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225.5 TW 59-135^6 


Alexander Campbell and his 

new version 

225,5 T^5aL 59-13526 
Baomas $4*00 
Alexander Campbell and his 
new version 






By Cecil K. Thomas 




Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 58-13266 

Printed in the United States of America 

To My Wife 

whose patient understand- 
ing and encouragement have 
made possible not only this 
book but a whole career also 


This book is based upon a dissertation presented to the faculty 
of Princeton Theological Seminary in fulfillment of the require- 
ments for the degree of Doctor of Theology. 

The author is indebted to many for the help which he has 
received in the preparation of this study. In the search for the 
original materials, Claude E. Spencer of the Disciples of Christ 
Historical Society has been most helpful. For the use of many 
of the old editions and versions of the New Testament, the 
writer is indebted to the library of the American Bible Society, 
and especially to Kathleen M. Davidson, who has given invalu- 
able assistance. The text of the American Bible Union Version 
of the Acts was secured from the library of Johnson Bible Col- 
lege. For the use of rare Baptist periodicals, the writer acknowl- 
edges his debt to Dr. B. L. Elliott of Southwestern Baptist Theo- 
logical Seminary. Harvey "Wilfred, Seminary Librarian, College 
of the Bible of Phillips University, has given a great deal of 
help in interlibrary correspondence and in service rendered in 
the Graduate Seminary Library at Phillips University. For the 
study and translation of portions of the Welsh Edition of Camp- 
bell's New Testament, the writer is indebted to Ewart Thomas 
of Cumberland, England, now a Baptist missionary to India. 
The writer also wishes to acknowledge the help and encourage- 
ment given to him by Dean Luther A. Weigle of Yale Univer- 
sity, and especially for procedures learned from his Bible Words 
Which Have Changed Their Meanings. The writer is especially 
indebted to Dr. Otto A. Piper of Princeton Theological Seminary, 



who supervised the writing of the dissertation upon which this 
book is based. The author wishes also to express his gratitude for 
the aid and advice given him by his colleagues, Dean S. J. Eng- 
land and Dr. Robert G. Martin of the Graduate Seminary of 
Phillips University, Professor Sheldon Shirts of the College of 
the Bible, Phillips University, and Professor Margaret Edwards, 
head of the English Department of Phillips University. An 
expression of gratitude is due also to three of the writer's stu- 
dents: Charles Bayer and Eobert Langston aided greatly in 
the collation of parts of the New Testament; Eosalie Matson of 
Melbourne, Australia, has given many hours to the laborious task 
of preparing the typescript. 

College of the Bible 
Phillips University. 


A living language is continually changing. Like 
the fashions and customs in apparel, words and 
phrases, at one time current and fashionable, in the 
lapse of time become awkward and obsolete. . . . Many 
of them, in a century or two, come to have a signifi- 
cation very different from that which was once at- 
tached to them. Nay, some are known to convey ideas 
not only different from, but contrary to, their first 
signification. . . . 

But this constant mutation in a living language 
will probably render new translations, or corrections 
of old translations, necessary every two or three hun- 
dred years. For although the English tongue may 
have changed less during the last two hundred years 
than it ever did in the same lapse of time; yet the 
changes which have taken place since the reign of 
James I. do now render a new translation necessary. 
For if the King's translators had given a translation 
every way faithful and correct, in the language then 
spoken in Britain, the changes in the English lan- 
guage which have since been introduced, would render 
that translation in many instances incorrect. 

The Sacred Writings, 1826 

Thus wrote Alexander Campbell in the preface to his 
New Version of 1826. It sounds so contemporary that, 
with slight changes in phraseology, it might preface a 
modern-language translation of today, rather than one 
published some one hundred thirty years ago. The 
statement shows Campbell's keen awareness of a need 
now widely recognized. The Bible brings the Word of 


Life to the world. It was written in the living language 
of the days in which it was penned. It ought, then, to 
speak to contemporary Christians in the living language 
of their day. This was the goal toward which Alexander 
Campbell worked over a period of thirty years as he 
edited, published, and, in part, translated the New Tes- 

This phase of the work of Alexander Campbell has not 
heretofore received the treatment which this writer feels 
it deserves. Much has been written about Campbell's 
life and his work as a religious leader, as well as about 
his thought. It is not the purpose of this work to repeat 
what has already been written nor to re-examine those 
phases which have been treated adequately elsewhere. 
We shall deal with such matters only where they bear 
directly upon the study which is our main theme. The 
purpose of this study is to trace historically the work 
done by Alexander Campbell in his editing and publish- 
ing of the New Testament from 1826 through 1839, and 
his translation of the Acts for the American Bible Union 
in 1858. This historical study will lead to a critical and 
evaluative study of the principles of interpretation and 
translation which lie behind his work. 

The results of such a study should be particularly val- 
uable for our time. The work of Campbell in the first 
half of the nineteenth century gives added interest to 
the work of Bible translation in the first half of the 
twentieth. This interest will be heightened still further 
by the striking way in which Alexander Campbell antic- 
ipated, by some one hundred twenty-five years, many 
of the most striking features of the Bevised Standard 
Version. The present study should provide the student 
of Bible translation with one vivid example of the effort 
to make the Bible speak in living language and of the 
overwhelming problems involved in such an undertaking. 



PART ONE : The Production of the New Version 





PAET TWO : Principles for Action 












In the second quarter of the nineteenth century Noah Web- 
ster's revision of the common English version of the Bible and 
Alexander Campbell's new translation of the New Testament 
took definite steps in paths later to be followed by the revisers 
of the 1870 7 s and those of the present century. Webster, as a 
lexicographer, was acutely aware of the changes in English 
usage which caused much of the language of the King James 
Version to be obsolete and misleading. Campbell was equally 
aware of the need to recover the ancient Greek text, free from 
the errors of manuscript copying. 

Noah Webster's revision and Alexander Campbell's new ver- 
sion served their day. The one found use chiefly among the Con- 
gregationalists of New England, and the other among Disciples 
of Christ and the Baptists. In the end both fell into disuse, 
their place being taken by the revised versions of 1881-1885 and 
1901, and by the twentieth-century translations. 

Alexander Campbell's translation of the New Testament was 
one of his major undertakings, of vital significance to his move- 
ment. It is well that in the present volume we have an excellent 
account of this phase of his work. 

Campbell was an indefatigable student of Greek, honest in 
dealing with it, and courageous in presenting its meaning. I 
agree with the author's statement that he "was aware of the 
basic principles of interpretation and translation which were 
accepted by the best scholars of his day and which have been 
proved valid by the testing of over a century of critical study." 

It is not surprising, therefore, that there is so large a degree 
of likeness between Campbell's translation and the Revised 
Standard Version of our own day. This is strikingly shown in 
the list of words near the end of the first chapter of the present 
work, and in the figures reported in the last chapter. 



At each of these points the author has referred to the one 
obvious defect of Campbell's translation. This was his English 
diction. He tended to substitute ornate words of Latin deriva- 
tion for the ordinary words of common use. "A city situate 
on a mountain must be conspicuous" is a needless elaboration of 
"A city set on a hill cannot be hid." ''Whosoever commits 
murder shall be obnoxious to the judges" is a correct statement 
in archaic legal language, but is almost sure to be misunder- 
stood by the reader. Yet this "semiclassical language," as the 
author refers to it, is by no means as great a defect as undue 
colloquialism would be. The effect of this study of Alexander 
Campbell's work as a translator of the New Testament will be 
to enhance his stature as one of the leaders of modern Protes- 




The Production 

of the 
New Version 


A Nineteenth-Century 
"New Version" 

All that we can be praised or blamed for is this one 
circumstance, that we have given the most conspicu- 
ous place to the version which appeared to deserve 
it; but as the reader will have both, we have not 
judged for him, but left him to judge for himself. 

The Sacred Writings, 1826 

The Process of Publication 

In 1826 Alexander Campbell issued from his press at 
Bethany, Virginia, a new version of the New Testament. 
Behind this publication lies the story of a dream which 
he had pursued for many years. Campbell's early 
reading had been largely in theological works, but he 
wrote in the Christian Baptist of April, 1826, that about 
1816 his interest in reading had shifted and since that 
time he had read the Bible and critical and exegetical 
works about it almost exclusively. This change appar- 
ently led to his publication of a new version in 1826. 

In 1818 there was published in London a New Testa- 
ment which was compounded from several sources. The 
Gospels were derived from the work published by George 
Campbell of Aberdeen, the Epistles directly from a 
translation published by James Macknight in his com- 
mentary on the Epistles, and the Acts and Revelation 
from Doddridge's Paraphrase and Notes on the New 



Testament. Shortly after the publication of the London 
edition, a bookseller in New York proposed an American 
edition and distributed a prospectus for the work. 
Alexander Campbell received a copy of the prospectus 
and immediately submitted an order for 100 copies for 
distribution in the congregations which he served. The 
proposed American publication did not materialize. Be- 
cause of his conviction about the importance of the work, 
Campbell began to think of undertaking such a work on 
his own initiative. He proposed certain changes, how- 
ever, from the London edition. There should be prefaces 
to the work for the aid of the reader. Critical notes 
should be added for the help of those more interested in 
critical details. Finally, instead of the simple reproduc- 
tion of the original CampbeU, Macknight, Doddridge 
text, he proposed that emendations should be made from 
other translations and from the Greek text. 1 

We are not informed about the time at which Campbell 
began to work on the project. In a note in the Christian 
Baptist of June, 1825, he wrote that he had issued pro- 
posals for a publication of the Campbell, Macknight, 
Doddridge New Testament. He had chosen these 
sources because he felt them to be, by far, the best that 
had appeared in the English language. The prospectus 
and proposal had been distributed by the time this note 
was written. In July of the same year, he wrote that 
a small edition of the work might be begun by fall. He 
cautioned, however, that it was a work that could not be 
hurried. He was in the process of collecting "all trans- 
lations of note," and from these he would give the 
readings on disputed passages as far as possible in the 
limitations of space. They would be placed either in the 
margin or in an appendix. The aim of this procedure 
was to aid the nontechnical student of the Bible "in 
forming accurate, clear, and comprehensive views of the 

1. Mill&wM Hwr'binger, 1832, pp. 268, 269. 


Christian religion." One element in the speed of the 
undertaking would be the raising of the needed funds. 
Campbell urged the " punctuality" of friends, probably 
subscribers of the Christian Baptist who were in arrears 
with their payments. In November the work of editing 
was still in progress. Campbell wrote that he had just 
recently come into possession of John Locke's Para- 
phrase and Notes on four of Paul's epistles. He then 
gave an extract from the preface of the work to indicate 
that, though he had never before read it, his principles 
of translation and interpretation were wholly in accord 
with those used by Locke. The work, he wrote, concurs 
"in shewing the necessity for a translation of the New 
Testament which we are about to publish." In Decem- 
ber the Christian Baptist carried a note stating that 
much attention was being given to the New Testament 
which was just then put to press. In March the printing 
was still going on and Campbell wrote that the eagerness 
which he had to get the New Testament off the press and 
into the hands of the bookbinders would delay the publi- 
cation of the April Christian Baptist. 

On April 19, 1826, Campbell enthusiastically wrote 
that the new version was off the press. The title page 
reads, "The Sacred Writings of the Apostles and Evan- 
gelists of Jesus Christy commonly styled the New Testa- 
ment, 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 with an appendix, Buffa- 
loe, Brooke Co., Virginia, Printed and published by 
Alexander Campbell, 1826." Campbell observed, "We 
flatter ourselves that the impression as to the beauty and 
correctness, will be found equal to our proposals, if not 
superior, and equal to any other impression which has 
issued from the American press." 2 He pronounced it 

2. Christian, Baptist, April 3, 1826, p. 216. 


superior to the London edition in every respect. The 
book was to be sent to the bookbinder immediately and 
was to be ready for distribution as soon as possible. The 
expense of the undertaking had been more than was 
anticipated. The price should have been set at $2.50 per 
volume, but because of the earlier announcement, those 
who had subscribed in advance would receive it for $1.75, 
the price stated in the prospectus. To all nonsubseribers 
the price would be $2.00. It was, however, a small 
edition of about two thousand copies and nearly all of 
these had been subscribed in advance. 3 By July, the 
work was being forwarded to agents in Kentucky and 
elsewhere, and those who had not yet received it would 
soon be supplied. Campbell's satisfaction with the work 
is seen in his statement in the appendix: 

Taking everything into view, we have no hesitation in saying, 
that, in the present improved state of the English language, 
the ideas communicated by the Apostles and Evangelists of Je- 
sus Christ, are incomparably better expressed in this, than in 
any volume ever presented in our mother tongue. 4 

The Sources 

A question which is repeatedly raised is that of the 
manner in which and the extent to which Alexander 
Campbell used his sources. It has sometimes been as- 
sumed that he made his own translation and published 
it under the names of George Campbell, James Mac- 
knight, and Philip Doddridge in order to give it prestige. 
Thus E. W. Landis wrote in his Biblical Repository of 
April, 1839: 

The single fact is this, the Version is Mr. Campbell's alone . . . 
and the dishonest artifice of ascribing it to Campbell, Mae- 
knight and Doddridge, a crime in no way different from forgery, 

3. Millennial Harbinger, 1839, p. 515. 

4. The Sacred "Writings, etc. (Buff aloe, Brooke Co., Va. : Printed and 
published by Alexander Campbell, 1826), Appendix, p. 1. 


was resorted to for the purpose of speculating upon the credulity 
of the public. 5 

On the other hand, it is frequently assumed today that 
Campbell used the work of these three translators and 
published it under his own name without giving proper 

The answer to the question should have been apparent 
from Campbell's own statements. The title pages of 
the first and second editions indicate that the translation 
is the work of "George Campbell, James Macknight, and 
Philip Doddridge, Doctors of the Church of Scotland." 
The notation of prefaces and appendix is subjoined to 
this title without notation of the author. The only place 
in which the name of Alexander Campbell appears on 
this page is the line stating that he was the printer and 
publisher. The text of the preface and the appendix is 
even more clear. Campbell stated in the preface that 
there were some errors in both the London edition of the 
New Testament and the Boston edition of George Camp- 
bell's work, but that these "are corrected in this volume ; 
and where the London publishers have departed from 
the original works of Campbell, Macknight, and Dodd- 
ridge, we have restored their own words." 6 The appen- 
dix is even more explicit. A great portion of this section 
consists of the listing of different translations of various 
passages. In most cases, where there is a departure 
from Campbell, Macknight, or Doddridge, Alexander 
Campbell gives the reading of these translators, and the 
reading substituted for it is presented and identified by 
indicating the translator from which the reading was 
taken. Where no statement is made identifying the 
translator of the reading used in the text, a comparisor 
of the appendix with the text makes it clear which source 
Campbell used. 

5. Biblical Repository, Vol. First, 1839, p. 314* 

6. The Bacred Writings, 1826, pp. 9, 10. 


Three factors need to be taken into consideration in 
evaluating this procedure. Alexander Campbell felt, 
first of all, that George Campbell was the outstanding 
translator of the New Testament into English, and, for 
this reason, the principles used by George Campbell in 
the Gospels were applied throughout the New Testament 
in emending the work of both Macknight and Doddridge. 
Second, Campbell believed that no one translation had 
sufficient merit to commend itself without reserve to the 
public. Thus he used many different translations from 
which he selected readings to replace those which he had 
found in his primary English sources. Further, he ac- 
cepted the Greek text of the New Testament as the basic 
source for any good translation. Thus he used the text 
of Griesbach consistently throughout the New Testa- 
ment. In summing up his role in the undertaking, Camp- 
bell wrote in his preface : 

All that we can be praised or blamed for is this one circum- 
stance, that we have given the most conspicuous place to the 
version which appeared to deserve it; but as the reader will 
have both, we have not judged for him, but left him to judge 
for himself. 7 

We have been discussing the sources from which Alex- 
ander Campbell drew the material for his New Version. 
Some detailed attention should be given to several of 
these. The text of the Gospels was taken from the work 
of Dr. George Campbell of Aberdeen. George Campbell 
was an outstanding minister in the Church of Scotland 
and professor of divinity in Marischal College in Aber- 
deen. The best known of his several published works is 
his Four Gospels, published in 1789. This work was well 
known and widely used by theologians for many years. 
It was a four-volume set, the first two volumes of which 
were made up of " Dissertations " on matters of style, 

7. itw., p. 


language, and translation of the New Testament. Sev- 
eral of the matters discussed here will appear in our 
study of peculiarities of Alexander Campbell's work 
which he adopted from this source. There is a volume 
of critical notes on passages in the Gospels. Still an- 
other volume contains George Campbell's translation 
of the Gospels. The translation has a number of dis- 
tinctive features. The intention of the translation was 
to present plainly in English the essential meaning of 
what was written in the original languages and as it 
was understood by the original readers. He aimed at 
simplicity, propriety, and clarity in the language used. 
He observed that he had attempted to avoid both "frip- 
pery" and "finery." In pursuit of this goal, the lan- 
guage of the King James Version was retained except 
where it impaired the thought for the contemporary 
reader. The text of the Gospels is not divided into verse 
paragraphs but into thought sections which were in- 
tended to be of generally equal length and such as might 
be read at one sitting by a person who reads his Bible 
daily. The whole of George Campbell's work was thus 
intended to be self-explanatory and to provide the reader 
with the aids to a proper understanding of the biblical 

Alexander Campbell took as the major source of his 
text of the Epistles the translation made by James Mac- 
knight, incorporated in his commentary on these books. 
After a very careful education in theology, James Mac- 
knight became a minister of the Church of Scotland. 
Though he was in the pastoral ministry, he gave a great 
deal of time to his biblical studies. In 1795, during his 
ministry at Edinburgh, he published his commentary on 
the Epistles. This is a multiple-volume set of works. 
The first volume is a series of essays explaining the 
nature of the commentary and translation to follow. 
The Greek text is translated as literally as possible. 


Even the word order of the Greek is preserved where 
this is advisable. The main point at which the text 
differs from the Common Version is in the rendering 
of Greek words which were obscure or even in error in 
the King James Version. 8 This translation was printed 
in a column, over against what is practically a para- 
phrase, and became the basis of the commentary which 
was the major part of the work. 

A third source used as a basic English translation by 
Alexander Campbell was the Family Expositor pub- 
lished 1739-1756 by Philip Doddridge, a minister of the 
Congregationalist Church in Scotland. Doddridge was 
following a pattern very common in his day. He made 
a translation of the biblical text. On the basis of this, 
he elaborated the thought in a paraphrase, using ex- 
tended explanation and interpretation but weaving the 
whole into a continuous narrative or discourse. Thus 
he accomplished the task of producing a commentary 
but gave a single readable text. The aim of the work 
was to provide a text and commentary for family 
reading of the New Testament. Within this paraphrase, 
Doddridge had printed, in italics, his own translation 
of the text. It is this translation and not the paraphrase 
which was used by Alexander Campbell in the Acts and 

In addition to these three basic English texts, Alexan- 
der Campbell used numerous other translations. The 
one upon which he relied most heavily was that of 
Charles Thomson, which was entitled The Holy Bible, 
Containing the Old and New Covenant, commonly called 
the Old and New Testament. The work was published 
in Philadelphia in 1808 and contained the entire Bible 
in four volumes. The Old Testament is a translation 
from the Septuagint and is considered by many to be the 

8. Macknight, James A., A New Literal Translation from the Original 
Greek of all the Apostolical Epistles, with Commentary and Notes, in six 
volumes (Edinburgh: 1820), pp. 31ff. 


best translation of that work into English. We are at 
a loss to know just what text was used for the New 
Testament. There are some interesting peculiarities, 
several of which appear also in Alexander Campbell's 
publication. As in George Campbell's text of the Gos- 
pels, the biblical text is arranged in paragraph form. 
The verse numbers are in the margin, but there is no 
indication of verse division within the text. Many of 
the readings of the text which appear here were adopted 
by Campbell in his New Version. 

There are other translations used by Campbell too 
numerous to discuss. It will be sufficient to name a few. 
The student who would like more detailed information 
about these and their use can find this in Campbell's own 
appendix to his first edition. Among these are the trans- 
lations of William Newcome, Daniel Whitby, Gilbert 
Wakefield, James Peirce, John Locke, John Wesley, and 

Campbell's concern with the Greek text is reflected 
in his frequent use of the work of Griesbach. This was 
relied upon largely for critical emendations of disputed 
readings within the text. Griesbach produced the first 
edition of his critical Greek New Testament in 1774-1775. 
A second edition appeared with the first volume in 1796 
and the second in 1806. A small edition appeared, how- 
ever, in 1805. The wisdom of Alexander Campbell's 
choice of this as his basic Greek text is confirmed by the 
place which Griesbach has, since that time, taken among 
the great textual critics. Campbell wrote in the Chris- 
tian Baptist of March, 1827, in connection with his work 
on the New Testament that he considered Griesbach 's 
Greek New Testament as the most nearly correct text 
in Christendom. Most scholars would agree with him 
that, for his time, this judgment was correct. 

