for the fact that there may be discrepancies between what Darby published in his Bible, and what was published elsewhere under his name, they had neither the authority nor the competency to alter an original work. Indeed, not all the Darby ministry now available was published in his lifetime, and it is doubtful if he would have approved of all of it being published.

The word spirit is an illustration of the significance of capitalisation in an English translation—Darby himself referred to the issue[20]. Take John 3: 6: “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit”. Clearly, the translator intended something different to be conveyed in English by Spirit as over against spirit. The former is the Holy Spirit, the latter is not. Even a child can see that capitalisation thus leads to a significant change in the apparent meaning of the text. The use of a capital S or not is a matter of spiritual judgement taking into account the context of the passage. As already noted, the original manuscripts are no guide in the use of capitals in English.[21]

Now according to the Introductory Notice to the 1890 edition of the Old Testament, Darby revised the first few books of the Old Testament before his death. It is interesting therefore to briefly compare the changes made to capitalisation of the word spirit in the Pentateuch (more information is given in Appendix 1). Of the 25 uses of the word, only in Genesis 6: 3 has Darby been corrected by his later editors: “And Jehovah said, My Spirit shall not always plead with man; for he indeed is flesh; but his days shall be a hundred and twenty years” (1961 edition; my emphasis). Both 1890 and 1939 editions have spirit with a small S. This naturally raises the question as to why Darby and Lowe did not capitalize certain instances of the word spirit in the Old Testament (and indeed, why Coates et al did not seek to correct them in their 1939 edition). Why, for example, did Darby give a capital S for “Spirit of God” in Genesis 1: 2, but not for “My spirit” in Genesis 6: 3? Again, if the 1961 editors felt it necessary to go against Darby’s judgment in Genesis 6: 3, then why not also capitalise spirit in, for example “spirit of God” in Exodus 31: 3 and 35: 31? 

It is when we come to the later books of the Old Testament that we find relatively more changes made—possibly because the editors were now confident that it was not Darby directly that they were (by implication) criticizing, but only his fellow–labourers (who had completed the final text after his death). Of 94 references to the word spirit in the books of Job, Psalms, Isaiah, and Ezekiel, the 1961 edition capitalises 11 instances where the word was previously lower case. There is little consistency in how this has been done.

Why, for example, has Job 26: 13 been capitalised, but not Job 27: 3? The best gloss I can put on this and other inconsistencies is the possibility that the 1961 editors were only changing spirit to Spirit when they could find evidence for Darby using the word in this way in his published ministry. However, ministry is often revised by others, and while we would expect scrupulous care to be taken over the printed Scriptures, ministry does not demand the same level of attention to detail (the Scriptures are, after all, the very words of God). Furthermore, finding something in Darby’s ministry that seemingly supports an editorial change does not mean that the change should be made—it merely underlines the fact that there is a discrepancy. Another explanation for the somewhat haphazard capitalisation is that the 1961 revision was hurried and that some verses were missed. The “needed adjustments” alluded to in the Introductory Notice were clearly of a pressing nature, and the singling out of the word spirit for capitalisation makes plain the reason for the haste. The ‘new light’ of a direct address to the Holy Spirit had been introduced among Taylor Brethren just over a decade earlier, and the Darby Bible needed to be updated in the light of this ministry. Ironically, the supposed fresh ‘light’ was not even new, as prayers and hymns to the Holy Spirit had been part of Christian worship for centuries—extreme isolation seems to have been accompanied by ignorance. Indeed, those who laud Taylor with respect to this aspect of his ministry need to reflect on where this leaves J N Darby, F E Raven et al in the matter. If Taylor was right, then the Exclusive Brethren had been wrong for over a century, and, moreover, the Anglicanism that Darby, Raven etc. had abandoned was in fact more right than they were over this specific issue. Sadly, despite the lack of incontrovertible evidence in Scripture as to the rightness of the doctrine, it appears that the ‘new light’ is not to be questioned, and it has become sacrosanct to nearly all Brethren who can trace their roots back to Taylor Brethren.

