The practice of indicating, by different types, words and phrases which were not in the Original Text, was, it is believed, first introduced by Sebastian Münster, of Basle, in a Latin version of the Old Testament published in 1534.

The English New Testament (published at Geneva, 1557) and the Geneva Bible (1560) "put in that word which, lacking, made the sentence obscure, but set it in such letters as may easily be discerned from the common text."  The example was followed and extended in the Bishops' Bible (1568, 1572), and the roman and italic (*1) types of these Bibles (as distinguished from the black letter and roman type of previous Bibles) were introduced into the A.V. (1611).

The following seem to have been the principles guiding the translators of the A.V. :--

  1. To supply the omissions under the Figure Ellipsis, or what they considered to be Ellipsis.

  2. To supply the words necessary to give the sense, when the Figure Zeugma is employed.

  3. Once, at least, to indicate a word or words of doubtful MS. authority, 1John 2:23 (first introduced in Cranmer's Bible -- doubtless from the Vulgate).  Perhaps also Judg. 16:2 and 20:9.

  4. Where the English idiom differs from that of the Originals, and requires essential words to be added, which are not necessary in the Hebrew or Greek.
For the use of italic type in the R.V. see Ap. 7.

The use of large capital letters for certain words and phrases originated with the A.V.  None of the previous or "former translations" have them.

The revisers abandoned this practice, but have not been consistent in the plan they substituted for it.  In most of the cases they have used small capital letters instead of the large capitals; but in three cases (Jer. 23:6.  Zech. 3:8; 6:12) they have used ordinary roman type.

The use of large capitals by the translators of the A.V. is destitute of any authority, and merely indicates the importance which they attached to such words and phrases thus indicated.

The following is a complete list :--

  • Ex. 3:14.  "I am that I am."
  • Ex. 3:14.  "I am."
  • Ex. 6:3.  "Jehovah."
  • Ex. 28:36; 39:30.  "Holiness (R.V. "Holy") to the Lord."
  • Deut. 28:58.  "The Lord thy God."
  • Ps. 68:4.  "Jah."
  • Ps. 83:18.  "Jehovah."
  • Isa. 26:4.  "Jehovah."
  • Dan. 5:25-28.  "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin."  (v. 28, "Peres".)
  • Zech. 14:20.  "Holiness (R.V. "Holy") unto the Lord."
  • Matt. 1:21.  "Jesus."
  • Matt. 1:25.  "Jesus."
  • Matt. 27:37.  The inscriptions on the Cross.  Also Mark 15:26.  Luke 23:38.  John 19:19.
  • Luke 1:31; 2:21.  "Jesus."
  • Acts 17:23.  "To the (R.V. "an") unknown God."
  • Rev. 17:5.  "Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of (R.V. "the") Harlots and (R.V. "the") Abominations of the Earth."
  • Rev. 19:16.  "King of Kings, and Lord of Lords."
Large capitals in A.V.  Small roman letters in R.V.
  • Jer. 23:6.  "The Lord our Righteousness."
  • Zech. 3:8.  "Branch."
  • Zech. 6:12.  "Branch."

(*1)  The word italic means relating to Italy, and is used of a kind of type dedicated to the States of Italy, by Aldus Manutius, about the year 1500.

Appendix List

| About LW | Site Map | LW Publications | Search
Developed by © Levend Water All rights reserved