It would carry us much too far into technical detail 
to examine any number of passages to demonstrate how 


Campbell used these various sources. The student who 
wishes to pursue this further will find all of his data 
easily available in the Appendix to the first edition of 
Campbell's New Version. It will be sufficient for our 
purposes to point out that Campbell insisted that this 
was not an original work. It could well be designated 
as a " resultant text. ' ' Where he believed George Camp- 
bell, Macknight, and Doddridge to present a good ren- 
dering of the thought of the biblical writers, the transla- 
tion of these men was retained. "Where, however, he 
felt that he had found a reading which expressed the 
idea better, he did not hesitate to use this instead of the 
reading of his basic English texts. He did not intend 
to be original. Bather, he gleaned from many different 
translations those readings which he felt to express the 
idea best to the common reader and he used these with- 
out apology. We shall need, then, only incidentally to 
determine the source of any passage in which Campbell 
seems to have given us a particularly valuable reading. 
The fact that he published a New Testament translated 
in this manner will prepare us to understand its distinc- 
tive features. 

The Format 

Even the form in which this New Testament was pub- 
lished indicates that Campbell had designed it for pop- 
ular reading. In size, it was what later he called a 
"family testament." It was of a size to be handled 
easily and the print was clear and large. At the begin- 
ning there is a "General Preface" explaining the need 
for a new translation and describing the way in which 
these needs are approached in the New Version. This 
is followed by a paragraph of "Directions to the 
Header," which explains the use of brackets, italics and 
the like to be found in the text of the New Testament. 
Before each major section, such as Gospels, Acts, and 


the Epistles, there is an introduction or preface giving 
historical data and the materials needed for an intelli- 
gent reading of the books in their literary and historical 
context. The value of these sections will be seen best 
when we deal with Campbell's general aim in the publi- 
cation. Following the text of the New Testament there 
is an appendix, containing explanatory notes on pas- 
sages in the New Testament and presenting the many 
possible translations of difficult passages, to show the 
manner in which Campbell had arrived at the text con- 
tained in this publication. 

Within the text itself, there are several items of in- 
terest. Campbell felt that the chapter and verse divi- 
sions, as they appeared in the King James Version, 
were distracting to the reader. In explanation of his 
procedure, he wrote of such an arrangement, "It rather 
perplexes the eye and distracts the attention of the 
reader, as well as dislocates the sense, and perpetuates 
what ought soon to be forgotten." 9 Instead of this 
arrangement, Campbell's text was put into sense para- 
graphs. At the top of each page there is a number for 
the chapter or chapters appearing on that page. These 
are indicated otherwise only in the margin. The verse 
notation is extremely limited. It consists usually of the 
numbering of a single verse on a page. This notation, 
placed in the margin, comes at the beginning of the para- 
graph and does not interrupt the sequence of the sen- 
tences. The number of the verse is placed near the 
middle of the page wherever possible. There are, how- 
ever, some pages where no paragraph break appears. 
In this case, there is no verse number at all. The Gos- 
pels are divided into major sections, following the divi- 
sions made by George Campbell in his Four Gospels. 
These sections are continued through Acts, but the ar- 
rangement here appears to be original with Alexander 

9. The Sacred Writmgs (1826), p. 9. 


Campbell. In the Epistles, sections are not used, since 
these books seemed to Campbell not to lend themselves 
to such treatment. 

In his " Directions to the Reader'' Campbell explained 
other features. Where there was the need of supplying 
a word in English to make the Greek text clear, instead 
of using italics as the King James did, Campbell placed 
the word in brackets. He explained that the use of 
italics in English tends to place emphasis upon the word. 
This he wished to avoid. Quotations from the prophets 
or other ancient writings were printed in italics and 
enclosed in quotation marks. Passages which were con- 
sidered to be questionable or spurious were retained if 
they had appeared in the Campbell, Macknight, Dodd- 
ridge New Testament. They were, however, printed 
in italics to indicate their questionable nature if Gries- 
bach had questioned their genuineness. This use of 
italics, quotation marks, and parentheses proved to be 
too cumbersome, and Campbell eliminated it or modified 
it greatly from his third edition onward. 

Obscure Passages Clarified 

In order to get a better understanding of the contri- 
butions of this version, we should now give some atten- 
tion to specific translations within the New Testament 
text. Alexander Campbell believed that the older ver- 
sions left many passages confusing and sometimes mis- 
leading to the reader. Many of his changes were made 
to clarify the ideas and make the English text say to 
the English reader what the original text had made clear 
to the original readers. A number of examples will show 
how he went about this. In Matthew 1:1, where the 
King James Version reads, "The book of the genera- 
tion of Jesus Christ," Campbell adopted the reading, 
"The history of Jesus Christ. " In John 1:11, the King 


James reads, "He came unto Ms own, and Ms own re- 
ceived Mm not." Instead of tMs reading, Campbell 
adopted the reading of Thomson, "He came to Ms own 
land, and his own people did not receive him." This is 
an interesting anticipation of the Eevised Standard Ver- 
sion which reads, "He came to his own home, and Ms 
own people received him not." In Acts 14:15, the King 
James reads, "We also are men of like passions with 
you." Doddridge's reading for this passage was the 
cumbersome "We are also men obnoxious to the same 
infirmities with yourselves." Alexander Campbell re- 
jected both of these to use George Campbell's reading 
which is much briefer and to the point, "We are your 
fellow-mortals. ' ' One of the most controversial readings 
in Alexander Campbell's New Version is Acts 20:28. 
The King James Version reads, "... the church of God, 
which he hath purchased with Ms own blood." Camp- 
bell rejected tMs reading. He adopted the reading of 
Griesbach's Greek New Testament in substituting 
"Lord" for "God," and used the term "congregation" 
instead of "church." His text reads, "... the congre- 
gation of the Lord, which he has redeemed with Ms own 
blood." We shall see later how tMs change became the 
basis of the charge that Campbell was denying the deity 
of Jesus. 

In the Epistles, similar attempts at clarification ap- 
pear. In Eomans 14:1, the King James reads that the 
man weak in faith is to be received "but not to doubtful 
disputations." Campbell followed Thomson in render- 
ing this that the weak man is to be received "without 
regard to differences of opinions." TMs is strikingly 
like the R.S.V. reading, "not for disputes over opin- 
ions." The insertion of a word in 1 Corinthians 4:6 
seems to clarify Paul's thought quite well. The King 
James Version reads, "... that ye might learn in us not 
to think of men above that wMch is written, that no one 


of you be puffed up for one against another." Camp- 
bell reads it, ". . . that by us ye may learn not to esteem 
teachers above what hath been written, that no one of 
you may, on account of one teacher, be puffed up. ' ' In 
2 Corinthians 5:216:1 there is an example of several 
of the procedures typical of Campbell. The passage 
reads, "For him who knew no sin, he hath made a sin 
offering for us, that we might become the righteousness 
of God through him; and cooperating with him we also 
beseech you not to receive the favor of God in vain. ' ' A 
comparison with earlier versions will show several dif- 
ferences. The punctuation is changed to make this a 
single sentence. The break between chapter five and 
chapter six is eliminated altogether and the paragraph 
reads without a break. This is standard procedure in 
many places in this version. The introduction of the 
term "sin offering" instead of the single word "sin" 
is intended to make clear the very difficult statement 
that Jesus was "made to be sin." Still another typical 
feature of this passage is that, instead of the more theo- 
logical word "grace," the common word "favor" is 
used. This change is made consistently by Campbell. 
These changes were not always conducive to clarity. For 
example, in Philippians 1:22, Campbell adopted the 
reading of Thomson, "But whether the living in flesh 
is for me a fruit of labor, and what I should choose I 
do not know." It is obvious that this translation was 
not satisfactory even to Campbell, for in the third edi- 
tion of the work he changed this to read, "But whether 
to live in the flesh would be to my advantage ; or what 
to choose, I do not know." 

The Book of Eevelation presents us with several in- 
teresting examples of this clarification, two examples of 
which will suffice. In Eevelation 10 :6, the Bang James 
Version reads, "... that there should be time no longer." 
Doddridge had changed this to read, "... Time shall 


be no more." Campbell followed Thomson in reading 
it, " There should be no longer delay." It is of interest 
to find the R.S.V. reading this, ". . . that there should 
be no more delay." A peculiar reading appears in 
Revelation 12:13, where the King James speaks of a 
"man child." Campbell adopted Thomson's reading, 
"masculine child." He defended this reading on the 
ground that the emphasis is upon the fact that the child 
is strong and robust and not simply that he is a male 

Archaic Readings Modernized; 

In this work of Alexander Campbell, there are many 
departures from the King James Version which are in- 
tended to make a more modern translation of technical 
words or to use nontheological English words for words 
which, in their original meaning, were nontheological. 
This is an attempt to carry out Campbell's conviction 
that the New Testament should speak to contemporary 
Christians with the same emphasis and clarity that it 
carried to its first readers. In carrying out this idea, 
several older terms are modernized. Instead of the 
word "barns" to describe the granaries of the rich fool, 
Campbell used the term "storehouses." In Philippians 
3:20, instead of the reading of the King James, "our 
conversation is in heaven," Campbell used the state- 
ment, "but we are citizens of heaven." This is almost 
identical with the reading of the American Standard 
Version, "our citizenship is in heaven." 

Use of "Nonecclesiastical" Words 

Much more important than the above-mentioned class 
of changes is the substitution of nontheological words 
for those in the Authorized Version which have taken on 
a distinctive theological cast. One example of this re- 
vision is Campbell's substitution of "favor" for the 


word "grace." In John 1:14, 16, the word "grace" is 
retained in the first edition, but in subsequent editions it 
is changed to "favor," in keeping with the general use 
throughout the New Testament. In Acts 4:33, the word 
"gracefulness" is used for the "grace" in the A.V. 
Later editions read this, "great kindness was among 
them." Campbell apparently felt that the "grace" 
which is here indicated to be upon the believers was 
really an attitude of concern among them. The word 
"gracefulness" appears also in Colossians 4:6. Else- 
where, however, Campbell seems to be consistent in his 
use of the word "favor." 

Another example of this pattern is the use of the 
term "Messiah" in preference to the term "Christ." 
George Campbell in his "Dissertations" had contended 
that the word should read "Messiah," first of all, be- 
cause it was the term in use among the Jews at the time 
of the composition of the narratives of the New Testa- 
ment and should therefore be reflected in translation. 
Second, even in English, he argued, it is more familiar 
than "Christ" as the designation of an office. On the 
basis of this principle, when the term applies to the of- 
fice, "Messiah" is used consistently. When it is a 
proper name, it is translated "Christ." 10 Alexander 
Campbell follows this procedure even in those portions 
of the New Testament not translated by George Camp- 
bell. Thus, in Matthew 16 :16, the term seems to apply 
to the office, so it is translated "Messiah." On the other 
hand, in Galatians 4:19, Ephesians 4:20, and 1 Corin- 
thians 12 :12, where it apparently is a proper name, the 
translation is "Christ." 

Campbell felt that the word ayyeAos needed translation 
rather than transference. He based his translation upon 
the fact that only one Greek word is used where the 

10. Campbell, Georg-e, The Foiw G-ospels, Translated from the Greek 
with Preliminary Dissertations? and Critical Notes j In four volumes (Boston: 
1811), I, PP. 233, 234. 


standard translators had read sometimes " angel" and 
sometimes " messenger/' He insisted upon the prin- 
ciple that, in the case of a single Greek word, there 
should be used only one English word, where this could 
be done without confusing the meaning. Hence, the word 
should consistently be read as * ' messenger. ? ' The reader 
should have no difficulty in distinguishing from the con- 
text when the word referred to a heavenly messenger 
and when the reference was to a messenger who was 
human. Alexander Campbell did, however, follow the 
example of George Campbell in inserting the word 
" heavenly " before " messenger" when the context 
seemed to demand it. 

A term which caused much more controversy than the 
above was the term jScwrnoyia and its related words. These 
Alexander Campbell rendered as "immersion" and "im- 
merse." In the appendix of the first edition, he de- 
fended this usage by citing both George Campbell and 
James Macknight. George Campbell used "immerse" 
to translate the expression of Jesus about the baptism 
of suffering in Matthew 20 :22-23. Macknight used it in 
his paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 15 :29, where Paul refers 
to the baptism for the dead, and in Hebrews 9 :10 in the 
reference to the washing for ceremonial purposes he in- 
cludes the word "immersion" in his translation. Both 
George Campbell and Macknight maintained in their 
notes that the original meaning of the Greek word was 
"immerse." On the basis of these two authorities and 
other nonimmersionist scholars whom he sometimes 
cited, Alexander Campbell maintained that this word 
should be translated by a term which was as nontechni- 
cal and as nontheological as the word fifarrwiM. in every- 
day use in the first century. Thus he used the words 
"immerse" and "immersion" uniformly throughout the 


The term "Holy Ghost" was never used by Alexander 
Campbell in his version of the New Testament. In the 
appendix of the first edition, he noted that George 
Campbell had nsed it very seldom, and that it should 
never have been used at all. Alexander Campbell justi- 
fied his usage on the ground that the English word 
"ghost" has come to signify a disembodied spirit of a 
dead person, and, consequently, ought never to be used 
to apply to the Spirit of God. 

A change in which Campbell returned to some older 
English versions was the substitution of "congregation" 
for "church." Both George Campbell and Doddridge 
defended this usage, though Doddridge did not use it 
consistently. Alexander Campbell used it throughout. 
He felt that the word "church" had become too closely 
identified with the idea of the building or of an ecclesi- 
astical organization. He defended the usage by citing 
some older versions and several others which had been 
produced more recently. He stated that there is no 
justifiable reason for not using it consistently through- 
out the New Testament. 

In several terms used less frequently, Campbell also 
made a significant change. The Greek word alfys is never 
read as "hell" as it frequently appears in the King 
James Version. Campbell usually reads it as "hades." 
It will appear that, in this case, he was departing from 
his usual procedure of translation rather than translit- 
eration. He was well aware that the word "hell" was 
entirely misleading as a translation. He apparently 
recognized that there was no English word that would 
adequately express the idea of the unseen world which 
is involved in the word; thus he used "hades" for the 
term as a parallel to the term "sheol" in the Old Testa- 

The term pao-iXela rov Seov is translated in two different 
ways. "When it refers to the approach or coming, it is 


read as "reign of God." When it refers to entrance 
into or admission to, it is translated as "kingdom of 
God. ' ? In this distinction, Alexander Campbell followed 
both the principle and practice of George Campbell. 
The distinction is maintained on the basis that the former 
use had no territorial or spatial significance. The latter 
usage may have such an implication, at least in a fig- 
urative sense. In the translation of the term ^-apa/a??? 
Alexander Campbell followed the use of George Camp- 
bell to read it "Monitor" in this first edition. In later 
editions, however, Alexander Campbell revised it to read 
"Advocate." This is a departure from the term "Com- 
forter" in the King James and is the same as the margi- 
nal reading in the American Standard Version. The 
word "blasphemy" is retained in some places but in 
others is translated as "detraction," "calumnies" or 
"slander." This translation is based upon the conten- 
tion that the word is used not simply to refer to atti- 
tudes but to action in words or speeches, and so would 
carry this connotation. 

Alexander Campbell followed George Campbell in 
making a distinction between the Greek words underly- 
ing the English "repent" and "repentance." George 
Campbell argued that ^eravoeo) carries the import of a 
change for the better arising from "a change of mind 
which is durable and productive of consequences." 
Mera/xeAo/xai, on the other hand, denotes simply a feeling 
of sorrow or regret for what has been done "without re- 
gard either to duration or to effects." The former, 
therefore, he would translate "reform" and the latter 
"repent" with its common meaning. He followed this 
practice quite thoroughly though not universally in the 
translation of the Gospels. 11 Alexander Campbell 
adopted this view and used it consistently. One of the 
places in which this usage appears to best advantage is 

11. Ibid., p. 322. 


2 Corinthians 7 :8-10 where Campbell applies it to Paul's 
statement regarding Ms feeling about his earlier letter 
to Corinth. 

Of special interest, in the light of recent studies, is 
Campbell's distinction between the words /^W" and 
SiSaxi He insisted that the English word ' ' preach ' ? does 
not carry the precise import of the word used by the 
New Testament writers; consequently, some more pre- 
cise word should be used. Following G-eorge Campbell, 
Alexander Campbell usually used "proclaim" or "proc- 
lamation." This reading is defended on the ground 
that the word K^pvy^a need not involve even a speech, 
but may be simply a notification of some public event. 
The word BiSax^ implies instruction beyond the proclama- 
tion. Hence the two words should be kept distinct. The 
former was translated by Alexander Campbell as "proc- 
lamation ' ' and the latter as ' ' teaching. ' ? More attention 
will be given to this feature when we make an evaluation 
of the permanent worth of Campbell's New Testament. 
It is sufficient here to remark that this clear distinction 
is a remarkable anticipation of the discussions popular- 
ized in 1936 by C. H. Dodd and carried on very widely 
since that time. 

Textual Criticism 

One of the most daring of the features of Alexander 
Campbell's New Version was the inclusion of the re- 
sults of critical New Testament study. It is surprising 
that on the American frontier, with its zealous evange- 
lism and its suspicion of scholarship, such an undertak- 
ing should have been carried through. It is not surpris- 
ing that this feature was the basis of one of the bitterest 
points of attack upon Campbell in the controversy over 
his work. Campbell used several procedures in the tex- 
tual studies in his work. He explained in the appendix 
that where George, Campbell in his Four Gospels had 


rejected from his text a reading which he considered to 
be spurious and had discussed it in his critical notes, he 
[Alexander] omitted the passage entirely in the New 
Version. Where George Campbell had retained a ques- 
tionable reading, placing it in brackets, Alexander Camp- 
bell retained it but printed it in italics. In addition to 
these, the New Testament of Griesbach was used heavily. 
Many of the readings which Griesbach considered to be 
questionable were printed by Campbell in italics. Even 
where Campbell felt a real doubt regarding the authen- 
ticity of readings, if they were retained by George Camp- 
bell's text, they were printed in order to "let the English 
reader himself estimate their merits. " The aim of this 
procedure was "to place the common reader, as far as 
possible, on the same footing as the learned." 12 This 
type of reading ranges from single words to such lengthy 
passages as John 7:53 8:11, regarding the woman taken 
in adultery. Most of these are of minor importance; 
consequently, only the more significant ones call for our 

The first passage of major interest to be questioned 
is the doxology to the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:13b. 
This passage was printed in italics as questionable. In 
Luke's account of the prayer, the expanded text is itali- 
cized and the shortened form is printed in standard type. 
Campbell italicized both Matthew 20:22, ". . . or 
undergo an immersion like that which I must under- 
go, ' ' and Matthew 27 :35b, "... thus verifying the words 
of the prophet, They shared my mantle among them, 
and cast lots for my vesture. * ' In Mark 13 :14, the pas- 
sage, "foretold by the prophet Daniel," is marked as 
spurious. Strangely, there is no notation of a question 
about Mark 16 :9-20 even though it is bracketed with a 
lengthy footnote by Griesbaeh. The influence of George 
Campbell and the fact that Griesbach did retain the sec- 

12. The Sacred Writings (1826), Appendix, p. vi, Note VI. 


tion in the body of his text may have induced Alexander 
Campbell to retain it without note. Only two passages 
in Luke, in addition to that noted above, need mention. 
In Luke 9 :56, "for the Son of Man is come, not to destroy 
men, but to save them/' is printed in italics. So also is 
17:36, "Two men will be in the field; one will be seized 
and the other will escape/ 7 The passage of greatest 
significance in John is 7 :53 8 :11. It is of interest that, 
when the third edition was published in 1832, all the 
passages in John printed in italics in the first edition 
were omitted entirely with the exception of this one. 
This is retained in standard type, and there is no men- 
tion of its doubtfulness in the critical notes in the ap- 
pendix. No question is raised regarding the passage 
about the troubling of the waters in John 5 :3b-4. 

In the situation in which he found himself, the ques- 
tioning of Acts 8 :37 by Alexander Campbell is probably 
the most significant in Acts. This statement of the 
confession of the Ethiopian was the strongest biblical 
support for the administration of baptism on the basis 
of a simple confession of faith in Christ. The contention 
between "Beformers" and the Regular Baptists over 
the latter ? s demand for a "Christian experience 77 in 
order for baptism made this a crucial passage. In the 
midst of the most serious conflict, Alexander Campbell 
marked this passage as questionable and in the third 
edition of 1832 omitted it altogether from the text. This 
procedure indicates how strongly Campbell was con- 
vinced of the validity of textual criticism. It also demon- 
strated the intellectual integrity and courage of a man 
in his position. We have already mentioned his sub- 
stitution of "Lord" for "God" in Acts 20:28. This 
substitution brought on Campbell the charge that he 
was unwilling to use the title "God" for Christ and used 
this method of denying his deity. On the basis of this 
he was charged with being a Unitarian. 


Only a few passages in the Epistles call for comment. 
In Romans 8 :1, Campbell italicized as questionable the 
passage, ". . . who walk not according to the flesh but 
according to the spirit." The doxology in Romans 16: 
25-27 is printed in italics. The reason for this procedure 
was the doubt raised by G-riesbach about its position. 
The third edition retained the passage with an appendix 
note that there is not sufficient evidence to demand fol- 
lowing Grriesbach in rejecting the doxology at this point 
and placing it after 14:23. The phrase "through his 
blood" in Colossians 1:14 is marked as questionable. 
In the third edition, the phrase is omitted entirely. This 
omission brought considerable criticism upon Campbell 
and upon the New Version because of what was called 
a reckless handling of the text. This incident has height- 
ened interest in the light of the recent bitter criticism 
of the R.S.V. for the omission of this same phrase. The 
statement regarding the "three heavenly witnesses" 
in 1 John 5 :7 is printed in italics as questionable. It was 
later omitted entirely as spurious. This reading raised 
a protest from Campbell's critics. Only one passage of 
any extent in Revelation is questioned. In Revelation 
1:11, the passage, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the 
First and the Last," is questioned. The remainder of 
the questioned passages is minor. The attention which 
Campbell gave to textual criticism, however, is indicated 
by the fact that in Revelation there are questioned read- 
ings in all but three chapters. The total number of such 
passages in Revelation alone is fifty. 