 

The Darby Bible Footnotes

 

It is also important to know that there are significant differences between the footnotes of the 1890 edition and the 1961 edition. The naïve reader who picks up the Bible might be left with the impression that the footnotes are wholly as Mr Darby would have them. However, it is clear from the 1961 introductory notice that the editors have greatly influenced the selection of the footnotes. The reader can form his own judgment over why these alterations were made.

According to the Introductory Notice to the 1961 Edition, many of the footnotes of the 1890 edition were re–worded in the 1939 edition. The Introductory Notice of the 1939 Edition (written by C A Coates) has this to say as to these footnotes:

 

The footnotes to this edition have been extended by cross references being made more complete, and by the addition of references to passages of Scripture which give examples of the words shown in the notes. Certain other additions have been gathered from reliable sources, and from the translator’s own writings. Apart from references to original manuscripts, the notes given by the translator are included. Words in the footnotes which in former editions of this translation were given in Hebrew and Greek letters are now rendered in English or transliterated. This, it is thought, will be more convenient for the English reader.

 

The removal of references to original manuscripts, while no doubt welcomed by some, is of questionable value. Colossians 1: 2, for example, formerly had a note to “and our Lord Jesus Christ” stating that these words were of doubtful authenticity, and referring to various Greek manuscripts as evidence. Now admittedly the words in question are still framed in brackets in the later editions of the Darby Bible, but my experience is that many do not realise the significance of these. It would have surely have been better to have at least retained a shortened footnote—especially when other footnotes have been lengthened (see Appendix 2).

According to the material quoted earlier[22], the “reliable sources” are supposed to refer to G V Wigram’s concordances of the New and Old Testaments—some notes in the 1939 edition are therefore admitted as being not by Darby (these are marked with an asterisk in the 1961 edition). It also ought to be said that Wigram’s relationship to his concordances was largely as a financier and compiler, much of the work being done by others. His exact words are “My relationship to it then is just marked by the terms Proprietor and Nursing Father”[23]. The Introductory Notice to the 1961 Edition also states that:

 

The opportunity has been taken to bring into this edition certain further notes from Mr Darby’s French Bible and from the editions of his German Bible published during his lifetime. A few notes have also been added derived from Mr Darby’s collected writings.

 

It is not clear from this statement whether the notes extracted from Darby’s German and French Bibles were definitely known to be Darby’s himself—they could, conceivably, be those of his co–labourers. The 1961 editorial committee seem to be suggesting that by limiting the extracted notes to the French and German editions of the Darby Bible “published during his lifetime” they were thereby guaranteeing the notes as being by Darby himself. They were either naïveor were being disingenuous with their readers[24]. Examples of footnote changes are given in Appendix 2.

 

Conclusion

 

There is no doubt that the Darby Bible has been edited more significantly than its editors have been prepared to admit. The changes that have been noted in this booklet are subtle, but they are not trivial, and it is a very unsatisfactory state of affairs when the reader is misled into thinking that what he holds in his hands is the Darby Bible as Darby would have it. The 1939 and 1961 editions retain their usefulness (if read with caution), but the original 1890 edition is clearly the version of most value as being closest to the original.

Previous

 

Appendix 1: Capitalisation of the word spirit in certain books of the various Darby Bible editions

 

Genesis:

 

Reference

1890

1939

1961

1: 2

Large S

Large S

Large S

6: 3

Small s

Small s

Large S

41:8

Small s

Small s

Small s

41:38

Large S

Large S

Large S

45:27

Small s

Small s

Small s

 

Exodus:

 

Reference

1890

1939

1961

6: 9

Small s

Small s

Small s

28: 3

Small s

Small s

Small s

31: 3

Small s

Small s

Small s

35: 21

Small s

Small s

Small s

35: 31

Small s

Small s

Small s

 

Numbers:

 

Reference

1890

1939

1961

5:14

Small s x 2

Small s x 2

Small s x 2

5: 30

Small s

Small s

Small s

11: 17

Large S

Large S

Large S

11: 25

Large S x 2

Large S x 2

Large S x 2

11: 26

Large S

Large S

Large S

11: 29

Large S

Large S

Large S

14: 24

Small s

Small s

Small s

16: 22

Small s

Small s

Small s

24: 2

Large S

Large S

Large S

27: 16

Small s

Small s

Small s

27: 18

Large S

Large S

Large S

 

