Coverdale Bible, 1535, and Psalm 12:6-7

Bible versions, like Ecclesiastical confessions, represent the conclusion of literary, grammatical, and syntactical deliberations. Rather than showing the aggregate steps in the process, the conclusion of the process is the reading selected for the version. Continuing to build a case for the antecedent of “keep them” being the “pure words” Reformation era versional testimony is presented. The first version for review is the 1535 Coverdale Bible. Of the Coverdale Bible, Ira Price in The Ancestry of Our English Bible writes,

“Miles Coverdale must be credited with having published the first complete Bible in the English language. In contrast with the work of Tyndale, it was not translated from the original Hebrew and Greek tests but was based on (1) the Zurich Bible of Zwingli and Leo Juda, completed in 1529; (2) Luther’s German; (3) the Vulgate; (4) the Latin text of Pagninus (1528); and (5) probably Tyndale’s work in the Pentateuch. In the New Testament Coverdale’s main sources were Tyndale’s latest (1534-35) Revision and Luther’s German (1522).Ira Maurice Price, The Ancestry of Our English Bible (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1956), 253.

At Psalm 12:6-7, the Coverdale Bible reads, “The words of the Lord are pure words: even as ye silver, which from earth is tried and purified vii times in the fire. Keep them therefore (O Lord) and preserve us from this generation for ever.”

The absence of the intervening words, “Thou shalt” to begin verse 7 accents the immediate antecedent of “keep them” being the “pure words” in verse 6. Also note the divided interpretive rendering. In the first clause, Coverdale intended the words to be kept; in the second clause people are in view, “preserve us.” “Them” and “us” are not the same words or the same people. “Them” points to the antecedent “pure words” while “us” refers to the “people.” Miles Coverdale, Coverdale Bible 1535, Facsimile (Kent: Wm. Dawson and Sons Ltd., 1975).

If one presupposes that there are no verses in the Bible that teach providential preservation based on their interpretation of the evidence, this passage cannot be considered additional historical evidence that argues for the preservation of God’s words, because the critic begins with the impossibility of providential preservation. This is a secular kind of scholarship. If, however, you believe God’s word is true, then there are verses that teach providential preservation, Psalm 12:6-7 being one of them, and the 1935 Coverdale Bible evidence of that truth. This is a Biblical kind of scholarship. It’s like saying, “There is no evidence for the resurrection of the dead, except for those who have risen from the dead.” Likewise, there are no verses that teach providential preservation except for those verses that teach providential preservation.

Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1983), 1095: a few manuscripts of the Septuagint and Hieronyumus [Jerome] read ranu, “us” at titsrenu; the Syriac version of the OT reads, swzbjnj wpsnj, libera me at redime me, “free me and redeem me”; tishmram, תִּשְׁמְרֵ֑ם “keep them”; titsrenu, תִּצְּרֶ֓נּוּ “preserve him” or without the dogash, “preserve us.”

Published by Dr. Peter Van Kleeck, Sr.

Dr. Peter William Van Kleeck, Sr. : B.A., Grand Rapids Baptist College, 1986; M.A.R., Westminster Theological Seminary, 1990; Th.M., Calvin Theological Seminary, 1998; D. Min, Bob Jones University, 2013. Dr. Van Kleeck was formerly the Director of the Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, Grand Rapids, MI, (1990-1994) lecturing, researching and writing in the defense of the Masoretic Hebrew text, Greek Received Text and King James Bible. His published works include, "Fundamentalism’s Folly?: A Bible Version Debate Case Study" (Grand Rapids: Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, 1998); “We have seen the future and we are not in it,” Trinity Review, (Mar. 99); “Andrew Willet (1562-1621: Reformed Interpretation of Scripture,” The Banner of Truth, (Mar. 99); "A Primer for the Public Preaching of the Song of Songs" (Outskirts Press, 2015). Dr. Van Kleeck is the pastor of the Providence Baptist Church in Manassas, VA where he has ministered for the past twenty-one years. He is married to his wife of 43 years, Annette, and has three married sons, one daughter and eighteen grandchildren.

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