It should not be supposed that Campbell intended to 
do independent work as a textual critic. He denies any 
such claim of originality. He follows closely his text of 
Grriesbach, usually without giving the reason for the 
textual evaluation. The real significance of this work is 
that he was so bold as to produce for popular reading a 
New Testament which was in many ways a critical text. 


In a day in which the King James Version was consid- 
ered by many to be the only word of God and any de- 
parture from it was considered the work of an atheist 
or, at best, a Unitarian Campbell was willing to place 
before his readers the best results of textual criticism of 
that day and to leave the judgment as to the validity of 
the text to them. This venture became more daring 
when, in the third edition of 1832, many of these ques- 
tionable passages were omitted altogether from the text 
and relegated to a section of the appendix, where they 
were listed as spurious readings. It is no wonder that 
the work became the target of much serious attack. 

The New Testament in Living Language 

Alexander Campbell's primary aim was to present to 
the reader a New Testament which would speak to him 
in living language. This attempt can best be seen in 
the analysis of a few passages and in the examination of 
several words which were modernized. Two references 
will show how the version used frankness of expression 
without becoming crude. In Luke 2:5 Mary is spoken 
of as being " pregnant. " The same term is used re- 
garding the woman clothed in the sun in Revelation 12 :2. 
A similar directness appears in the account of the rais- 
ing of Lazarus. In John 11 :39 Martha is presented as 
saying " . . . by this time the smell is offensive. ' ' 

Some of the readings become interpretative in the 
attempt to clarify them. For example, in Matthew 6 :13, 
the Lord's Prayer reads, " abandon us not to tempta- 
tion. " Campbell reads the difficult passage in Matthew 
11:12, ". . . the kingdom of heaven is invaded, and in- 
vaders taken possession by force." Luke 17:20-21 is 
quite characteristic of the style of the readings: "The 
reign of God is not ushered in with parade; nor shall 
people say, 'Lo, here!' or 'Lo, yonder!' for behold the 
reign of God is within you." The change of the tradi- 


tional reading " sanctify" to "consecrate" in many 
places anticipates the reading of the E.S.V. Another 
interesting anticipation of the latter is found in Romans 
1:17 and Hebrews 10:38. In these passages, the King 
James Version reads, "The just shall live by faith." 
Campbell read these ' ' the just by faith, shall live. ' ' This 
reading was not original with him. It is found in his text 
of Macknight's Epistles, but goes back to earlier works. 
It appears at least as early as a work published in Lon- 
don in 1747 by John Taylor, entitled A Paraphrase with 
Notes on the Epistle to the Romans, to which is pre- 
fixed a key to the Apostolic writings. Bphesians 2 :8 is 
read in such a way as to clarify the ambiguous reading of 
the King James Version. The word "that," whose 
antecedent is unclear, was identified more precisely by 
Campbell, so that the passage reads, "For by favor ye 
are saved through faith ; and this affair is not of your- 
selves, it is the gift of God." The third edition altered 
this to read "this salvation," rather than "this affair." 
Hebrews 1:1-2 is translated, "God, who in sundry par- 
cels and in divers manners, anciently spoke to the fa- 
thers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken 
to us by a Son. ..." In addition to the partial modern- 
izing of the passage, the use of the indefinite article be- 
fore "Son" instead of the interpolation of "his," is of 
interest in view of some of the present-day controversy 
over the word. 

A better over-all picture of the modernization of the 
style of Campbell's work can be seen in a comparative 
tabulation of a number of the words that were changed 
from the reading of the King James Version. 


Matt. 1 :18 on this wise thus in this way 

6 :25 take thought be anxious be anxious 

9 :10 sit at meat being at table sat at table 

13 :20 anon at first immediately 

13 :21 by and by instantly immediately 






Mark 9 :6 

wist not 

knew not 

did not know 

Luke 10:41 





have worship 

do thee honor 

be honored 

John 13 :26 




Acts 13 :7 etc. 






objects of 

objects of 




wink at 







27 :30 

under colour 

under pre- 

under pre- 

as though 

tence that 

tense of 


fetched a com- 

coasted round 

made a circuit 


Rom. 1 :13 




3:4 etc. 

God forbid 

by no means 

by no means 

1 Cor. 13:lff. 




2 Cor. 8:1 

do you to wit 

make known 

want you to 

to you 


IThess. 4:15 








1 Timothy 4:12 




This list could be greatly extended, but this much will 
make clear the general trend of the translation. 


Any evaluation of this translation must be made in the 
light of Campbell's own intention. It was not intended 
to be an original work. It is rather a resultant text. 
The prefaces and appendix are the work of Campbell, 
though they frequently are made up largely of quota- 
tions from recognized authorities. They are intended 
for the information of the individual who desires aid in 
the method of interpreting the Scriptures in their his- 
torical setting. It is stated repeatedly that the ideas 
expressed are not Campbell's own, but were the prin- 
ciples of interpretation accepted by the best scholars of 
the day. 

The text of the translation retains many of the archaic 
readings of the King James Version, although the most 


obvious of these are changed to give a clearer meaning 
for the contemporary reader. The archaic pronouns, 
thee, thou ? thy, ye, etc., and the archaic endings for verbs 
are retained in this edition even though it was intended 
to be a modern language text. In the second edition, 
as we shall see, these were largely eliminated. At times, 
difficult passages are recast almost to the point of a 
paraphrase. The net result, however, is to clarify, in 
most places, the meaning of the Scripture for the aver- 
age reader. The form of the test leaves, at times, long 
sections and even pages without paragraph break or 
chapter or verse number. This is a decided disadvan- 
tage to the person who wishes to check verses at random. 
The text is, of course, not intended for this purpose. The 
section and paragraph arrangement was intended to 
give to the reader an opportunity to follow the thought 
as it was presented in the original form. One specific 
point which sometimes left the text unclear was the use 
of italics. This type was used for two entirely different 
kinds of passages. Questionable readings were so 
printed. Old Testament quotations also were printed 
in this type but were enclosed in quotation marks. The 
system was later abandoned almost entirely by Camp- 
bell even as a mark of words inserted to clarify the 

The language of the translation is more or less pop- 
ularized. It is, however, the more formal style of writ- 
ing common to the period and, at times, tends to be 
elegant and rhetorical to a fault. Despite this feature, 
it was usually nearer to the common language of the 
early nineteenth century than was the King James Ver- 
sion. Taking into account the intent of the work, one is 
probably justified in concurring with Alexander Camp- 
bell that, for the use of the average person in reading 
and understanding the Scriptures, this was the best 
available translation in the early nineteenth century. 


Revising the "New Version" 

It exhibits a correct and conspicuous translation 
of the Sacred Writings of the New Institution, in a 
style so modernized and yet so simple, exact, and 
faithful to the original, as to render it more intelli- 
gible, than any version in our language. 

The Sacred Writings, 1833 

The Second Edition 

1. The Production 

The first edition of Alexander Campbell's New 
Version had been subscribed largely in advance. By 
April, 1827, only a few copies remained to be sold. In 
the Christian Baptist issued that month, Campbell wrote 
that the work had been well received and highly approved 
by many who were competent judges. There had been 
some objections, but these were considered to be greatly 
in the minority. Many requests had been received for 
a pocket edition of the New Testament. Campbell de- 
ferred any proposal for a second edition, however, until 
consideration could be given to all the criticisms and 
emendations proposed "by the learned and pious of all 
denominations"; consequently, he requested any reac- 
tions that anyone had to the version. He wrote, "We 
solicit most earnestly all criticisms, objections, or 
emendations, which piety, biblical knowledge, or general 
information can present." 1 

1. The Christian Baptist, April 2, 1827, pp. 208, 209. 



In November, 1827, an announcement was made that 
in a few days Campbell intended to issne proposals for 
a second edition of the New Version. Again, suggestions 
and criticisms were solicited from all concerned, and 
especially from colleges. All these criticisms were to be 
examined and, wherever considered of value, to be in- 
corporated into the new edition. Financial difficulties 
were again troubling Campbell. A second edition of the 
early issues of the Christian Baptist had been published, 
and this had exhausted the editor's funds. Remittances 
from agents were essential to the production of a sec- 
ond edition. 

By April, 1828, progress was being made toward pub- 
lication. Interested persons were asked to subscribe for 
as many copies as possible for distribution to others. 
One person had subscribed for one hundred copies. In 
the same article in the Christian Baptist, it was stated 
that the work could not be hurried and that delivery 
could not be promised before the fall season. In May an 
appeal was presented for all Christian Baptist subscrib- 
ers to pay up promptly, since the funds were needed 
for the expensive edition of the New Testament which 
had been started. By June the work was completed as 
far as the eightieth page, and progress was being made 
at a steady pace. Criticisms continued to come in, sug- 
gesting especially that the principles of George Camp- 
bell and James Macknight should be carried out even in 
those sections of the New Testament not translated by 
them and where they themselves had not incorporated 
the principles in their translations. Campbell now stated 
that subscription rates could be granted on orders until 
August 1. Thereafter, the regular nonsubscription rates 
would be charged. 

In the November, 1828, issue of the Christian Baptist, 
a notice appeared, stating that the next issue of that 


magazine would be delayed for a few days because of the 
necessity of getting the New Testament out of the press. 
In January, 1829, orders were being filled in spite of the 
transportation difficulties caused by winter conditions on 
the Ohio River. By March the work was in the hands 
of agents in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, 
and elsewhere. It was expected that all subscribers 
would be supplied in about four weeks. Again Camp- 
bell felt it necessary to urge subscribers to pay promptly. 
The price for the second edition was $1.25. It is not 
known whether this was the subscription price or the 
price to nonsubscribers. In the June, 1833 ? issue of the 
Millennial Harbinger, Campbell requested his agents 
who still had copies of the second edition to present them 
to people who were unable to buy them. This disposal 
was suggested because of the publication of the third 
edition about that time. 

2. Changes from the First Edition 

The form of the second edition was slightly different 
from that of the first. The title page was identical with 
that of the first except for the designation of second edi- 
tion and the date 1828. Doddridge was still listed along 
with Campbell and Macknight as " Doctors of the Church 
of Scotland." In a section entitled "errata," it was 
stated that since the publication of the first edition, 
Campbell had learned that Philip Doddridge was a Con- 
gregationalist and not a Presbyterian. The information 
came too late to be included on the title page, which had 
been among the first to be printed. This edition was 
copyrighted, and this action was defended by Campbell 
on the basis of the fact that he was aware that the work 
could still be improved and that he wished to keep it in 
his hands until it was as perfect as possible. The copy- 
righting of the edition was later criticized as an attempt 
to derive greater profit from the work. 


The volume is a little smaller than that of the first 
edition. The type is smaller and less readable. The 
prefaces are essentially the same as those in the first 
edition but are all placed together before the text rather 
than scattered through the volume. The general ap- 
pendix is the same as that of the first edition. In addi- 
tion to this, however, there is an "Appendix to the Sec- 
ond Edition" which explains some of the alterations 
from the first edition. 

The suggestions for these changes had come from 
many sources and from Campbell's own study. They 
are not entirely uniform throughout the book because of 
the fact that some were suggested or occurred to Camp- 
bell after the work was partially through the press. 
Campbell wrote that there was "a very general con- 
formity of the style to that prevalent in the present cen- 
tury." The most noticeable changes in the text are the 
adoption of the modern pronouns instead of the archaic, 
and the dropping of "eth" from verb forms. Campbell 
listed the obsolete words which he had eliminated as 
" verily, ye, unto, liveth, keepeth, heareth, doeth, hath, 
thou, thee, and thy, and all their kindred terms and 
phrases." The archaic pronoun is retained in address 
to G-od, whether in quotation from the Old Testament or 
in prayer. In ordinary address to Jesus, the archaic 
pronoun is never used. A number of words appear in 
this edition in substitution of words appearing in the 
first edition which Campbell felt to be inappropriate. 
Among these substitutions are "stomach" for "belly," 
"opposite" for "against," "brought" for "fetched," 
"hand baskets" for "maunds," "begot" for "begat," 
"yes" for "yea," "no" for "nay" and "children" for 
"lads." 2 

Another change of some significance is found in Ro- 
mans and Gralatians. In the first edition, Campbell fol- 

2. The Sacred Writmgs (1828), Appendix, p. 452. 


lowed Macknight in putting the argument in dialogue 
form. Where Paul presents his argument, the word 
"Apostle" is prefixed to the statement. Where objec- 
tions are offered, the word "Jew" is prefixed, appar- 
ently in an attempt to clarify the exchange of ideas. The 
titles are omitted from the text of the second edition, 
on the ground that an error might be committed and that 
such a designation might confuse the reader. Further- 
more, Campbell indicated that they were no part of the 
original text and were Macknight ? s private judgment as 
an interpretation. 

A change which Campbell expected to cause more con- 
troversy was the translation of fe as "into" rather than 
"in." This applied particularly to Matthew 28:19-20 
where the command is to "immerse into the name of 

" He argued that the King James translators used 

the reading "into" frequently elsewhere and should 
have done so here if they were to be consistent. He 
argued further that "in the name" means "by the au- 
thority of," and that this is not the meaning of Matthew 
28:19. To be baptized "into the name ..." means to 
submit to the authority of such a one, to acknowledge 
him as Lord and Master, and to look to him for support 
and protection. 3 

In the second edition, also, the word "covenant" was 
changed to read "institution." The former is too spe- 
cifically a bargain, Campbell felt, and implies stipula- 
tions on the part of both parties. The latter is more 
general, and Campbell believed it to approximate more 
closely the Greek word than does "covenant." The 
word "bishop" was changed to read "overseer," and 
the word "deacon" to read "servant" or "servant of 
the church." These were thought to express more 
accurately the original significance of the terms. This 
translation apparently did not prove satisfactory, for 

3. IU&, PP. 452, 453. 


the older terms for " bishop" and "deacon 
stored, in general, in the later editions of the version. 
The second edition did not justify Campbell's expec- 
tations for it. He felt that both the printing and the 
workmanship in binding were inferior to that of the 
first edition. The hope had been that it would be used 
both in family reading and worship and in the services 
of the church. Campbell commented that it was too large 
to carry about and, consequently, it had not been taken 
to church by those who used it at home. The print was 
too small for the aged, so it could not adequately be used 
at home. This inadequacy stimulated Campbell to pro- 
pose a third edition which would appear both in Family 
Testament size and in a pocket edition. 

The Third Edition 
1. The Production 

The third edition of Campbell's New Testament is 
dated as of 1832, though it was not distributed until 
1833. This difference in dating is accounted for by the 
fact that the book was printed with the pages set up con- 
secutively. Unexpected difficulties delayed the publica- 
tion beyond the time expected. Campbell's idea was to 
prepare the Family Testament and print it by the stand- 
ard process. "When he felt that this printing had been 
corrected and made as perfect as possible, the Pocket 
Testament would be produced from it and would be ster- 
eotyped. This process would make it possible to produce 
a testament at a much lower cost than if it were printed 
from hand-set type, 

In November, 1832, Campbell reported in the Millen- 
nial Harbinger that the work on the Family Testament 
was in process. He had gathered numerous documents 
as an aid to the improvement of the translation. These 
had been put to use in making the emendations that were 
characteristic of the third edition. By this time, 236 


pages had been run off the press. Campbell indicated 
that the edition could not be out of press before January. 
He announced that work was also progressing on the 
Pocket Testament, but that the exact content, so far as 
appendixes were concerned, had not yet been determined. 
In January, 1833, Campbell wrote that he was complet- 
ing the 'Family Testament. The Pocket Testament was 
apparently in process at the same time, though not so 
close to completion as the larger work. Campbell hoped 
that the former could be distributed in March. In April 
he wrote that, because of a shortage of paper suitable 
for maps, the Family Testament had been delayed but 
was now off the press and in the hands of the bookbinder. 
Because of the illness of the man who was to make the 
stereotype plates, the work on the Pocket Testament had 
been delayed six weeks. In May, 1833, Campbell wrote 
in the Millennial Harbinger that the Family Testament 
was being mailed out as fast as the copies came from the 
binder. In January, 1834, he wrote that the work on 
the New Testament was completed and that he would 
have more time to devote to other projects. The Family 
Testament was selling for $2.00 and the Pocket Testa- 
ment for 62y 2 cents. This fact would indicate that both 
the large testament and the stereotyped edition had 
been for some time in the process of distribution. Camp- 
bell felt that the New Testament which he had produced 
was highly satisfactory. He wrote in the November, 
1834, issue of the Harbinger, "This work we consider 
the most valuable service we have rendered this genera- 
tion, and we wish to see it diligently read and compared 
with the common version by every disciple. " 4 

2. The Characteristics 

The changes in the third edition were considerable. 
Campbell returned to the size of the first edition and, in 

4. Millennial Harbinger, 1834, p. 576. 


fact, used the same font of type. The prefaces are very 
much the same as those of the earlier editions except that 
there is a " Preface to the Third Edition," explaining 
some of the changes involved in it. There is also a 
"Preface to the Fourth or Stereotyped Edition." This 
preface seems out of place in a third edition. Campbell 
explained, however, that the two editions were appear- 
ing at about the same time and that, since it was expected 
that both editions might fall into the same hands, it was 
advisable to explain some of the differences between the 
two. 5 This preface is actually the preface to the stereo- 
typed Pocket Edition which was to appear only a few 
months after the third edition. The listing of this as 
the "Fourth Edition" has caused some confusion. The 
Pocket Testament is designated on the title page "Ster- 
eotyped from the Third Edition Revised" but is not 
called a "Fourth Edition" in spite of that designation 
in its preface. The Family Testament published in 
1835 bears on the title page the information that it is 
the "Fourth Edition." This discrepancy will be ex- 
amined in detail a little later. 

In the third edition, the appendix has been expanded 
into what amounts to a condensed Bible dictionary. 
There are a catalogue of proper names with their mean- 
ings, geographical and chronological tables, tables of 
weights and measures, identification of precious stones 
and coins mentioned in the New Testament, a list of 
obscure words and phrases with their common meanings, 
and a table of prophetical symbols. Even more impor- 
tant than these was the table of "Spurious Readings" 
which will be discussed below. The critical notes of the 
earlier editions were considerably expanded. The de- 
tailed enumeration of the sources from which the various 
readings were derived is dropped. In place of this there 
is a series of entirely new notes dealing with difficult 

5. The Sacred Writings (1832), p. 57. 


passages and critical problems. One of the most notice- 
able features of these notes is a sizable section quoting 
observations from Moses Stuart's Commentary on Ro- 
mans, which had appeared in 1832. Campbell indicated 
that these notes were intended for both the common and 
the learned reader. They were designed primarily, 
however, as an aid to the reader who did not know Greek 
and who needed a dictionary of terms and a biblical 
encyclopedia for references which were obscure to the 
nineteenth-century reader. The table of " Spurious 
Beadings" is prefaced with a statement, nearly a page 
in length, taken from Michaelis, explaining the causes 
of textual variants. There is then a listing of the spuri- 
ous readings grouped according to the books in which 
they appear. The reason for this detailed listing will be 
seen when we examine the nature of the text of the third 

The appendix would be of great value to the nontech- 
nical reader because it provided him with what was 
essentially an abbreviated Bible encyclopedia. The 
critical notes are presented in such a way as to be of 
value to both the common reader and the scholar. They 
are well documented with the sources being given in 
most cases. It is noticeable that the notes are taken 
from scholars who emphasized the grammatico-histori- 
cal method of interpreting the Scriptures. Chief among 
these were George Campbell, Macknight, Griesbach, 
Michaelis, Locke, and Stuart. It will be shown in our 
later study of the principles of interpretation used by 
Alexander Campbell that this historical emphasis was 
accepted by him as the only valid procedure in deter- 
mining the true meaning of the Scriptures. The trans- 
lation contained in this edition manifests the marks of 
the attempt to understand the Scriptures in their histori- 
cal setting and to present their ideas in terms which 
would be understandable to the common reader. 


3. The Sources 

In the preparation of the text of the third edition, 
Campbell had made use of numerous sources. In addi- 
tion to those mentioned above, Campbell indicated in 
the "Preface to the Third Edition" that he was follow- 
ing the principles recommended by Home, Michaelis, 
Ernesti, Peirce, Benson, Mill, "Wetstein, and Grriesbach, 
all of whom were recognized to be among the foremost 
scholars of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. 6 
In a discussion of the word " Comforter," in the appen- 
dix, Campbell revealed the source of much of his lin- 
guistic study by citing the lexicons of Parkhurst, Green- 
field, Robertson, and Stokius, the latter of whom pub- 
lished his lexicon in 1752. 7 These were the standard 
lexical aids for the scholar of the early nineteenth cen- 
tury. In this edition, Campbell departed more from his 
three basic English sources than in the earlier editions. 
He did not, however, seek to introduce a new argument 
or a new sense. The principal changes were in the 
choice of words or expressions, changes in punctuation, 
and other variations to make the work more modern 
and readable. 8 

4. The Revisions 

The most noticeable change from the two earlier edi- 
tions was the handling of spurious readings. In the 
first and second editions, these readings had been re- 
tained in the text but were printed in italics. In the 
third edition, the greater number of these were omitted 
entirely and listed in a table in the appendix as spurious. 
Some few of those questioned in earlier editions were 
retained but were now printed in regular type without 
notation. For example, out of sixty-three readings in 
Matthew, Mark, and Luke, printed in italics in former 

6. lUd., p. 56. 