Deuteronomy:

 

Reference

1890

1939

1961

2: 30

Small s

Small s

Small s

34: 9

Small s

Small s

Small s

 

Job:

 

Reference

1890

1939

1961

4: 15

Small s

Small s

Small s

6: 4

Small s

Small s

Small s

7: 11

Small s

Small s

Small s

10: 12

Small s

Small s

Small s

15: 13

Small s

Small s

Small s

20: 3

Small s

Small s

Small s

21: 4

Small s

Small s

Small s

26: 13

Small s

Small s

Large S

27: 3

Small s

Small s

Small s

32: 8

Small s

Small s

Small s

32: 18

Small s

Small s

Small s

33: 4

Large S

Large S

Large S

34: 14

Small s

Small s

Small s

 

Psalms:

 

Reference

1890

1939

1961

31: 5

Small s

Small s

Small s

32: 2

Small s

Small s

Small s

34: 18

Small s

Small s

Small s

51: 10

Small s

Small s

Small s

51 :11

Small s

Small s

Small s

51: 12

Small s

Small s

Small s

51: 17

Small s

Small s

Small s

76: 12

Small s

Small s

Small s

77: 3

Small s

Small s

Small s

77: 6

Small s

Small s

Small s

78: 8

Small s

Small s

Small s

104: 4

Small s

Small s

Small s

104: 30

Small s

Small s

Small s

106: 33

Small s

Small s

Small s

139: 7

Small s

Small s

Large S

142: 3

Small s

Small s

Small s

143: 4

Small s

Small s

Small s

143: 7

Small s

Small s

Small s

143: 10

Small s

Small s

Large S

 

Isaiah:

 

Reference

1890

1939

1961

4: 4

Small s x 2

Small s x 2

Small s x 2

11: 2

Small s x 4

Small s x 4

Large S x 1 Small s x 3

19: 3

Small s

Small s

Small s

19:14

Small s

Small s

Small s

26: 9

Small s

Small s

Small s

28: 6

Small s

Small s

Small s

29: 4

Small s

Small s

Small s

29: 10

Small s

Small s

Small s

29: 24

Small s

Small s

Small s

30: 1

Small s

Small s

Large S

31: 3

Small s

Small s

Small s

32: 15

Small s

Small s

Large S

34: 16

Small s

Small s

Large S

37: 7

Small s

Small s

Small s

38: 16

Small s

Small s

Small s

40: 13

Large S

Large S

Large S

42: 1

Small s

Small s

Large S

42: 5

Small s

Small s

Small s

44: 3

Small s

Small s

Large S

48: 16

Large S

Large S

Large S

54: 6

Small s

Small s

Small s

57: 15

Small s

Small s

Small s

57: 16

Small s

Small s

Small s

59: 19

Large S

Large S

Large S

59: 21

Small s

Small s

Small s

61: 1

Large S

Large S

Large S

61: 3

Small s

Small s

Small s

63: 10

Large S

Large S

Large S

63: 11

Large S

Large S

Large S

63: 14

Large S

Large S

Large S

65: 14

Small s

Small s

Small s

66: 2

Small s

Small s

Small s

 

Ezekiel:

 

Reference

1890

1939

1961

1: 12

Small s

Small s

Large S

1: 20

Small s x 3

Small s x 3

Large S, then small s x 2

1: 21

Small s

Small s

Small s

2: 2

Large S

Large S

Large S

3: 12

Large S

Large S

Large S

3: 14

Large S, then small s

Large S, then small s

Large S, then small s

3: 24

Large S

Large S

Large S

8: 3

Large S

Large S

Large S

10: 17

Small s

Small s

Small s

11: 1

Large S

Large S

Large S

11: 5

Large S

Large S

Large S

11: 19

Small s

Small s

Small s

11: 24

Large S x 2

Large S x 2

Large S x 2

13: 3

Small s

Small s

Small s

18: 31

Small s

Small s

Small s

21: 7

Small s

Small s

Small s

36: 26

Small s

Small s

Small s

36: 27

Large S

Large S

Large S

37: 1

Large S

Large S

Large S

37: 14

Large S

Large S

Large S

39: 29

Large S

Large S

Large S

43: 5

Large S

Large S

Large S

 

Appendix 2: Example footnote changes

 

Ezekiel 37: 9

1890

1939

1961

‘Prophesy unto the wind’[25]

Note t: Or ‘breath’, ‘spirit’

Note b: Ruach, ‘spirit’, ‘wind’ vers. 6, 8, 9, 10, 14 and often.[26]

Note a:

Ruach, ‘spirit’, ‘wind’ vers. 6, 8, 9, 10, 14 and often.

