An American scholar has found the earliest known draft of the 1611 authorized version of the Bible, commonly called the King James Version.
Jeffrey Alan Miller, an assistant professor of English at Montclair State University in New Jersey, recently uncovered the document while researching an essay.
In an interview with The Christian Post, Miller explained that he discovered the work among the collected papers of Samuel Ward, a translator who worked on the KJV, which were held at the University of Cambridge.
"Specifically, I thought I might maybe find, say, a letter that was relevant, an unknown piece of correspondence, something like that," said Miller, who located such sources, but then found a document listed as MSWard-B.
"It doesn't necessarily look like what one maybe would have expected a draft of the King James Bible to look like … the discovery was unexpected in a variety of ways."
MSWard-B was initially labeled as a document that included a "Bible commentary," but specifics as to what the document included were largely unknown by the overseers of the collection.
Miller told CP that, given its origins, there is "no dispute" that the document in question is an authentic source from Ward.
"There's no dispute at all that it's a document of Samuel Ward, that it's in a notebook that Samuel Ward owned," said Miller.
"Even before I realized that this was a draft of the King James Bible, we've known for a long time that this notebook belonged to Samuel Ward."
Miller added that the notebook was "clearly" in the handwriting of Ward, who had what Miller described as "distinctly bad" handwriting.
Published in 1611, the King James Version of the Bible is considered one of the most widely read books in the English language.
A combination of the work of 54 scholars and drawn from earlier translation efforts by John Wycliffe, the KJV includes several verses and phrases that remain clichés in modern English.
"And though some modern translations now outsell King James, the number of its admirers is no drop in the bucket," noted a published commentary by CBS' Charles Osgood. "'Drop in the bucket' being from the book of Isaiah, chapter 40, verse 15. In fact, many of the common phrases [we] use today trace back to the King James Bible."
"And although they presumably didn't always 'See Eye To Eye' (Isaiah 52:8), and may even have occasionally been at their 'Wits' End' (Psalms 107:2), they continued to 'Fight The Good Fight' (Timothy I, 6:12), all with the aim of satisfying 'The Powers That Be' (Romans 13:1)," Osgood continued.
Miller told CP that he hopes other scholars will examine the recently uncovered draft and find further discoveries of interest regarding the development of the authorized version.