7. I"bid. f Appendix, p. 87. 

8. Ilid, f Preface, p. 63. 


editions, only nine are retained in this edition, and all 
are single words or phrases of minor importance. In 
John, all of the readings previously questioned are 
dropped, with the exception of John 7:538:11 which 
is printed in regular type. No significant questionable 
readings were retained in Acts. Romans 16:25-27^had 
been italicized in the earlier editions but in this it is 
retained in regular type. There is a note in the appen- 
dix about Griesbach's decision that this should be placed 
after 14:23. Campbell felt that the evidence was insuffi- 
cient to warrant such a change. In the remainder of the 
New Testament, only a few questioned readings of minor 
consequence are retained. This change leaves several 
significant passages dropped from the text and relegated 
to the appendix as spurious. The doxology to the Lord's 
Prayer in Matthew 6:13b and the expanded form in 
Luke are rejected from the text. So also is the confes- 
sion of the Ethiopian in Acts 8 :37. The phrase < ; through 
his blood" in Colossians 1:14 appears only among the 
spurious readings, and 1 John 5:7 is also rejected with- 
out comment. This type of procedure with such read- 
ings would indicate that Campbell had now become will- 
ing to assume responsibility for departures from the 
Authorized Version which, in earlier editions, he had 
made only with careful marginal notes indicating the 
recognized scholars who had taken this particular posi- 

The third edition in many places shows a moderniza- 
tion of the style of the earlier editions. A few examples 
will illustrate this. In Matthew 3 :11, the second edi- 
tion read "that you may reform." The third reads, 
"into reformation." There may be a question whether 
or not this is an improvement. In the second edition 
practically all second-person pronouns had been mod- 
ernized. There is a slight tendency in the third to be 
more conservative and, where Jesus is addressed by 


supernatural beings such as demons, the pronouns 
"thee," "thou," and ' ' thyself " are restored as in Mat- 
thew 4 :3, 10. A more informal word order sometimes is 
used. In Matthew 6 :22, the second edition had retained 
the inverted order of subject and predicate to read "the 
lamp of the body is the eye. ' 7 The third edition has * t the 
eye is the lamp of the body. ? ' Luke 15 :16 had read in the 
earlier editions, "was fain to fill his belly. " The third 
edition reads, "desired to appease his hunger." In 
Romans 1:2, where the second edition read, "born of 
the seed of David," this reads, "descended from David." 
A decided clarification is found in Romans 7:18. The 
second edition had read, "indeed, to incline lies near 
me ; but to work out what is excellent, I do not find near 
me." The third edition changes this to read, "For to 
desire what is good, is easy for me ; but to do it, I find 
difficult." Hebrews 1:1 shows a similar attempt at sim- 
plification. The second edition had read, "who in sundry 
parcels and in divers manners, anciently spoke. ..." 
The third edition reads, "who in ancient times spoke 
often, and in various ways." The same tendency ap- 
pears in Hebrews 1:4. The second edition read, "He is 
by so much better than the heavenly messengers, by 
how much he has inherited a more excellent name than 
they." The third edition rephrased this to read, "be- 
ing exalted as far above the heavenly messengers, as 
the name he has inherited, is more excellent than theirs." 
Only a few passages are sufficiently distinctive to call 
for further comment. John 1:3 still reads, as in the 
earlier editions, "All things were made by it. . . ." 
The reading is defended on the ground that it avoids 
the ambiguity presented in the reading "him." The 
traditional reading is, however, restored in later edi- 
tions. In the first edition, Ephesians 2 :8 had read, "For 
by favor are you saved through faith and this affair is 
not by yourselves. ..." The third edition changes the 


word "affair" to read " salvation." Ephesians 4:26 
had read, "Are yon excited to anger? Do not therefore 
sin." The third edition reads, "Do not sin through 
anger." 2 Timothy 3 :16-17 had read in the first edition, 
"The whole scripture is divinely inspired. ..." In the 
third edition this was changed to read, "All scripture, 
given by divine inspiration, is. ..." This reads very 
much like the American Standard Version. 

Taking all the features into consideration, one finds 
that this edition seems to be more exactly what one would 
call a "modern-language" translation. The first edi- 
tion was not truly so because of the retention of the 
archaic pronouns and the archaic style of verb endings. 
The change from this translation came in the second edi- 
tion of 1828. The second edition seems, however, to 
have been considered by Campbell as a minor revision 
of the first. The third edition was much more to his 
liking. He felt more nearly free to make departures 
from standard practices than he had previously been. 
He attempted to produce a smoother and more readable 
style. "While there are no major changes aside from the 
textual emendations, the general tone seems to be more 
contemporary. In several cases the wording is con- 
densed to give a more concise reading. In others, ob- 
scure sentences are recast to give clearer meaning. There 
is still a tendency to use participial constructions exces- 
sively where temporal clauses would be better. In sev- 
eral cases there is a restoration of the reading of the 
King James Version. Altogether, the style remains 
classical and sometimes heavy, though the dialect and the 
wording are better adapted to the modern vernacular. 

The Stereotyped Edition 

Little need be said about this edition except for a brief 
description. The history of its production has already 
been presented in connection with that of the third edi- 


tion. The numbering of this edition has caused some 
confusion, for the title page reads the same as the third 
edition with the exception of the date 1833 and the edi- 
tion notice, "Stereotyped from the third edition, re- 
vised." It was obviously to be understood as a fourth 
edition, for, in addition to the other prefaces, there is a 
"Preface to the Fourth or Stereotyped Edition." This 
edition was pocket size and the type was reduced accord- 
ingly. It has the regular prefaces included in the earlier 
editions. After the text of the New Testament, there is 
an appendix made up of materials from the earlier edi- 
tions ; however, several sections are omitted. The tables 
of names, geographical locations, chronology, and simi- 
lar materials do not appear. The inclusion of the ex- 
planatory notes indicates that Campbell wished even this 
edition to be self-explanatory. The inclusion of the 
table of spurious readings indicates how important 
Campbell felt the ascertaining of a true text to be. The 
omission of the critical notes, in general, is quite natural 
in a pocket testament. The format is much the same as 
that of the third edition, for the material is in paragraph 
form with no indication of verse divisions. The enumer- 
ation of all verses is included in the margin, but the num- 
bering of the verses is not always the same as that of 
the common version. Campbell explained this variation 
by stating that a verse is frequently only a part of a 
sentence, and where this is the case, the number in the 
margin may not identify the exact point at which the 
verse is broken. 9 Campbell explained also in this pref- 
ace that there had been a general elimination of certain 
provincialisms which had appeared in the earlier edi- 
tions. Among these are "hereupon," "thereupon," 
"hereby," "thereby," etc. The language is modern- 
ized as in the third edition, and the pronoun "thou" 
and other archaic pronouns have been discarded in 

9. The Sacred Writings (1833), p. 76. 


favor of "you," etc., except in addressing the Deity and 
in the personification of inanimate objects. 10 

Two passages are of some interest in that a change 
was made from even the third edition. Where in John 
1:2-3 the older editions had read "it" in reference to 
the "Word," this edition adopts the reading of the 
common version "him." In John 3:8, where the earlier 
editions had read, "The wind blows where it pleases/' 
this edition and all later ones read, "The Spirit breathes 
where he pleases." No other passages seem to call for 

Campbell felt that with this edition he had come to 
the point of satisfaction in producing an acceptable 
text. He wrote in the appendix that it exhibits "... a 
correct and perspicuous translation of the Sacred Writ- 
ings of the New Institution, in a style so modernized, 
and yet so simple, exact, and faithful to the original, as 
to render it more intelligible than any version in our 
language." 11 

Later Editions 
1. The Fourth Edition 

Numerous subsequent editions of the New Version 
appeared in America. "With the completion of the 
stereotyped pocket edition, Alexander Campbell ceased 
Ms work of publication of the New Testament. No 
mention of any later publishing activity appeared until 
1834. In November of that year Campbell wrote that 
the many duties which had fallen upon him made it im- 
possible for him to manage profitably the book depart- 
ment of his publishing business. As a result, that de- 
partment had been transferred to James T. M'Vay and 
Albert G. Ewing, as of January, 1835. The distribution 
of the New Testament was to continue at the same price. 

10. Hid., pp. 75, 79. 

11. Ibid., p. 325. 


In March, 1835, a notice was published in the Millennial 
Harbinger, that the Living Oracles was now reduced 
to the price of 37% cents per copy. This seems to be 
the first appearance of the title Living Oracles in the 
Harbinger as a designation of Campbell's New Testa- 
ment. The title had appeared on the cover of some of 
the earlier copies of the Family Testament. This ref- 
erence is, however, to the Pocket Testament. It seems 
to have been the title by which the latter had become 
known; at least, it appears on the binding as the title. 
In this same notice, it was indicated that the Pocket 
Testament bound with the Hymn Book, then being pub- 
lished, could be purchased for 62% cents. The Family 
Testament was also to be republished with Maps, Notes, 
and Tables with the same type but on better paper than 
the third edition. The probable price would be $1.50. 12 
The project would be begun as soon as suitable encour- 
agement was received. 

This proposed edition, which is marked as the 
" Fourth Edition," appeared without further notice in 
1835. The numbering of this edition has proved con- 
fusing. As we shall note later, it may have been so 
numbered because it was the fourth edition of the 
Family Testament. As there is very little change from 
the third edition, only two changes are of sufficient dis- 
tinctiveness to be worthy of notice. In the text, the 
paragraphs were indented farther than in the third 
edition. This indentation was necessitated by a change 
in the numbering of verses. In the third edition, every 
verse was numbered, but in this edition, only that verse 
which begins a paragraph is given a number. This 
gives a clearer indication of the paragraph division 
than did the third edition, but it makes the identifica- 
tion of specific verses within the paragraph more diffi- 
cult. Of course, Campbell's intention was to give unity 

12. Millennial Harbinger, 1835, p. 144. 


to the thought of the text rather than to provide a text 
for picking out individual verses. Such procedure was 
not a part of his principles of interpretation. The other 
change appears in the numbering of the notes in the 
appendix. In earlier editions, a mark was placed in 
the text at the point where an explanation was made in 
an appendix note. Thus, one could refer to the appen- 
dix note numbered in the margin for the discussion of 
the particular problem. In the fourth edition, this sys- 
tem was abandoned. There are no such notes within 
the text. In the appendix the notes are identified by 
the passage under discussion. For example, in the 
third edition, in the text at John 6 :37, there is a foot- 
note reference to Appendix note 11. In the appendix, 
this note discusses a problem involved in that passage. 
In the later edition, the footnote does not appear, but 
in the appendix there is a note on John 6 :37. The text 
of the notes is not changed. This change in procedure 
would seem to indicate that Campbell now wished the 
text of the New Testament to be less critical than it had 
been in previous editions. It was to be read by section 
and paragraph, unbroken by marks, footnotes, or even 
verse divisions. The intention of the appendix, how- 
ever, remained the same. The reader who was inter- 
ested could turn to the appendix and find the critical 
and textual data that would enable him to evaluate the 
problems of New Testament interpretation intelli- 
gently. He would have in his hands the information for 
study which usually was available only to the technical 
scholar and teacher. "With these two exceptions, the 
fourth edition is essentially a reprint of the third. 

2. The Sixth Edition 

In July, 1838, the Harbinger carried the announce- 
ment that the firm of M'Vay and Ewing had been dis- 
solved. The publication of Alexander Campbell's works 
was, consequently, to be taken over by the firm of For- 


rester and Campbell of Pittsburgh. The whole business 
had been assigned to them. In September, the new firm 
announced for sale at 25 cents per copy, the "Fourth 
Edition of the Pocket Testament, Stereotyped." This 
was either the original Testament, listed as the fourth 
edition, or it was a new edition printed from the same 
plates. No explanation is given. In the Harbinger of 
July, 1839, announcement was made that the Family 
Testament was to be republished in large octavo form 
to sell at $2.00. In May, 1840, the new edition was an- 
nounced as complete and ready for sale. This evidently 
is the sixth edition of the Family Testament, dated 
1839. There seem to have been no changes from the 
edition of 1835. 

One of the problems to which we have referred pre- 
viously is the numbering of the various editions in this 
series. There is no problem relating to the first three 
editions. The first confusion arises with the number- 
ing of the Pocket Testament of 1833 and the "Fourth 
Edition" of the Family Testament of 1835. The writer 
has been able to find no trace of a fifth edition. Camp- 
bell makes no mention of it, nor does there appear to be 
any extant copy in the libraries which possess all the 
other editions. The explanation of this confusing situa- 
tion seems to be that, after the publication of the 
"Fourth Edition" of the Family Testament, the stereo- 
typed pocket edition was counted along with the various 
Family Testaments to make a total of five editions. 
This conclusion appears to be substantiated by an an- 
swer which Campbell published in the Harbinger of 
February, 1840, to a criticism of his New Version. The 
criticism had been published in another periodical in 
January and April of 1839, prior to the publication of 
Campbell's sixth edition. Campbell commented that the 
reviewer apparently had not examined the "five diverse 
editions of the work printed before his notices of it." 


If there had been a fifth edition, the Pocket Testament 
would have made a total of six editions up to that time, 
rather than the five indicated by Campbell. Further- 
more, the numbering of the editions of the Hymn Book 
published by Campbell is so varied and confusing that it 
is reasonable to suppose that Campbell would not have 
been concerned by an apparent inconsistency such as the 
lack of a fifth edition in this series. Thus, the publica- 
tion of the stereotyped Pocket Testament and the fourth 
edition of the Family Testament may easily account for 
the fourth and fifth editions. 

The sixth edition was the last to be published under 
Alexander Campbell's supervision. There are no no- 
tices of later editions during his lifetime. There are, 
however, continuing statements about the circulation 
of the Testament. In the Harbinger of February, 1838, 
Campbell wrote that more than 24,000 copies in all 
editions had come from the press, and that a London 
edition was at that time being circulated in England. In 
1842 he published a statement that forty thousand copies 
had been printed. Thirty-five thousand had been sold 
and five thousand had been distributed free of charge by 
two or three individuals. 13 There were frequent notices 
during this period of the availability of the "Living 
Oracles." This title, used only infrequently by Camp- 
bell for this version of the New Testament, seems grad- 
ually to have become the common name for it, though 
it never appears on the title page of any edition. Camp- 
bell confined his use of the term "Living Oracles" to 
a designation of the New Testament as the living mes- 
sage of God. 

3. The Pocket Testament 

The Pocket Testament went through many printings, 
though always apparently from the same stereotype 

13. Millennial Harbinger, 1842, p. 521. 


plates. Only the title page ever seems to have been al- 
tered, and then only to indicate a different publisher 
and date. For example, one printing carries the imprint 
of " Cincinnati: H. S. Bosworth, I860." Several other 
printings appeared, sometimes with and sometimes with- 
out a date. 

4. The Family Testament 

The Family Testament went through a similar series 
of printings. A new series of publications was begun in 
1870, when Franklin and Eice of Cincinnati published 
what they titled the ' ' First Stereotyped Edition. ? ' This 
was essentially a reprint of the sixth edition of 1839. 
The plates must have been stereotyped because of the 
fact that the same plates were used for at least six 
editions by Franklin and Rice. There is a sixteenth 
edition, published by the Christian Board of Publication 
and dated 1914. This is from the same plates as those 
of Franklin and Eice. More recently, the Harbinger 
Book Club of Nashville reprinted the work in 1951 and 
the Grospel Advocate Company in 1954. Bach of these 
shows the marks of being printed from the Franklin and 
Eice plates or from a photographic reproduction of 

5. The London Editions 

In addition to the American editions, several editions 
were printed abroad. In the Harbinger of February, 
1838, Campbell wrote that, through the instrumentality 
of Mr. John Davis of Chester, England, the New Version 
had recently been published in London and was at that 
time being circulated in England. It was getting a fa- 
vorable reception from the Baptists there. In a letter 
written by Alexander Campbell from Britain in 1847, 
printed in the August issue of the Harbinger, it was 
stated that Davis had, at his own expense, stereotyped 
the New Version and circulated it throughout England 
and Wales. 


This edition carried the customary title page, along 
with the identification, "By Alexander Campbell of 
Bethany, U.S., from the 4th American Edition, London : 
Gr. Wrightman, 1838." Wrightman was a Baptist and 
the publisher of the Baptist Magazine. He commended 
this New Testament highly in the July, 1838, issue of his 
magazine. Campbell reprinted the article in the Octo- 
ber, 1838, issue of the Harbinger. In the May, 1841, is- 
sue of the Harbinger, there is a letter from John Davis, 
who wrote that the fourth edition of Campbell's New 
Testament was then out. This would appear to be the 
fourth British edition. In January, 1843, Campbell 
wrote that the New Version was being republished. The 
British Museum Catalogue lists a New Edition, edited 
by James Wallis, London : 1848. The British Millennial 
Harbinger for 1860 calls attention to a revised and cor- 
rected edition, issued by W. Jones, London : J. Haddon, 
1848. 14 The writer has found no way of clearing up the 
confusion which seems to exist in these notices. They 
all were made apparently from the fourth American 

6. The Welsh Edition 

Of more interest than these London editions is the 
Welsh edition. The earliest notice of this translation 
appeared in the November, 1840, issue of the Harbinger. 
The London Christian Messenger is quoted as giving 
notice that the work had been undertaken by "a Partic- 
ular Baptist of great intelligence and learning." The 
completion of the undertaking was expected in a short 
time. In a letter from Chester, England, printed in the 
Harbinger for May, 1841, but dated in February, 1841, 
it was indicated that the work was progressing well but 
had not yet come from the press. The edition carries 
the date 1842. The translator is identified by Campbell 
as a Mr. Williams, and the announcement that the edi- 

14. British Millennial Harbinger (1860), p. 138. 


tion was in circulation was made in January, 1843. 15 

An examination of the contents of the Welsh edition 
will be of value for comparison with the American edi- 
tions. The title page in translation reads, "The Living 
Oracles [or probably, The Life-Owing Oracles], or the 
Sacred Writings of the Apostles and Evangelists of 
Jesus Christ which is commonly called the New Tes- 
tament, having been translated with the help of the most 
learned critics, by John Williams, with an Introduction 
and an Appendix by Alexander Campbell, London: 
Simpkins, Marshall and Co., 1842. ' ' The work is approx- 
imately the same size as Campbell's Family Testament 
published in America. Campbell's "General Preface" 
is omitted, and an eleven-page introduction by Williams 
is substituted. The prefaces, introductions to the books 
of the New Testament, and the "Hints to Beaders" are 
carried in a form practically identical with Campbell's 
text. In the appendix, several of Campbell's sections 
are retained, including the "Spurious Headings." 
There is a section of critical notes though it is not as 
exhaustive as that in Campbell's American editions. 
The work closes with a brief section of "Notes by the 

In his introduction, Williams describes his method of 
procedure. He had first intended simply to give a trans- 
lation of Campbell's New Testament. He states that he 
had not gone halfway through before he realized that 
such a translation would be inadequate. After this he 
commenced once more. He took the Greek New Testa- 
ment as his basis, and, consulting every other transla- 
tion he could get hold of, he tried to understand every 
passage and then set it down in the best Welsh language. 
He believed that he had succeeded "not so much in mak- 
ing a new translation but rather making the old one 
better." 16 The "old one" referred to is apparently 

15. Millennial Harbinger, 1843, p. 42. 

16. The Living Oracles or the Sacred Writings of the Apostles and 
Evangelists of Jesus Christ, translated by John Williams (London: 1842), 
Introduction, p. xii. 


Campbell's New Version. It would appear from Wil- 
liams' statement that lie had actually made a new trans- 
lation, working it through thoroughly, using only Camp- 
bell's prefaces and notes. His concluding statement, 
however, explains his intention and recognizes his de- 
pendence upon Campbell 

An examination of a few distinctive passages shows 
that he depended upon Campbell even more than his 
statement would indicate. The distinction between the 
words " repentance" and " reformat! on" is the same as 
that made by Campbell. The word " church" is repre- 
sented by a Welsh word which means basically " congre- 
gation." The phrase "into the name" upon which 
Campbell insisted, especially in Matthew 28:19, is pre- 
served by Williams. For the term " kingdom of God," 
the Welsh equivalent means "rule" and not kingdom in 
the spatial sense. The equivalent of "messenger" 
rather than the transliteration "angel" is preserved in 
Williams' work. In Matthew 16:16, a distinction be- 
tween "stone" and "rock" as applied to Peter appar- 
ently followed Campbell's reading. The familiar and 
intimate pronoun for "you" is preserved in Peter's 
address to Jesus in this same passage, rather than the 
archaic pronoun of address to God. This is the same as 
Campbell's rendering, "You are the Messiah." In the 
disputed reading in Acts 20:28, where Campbell read 
"The congregation of the Lord" rather than "The 
church of God," Williams presents the Welsh equivalent 
of Campbell's reading. The major readings rejected 
by Campbell as spurious are omitted from Williams' 
text. Altogether the evidence seems to point to the fact 
that the Welsh version preserves quite faithfully the 
distinctive features of the translation published by Alex- 
ander Campbell. 