‘O breath’

No note

No note

Note b: ‘Or Spirit, come from the four winds’[27]

 

Numbers 21: 17

1890

1939

1961

‘Sing unto it’

No note

Note b:‘Or ‘respond’, as Hos. 2: 15’

Note k: ‘Or ‘answer’, ‘respond’, as Hos. 2: 15’

 

2 Cor. 13: 14

1890

1939

1961

‘The communion of the Holy Spirit’[28]

No note

Note v: ‘Or ‘fellowship’, koinonia, as 1 Cor. 1: 9’

Note m: ‘Or ‘fellowship’, koinonia, as 1 Cor. 1: 9’

 

Appendix 3: Extracts from The Giver and His Gifts by E W Bullinger

 

The question we have to ask, and the information we seek, is this: To what does the word pneuma refer each time it is used in the New Testament? When does it refer to the Holy Spirit? And when is it used psychologically or in any other way? In other words, when ought pneuma to be rendered Spirit, and when spirit? When with a capital “S” and when with a small “s”?

   We can get no help from the ORIGINAL GREEK MANUSCRIPTS of the New Testament. There are nearly four thousand of them; but they are all in one of two styles of writing. The one class is written all in capitals without any small letters. The other class is written all in small letters with no capitals, or with only a very few; none as we use them, with certain words; but only at the beginning of books or sections, or of large paragraphs. The former class consists of about 127 manuscripts, called “Uncials” because every letter is large, and the whole is written in capitals. The other class consists of about 3,702 manuscripts, which are called “Cursives” because every word is written in running-hand. It is clear, therefore, that we can get no help from the manuscripts as to when to use “S” and when to use “s”.

   We can get no help from the PRINTED EDITIONS of the GREEK TESTAMENT. The MSS. have been printed at different times by various scholars, who have edited particular editions. These editors all differ among themselves as to the use of capital letters. They have used them according to their best judgment, of course; but still it is their own judgment, and is, therefore, a matter of interpretation rather than of transcription. The same may be said of their paragraphs, parentheses, inverted commas, punctuation, etc. These, with chapters, verses, head-lines, etc., are all editorial, and rest only on human authority. It is clear, therefore, that we can get no help from the printed texts of the Greek Testament.

   To show the importance of the whole subject; and, to calm the minds of any who may feel that we are unnecessarily raising disturbing questions, it may be sufficient to show that we are not the first, or the only ones, who have realised the difficulty, if we quote the words of the late J. N. Darby, in the Preface to the second edition of his translation of the New Testament (1884). He says:—

    “The use of a large or small ‘s’ is of extreme difficulty in the case of the word Spirit; not in giving it when the Holy Spirit is simply spoken of personally. There it is simple enough. But as dwelling in us, our state by it, and the Holy Spirit itself, are so blended as to make it then very difficult; because it is spoken of as our state, and then as the Holy Ghost. If it be put large, we lose the first; if small, the Spirit personally. I can only leave it with this warning, calling the attention of the reader to it. It is a blessed thought that it is so blended in power that our state is so spoken of; but if we lose the divine Person, that blessing itself is lost. The reader may see, not the difficulty, for it does not exist there, but the blending of the effect and the person in Rom. viii. 27.”

   On Rom, viii. 9, he has this note, “Another instance of the difficulty of putting a large or small ‘s’. It is clearly the state and characteristic of the believer; but it is so by the presence of the Spirit”.

   Here then we have the difficulty stated and acknowledged. And we ask, What advance has been made in the solution of this “difficulty” in the twenty years that have elapsed since these words were written by Mr. Darby? Have his successors done anything to remove the difficulty? Have they not, instead of advancing in the knowledge of the Scriptures, settled down “on their lees”, as though their leaders had exhausted the treasures of the inexhaustible Word?[29]

 

It[30] is used of the Holy Spirit. Because He is emphatically the Spirit of God, the great mistake has been made of concluding, without sufficient thought or care, that the word pneuma must nearly always refer to Him, wherever it may be used.