The "New Version" in the Hands 
of the People 

For although I am as firmly convinced of the 
proper divinity of the Savior of the world, that he 
is as literally and as truly the Son of God as truly the 
Son of Man, as ever John Calvin was, I would not do 
as this 'Friend of Truth' insinuates I ought to have 
done, made the text bend to suit my views. 

Christian Baptist, November 6, 1826 

Alexander Campbell had, from tlie beginning, antici- 
pated that there would be frequent and severe attack on 
the publication of such a work as his New Version. In 
the appendix to the second edition of 1828, he called 
attention to a number of changes from the Authorized 
Version as well as from the text of the Campbell, Mac- 
knight, Doddridge New Testament. He then wrote, "If 
the King's translators found reason to justify them- 
selves for shunning the obscurities of the papists: we 
will for the same reason be allowed to shun the obscuri- 
ties of the protestants, if this be done by a fair transla- 
tion. 5)1 He wrote in 1833, after the publication of the 
third edition, that he had before him two copies of the 
Geneva Bible, one from 1607 and the other from 1615. 
He stated that there were thousands of variations be- 
tween these two. From this, he observed, it is to be 

1. The Sacred Writings (1828), p. 451. 



concluded that any translation into English must be 
subject to change and emendation. He concluded by 
stating that if any of the changes and emendations found 
in his version could not be sustained by the established 
canons of criticism, he would frankly acknowledge his 
mistake. 2 In answer to a criticism of a Dr. Cleland, he 
wrote that no translation in the vernacular tongue or re- 
vision since the day of Wycliff had escaped censure. No 
less could be expected for the version which he had pub- 
lished. 3 

Favorable Responses 

It is in the light of these anticipated criticisms that 
we should make a study of the reception given Camp- 
bell's work. In many areas, the work was given a warm 
reception, A contributor who signed his article Paulinus 
wrote to the Christian Baptist concerning the first edi- 
tion that it was well designed to aid the " liberal-minded 
reader" in his study of the Scripture by clearing up 
difficult passages and by giving a good representation 
of the original text. He criticized negatively a few 
points but heartily endorsed the historical method of 
interpretation presented in the prefaces. 4 Another writ- 
er, at a later date, commended Campbell on his use of 
" immerse " and deplored the fact that some Baptists 
had adopted his views, and, at the same time, joined 
those who practiced infant baptism, in abusing him. 5 
Eobert Richardson, Campbell's biographer, wrote that 
Andrew Broaddus approved the new version and was 
especially complimentary of the u Hints to Readers. 776 

The attack of one of Campbell's severest critics can 
be taken as an indication of the widespread use of the 

2. Millennial Harbinger, 1833, p. 407. 

3. Ibid., p. 402. 

4. Christian Baptist, February 5, 1827, pp. 158, 159. 

5. Millennial Harbinger, 1836, p. 317. 

6. Richardson, Robert, The Memoirs of Alexander Campbell (1890), 
II, p. 150. 


New Version among Campbell's followers. B>. W. 
Landis wrote, " ... I have always seen this version 
used by Campbellite preachers, when preaching from 
the New Testament. Was it too much, therefore, for 
me to conclude that the translation from which they 
quote, and from which they preach, was the one most 
approved by them?" 7 

The fact that this New Testament was frequently dis- 
tributed free of charge indicates its popularity. One 
individual sent Campbell thirty dollars, stating that he 
had intended the money for the Home Missionary Soci- 
ety; but when he came across a copy of Campbell's New 
Testament, he felt that he could do no better than send 
the money for the purpose of free distribution of the 
New Testament. A certain George W. Smith wrote that 
his mother, who had lived to be nearly eighty years of 
age, had used the version and would comment that it 
seemed like a new book. "Things that used to appear 
dark are now as clear as day." 8 The extent of the cir- 
culation of the work may be indicated by the fact that 
Campbell could write in 1842 that forty thousand copies 
had been distributed, though he felt that the number 
should have been greater among a religious fellowship 
of 200,000. 9 This comment seems to indicate that the 
circulation was largely among members of the Christian 
Churches. By the very nature of the case, it is difficult 
to learn how widespread its use was. The evidence 
shows that it was read at home as a family Bible, car- 
ried to worship service, and used as a basis for preach- 

The Burned Copy 

It is much easier to evaluate the opposition to the 
work, because the opponents were very ready to express 

7. Biblical Repository, Second Series, Vol. Fourth, 1840, p. 213. 

8. Millennial Harbinger, 1848, p. 119, 

9. IUd., 1842, p. 521. 


their views. Only a few months after the publication of 
the first edition, an incident occurred which indicated 
the bitter antagonism to the version. A letter written 
from Kentucky, dated January 29, 1827, reported the 
burning of a copy of the New Version. This account 
is confirmed by an extract from the Baptist Recorder, 
reprinted in the Christian Baptist. The extract reads, 

I subscribed for Mr. Campbell's Testament, and received it, paid $1,75 
for it, kept it five or six months and compared it carefully with the one 
which I have loved ever since I was 13 years old. On the first reading I 
condemned it, but let it remain in my house some two or three months; 
then tried it again, and condemned and burnt it.i 

The statement was signed by Edmund Waller. The writ- 
er who reported the incident to the editor of the Chris- 
tian Baptist stated that Waller had told him that he had 
prayed to God ten days to know whether he should burn 
the Testament or not. On mature reflection he conclud- 
ed to do so. One day when he had a good fire and his 
family was out, "he shook the leaves well and committed 
it to the flames with a clear conscience." Campbell's 
sarcastic reply indicates his indignation at the action. 
He wrote, 

He compared it carefully with the common version ! yet it is 
believed that he could not tell the nominative case to a verb, 
nor the antecedent to a relative, to save himself from the Spanish 
inquisition. But he is regenerated, and prayed ''ten days" 
for light on the subject ! ! His one dollar and seventy-five cents 
cost him ten days praying! ! Criticism avaunt! This defies 
you I 11 

A writer commented in the Christian Baptist of July, 
1828, "The man who could burn the New Testament 
after a prayer of the enormous length of 'ten days,' when 
in so good a frame of mind, certainly wanted nothing but 

10. Christian Baptist, April 2, 1827, pp. 207, 208. 

11. Idem. 


the sanction of the law to burn the editor!!" 12 Camp- 
bell, in later years, wrote of the incident that Waller 
" . . . was as much pleased with this act as were the 
persecutors of John Huss, and Jerome, of Prague, while 
contemplating their bodies crumbling to ashes." 13 This 
incident must not be viewed as an isolated circumstance 
nor as a mere personal reaction by Waller. It was an 
outgrowth of the general animosity and suspicion which 
were engendered by the conflict between the Baptists 
and Alexander Campbell. It is also a reflection of the 
conflict between the orthodox and the Unitarian point 
of view which had been raging for some years. Any- 
thing which might appear to be a compromise of the 
very conservative and orthodox point of view was inter- 
preted as tending toward Unitarianism. Waller's action 
probably reflects something of both of these struggles. 

The Word of God (?) 

In a letter from a writer who signed his work " Titus," 
there is the report of a sermon preached by George Wal- 
ler, brother of Edmund Waller, who burned the copy of 
the New Testament. Waller is quoted as saying, 

It is presumption, it is wicked, for an individual, and he a 
mere smatterer, to take the work of a translation out of the 
hands of King James' translators, men so renowned for their 
learning and piety, who were so providentially protected, and 
who lived so much nearer the age of the apostles, that they must, 
consequently, have "been much better acquainted with the 
original languages than any man can be in the present age*' 14 ' 

One of the general criticisms of the New Version was 
that it was not the Word of God. In a letter to the editor 

12. IM&, July 7, 1928, p. 283. 

13. Millennial Harbinger, 1855, p. 73. 

14. Christian Baptist, May. 7, 1827, pp. 220, 221. 


of the Christian Baptist in June, 1827, a writer reported 
that one of the " teachers' 7 in his community refused to 
have the New Version read in a public meeting because 
it was not the Word of God. The basis of this objection 
apparently was that only the King James Version could 
be so considered. There apparently was a misunder- 
standing about this matter for, in September, Walter 
Warder wrote to the editor, stating that he apparently 
was the person referred to in the above-mentioned letter. 
He explained the situation. In the church meeting, the 
question was raised whether it were more scriptural for 
a church to have a "Pastor" or a "Bishop." When 
Campbell's version was introduced, he raised a point of 
order that it was improper for it to be read, not because 
it was not the Word of God, but because the church had 
not received it as the standard by which such questions 
were to be determined. In this case, where references 
were made by the church to the Scriptures, the norm was 
the common version. Warder explained further that 
he had the new translation and was, in general, pleased 
with it. He used it at home, but the reason he did not 
use it in the pulpit was the prejudice against it and the 
excitement and inflammation which was present in the 
church regarding it. 15 This incident is highly informa- 
tive of attitudes toward the version. There was not only 
individual opposition to it, but, within the churches, 
there were people violently opposed to it. This situation 
was such that the more moderate felt it unwise to make 
use of it, in order not to disrupt the peace of the church. 
We are presented, then, with leaders who individually 
endorsed and made personal use of it, though they did 
not use it publicly. It is possible that this picture would 
be a good general cross-section view of the situation in 
the Baptist churches. 

15. IUd., September 3, 1827, p. 43. 


A Disturbing Publication 

Another objection raised against the translation was 
that it unnecessarily unsettled the popular mind. E. "W. 
Landis, a Presbyterian, raised the question of what could 
be gained from such a disturbance. The rejection of 
passages, even on the basis of Griesbach and Mill, was 
without sufficient evidence, he believed. He wrote that 
he did not object to the collation and classification of 
manuscripts, ' ' . . . but to the dogmatical conclusions 
attempted to be deduced from such collations." It is 
absurd, he maintained, for one who feels that the Greek 
text is unsettled, to unsettle the minds of the people, and 
". . . at the same time admit that all the alterations 
contended for, do not affect, either pro or con, one soli- 
tary article of the Christian system." 16 

Campbell also came in for severe personal criticism. 
J. L. Yantes, an "Old School Presbyterian," is reported 
to have charged Campbell with the motive of personal 
gain for his publishing ventures. A contrast was made 
between the price of the common version and that of 
Campbell's New Testament. Campbell answered by 
citing comparable works such as those of George Camp- 
bell, James Macknight, Doddridge, and Stuart of An- 
dover which the Presbyterians sold for far greater sums 
per unit than Campbell received for his works. Com- 
parable to the above criticism was that of personal am- 
bition. The charge was made by John E. Graves in his 
Tennessee Baptist, in which nearly the entire editorial 
page of one issue was devoted to this one attack. He 
wrote, "The ambition of your life has been to become 
an acknowledged Eef ormer a second Luther to be the 
acknowledged head and leader of the whole Christian 
world and to receive the fragrant incense of its hom- 
age." 17 

16. Biblical Repository, Second Series, Vol. First, 1839, pp. 325, 326. 

17. Tennessee Baptist, Sat., June 10, 1854. 


Specific Readings Attacked 

Other attacks upon the version were more specific and 
to the point. One of these centered around the use of 
"immerse" instead of " baptize." The editor of the 
Episcopal Recorder, George A. Smith, attacked Camp- 
bell at this point. He wrote that in Mark 7:3-5, the 
word 0ewTTtffl> should be taken to refer to the Pharisees 
themselves. He charged that George Campbell had con- 
fused the passage by reading the phrase as "by dipping 
them." The last word "them" is supplied by the trans- 
lator. Taken properly, Smith argued, the passage refers 
to the washing of parts of the body, so that the word 
mnst allow sprinkling or pouring. He argued further 
that if the word flcarTlfo had meant only "immerse," 
Mark and Luke would have chosen another word for the 
ritual described here. 18 Alexander Campbell replied 
that, since George Campbell was not an immersionist, 
his only reason for reading this as "dipping" was lin- 
guistic. In response to the comment on Luke 11 :38 where 
the word "washing" is used by George Campbell, Alex- 
ander Campbell argued that the term is used figuratively 
to describe a religious custom of cleansing before meals, 
and that there is no reason to conclude that it means 
either to sprinkle or pour. Campbell then referred 
Smith to D 'Oyly and Mant, whose work he described as 
the "best and most popular commentary now in use in 
the Episcopal Church of the United States and of Eng- 
land." Even in this commentary, Campbell asserted, 
he had the overwhelming weight of authority in favor 
of the New Version. He concluded by charging that 
Smith had based all of his argument on the figurative 
use of the word, whereas he himself had examined it in 
the light of the places and circumstances under which 
the act was performed. 19 

18. Episcopal Recorder, Feb. 8, 1834, p. 178. 

19. Millennial Hcerlinger, 1834, pp. 350-353. 


George Smith also attacked the New Version because 
of the use of "congregation" instead of "church." He 
argued that Alexander Campbell had quoted George 
Campbell in favor of this usage and had carried it 
throughout the New Testament, but in doing so had not 
done justice to George Campbell's own view. To prove 
this, he cited George Campbell's translation of Matthew 
16 :18, where the latter had used "church," on the ground 
that it refers to all who would receive Jesus as the Mes- 
siah. He argued further that the term "congregation" 
is inadequate to express the thought in Philippians 3 :6 
and Colossians 1:18, 24, where the reference is to the 
church in areas beyond any local congregation. 20 Alex- 
ander Campbell answered that Smith had failed to give 
George Campbell's real explanation for using the term 
"church" in Matthew 16:18. It had been retained in 
this place only because of the metaphorical use in con- 
nection with the rock which was the foundation. Alex- 
ander Campbell insisted that the word "church" had 
come to signify the building or the leaders of the 
church. He then cited the early English versions which 
used the term "congregation." In answer to the objec- 
tion that Christ should not be called the "head of the 
congregation," Campbell wrote, "The head of the com- 
munity, or the congregation, or the assembly is to my 
optics as clear and as intelligible as the head of the 
church." 21 This same objection had been voiced earlier 
by Obadiah Jennings in his "Debate on Campbellism. " 
Campbell had treated the objection at length with essen- 
tially the same answer as that given to Smith. 

Objections to Textual Criticism 

Another point of attack on the New Version was the 
omission of spurious readings. R. W. Landis charged 

20. Episcopal Recorder, 1834, p. 178. 

21. Millennial Harbinger* 1834, p. 299- 


Campbell with rejecting certain passages which support 
the doctrine of the trinity. He cited especially Colossians 
2:2, where Campbell rejected the common reading, ". . . 
of God, and of the Father, and of Christ," to make it 
read in the third edition, "... of God." It was appar- 
ently on the basis of this later reading that Landis made 
his attack. He maintained also that the passage about 
the " three heavenly witnesses" in 1 John 5:7 was gen- 
nine, and that Campbell's omission of it was an unwar- 
ranted rejection of a passage supporting the doctrine 
of the trinity. He charged Campbell also with omitting 
passages supporting the eternal power and Godhead of 
Christ. Among the passages cited was Mark 9 :24 where, 
in the King James Version, the disciples address Jesus 
as Lord. Campbell substituted the word "Master" and 
printed it in italics to indicate that it was a substitution 
in the text. Landis cited also Matthew 23 :8, Philippians 
4:13, and Colossians 1:2, where the word "Christ" had 
appeared in the King James Version, usually as an ex- 
planatory phrase. Campbell had omitted the word in 
these passages. Landis insisted that in these and other 
passages there was deliberate omission to detract from 
the divine character of Jesus. These were largely de- 
partures from the text of George Campbell, Maclmight, 
and Doddridge to follow the Greek text of Griesbach. 
Landis claimed that Campbell had departed from his 
basic English sources because of a "Unitarian bent," 
had followed in the steps of the Unitarian editors, and 
in some places had gone beyond them in omitting en- 
tirely what they had only bracketed. He concluded, 

Out of all the foregoing passages, Drs. Campbell, Maeknight, 
and Doddridge have not omitted a single word or phrase in their 
version of the New Testament, yet Mr. Campbell omits them all, 
and not less than five or six hundred others y and pledges him- 
self that the version which he offers to the public is made by 
"Drs. Campbell, Macknight, and Doddridge/' 22 

22. Biblical Repository, Second Series, Vol. First, 1839, p. 325. 


George Smith of the Episcopal Recorder made a simi- 
lar charge in his attack on Campbell's reading of Titus 
2:13. He claimed that Campbell had so altered the text 
as to eliminate the attestation of the deity of Christ. 
The King James Version reads, ". . . the glorious appear- 
ing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ. " 
Campbell read it "... the appearing of the glory of the 
great God, and of our Savior Jesus Christ. " Smith 
wrote regarding this change, "Mr. Campbell, not satis- 
fied to leave the passage even ambiguous, alters it ,so as 
to bear only the latter interpretation, and thus throws 
aside one of the strongest attestations to the essential 
deity of Christ." 23 Smith admitted that the reading of 
the common version could be altered but insisted that it 
should be changed to strengthen and not to weaken the 
emphasis upon Christ's deity. He charged that Camp- 
bell had, by his reading, strengthened the position of the 
Arians and Unitarians. Campbell defended his reading 
by the citation of various biblical and grammatical evi- 
dences. He concluded, "It is enough for me that Mr. 
Smith finds no grammatical or literal impropriety in the 
New Version. It is exactly in conformity with all the 
long and well-established rules of grammar." 24 

The Editor a "Heretic" 

The emendation of Acts 20 :28 stirred up some general 
opposition to the version. Following Griesbach, Camp- 
bell had departed from the King James Version to sub- 
stitute the word "Lord" for "God," and so to read, 
"the congregation of the Lord, which he purchased with 
his own blood." George Smith, of the Episcopal Re- 
corder, gave Doddridge's reading, which was identical 
with the King James reading. He quoted Doddridge's 
comment that here the blood of Christ is called the blood 
of God; hence the Holy Spirit had given evidence that 

23. Episcopal Recorder, 1834, p. 174. 

24. MilZemiial Harbinger, 1834, pp. 274, 275. 


God was manifest in Christ. 25 Campbell answered the 
criticism by citing the manuscript evidence for the read- 
ing. He argued further, however, that, even if the manu- 
script evidence were equal, the phrase, "the blood of 
God," never occurs in the Scriptures and " expresses a 
sentiment incompatible with all our notions of God." 26 
These critics continuously charge Campbell with being a 
' ' Socinian ' ? or a " Unitarian. ' ? Sometimes the term used 
was "Arian." In view of the tensions which had grown 
up because of the Unitarian controversy in New Eng- 
land and had spread widely even to the frontier, the 
suspicion of such " Unitarian leanings " in anyone who 
attempted a work of scholarship was understandable. 
The terms "Socinian" and "Arian" were the popular 
terms by which to describe one who denied the deity of 
Jesus. They were essentially identical with the term 
6 ' Unitarian. ' 7 Such attacks upon Campbell seem to have 
arisen primarily out of the fact that he refused to adopt 
the creeds as authoritative, and that he demanded that 
the concepts of the Scriptures be presented in biblical 
rather than theological terms. This position led him, 
of course, to reject the theological terminology of the 
creeds in the trinitarian formula. The same thing is 
true of the terminology relating to the essential deity of 
Jesus. In reply to such charges, Campbell declared his 
convictions. In answer to a critic who signed his article 
"Friend to Truth," he wrote, "For although I am as 
firmly convinced of the proper divinity of the Savior 
of the world, that he is as literally and as truly the Son 
of God as the Son of Man, as ever John Calvin was, I 
would not do as this ' Friend to Truth' insinuates I 
ought to have done, made the text bend to suit my 

views." 27 

25. Episcopal Recorder, 1834, p. 174. 

26. Millennial Harbinger, 1834, pp. 204, 205. 

27. Christian Baptist, November 6, 1826, pp. 93, 94. 


These criticisms which we have been examining con- 
stituted the major attacks npon the version. The attacks 
of Smith and Landis seem to have been the only sig- 
nificant criticisms from outside the Baptist church; it 
is thus doubtful that the version had any wide circula- 
tion beyond the fellowship of the Baptists and the Dis- 
ciples. At least, no noticeable publicity about any such 
attacks is found in the pages of the Christian Baptist and 
the Harbinger. The fact that so much criticism came 
from the Baptist press would appear to indicate that 
the Baptists were reading the work, and that it was caus- 
ing difficulty to the conservative Baptist position. 

Official Censures 

This judgment that the Baptists were especially con- 
cerned is borne out by certain official actions taken 
against the version within the Baptist church in at- 
tempts to suppress it. In the Christian Baptist of No- 
vember, 1828, there is printed an extract from a letter 
sent from the North Elkhorn Church to the Elkhorn 
Baptist Association. The letter raised the question 
whether, since the Association had voted to " main tain 
the doctrine of grace as contained in the Bible, and set 
forth in the Philadelphia Confession of Faith," it should 
protest against " ' Armenianism (sic!) and Cammelism 
(sic!) and his new loo ok as Cammel (sic!) is against 
creeds and confessions. . . .' ?2S An extract from another 
letter was presented, in which the statement was made : 
". . . we as a church profess not to understand what is 
meant by immersing into the name of the trinity, instead 
of baptizing by the authority or in the name of the Fa- 
ther, Son, and Holy Ghost. The latter is our belief and 
no other." 29 This statement obviously refers to Camp- 
bell's translation of Matthew 28:19, in which he reads, 

28. Ibid., November 3, 1828, p. 84. 

29. Idem. 


"immersing them into the name ..." In the Millennial 
Harbinger of June, 1830, there is reprinted what is called 
"The Appomattox Decrees." The Appomattox Asso- 
ciation issued the following statements .signed by Abner 
Clopton as clerk : 

1. Resolved, that it be recommended to all the churches com- 
posing this association, to discountenance the writings of Alex- 
ander Campbell. 