   This mistake is so general that, even where there is no article in the Greek, the definite article is often introduced and imported into the English; and where there is nothing to indicate capital letters in the original, they have been used without any Textual authority in the English and other translations.

   This practice has been the fruitful source of many very popular errors. The English reader has been helpless in this matter. He sees the definite article, and the capital letters, in the English, and naturally concludes that “the Holy Spirit” is meant. He does not know that he is reading an interpretation or comment, instead of what ought to be a simple translation. He takes it as Divine and inspired; and proceeds to reason on these expressions, to draw his inferences, to form his views, and to build up his schemes of doctrine and teaching upon them. But his theories are based on a human foundation; his doctrines are built, not on the impregnable rock of the Divine words, but on the opinions and judgment of man.[31]


Footnotes:

[1] See Von Poseck, J A. Light in our dwellings, Ralph E Welch Foundation, pp 209-210.

[2] A new version of the Darby Bible was published by New England Bible Sales in 2014 with updated language. This is not considered here. Commendably, it claims to document all the changes that have been made.

[3] See Bible Notes from the 1871 edition of the New Testament, English New Translation by J N Darby, annotated by the translator, Bible & Gospel Trust, 2013 pp iii-iv).

[4] See Huebner, R A. Precious truths revived and defended through J N Darby, Present Truth Publishers 1995, volume 3, p45.

[5] See also the Introductory Notice to the New Testament as printed in the 1890 edition of the Darby Bible: “The edition of the New Testament now put into the reader’s hand is printed from a corrected copy of the second edition (1871), entirely completed by the translator before his death, and revised while going through the press, as carefully as circumstances would permit, from his own notes”.

[6] See www.mybrethren.org The Stow Hill Depot-Part Two Information and Consultation meetings.

[7] See Huebner, R A. Precious truths revived and defended through J N Darby, Present Truth Publishers 1995, volume 3 p45.

[8] See footnote in Huebner, R A. Precious truths revived and defended through J N Darby, Present Truth Publishers 1995, volume 3 p45.

[9] The term ‘Darby Translation’ (which Darby himself would almost certainly have resisted) was introduced many years after his death, and does not reflect the collective nature of the project. Originally, the work was simply called a “New Translation”.

[10] According to R A Huebner (Precious truths revived and defended through J N Darby, Present Truth Publishers 1995, volume 3 p45), the Old Testament was first issued in parts, in 1883–1889. This suggests that others were working on the project throughout the periodat least in the sense of readying manuscripts for publication if nothing more. Huebner also says that there were two printings of the complete Old Testament: one in 1889, the other in 1890.

[11] Some distributors advertise a 1927/2002 limited notes edition published by Gute Botschaft Verlag. This appears to be a version of the 1890 edition with some of Darby’s notes removed.

[12] Reid, W. Literature and Mission of the So Called Plymouth Brethren, 1875—quoted in Huebner, R A. Precious truths revived and defended through J N Darby, Present Truth Publishers 1995, volume 3 p44. “P.B” is presumably ‘Plymouth brother’ (as in Plymouth Brethren).

[13] I have no information on who edited the 1961 edition. The trustees of the Stow Hill Bible Depot in 1960 were A J Gardiner, W Henderson, G H Stuart Price and R Stott, and they would presumably have sanctioned any changes.

[14] Taylor, J. Ministry, old series volume 179, p82 (new series volume 68, p82), 1949.

[15] Taylor, J. Ministry old series volume 179, pp91–92 (new series volume 68, pp91–92), 1949.

[16] At the time of writing, the full account can be read at: http://wikipeebia.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Stow-Hill.pdf

[17] The 1939 and 1961 editions italicize some words that the 1890 edition does not (see, for example, Eph. 2: 11, 13, 14, 22). The 1939 edition neither mentions nor gives an explanation as to why these changes were made. Now it may be argued that the alterations have the effect of conveying the original Greek more exactly. That may or may not be the case (I am not qualified to say) but that is not the point. The point is that the 1939 edition says it is “A new translation from the original languages by J N Darby” when in fact it is an edited version of the same, with the editing carried out after Darby’s death, and some of that editing kept from the reader.

[18] According to Gilles Despins (pers. comm.), Darby “wanted to follow the Greek manuscripts, which do not capitalize this word [spirit] (as also christ and some others)”. This does of course beg the question as to how Greek and Hebrew readers were able to distinguish spirit and Spirit for example. The only sensible answer is by means of context. It is also worth noting that the Jews in the Old Testament would have identified the Spirit of God with God Himself, just as the spirit of a man is identified with the man (see Gen. 45: 27). They would parallel God’s Spirit with their spirit. The oneness of God was fundamental to them (see Deut. 6: 4), and they would not have thought of God’s Spirit as one of the Trinity as people think and speak today. A small letter ‘s’ in relation to the Spirit of God in the Old Testament is therefore quite plausible.

[19] At a meeting of Taylor Brethren in 1960, those present were informed that “Capital ‘S’ for the Spirit has been indicated in 15 cases where a small ‘s’ is now used in the current [1939 Stow Hill] edition e.g. Genesis 6: 3”. See www.mybrethren.org The Stow Hill Depot-Part Two Information and Consultation meetings. This information is not given in the Darby Bible.

[20] See the Revised Preface to Second Edition of the New Testament (1871) and the footnotes to Rom. 1: 4; 8: 9; 1 Cor. 2: 12 and also Rev. 1: 10 (1961 edition only). See also comments by E W Bullinger in The Giver and His Gifts, Lamp Press, London pp 2-10, 15 and particularly pp 6–8, where he refers to the dilemma raised by Darby. Two extracts from Bullinger are given in Appendix 3. It is possible that W Kelly may also be making a criticism of Darby’s version in his commentary on 2 Cor. 3: 17 (Notes on the Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, George Morrish, no date): “For it is an utter mistake to give “the spirit” in the first clause a capital letter, which would imply the Holy Ghost to be meant; and where would be the sense, where so much the orthodoxy, of identifying the Lord with the Holy Ghost? To me the meaning, without doubt, is that the Lord Jesus constitutes the spirit of the forms and figures and other communications of the old covenant” (p 53). Accordingly (and unlike Darby), he gives the verse as “Now the Lord is the spirit, but where the Spirit of the Lord [is, there is] liberty”.

[21] Incidentally, the Davidson 1967 Darby concordance (presumably based on the 1961 edition) specifically separates Spirit and spirit.

[22] See p9

[23] From Wigram, G V. A short account of the making and perfecting of the Englishman’s Greek Concordance, 1844.

[24] At a meeting of Taylor Brethren in 1960, those present were informed that 33 new notes had been added to the 1961 edition. Of these, 12 were entirely new, and 21 were from the Morrish Bible, the French Bible and the German Bible. The 12 new notes had been culled from the Collected Writings and the Synopsis. See www.mybrethren.org The Stow Hill Depot-Part Two Information and Consultation meetings. This information is not given in the Darby Bible.

[25] In passing it should be noted that the Hebrew word for the nouns breath and wind in verse 9 is the same (the verb breathe is a different Hebrew word).

[26] This note (and its equivalent in the 1961 edition) appear to have been taken from the note to the word breath in verse 5 of the 1890 edition: ‘Spirit’, ‘wind’, and so in vers. 6, 8, 9, 10’.

[27] That the information in this note is presumably extracted from the published writings of Darby is not the point. It is clearly inserted to support a doctrinal position with which Darby himself would not have been sympathetic.

[28] This Scripture is sometimes brought forward as if it had the sense of our communion with the Holy Spirit. That is not correct. The sense is a communion characterised by the Holy Spirit i.e. He is the means and power of the communion, but not the object of that communion.

[29] See Bullinger, E W. The Giver and His Gifts, Lamp Press, London pp 2–4, 7–8. This is an abridged extract, with some rearrangement of the paragraphs.

[30] The reference is to the Greek word pneuma.

[31] See Bullinger, E W. The Giver and His Gifts, Lamp Press, London p15.