2. Resolved, that it be recommended to all the churches in 
this association not to countenance the new translation of the 
New Testament. 30 

These two resolutions illustrate the situation in which 
a Baptist preacher, inclined toward the "Beformation," 
as the Disciple movement was called, found himself. In 
1826 John Smith secured and examined a copy of the 
New Version and felt that it cleared up many obscure 
passages. In his preaching he used the version, both 
quoting from it as the Word of God and adopting the 
baptismal formula, using the terms "immerse" and 
"into the name." He was not uncritical of it, however, 
for he suggested to Campbell certain changes which were 
incorporated into later editions. At the Association 
Meeting at Cane Spring in 1827, the following charges 
were made against Smith : 

1. That, while it is the custom of Baptists to use as the Word 
of God King James's translation, he had, on two or three occa- 
sions in public, and often privately in liis family, read from 
Alexander Campbell's translation. 

2. That, while it is the custom in the ceremony of baptism to 
take the candidate into the water, and solemnly pronounce the 
words, "I baptize you, my brother, in the name of the Father 
and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost," he, on the contrary, is 
in the habit of saying, "By the authority of Jesus Christ, I im- 
merse you into the name of the Father and of the Son and of 
the Holy Spirit. " 31 

30. Millennial Harbinger, 1830, p. 261. 

31. Williams, John A., The Life of Elder John Smith (St Louis: n.d.) 
p. 183. 


When the charges were taken up by the Association, 
Smith pleaded guilty to them all. The discussion which 
followed was intense and at times disorderly. That 
afternoon, in a private home, Smith undertook to defend 
himself on the ground that "baptizing'' and " immers- 
ing " were synonymous, that according to the Word of 
God we baptize by the authority of Christ, and that it is 
incongruous to apply the word "Ghost" to God. 

On Monday the complaints were taken up formally. 
The opponents of Smith contended that the new transla- 
tion was not the Word of God. The moderator called 
someone to preside and he himself took the floor. He 
asserted that he had never seen the book and did not 
wish to do so ( !). He also commended Elder Waller for 
burning it. After defending himself in general, Smith 
raised the question with an elder as to whether or not the 
King James Version were the only Word of God. When 
the elder answered that it was, but admitted that he did 
not know when it was translated, Smith informed him 
of the date and demanded to know if the elder believed 
that God had left the world without his Word for fifteen 
hundred years until the translation of the King James 
Version. He also asked whether the elder believed that 
even now the Dutch and others who could not read the 
common English version were without God's Word. The 
whole matter was finally carried over for another year. 32 
No indication is given as to whether or not it was ever 
brought up again. 

From the scattered reports of such incidents within 
the Baptist associations, this incident seems to have been 
typical of the opposition. Such actions probably are 
indicative of the fact that the use of the new translation 
was spreading among Baptist preachers and laymen 

32. IUd., pp. 188-190. 



"We may, at this point, summarize and evaluate some 
of our findings in this study of the Campbell, Macknight, 
Doddridge New Testament. The work was not intended 
to be original. The credit given for the readings as re- 
ported in the appendix to the first and second editions 
makes it clear that it was a resultant text. Campbell 
used the three major English sources simply because he 
thought that, as a whole, they were the best that had 
appeared in English. Where these did not satisfy him at 
any point, he felt perfectly free to adopt a reading which 
he found in some other recognized English translation. 
He himself made some emendations, but these make up 
only a very minor part of the text. Apparently follow- 
ing the principle used by J. A. Bengel with the Greek 
text, he used a basic English text and departed from this 
only when he found recognized translations which car- 
ried some better reading. The Greek text, however, was 
his final arbiter. He did not attempt an independent 
translation, but in all matters relating to the text, Gries- 
bach's edition of the Greek New Testament was used as 
a basic standard. It is obvious that Campbell's theologi- 
cal views would enter into the selection of the readings 
at various points, but it is doubtful that these were, in 
any measure, greater than the same considerations in 
other versions. The work could not, as a whole, stand 
as a modern-language translation for today. It was in- 
tentionally couched in semiclassical language in most 
eases. The comparative study which we have made and 
shall expand later, however, will show that in the use of 
textual criticism, the emendation of archaic language, 
and, in several cases, the reading of passages, Campbell, 
in a remarkable way, anticipated much that has been 
done in modern-language translation since his time. The 
translation was far in advance of the popular acceptance 
of his day in these respects. The prefaces and appendix 


furnish valuable information for both the technical and 
the popular reader. While some of the information re- 
flects some of the inaccuracies current in that day, even 
among reputable scholars, and has been supplanted by 
more recent discoveries and developments in biblical 
studies, a remarkable amount of it is still relevant. This 
material was intended to make the work a self -interpret- 
ing New Testament. There seems to be no indication 
that Campbell hoped or intended that this should become 
the universally accepted version of the day ; it was rather 
intended for comparison, study, and popular use as the 
best production that he could find. It appears to this 
writer, on the basis of the facts examined, that this 
earliest American attempt at a modern-language trans- 
lation of the New Testament succeeded in achieving its 
goal in a much higher degree than could ordinarily have 
been expected under the circumstances of the time. Some 
of the reasons for this success will be examined at a later 
point in the discussion. We may conclude at this point, 
however, that Campbell was aware of the basic principles 
of interpretation and translation which were accepted 
by the best scholars of his day and which have been 
proved valid by the testing of over a century of critical 


Editor Turned Reviser 

I may show yet before I die, that I am not a whit 
behind the chief est of them in true, real, soul-redeem- 
ing orthodoxy. 

Millennial Harbinger, 1836 

The American Bible Union 

Alexander Campbell produced only one major work of 
independent revision. That was the translation of Acts 
of the Apostles, for the American Bible Union revision 
of the New Testament. In order to study this transla- 
tion, it is necessary to survey the history of the Ameri- 
can Bible Union and the production of the revision of 
the English Scriptures. 

1. Conflict within the American Bible Society 
In 1834 Adoniram Judson completed his translation 
of the Bible into Burmese. In his translation he had, 
for "baptize" and " baptism, " used the Burmese equiva- 
lent of " immerse" and "immersion." An appeal was 
made to the American Bible Society to publish and dis- 
tribute the translation. A Daniel Monroe of New York 
reported to the Millennial Harbinger that the Society, 
by a majority of twelve votes, had decided that "no 
translation of the Bible should be sustained or patron- 



ized by the Bible Society that translated baptismos and 
baptisma by 'immersion,' or bapto and baptizo by ' im- 
merse' or any other word which so imports." 1 Camp- 
bell commented on the embarrassing position in which 
this put the Baptists. They had very bitterly opposed 
his own publication of the New Testament and favored 
the Bang James. They were now being forced to decide 
whether they would support Judson 's translation which 
they recognized as wholly valid, or whether they would 
go along with those favoring infant baptism and defend 
the King James Version. He expressed the hope that 
the Baptists would not, because of the severe antagonism 
which they had built up toward him, sacrifice the Judson 
translation. The Baptist answer came very quickly. In 
the July, 1836, issue of the Millennial Harbinger there 
is the report of a proposal of the Baptists to form a new 
Bible Society. A typical pattern of the proposal is con- 
tained in a series of resolutions passed by the Deep Run 
Association and published in the Religious Herald. The 
article was reprinted in the Harbinger. One resolution 
expressed the view that to transfer to English and not 
to translate the word pairrlfa was " ' handling the word of 
God deceitfully. ? ? ' Another suggested that to carry this 
error into a translation for the heathen, would confuse 
them and lay the groundwork for divisions among them. 
The resolutions went further to pledge support only to 
such a society as "translated" the word ftcarrlto and to 
commend Judson on his translation. The resolutions 
concluded with a proposal for an American Baptist Bible 
Society. This opened the question of the validity of a 
new translation into English which would seek primarily 
to answer the question, not of what was written in 
former translations, but of what had been written "by 
the pen of inspiration." 2 

1. Millennial Harbinger, 1836, pp. 185-186. 

2. I&itf., pp. 315, 316. 


2. A New Bible Society 

In the September, 1837, issue of the Millennial Har- 
binger, there appeared a report on an address by Elder 
Spencer H. Cone on the occasion of the anniversary 
meeting of the new Society. The Baptists had felt justi- 
fied by the action of the American Bible Society in form- 
ing a Bible Society of their own for the printing and cir- 
culation of the Scriptures. The new organization took 
the name "The Baptist American and Foreign Bible 
Society." Campbell expressed his warm approval of 
the move but felt that both societies were doing a good 
work. To express his confidence, he gave each two hun- 
dred dollars, thus becoming a member and director for 
life in both societies. He urged others to be generous 
in their contributions to each. 3 By 1842 progress in 
translation of foreign-language Bibles was under way 
under the auspices of the American and Foreign Bible 
Society. This is indicated in a letter written by Camp- 
bell for the Millennial Harbinger during his trip to New 
York stating that he had visited the rooms of the 
American and Foreign Bible Society and had seen a 
variety of new versions translated into pagan tongues. 
He was especially pleased with the form and execution 
of Judson's Burmese Bible. 4 By 1844 solicitation was 
being carried on in Virginia and Kentucky for the So- 
ciety, and Campbell's home church at Bethany had sub- 
scribed heavily. In 1844, also, the Society rejected a 
charter offered by the Legislature of New York because 
the word "Baptist" had been inserted to make it read, 
"American and Foreign Baptist Bible Society." The 
rejection demonstrated the attempt which was being 
made to keep the Society nonsectarian. 5 

3. Ibid., 1842, p. 315. 

4. IUd., 1843, p. 63. 

5. JTbid., 1844, p. 330. 


3. A New Translation Proposed 

In April, 1845, a report appeared in the Millennial 
Harbinger of the proposal for the translation of the 
Bible among the Baptists. This translation would aban- 
don the adherence to the traditional transliteration of 
various words and would seek to present the Bible clearly 
in contemporary terms. 

About the same time there arose a movement among 
the Disciples to form an American Christian Bible So- 
ciety of their own. Aylett Raines, a minister of promi- 
nence, reported this in a letter to the Christian Journal 
bnt questioned the wisdom of it because of the cost in- 
volved and because of the fact that the Baptists were 
already doing such a work in an adequate way. A cer- 
tain "S.A." commented on the proposal and encour- 
aged, instead, the support of the .American and For- 
eign Bible Society. He argued that it had a name that 
was not sectarian, that it had rescinded the order that 
all the officers should be Baptists, that it was already 
circulating the Bible in fifty-four different languages, 
that the duplication of the facilities would be a useless 
waste of funds, and that the Disciples could not produce 
in several years a sufficient number of translators. 
Campbell commented that the American Christian Bible 
Society was sponsored by too limited a group, that the 
Baptists were doing what the Disciples were not in a 
position to do, and that the latter had not yet learned 
sufficient generosity in giving to support such a ven- 
ture. 6 In 1846 there was an annual meeting and a call 
for co-operation of all in the work of the Society. Again 
Campbell objected and expressed the hope that the meet- 
ing would discuss whether the project was acceptable to 
the churches, 7 In a statement of policy for the Society, 
D. S. Burnett, the president, repeated that it was not 

6. IUd., 1845, pp. 372, 373. 

7. IUd., 1846, p. 176. 


intended to supplant the American and Foreign Bible 
Society, nor did it intend to merge with it, because that 
would involve it in the North-South controversy which 
was troubling the American and Foreign Society. The 
aim of the new Society was to circulate those translations 
already in existence and provide for the circulation of 
those to be made at any later time. In June, 1849, a gen- 
eral meeting relating to the American Christian Bible 
Society was called to convene in Baltimore. 8 The Society 
was abandoned shortly after this, apparently in view of 
the formation of the new American Bible Union. 

4. Troubles within the New Society 

During this period, the American and Foreign Bible 
Society was having its own troubles. In a letter from 
Wm. H. "Wyckoff, corresponding secretary of that So- 
ciety, to Alexander Campbell, dated July 29, 1846, the 
information is given that several southern conventions 
had decided to withdraw support from the Society. The 
scope of the work of the Society had been increasing, and 
this withdrawal threatened to be a serious blow. 9 In 
November, Campbell wrote that the Society had a new 
French translation in press and was proposing a new 
Spanish translation. In January, he wrote again that 
the difference between the American and Foreign Bible 
Society and the American Bible Society was not the field 
of labor but "that of the true version of untranslated 
words. ' ' He commented that the proposals of the former 
were in accord with his own views and with his work of 
translation for some years past. 

In 1850 a proposal was made and published in the 
New York Recorder that a new translation of the New 
Testament be made by the American and Foreign Bible 
Society. The new translation should not only translate 

8. Ibid., 1849, pp. 451-453. 

9. IUd., 1846, pp. 561-565. 


baptizo as " immerse" but many other words, then ob- 
scure, should be put into the vernacular. Campbell 
copied this comment and gave to it his endorsement, 
though he warned that it would be criticized as a " Bap- 
tist Bible." 10 A start in this direction had apparently 
been made when, in 1849, Mr. Cone and Mr. Wyckoff of 
the Society had prepared and published, on their own 
initiative, an emended version of the New Testament as 
an example of what might be done in this direction. 
Little seems to have resulted from the work, though the 
plates had been stereotyped. 

A change in the policy of the American and Foreign 
Bible Society caused a rupture in the constituency in 
1850. The Society had proposed in 1836 in its original 
constitution the aim of promoting "a wider circulation 
of the Holy Scriptures in the most faithful versions that 
can be procured." The constitution as adopted by the 
Convention in 1837 was set in opposition to any restric- 
tion which would prevent the ultimate publication of a 
corrected version by the Society. On May 23, 1850, the 
Society passed a resolution restricting the issuance and 
circulation of the English Scriptures to the " commonly 
received version, without note or comment." 11 This 
action caused turmoil in the meeting, and resulted in 
numerous dismissals and resignations of personnel. 
Campbell deplored the decision and felt it to be a rejec- 
tion of the original purpose of the Society. He wrote 
that the decision had made it impossible for him to co- 
operate "in feeling, prayer or effort . . . except in its 
foreign field of labor." 12 

5. The American Bible Union 

On May 31, 1850, a resolution was passed by a group 
calling for a meeting to form a new Bible Society to 

10. <Z. f 1850, pp. 225-229. 

11. XUd., 1852, p. 334. 

12. I&id., p. 340. 


translate completely the Scriptures into English. The 
resolution was signed by several who had resigned their 
positions with the American and Foreign Bible Society. 13 
The new organization, to be known as the American 
Bible Union, was organized on June 10, 1850. The con- 
stitution provided that the purpose of the Union was 
"to procure and circulate the most faithful versions of 
the Sacred Scriptures in all languages throughout the 
world." A resolution was introduced and adopted pro- 
hibiting the expenditure of funds on any version not 
made on the basis of the following principle : "The exact 
meaning of the inspired text, as that text expressed it to 
those who understood the original Scriptures at the time 
they were first written, must be translated by correspond- 
ing words and phrases, so far as they can be found, in the 
vernacular tongue of those for whom the version is de- 
signed, with the least possible obscurity or indefinite- 
ness." 14 It was further proposed that, as soon as pos- 
sible, the work on such translations should begin. Plans 
were indicated as under way in the first annual report 
of the Union. There were, however, attacks on the pro- 
posal from the outset, even among the Baptists. Camp- 
bell gave his encouragement to the project, stating that 
he still believed that his Family Testament was "the 
most faithful and intelligible version in Christendom." 
He recognized, however, that it was capable of improve- 
ment and stated that he had in his files many emenda- 
tions to be suggested. He wrote, "I am willing to sacri- 
fice all my interests, of whatever sort they be, for such 
a version as I can conscientiously approve." 15 In Sep- 
tember, 1851, he wrote that, though he had intended 
a republication of his Family Testament, he was holding 
up any action, pending the completion of the project of 

13. Tbid. t 1850, pp. 413, 414. 

14. IUd., 1852, p. 290. 

15. JWd., 1851, pp. 167, 168. 


the American Bible Union. 16 He was happy to see that 
the Baptists who had so bitterly opposed his New Ver- 
sion were now fast moving to the position which he had 
advocated from the beginning. He predicted, ". . . I 
may show yet before I die, that I am not a whit behind 
the chiefest of them in true, real, soul-redeeming ortho- 
doxy. " 17 

The 1852 Convention made definite plans for a new 
translation. At this meeting, the rules were adopted to 
govern the work of the various translators. One of the 
basic ideas was that the exact meaning of the inspired 
text as it expressed its ideas to the original readers was 
to be translated by corresponding words and phrases 
so far as they could be found in the vernacular of the 
people for whom the translation was intended. Second, 
wherever a version was in common use, that version was 
to be made the basis of the revision, and all unnecessary 
interference with the established phraseology was to be 
avoided. In the translation of the New Testament, the 
received Greek text, critically edited, with all known 
errors corrected, was to be used. The text selected was 
that of Bagster's and Sons, octavo edition of 1851. 
Wherever a reviser made an alteration, on other than 
his own judgment, such authority was to be cited in the 
notes which were to appear on the same page as the text. 
Every Greek word or phrase in which the phraseology of 
the common version was altered must be examined care- 
fully in every other passage in which it appeared in the 
New Testament, and the views of the reviser were to be 
given on its meaning in these other places. As soon as 
an individual reviser had completed his work, it was to 
be forwarded to the secretary of the American Bible 
Union. Copies were then to be supplied to revisers of 
other books who, in turn, would make suggestions about 

16. H)ld.> p. 532. 

17. Idem. 


it to the original reviser. After it had been re-revised 
with the aid of these suggestions, a carefully prepared 
copy was to be forwarded to the Secretary of the Union. 

At the 1852 convention, Campbell delivered an address. 
Included among the speakers were two other Disciples, 
James Shannon, president of the University of Missouri, 
and James Challen. Campbell was elected as one of the 
eighteen vice presidents. His name appeared first in the 
published list. The tenor of the convention was har- 
monious, and Campbell felt that it was one of the most 
promising events of the time. 18 

Shortly after the convention, the Amity Street Baptist 
Church in New York expressed its distrust of the Ameri- 
can Bible Union because of its " alliance " with the ad- 
herents of Alexander Campbell. The latter are charac- 
terized as "Arian or Unitarian or some way anti-Trini- 
tarian." 19 This was only the first in a series of pro- 
longed attacks on Campbell and the Bible Union because 
of the participation of Disciples in it. The Disciples, 
however, continued their support of the Union financially 
by contributing considerable sums. James Shannon was 
employed to make the revision of Luke, and Alexander 
Campbell, that of Acts. This action brought even more 
objection from some Baptists because both men were 
Disciples. 20 The work of revision began shortly, and by 
April, 1854, the first revision of the epistles of John and 
Jude was published. 

Revision of the Acts 
1. The Translation and Distribution of the Work 

Campbell's work of revision of Acts was completed in 
the spring of 1855. His biographer wrote that he re- 
ceived $1,000 for the work but donated the whole amount 

18. IU&.> 1852, pp. 287, 288, 293ff. 

19. Ibid., pp. 294fe. 

20. Ibid., 1853, pp. 199, 200, 


to the Union. The effort which Campbell expended in 
producing this translation apparently contributed much 
to the final breakdown of his health. He never recovered 
his strength after the completion of the work. 21 The 
secretary's report to the semiannual meeting of the 
Union in 1855 reported that the Acts of the Apostles 
was nearly ready for the printer. 22 In the Harbinger 
of June, 1858, Campbell reported that the edition of 
Acts was out of the press. It was on sale at $1.25 per 
copy. In the anniversary report of the Union in Oc- 
tober, 1860, a tabulation was given of the distribution 
of various New Testament books in the revision. The 
total of copies of the Acts distributed at that time had 
reached 2,421. Campbell was quite active in all the 
work of the American Bible Union through this period. 
He served on committees and attended, as often as pos- 
sible, the meetings of the Union. Even in his participa- 
tion in this work, however, Campbell did not escape 
criticism. A Dr. D. B. Campbell of Georgetown, Ken- 
tucky, carried on an exchange of letters with Alexander 
Campbell during 1859. These letters were printed in 
the Millennial Harbinger. D. E. Campbell accused 
Alexander Campbell of charlatanry and incompetence. 
He stated that when the latter 's work came into com- 
parison with real scholarship, its shortcomings became 
clearly known. This attack seems to imply that Camp- 
bell's translation of Acts had been rejected by the 
American Bible Union; at least, Alexander Campbell 
so understood the criticism. His answer was that no 
decision had been made on any of the revisions and that 
no public comment had been made about the finality of 
any of the material. He confirmed this latter statement 
by citing a letter from Wm. H. "Wyckoff and then stated, 
" Whatever work I have done for the Bible Union has 

21. Richardson, Robert, op. tit. II, pp. 619, 620, 622. 

22. MillewnAal Harbinger, 1855, p. 388. 


been fully honored; they have rejected nothing that I 
have offered; and I wish the world to know that I have 
the fullest confidence in its managers and their manage- 
ment." 2 * He wrote that the general confidence in his 
work was expressed in the fact that the Union had re- 
cently ordered a new edition of his work on Acts. 

A small preliminary edition of the whole New Testa- 
ment was issued by the American Bible Union in 1864. 
In it, a number of items relating to revision were left 
undecided. By November, 1865, all the editorial work 
had been completed, and the Union was in the process of 
publishing a Family and Pulpit Edition of the New 
Testament, as finally revised. 24 This work when issued 
was designated as the Second Edition and was dated 

In the main portion of Campbell's revision of the 
Acts, the upper part of each page is divided into three 
columns. The left-hand column carried the King James 
Version, which was to be the basis of the revision. The 
middle column carried the Greek text designated by the 
Union as the standard edition of the received text. The 
right-hand column contained the translation presented 
by the reviser. The lower part of the page carried notes 
explaining and justifying the variations from the King 
James Version which had been made in the revision. 
These notes occupied a section which would average 
nearly one half of each page. At the end of the main 
body of the work, the revised text was given, arranged 
in paragraph form and without notes. This section ap- 
parently was intended to give the reader an opportunity 
to evaluate the revised text from the viewpoint of the 
general reader of a New Testament. This edition was 
not intended as a final work, but was to be circulated 
and criticized. It was then to be reworked. This re- 

23. IM&, 1859, pp. 459, 460. 

24. Ibid., 1865, p. 518. 


worked text would next go to the Final Bevision Com- 
mittee for whatever changes were considered necessary 
there. As we have previously indicated, the final re- 
vision appeared in the New Testament of 1866. 

2. The Sonrces used in the Bevision 

A study of the various sources used by Campbell will 
be helpful in making an evaluation of his status as a 
technical and critical scholar. In an article in the Mil- 
lennial Harbinger in which Campbell discussed some of 
the American Bible Union revisions already published, 
he listed some of the works in his own library and those 
which he used in evaluating these revisions. 25 It is to be 
presumed that these works were also used by him in his 
own revision of Acts. It is certain that this is the case 
in most of the works listed, for the footnotes on the text 
of the Acts mention most of them specifically. Among 
the works listed, several seem to be of special impor- 
tance. One outstanding work is Bagster's Hexapla, 
published in London (1841), which included the versions 
of Wyckliffe, 1380; Tyndall, 1534; Cramner, 1539; Ge- 
neva, 1557; and the Bheims, 1582. It can be assumed 
generally that when Campbell cites any of these in his 
notes, the source is Bagster's text. This is not always 
the case, however, for Campbell stated now and then 
that he had before him certain editions of some of these 

Campbell listed secondly a Biblia Sacra Polyglotta, 
edited by Samuel Lee, published in London, 1831, by 
Bagster and Sons. It contained both Old and New 
Testaments. The texts presented were Hebrew, Greek, 
Latin, German, French, Spanish, Italian, and English. 
This work was frequently used in the notes in the Acts 
and was one of the prized possessions of Campbell. It 
had been presented to him at Chester, England, by a 

25. J&icZ., 1954, pp. 457, 458. 


group of Christians while lie was on a tour in Britain in 
1847. 26 In the above-mentioned article listing these basic 
works, Campbell named also the work of Wetstein, which 
he described as containing readings from more than one 
hundred manuscripts and ancient versions. He identi- 
fied it as "Amsterlaedami Apud, J. "Wetstenium et 
G. Smith, A.D. 1735." Campbell stated that he also had 
several Latin versions of modern times. In addition, 
he had the Old Testament of Junius and Tremellius with 
Beza's New Testament printed in London in 1581. 

In the same list of books noted above, Campbell named 
a number of lexicons and other critical helps, presum- 
ably from his own library. He listed Eobert son's 
Thesaurus (1676), which was the source of reference 
for the meaning of many words used throughout the 
notes on the Acts and is so identified in a discussion of 
Acts 9:18. Campbell also listed a work by Franciscus 
Vigerus on Greek idioms, in an edition from London, 
1824. This is referred to by page and section in a note 
on Acts 2:16. Listed also is "StoMi Clavis." In the 
notes in Acts, "Stokius" is cited on Acts 2:13 as favor- 
ing the reading ' ' sweet wine. ' ' The same work was used 
in Campbell's debate with Eice to demonstrate that the 
meaning of the root PCLTTT was to dip, plunge, or immerse. 
The work referred to is probably that of Christian Stock, 
Clavis Linguae Sanctae Novi Testament (Jena, 1725). 

Several critical commentaries were listed also by 
Campbell. Adam Clarke's commentary stands out fre- 
quently in his notes on Acts. Campbell valued the work 
chiefly for its chronological and geographical statistics 
and for its criticism and learning. Another work valued 
very highly by Campbell was the Critica Sacra of Ed- 
ward Leigh. He identified his copy as having been 
printed 210 years before the date at which he was writ- 

26. IUd,, 1848, p. 566. 


ing. Since this statement was written in I860, 27 it would 
indicate that his copy was the London imprint of 1650. 
That was the third edition of the work. Frequently used 
in the notes in Acts, it was valued especially for the 
etymology of words. Campbell wrote of it, "It consti- 
tutes a sort of Supreme Court of Sacred Criticism, on 
every Greek and Hebrew word in the Living Oracles of 
both Testaments." Several minor sources used were 
cited secondarily from Leigh. Hackett's commentary on 
Acts (1852) was used especially for the comments and 
comparisons with more recent writers. In addition to 
the above titles, Campbell listed the works of Bensen, 
Stuart, D'Oyly and Mant, and several other commen- 
taries, all of which appear more or less frequently in the 
notes in Acts. 

One commentary cited frequently in the notes in the 
Acts but not referred to elsewhere is the book of KuinoeL 
This evidently is Christiana Theophili KuinoePs Com- 
mentarius in Libris Novi Testamenti Historicos. Camp- 
bell used a London edition of 1835. Kuinoel was highly 
respected by Campbell. In a note on Acts 13 :48, Camp- 
bell wrote, "We cannot but approve the conclusion of 
a considerable dissertation of the learned and judicious 
Kuinoel on this passage. ' ' He then quoted the Latin text 
and gave an English translation of it. This procedure 
was followed frequently. These are the major critical 
texts and commentaries which Campbell used in his 
translation of the Acts. 

In addition to the original English versions discussed 
above, Campbell used extensively several versions which 
were more contemporary. One of those used most fre- 
quently was cited by Campbell as ' ' Bernard. ' ' This was 
a Bible published in Philadelphia in 1842. Campbell 
wrote of it in 1860 that in many respects it was a good 

27. IUd.> I860, p. 498. 


version. He had had it on Ms shelves for some seven- 
teen years and used it often. He commended it to Bible 
students as an " auxiliary. " 28 Campbell gave & brief 
review of the work at the time of its publication and 
reminded his Baptist readers that they were now doing 
what they had condemned him so severely for doing a few 
years earlier. 29 The New Testament has a preface by 
A. C. Kendrick and the translation of the New Testament 
presumably was made by him. The preface indicates 
that the translation contained only these changes which 
the translator thought to be obviously necessary. The 
style was intended to be simple and unadorned. Various 
words such as "church," "gospel/' "preach/' and 
many others had gradually assumed new meanings since 
the earlier translations, but the ideas seemed to be car- 
ried adequately by these in spite of the changes in lan- 
guage. It was the aim of the translator to "translate 
as far as practicable, in a familiar manner, all the words 
of the original. " 30 An examination of the text shows sev- 
eral characteristic features. The archaic pronoun is 
retained. "Begat" becomes "begot." John 1:3 reads 
"all things were made by it" This follows the reading 
of several older versions and of Campbell's earlier edi- 
tions. "Church" is retained in Matthew 16:18, Acts 2: 
47, 1 Corinthians 16 :19, and elsewhere. ' Congregation" 
is used, however, in Matthew 18:17. "Holy Grhost" is 
rejected in favor of ' f Holy Spirit. " " Baptize ' ' becomes 
"immerse"; but, strangely, in Matthew 3:1-6 it is John 
the "Baptist" who "immerses." The retention of the 
term "Baptist" as a title probably was motivated by a 
desire to retain the Baptist name. Both Acts 8 :37 and 
1 John 5 :7 are retained. 

28. Ibid., p. 439. 

29. Ibid., 1842, pp. 313-315. 

30. The Holy Bible, being the English version of the Old and New Testa- 
mentSj made by order of King James I, carefully revised and emended, 
by several Biblical scholars (Philadelphia: David Bernard, 1842), Preface 
to the Kew Testament, p. iii. 


Another Bible used with about equal frequency by 
Campbell was an edition published by Boothroyd in Lon- 
don (1836). The translation was used as an aid exten- 
sively throughout Campbell's notes in the Acts, though 
there seems to be little or no reference to Boothroyd 's 
notes. Several times in the Millennial Harbinger Camp- 
bell quoted lengthy sections from Boothroyd ? s transla- 
tion, sometimes identifying them as such and sometimes 
not. One feature of this version is that in the Old Testa- 
ment many sections are cast in poetic form rather than 
the regular prose format of the King James Version. 

Campbell made frequent references to Murdock's 
translation. This is The New Testament or Book of tlie 
Holy Gospel of our Lord and our God, Jesus the Mes- 
siahy a literal translation from the Syriac Pesliito ver- 
sion, by James Murdock, published in New York (1851). 
The work is regarded as a very accurate translation. 
The five books not found in the Peshitta are supplied 
from other Syriac manuscripts. Campbell's repeated 
use of the work indicates his high estimate of its value. 

In his notes on Acts, Campbell made constant refer- 
ence to Granville Penn. This is a two-volume set, the 
first containing the text and the second " Annotations " 
or notes on the New Testament. The two volumes were 
published in London in 1836 and 1837. The text of this 
version has some modernizations. There is a limited use 
of the archaic pronoun and "eth" on verbs is retained. 
There are places where the breaks in chapters and verses 
differ from those in the King James Version. An ex- 
ample of this appears in the break between Matthew 
4 :22 and 23. Instead of verse 23 as in the King James 
Version, Penn makes this Matthew 5:1 and continues 
chapter 5 through 5:51. Throughout the version, the 
verses are slightly indented and numbered but not so 
decisively separated as in the King James. The An- 
notations of Volume II are critical notes on the text 
and translation found in Volume I. 


Campbell repeatedly used a translation which he iden- 
tified as Wakefield 's. This apparently was a three-vol- 
ume set, published first in London in 1791. Wakefield is 
said to have had Unitarian leanings. Campbell had com- 
mented on this translation as early as 1829. Wakefield 
has two interesting features which appear also in Camp- 
bell's work. In the New Testament, quotations from the 
Old Testament are printed in italics. This practice was 
f ollowed by Campbell in his 1826 and 1828 editions. It is 
a procedure found also in George Campbell's Four Gos- 
pels. The reading of John 1:3 carries "it" for the 
"him" of the common version, in reference to the Word. 
This last feature appeared also in George Campbell's 
translation. The dates at which the translations were 
published make it possible that the work of George 
Campbell was the source of the features of both Wake- 
field and Alexander Campbell. 

Several other versions are mentioned in the notes, but 
those discussed above are the only ones which are given 
any considerable place in Campbell's treatment. 

3. The Greek Text 

The basic sources for the revision of Acts were pre- 
scribed by the American Bible Union. The revision was 
to be made on the basis of the Bang James Version. 
Where the Greek text was to be taken into consideration, 
the text was to be that of Bagster's octavo edition of 
1851. This apparently is to be identified as The New 
Testament with selected various readings from Gries- 
bach, Schdz, Lachmann, and Tischendorf, and references 
to parallel passages, London: S. Bagster and Sons 
(n.d.). The preface to this text indicates that Mill's 
edition is the basis. In the margins, various readings 
are indicated and are identified as from Griesbach, 
Scholz, Lachmann, or Tischendorf. No indication is 
given of the edition of these works from which the vari- 


ant readings are adopted. This work is the source of 
Campbell's Greek text and is also the source of the vari- 
ants which he cites frequently. This conclusion is drawn 
from the fact that where a critical note gives a variant 
which is contained in Bagster's text, the variant is identi- 
fied by Campbell in exactly the same manner as the nota- 
tions in the margin of the Greek text. The parallel is 
so close that, where Campbell gives several authorities 
for the variant reading, even the order of sources is iden- 
tical with that in the 1851 text. It is, therefore, not 
necessary to inquire into the editions of these texts used 
by Campbell. This fact is confirmed especially by a note 
on Acts 11:13. Where the prescribed text carries 
a-n-oaraXov . . . avSpas Campbell omits "men" with the nota- 
tion that this "is omitted by Gr., Sch., Lach., and Tf., 
Bagster's Imp. Text." In a few places, Campbell cited 
Tisehendorf separately from the usual series indicated 
above. 31 This seems to indicate an independent use of 
Tisehendorf. In a note on Acts 8:18 he wrote, "For 
eao-a/ievo? read i<$a>v Grb., Sch., Ln., Tf. : and Tf ? s. Stereo- 
typed Ed., for TO TTVevpa TO aytov simply TO Trvevpa." The 

latter is probably a reference to Tisehendorf J s Stereo- 
typed Edition of 1850. This is rendered probable be- 
cause this work was Tisehendorf 's most recent edition 
at the time Campbell did his work. 

Campbell's attitude toward this prescribed text is 
shown in a comment on Acts 18:5. In this passage, 
Griesbach, Scholz, Lachmann, and Tisehendorf prefer 
X6yo> to TTveujucm. After stating this, Campbell refers to 
Hackett as citing certain modern editors and commenta- 
tors as favoring TS Aoyo>. He wrote, 

Our text prefers ro> wevpaTi. Should we prefer Gb., Sch., 
Ln., and Tisehendorf ? s selected readings, we should read it, 
"Paul was engrosed with the word." With our text we render 
it, "was impelled by the Spirit/ ? or Ms own spirit. Hackett, the 

31. Acts of the Apostles (New Tork: American Bible Union, 1858), p. 77. 


Vulgate, Kuinoel, Olshausen, DeWette, and Eobinson prefer 
"the word," and so do we. But we follow copy, in this case, 
however, doubtfully. 32 

At one point, Campbell does, however, correct the pre- 
scribed text. In a comment on Acts 13 :9, he points out 
that wet paras a-yiov, as it appears in the selected text, is a 
misprint. It should be 7rvcv>*ros ayLov. He finds this .sus- 
tained in Bagster's Hexapla of 1841 and so reads it in 
the text. These two examples show how carefully Camp- 
bell gave attention to the details of the text in his trans- 

A typical example of Campbell's handling of a criti- 
cal passage will be helpful in visualizing his methodol- 
ogy. In a note on Acts 13 :19, Campbell wrote, 

For KareKXypoSoTycrev, Gr. Schol., Ln., Tf., substitute 
/caTKA77povo'ju,7?o-ev, assigned auroZs, to them as a possession. 
Hellenistic for the Hiphil of ^ftjj r-qv yr\v avrw, their land, by 
promise. Hack. In behalf of this substitution, we have MSS 
ABCDEGH and over fifty cursive manuscripts. So despose 
Chrysostom, Tf ., and others. 33 

The first section, giving the readings of the contempo- 
rary editors, is Bagster's text as printed and with the 
marginal notes of variants. The statement regarding 
the Hebrew word and its "Hellenistic" equivalent is 
from Hackett as indicated. The listing of the manu- 
scripts and of Chrysostom is not identified but is found 
in Griesbach's London edition of 1810. This method of 
analysis is found, in general, throughout the work on 
Acts. "Where there is a variety of readings in the Eng- 
lish versions, these are usually listed first and the notes 
from the critical commentaries follow. In a discussion 
of yivd)<jK<o and iTTiVTapaL in Acts 19 :15, Campbell indicates 
that he evaluated his sources rather severely at times. 

32. ttid., p. 122. 

33. IM&, p. 90. 


After giving the readings of Murdock, Penn, Doddridge, 
Thomson, Adam Clarke, and the comment of Hacke'it, 
he wrote, 

"We have fanciful critics, and those of more profound judg- 
ment. This appears to good advantage in the contrasts here 
given. We institute no invidious comparisons. We all look at 
objects from different standpoints. Where two inspired men 
use a word in different acceptations, it may be resolved by ascer- 
taining their scope, design, or the special cases to which they 
refer. 34 

This examination of sources shows how carefully 
Campbell prepared his material in working out his 
translation. It seems to have been Campbell's aim 
here, as in other places, to give to his reader all of the 
information to enable him to make his own decision on 
difficult matters. It is particularly noticeable that the 
sources used were not theological works but transla- 
tions, lexicons, and critical studies of the text. The 
notes present a fund of critical information for the 
reader's examination. 

4. The Characteristics of the Revision 

The text of this translation of the Acts retains many 
of the characteristics of Campbell's earlier publications. 
"Holy Ghost" is rejected in favor of "Holy Spirit." 
"Baptize" is consistently rendered "immerse." "Un- 
to" is quite consistently modernized to read "to." 
"Angel" is always translated as "messenger." "Re- 
pent" is rendered as "reform," and "church" becomes 
"congregation." "Blaspheme" is translated as "re- 
vile." "Of," when it deals with a statement about 
something, is read as "concerning." When, in the 
King James Version, "of" is used for the instru- 
mental, Campbell substitutes "by." "It came to pass" 

34. Ifcid., p. 128. 


is usually omitted entirely. In address to the risen 
Christ and in prayer, the pronoun is not modernized, 
but the archaic forms of the pronoun and "eth" and 
similar endings on verhs are eliminated elsewhere. The 
word "Grecians" is usually rejected in favor of "Hel- 
lenists," and "Gentiles" frequently becomes "the na- 
tions." The title "deputy" for Eoman officials is not 
used. In its place the word "proconsul" is substituted. 
The full address "men and brethren" gives way to the 
simple address "-brethren." "That" and "which" 
when applied to persons usually become "who." For 
the archaic "meat," "food" is used. "Manner" be- 
comes "custom" when applied to a customary practice. 

Certain grammatical structures also are changed. 
The participle is used extensively where the vernacular 
could be better expressed with a finite verb in a tem- 
poral or circumstantial clause. For example, Acts 1 :24 
reads, "praying, said, ..." Acts 8:24 reads, "answer- 
ing, said, ..." and 9:37 has, "being sick," where a 
finite verb would have been more in harmony with the 
style of common speech. Considerable attention is 
given to the tenses, and the attempt is made to carry 
over the Greek connotation into English. This is illus- 
trated in 13:32 where the progressive form, "we are 
declaring," is used in preference to the King James, 
"we declare." Many of the superfluous words of the 
King James are omitted, and the phraseology is there- 
fore frequently briefer than in the common version. 
Thus numbers are modernized as in 7:14 where "three 
score and fifteen 7 ' becomes simply "seventy-five." A 
similar modernization is made in 27 :37. All names are 
modernized as, for example, "Cis" in 13:21 becomes 
"Kish" and "Timotheus" is always read "Timothy." 

Most of the textual omissions of Campbell's earlier 
editions are restored here. One of the most significant 
of these is the restoration of Acts 8:37 without com- 


ment. This had been rejected as spurious in all the 
editions of the New Testament published by Campbell. 
In a series of articles published in the Millennial Har- 
binger during 1846 and 1847, Campbell printed a text 
of the early part of Acts. The text is essentially that of 
the Third Edition of his New Testament. In the 1846 
text, however, Acts 8:37 is restored with a note citing 
its omission in many ancient manuscripts and versions 
and its defense by Beza on the basis that it was the an- 
cient confession of faith. 35 This change apparently in- 
dicated a growing tendency toward conservatism on the 
part of Campbell. The fact that the received text as 
printed by Bagster's was prescribed as the basis for the 
American Bible Union revision may account for the re- 
tention of the verse here, though the lack of comment 
would imply that Campbell felt that there was no rea- 
son to comment on it in this revision. An examination 
of the whole translation of Acts will, however, show a 
closer adherence to the King James Version in this 
translation by Campbell himself than was presented in 
the New Testament published earlier where the text was 
derived from various sources. 

This closeness to the King James may be attributed 
to several causes. We have already mentioned the fact 
that Campbell seems to have become more conservative 
as he grew older. He was sixty-seven years of age at 
the time he made this translation. A second factor in- 
volved in his adherence to the King James was the fact 
that the rules by which the revisers were to work would 
hold him to the common version except in those places 
where clarity or the vernacular demanded a change. A 
third, and probably the most influential factor, was that 
the earlier editions of the New Testament were made up 
from translations which had many characteristics of a 
paraphrase. In the American Bible Union version of 

35. Millennial Harbinger, 1846, p. 590. 


Acts, the work was to be a revision of the King James 
and so would naturally adhere more closely to it. 

A few special passages should he noted for consid- 
eration. In Acts 3:16, where the King James reads, 
"And his name through faith in his name hath made 
this man strong . . . yea, the faith which is by him hath 
given him. . . ." Campbell reads, "And upon the faith 
in his name, he has made this man strong. . . . Yes, his 
name, and the faith, which is through him, has given 
. . ." Because of the significance of ^ fy& and the punc- 
tuation, Campbell reads Acts 3:22 and 7:37, ". . . a 
prophet shall the Lord your God raise up for you, from 
among your brethren, as he raised me up." This is a 
striking anticipation of the reading of the Eevised 
Standard Version in this passage. Campbell gives no 
indication that the reading was not original with him. 
Acts 12 :9 constitutes a modernization of the King James 
text. Instead of "wist not that it was true which was 
done by the angel," Campbell reads, ". . . had not per- 
ceived that what was done by the messenger was real." 
Acts 13:48 was a highly controversial passage because 
of the theological implications. The King James reads, 
"... as many as were ordained to eternal life believed." 
Campbell reads it, "... as many, as were determined 
for everlasting life, believed." He commented that 
Doddridge had preferred "determined" because it was 
"as ambiguous as the original." He then quoted with 
approval the view of Kuinoel that "the true cause why 
the Gentiles were by God ordained to eternal life was 
their faith." This interpretation is implied in Camp- 
bell's translation. In Acts 18:27, where it is stated that 
Apollos "helped them much which had believed through 
grace," Campbell reads instead, "afforded much aid to 
them who had believed through the gift which he had." 
In this reading, Campbell was following Thomson and 
Wakefield. He argued that the context would indicate 


that the X^P L<S was Apollos' gift. There was nothing 
peculiar in the fact that they believed through grace, 
for this was true of all, and the point would not need 
to be made in this passage. The gift of Apollos was 
peculiar, however, and the context is interpreted by 
Campbell as pointing up this fact. In Acts 20 :28, Camp- 
bell departed from eo{5, the reading of the prescribed 
text, and read the passage, "the congregation of the 
Lord." This change is defended on the basis of the 
reading of Griesbach, Lachmann, and Tischendorf. This 
is the reading which Campbell had consistently retained 
in his earlier editions of his New Testament. In Acts 
25:12, the King James reads the question, "Hast thou 
appealed unto Cesar? unto Cesar shalt thou go." In- 
stead of this Campbell read it, "You have appealed to 
Cesar, to Cesar shall you go." 

A number of readings have even more of an interpre- 
tative element in them. For example in 8 :33, where the 
King James reads, "his judgment was taken away," 
Campbell reads "his condemnation was extorted." A 
textual variation causes him to read 21:16, "bringing 
us to Mnason a Cyprian." This reading is a decided 
departure from the A.V. It is even closer to the E.S.V. 
than the A.S.V. For the textual variant and the trans- 
lation, Campbell cites Haekett, who in turn presents a 
similar view in Olshausen, Meyer, and DeWette. The 
statement of Agrippa in 26:28 is translated, "You in 
a little time persuade me to become a Christian." The 
temporal rather than quantitative use of ev 6Xiy<p is sup- 
ported by Haekett and his sources. It is of interest that 
the A.S.V. retains the quantitative interpretation, 
whereas the E.S.V. has the temporal. One other pas- 
sage is worthy of notice. In 27:40 the King James 
reads, "When they had taken up the anchors, they com- 
mitted themselves unto the sea." Campbell understood 
this as referring to the abandonment of the anchors 


rather than the passengers and the crew, and so reads 
it, ". . . having entirely cut away the anchors, they aban- 
doned them to the sea." This same interpretation is 
made in the R.S.V. 

Many passages are only partially modernized. A 
few examples will suffice. Acts 1:14 reads, ". . . were 
all persevering with one consent. " In 4:16 Campbell 
uses the term, a "notorious" miracle. It may be, how- 
ever, that this use of " notorious " was common to the 
vernacular of the midnineteenth century. In 19:30 he 
reads, "suffered him not," where the R.S.V. modernizes 
it and reads "would not let him. " Both the King James 
and the American Standard Versions read "suffered." 
In 20:26, where the King James reads, "I take you to 
record," Campbell reads, "I take you to witness." In 
27 :14, a "tempestuous wind" is altered to read a "whirl- 
wind." These passages seem to indicate only the con- 
servative tendency to retain the older readings. It is 
true that many of the terms which today appear to be 
archaic were still in common use in the vernacular or 
semiclassical style of the period in which this translation 
was made. 

A few illustrations will show the manner in which 
some of the words and phrases were modernized. In 
Acts 3:7, where the King James Version read "ankle 
bones," Campbell used simply "ankles." In 3:15, he 
departed from the King James reading, "Prince of 
life," to use "Author of Life." This reading has been 
adopted in the E.S.V. In 9 :5, "pricks" in the older ver- 
sions has become "goads," and in 12:4, "Easter" has 
been changed to read "passover." In 14:8, rather than 
"from his mother's womb," Campbell reads "from Ms 
birth." Again, 18:10 reads in Campbell's work, "no 
man shall assail you," where the King James Version 
had read, "no man shall set on thee." In Acts 24:27, 
the King James Version had read, "shew the Jews a 


pleasure/ ' but Campbell reads this, "show the Jews a 
favor. " In 27:30, where the King James has "under 
colour as though/' Campbell reads, "under pretense 
of." A comparison of these readings with the Ameri- 
can Standard Version and the Revised Standard Ver- 
sion will show to what a remarkable degree Campbell 
had anticipated by almost one hundred years many of 
the modernizations which are most characteristic of the 
two latter versions. 

This translation made by Campbell for the American 
Bible Union was thoroughly edited by the committee and 
brought into conformity to the remainder of the New 
Testament as translated for that purpose. The archaic 
pronoun is restored in many places, but in some of these 
places, the usage of the King James Version is modi- 
fied. "Repentance" is restored to replace Campbell's 
"reform." Both "angel" and "church" are restored 
to the common usage. Instead of Campbell's shortened 
form of the salutation, "Brethren," the 1866 edition 
reads "men, brethren." The word "immerse" is re- 
tained. So also are the modernized forms "Holy Spirit" 
and "proconsul." Many of Campbell's readings are 
rejected in favor of the King James. In 3 :22 and 7 :37 
the reading "a prophet like unto me" is restored. So is 
the archaic form of the number in 7:14, though a simi- 
lar number is modernized in 27:37. Several of Camp- 
bell's emendations which appear awkward for public 
reading are rejected and either the King James reading 
is restored or a modified form is used. On the other 
hand, enough of the readings proposed by Campbell are 
retained to give it the flavor of his work. For example, 
3:7 reads "ankles," 3:15 "the Author of Life," 7:45 
"Joshua" instead of "Jesus," and in 12:4 "Easter" 
gives way to "Passover." 

These are only a few of the passages that could be 
cited. From the investigation, one is led to the conclu- 


sion that, in some eases, Campbell resorted even to awk- 
ward readings in an attempt to get away from what he 
felt to be the unacceptable readings of the King James 
Version. In many instances, on the other hand, his lan- 
guage and style were too modern for the desires of the 
Final Revision Committee. On the whole, however, his 
work was acceptable and gave a decided modernization 
to the text. It is surprising that, in view of the earlier 
opposition of the Baptists, so much of Campbell's work 
on the text of the Acts should have been considered ac- 
ceptable to the American Bible Union. 


This survey of the content of Campbell's revision of 
the Acts will give an adequate view of the whole work. 
This is the only such revision made by Campbell. The 
earlier New Testaments were publications of transla- 
tions by others, emended by Campbell in view of his own 
studies. They were thus essentially resultant texts and 
should not be considered Campbell's own translations. 
The Acts was Campbell's work and so represents his 
own views even more clearly than the earlier works. 
The text does not depart so far from the King James 
Version as did the earlier editions. The tone and style 
are comparatively close to that of the King James Ver- 
sion, but the word order and variations in the translation 
of words have given it a much more modern cast. The 
style is semiclassical. It is an attempt to put the Scrip- 
tures in the vernacular but does not descend to the level 
of popular conversational style. The notes carry a fund 
of information, presented to enable the reader to see 
why each variation from the common version had been 
made. The whole work gives an insight into Campbell's 
concern for scholarly accuracy coupled with a vernacu- 
lar presentation of the New Testament for the common 


Principles for Action 


Reason, Revelation, and Faith 

But religion dwelling in the heart, rooted in the 
feelings and affections, is a living, active, and real 
existence. It purifies the fountain of moral life and 
health. It animates, inspires, controls, and gives a 
new impulse to our active powers. It imbues the 
soul with divine life, and plants the incorruptible 
seeds of glorious immortality in man. 

Millennial Harbinger, 1837 

In our previous studies we have examined the prod- 
ucts of Alexander Campbell's efforts at the publication 
and translation of the New Testament. In that stndy, 
it became apparent that certain principles were assumed 
by Campbell in his work, and that these principles were 
determining elements in many of the decisions wMcL. 
he made. We shall now undertake to determine what 
those principles were. 

The Sources of Alexander Campbell's 

The discovery of sources underlying this phase of 
Campbell's thought is not so easy as that in the preced- 
ing study. It is generally conceded that the writings of 
John Locke, especially Ms Essay on Human Under- 



standing, were greatly influential in the development of 
Campbell's philosophy. 1 The results of this influence 
will be seen in the discussion of reason and revelation. 
More directly influential in his study of revelation and 
the Scriptures were the writings of Dr. George Camp- 
bell of Aberdeen. A study of George Campbell's views 
in comparison with those of Alexander Campbell on the 
nature of revelation, inspiration, and the character of 
the Scriptures would show such similarity as to demon- 
strate the great amount of dependence of the latter on 
the former. 2 It is probable that George Campbell, James 
Macknight, and others of the same attitude of mind 
were the earlier sources for his principles of interpreta- 
tion. Later, however, the name of Moses Stuart of 
Andover appears very frequently in Campbell's dis- 
cussions of the principles of interpretation. The major 
source from which Campbell learned Stuart's ideas was 
his translation of the work of Ernesti on Interpreta- 
tion* Campbell repeatedly quoted from this, and the 
pages cited by "him correspond to the pagination of the 
1824 edition. Campbell described the work as " Ernesti 
and Moras, whom I quote together because the latter 
was a commentator upon the former, and because agree- 
ing on the principles and rules of interpretation, and be- 
cause the translation of this work by Professor Stuart 
of Andover is now made the text loook on the subject of 
interpretation in the most respectable schools in this 
country. . . ."* Campbell later wrote of Stuart's rules 
of interpretation, which had appeared in the Biblical 
Repository of January, 1832, "A more perfect coinci- 
dence of views on any subject could not be easily im- 

1. Garrison, Winfred E., Alexander Campbell's Theology (St. Louis : 
1900), pp. 76-114. 

2. cf. Campbell, George, op. cit. I, vi ft . ; Millennial Harbinger, 1832, 
pp. 8ff. 

3. Ernesti, J. A., Elements of Interpretation, ed. Moses Stuart (An- 
dover: 1824). 

4. "Extra on the Extra Defended," Millennial Harbinger, Oct. 10, 1831, 
p. 26. 


agined, than I find to exist between that school and my- 
self." 5 This statement regarding Moses Stuart seems 
to imply that Campbell's principles had largely been 
formed before he became acquainted with the work of 
Stuart, even though the ideas of the latter were essen- 
tially the same as those formed by himself. If this is 
true, we are forced to conclude that his position on the 
principles of interpretation came basically from George 
Campbell, James Macknight, and others of a similar 
school of thought whom he had studied early in his 

On one point we are quite definitely at a loss. One 
of the most important features of Campbell's views was 
his doctrine of the covenants. He had been anticipated 
in this by Thomas Campbell, his father. The latter had 
written in 1809 making a precise distinction between 
the Old and New Testaments as they applied to the 
Jewish nation and the Christian Church. 6 Alexander 
Campbell elaborated this view in a sermon before the 
Bedstone Baptist Association in 1816. So definite did 
he make the distinction between the law and the gospel 
in its application, that the ultimate result was a forced 
break with that Association. 7 Campbell never gave any 
identification of the source from which he derived his 
views about the covenants. It was asserted by Frederick 
D. Kershner, in commenting on this feature of the 
thought of the Campbells, 

There can be little question but that the doctrine of progres- 
sive development along with, the idea of the unscripturalness 
of the Sabbath and a certain distinct bias toward Christian 
union, all came to the Campbells largely through the influence 

5. Campbell, Alexander, A Connected View of the Principles and Rules 
"by which the Living Oracles May Be Intelligently and Certainly Interpreted 
(1835), p. 96; See also Stuart, Moses, "Are the Same Principles of Inter- 
pretation to Be Applied to the Scriptures as to Other Books ?'* Biblical 
Repository, Vol. Second, 1832, pp. 64-70. 

6. Campbell, Thomas, The Declaration and Address (1809), p. 16. 

7. Kichardson, Robert, op. cit. I, pp. 469fC. 


of Coccejus. The fact is that both men derived their theology 
from the Leyden professor almost to the same degree that they 
drew their psychology from Locke and their metaphysics from 
Reid. 8 

It is entirely probable that this is the case. One finds it 
difficult, however, to understand why, if Alexander 
Campbell derived his view directly from Coccejus, lie 
seldom, if ever, mentions him or his work. In view of 
the fact that he was always so ready to identify the 
sources of his thought, it may be more reasonable to 
conclude that the grammatico-Mstorical approach which 
had permeated Ms thinking from a very early period in 
his ministry carried this view also. In such a case, the 
doctrine is apparently derived only indirectly from Coc- 
cejus. It may have come to him, at least in part, through 

The similarity of Campbell's views to those of 
Schleiermacher and other European scholars of the pe- 
riod is probably not to be accounted for by direct de- 
pendence. There seems to be no evidence that Camp- 
bell read German or was familiar with German works 
in the original. This is not unusual in view of the fact 
that German theology was little known in America prior 
to its popularization by Moses Stuart of Andover in the 
second quarter of the century. It is, then, more reason- 
able to conclude that the principles of this school of 
thought came to him through Ernesti and Morus, by 
way of Moses Stuart and the Andover school. 

Little more need be said about Campbell's use of 
sources. His attitude toward the works of others is 
well expressed in Ms reply to a charge that he was a 
Sandemanian or a Haldanian. His reply was that he 
had read at length in the writings of these men and of 

8. Kershner, Frederick D., The Christian UWon Overture (St. Louis: 
1923), p. 157. 


their opponents but that he could be classified with 
neither. He referred to John Newton's analogy of the 
bird and its plumage. When he found a pretty feather 
in any bird, he endeavored to attach it to his own plum- 
age. Newton concluded that, though he had become a 
very speckled bird, he flattered himself that he was the 
prettiest bird among them. Campbell wrote that since 
he had read Newton's statement he had been looking 
for pretty feathers and that he had become even more 
speckled than Newton. 9 He asserted his determination 
to retain an objective approach to all theological views 
and declared that for the past ten years he had not 
looked at the works of the men of whom he was accused 
of being a disciple. During this period, his attention 
had been directed almost exclusively to the Scriptures. 
He wrote, 

I have been so long disciplined in the school of free inquiry, 
that, if I know my own mind, there is not a man upon the earth 
whose authority can influence me, any farther than he comes 
with the authority of evidence, reason, and truth. ... I have 
endeavored to read the scriptures as though no one had read 
them before me; and I am as much on my guard against reading 
them today, through the medium of my own views yesterday, or 
a week ago, as I am against being influenced by any foreign 
name, authority, or system, whatever. 10 

The procedure stated here was, of course, an ideal to- 
ward which Campbell recognized that he was constantly 
striving. In view of the facts stated above, we shall 
find it quite unprofitable to search for specific identifi- 
cation of sources except where Campbell himself gives 
a hint that he has derived an idea from some person. 

Knowledge, Reason, and Revelation 
1, The, Sources of Knowledge 

9. Christian Baptist, April 3, 1826, p. 201. 
10. Ibid., p. 204. 


Underlying Campbell's concern for a vernacular 
translation of the Bible were his views on knowledge, 
reason, and revelation. We shall need to analyze these 
views as they relate specifically to this subject. The 
reader who desires a more extensive and detailed dis- 
cussion of the subject is referred to the work of Robert 
Frederick West, Alexander Campbell and Natural Re- 

George Campbell of Aberdeen once wrote, 

... for except those things which pass within our own minds, 
and which we learn soberly from what is called consciousness, 
and except the deductions made from self -evident or mathemati- 
cal axioms, all our information relating to fact, or existence of 
any kind is from without. . . . Eeason is the eye of the mind : it 
is in consequence of our possessing it, that we are susceptible 
either of religion or law. Now the light by which the mental eye 
is informed, comes also from without, and consists chiefly in tes- 
timony, human or divine. 12 

This view was adopted almost in its entirety by Alex- 
ander Campbell. The analogy of the light and the eye 
appeared in a discussion of the nature of reason, car- 
ried on by Campbell in 1832. In an essay entitled "Rea- 
son Examined by Interrogators, " Campbell had Eeason 
say, "As the eye receives light, so I receive knowledge; 
and as the. eye without light performs no service to the 
body, so without ideas or knowledge I can perform no 
service to the mind. ... I cannot create ideas; I only 
receive them." Reason continued, "I so order and 
arrange the perceptions and ideas which the mind ac- 
quires by my aid, as to produce all the new combinations 
necessary to the attainment of all my designs. 7 ' "When 
the question was raised about the possibility of the 

11. West, Robert Frederick, Alexander Campbell and Natural Religion 
(New Haven: 1948), pp. 90-122. 

12. Campbell, George, op. cit. I, pp. vii, viii. 


knowledge of God, Reason responded that one can know 
God, not in a separate existence, but by the effects which 
he produces. Eeason concluded, ". . . when I regard 
the testimony which came from the G-reat Spirit in its 
import, I feel the same certainty of his being and per- 
fections as I feel of any other existence in all the uni- 
verse. ' ?13 

Campbell believed that knowledge comes first from 
sensation and then from reflection. When one appre- 
hends the material objects around him, he may then, by 
means of reason, compare and classify the qualities and 
properties of these so that, by imagination, one may 
create many new forms ? but all of these come to him 
originally from the " great magazine of nature." The 
inlets of all human knowledge are the five senses. "As 
human skill and power may now modify, but cannot 
create a particle of matter; so the imagination may 
vary or modify the ideas acquired by sensation, but 
cannot create a new one. And here ends the chapter of 
all human science/' 14 Campbell then made a clear dis- 
tinction between natural and supernatural knowledge. 
What has been described above is natural knowledge. 
Eevelation opens a new world, and commences a new 
chapter in human knowledge. The revelation of God 
was not first communicated by human testimony. 15 When 
the term "revelation" is properly used, it relates to 
supernatural things. It is "a disclosure of things wnr 
'knowable by any other means in the reach of mortals." 
Anything which can be known by reason or by any of 
the five senses is not a subject of revelation at all. "To 
constitute a divine revelation, in our sense of the terms, 
it is not only necessary that God be the author of it, but 
that the things exhibited be supernatural, and beyond 

13. Millennial Harbinger, 1832, pp. 8-10. 

14. Christian Baptist, November 3, 1828, pp. 89, 90. 

15. Ibid., October 1, 1827, p. 52. 


the reach of our five senses." 16 Campbell believed that 
now, however, revelation is all a matter of history or 
testimony. This revelation is contained in the Bible. 
The character of the Bible is such that we may recognize 
it axiomatically as true. Further proof and simpler 
evidence of its divine origin is the character which it 
produces in those who read it and seek to live by it. 17 

In this analysis, Campbell made clear his position 
that knowledge in its initial phase arises from two 
sources. The knowledge of natural things comes from 
perception and reason and is attainable by any man who 
will seek it. Knowledge of supernatural things came 
originally by revelation from God and, as such, could 
never have been discovered by man. Once this revela- 
tion was received, it was communicated as testimony 
to those who did not receive the direct, supernatural 
revelation. In answer to those who were claiming vari- 
ous operations of the Holy Spirit apart from the pre- 
viously revealed word, Campbell responded, ". . . be 
admonished, my friends, to open your Bibles and to 
hearken to the voice of God, which is the voice of rea- 
son. God now speaks to us only by his word. By his 
Son, in the New Testament, he has fully revealed him- 
self and his will. This is the only revelation of his 
spirit which we are to regard. " 1S 

The authority and finality of the message found in the 
Scriptures is certified by the work of the Holy Spirit. 
The miracles and all the accomplishments of those who, 
in New Testament days especially, preached the good 
news of the gospel are such as to " render the rejector 
of it damnably criminal, as well as to afford the fullest 
ground of certainty and joy to all who receive the testi- 
mony.' 7 From these observations, Campbell drew two 
conclusions. The first was that the truth of the gospel 

16. IUd.> June 4, 1827, pp. 256, 257. 

17. IUd., October 1, 1827, pp. 52, 53. 

18. md., March 1. 1824, p. 188. 


to be believed could never have been known except 
through the revelation of the Spirit. The second con- 
clusion is that the Spirit, working with those who pro- 
claimed the gospel, has afforded such proofs as to make 
the message wholly believable. 19 

2. The Eejection of Innate Ideas 

As a result of the argument presented above, Camp- 
bell rejected entirely the concept of natural religion and 
innate ideas. He argued on the basis of the "acknowl- 
edged principles of Locke, 'the Christian philosopher/ 
and Hume, the subtle skeptic," that there is no such 
thing as an innate idea. If men were unaided by the 
"oracles of the Spirit, they never could have known that 
there is a G-od, that there was a creation or Creator, or 
that there is within them a spark of life superior to 
that of a brute." If, then, these philosophers are cor- 
rect in their contention, "the Bible is proved, from the 
principles of reason, and from the history of the world, 
to be what it purports, a volume indited by the Spirit 
of the invisible God." 20 

This position was used by Campbell as a basis of at- 
tack on the deists. The Bible is the source of all true 
religious ideas. Campbell argued this on the ground 
that no nation or individual, without an oral or written 
revelation has "a single idea of any item in the deist's 
creed." 21 The Bible is also the source of man's knowl- 
edge of himself. 22 Even the traditions of the ancient 
pagan nations, so far as they had any light of truth 
"were stolen sparks from Job's or Abraham's altar." 23 
The deist's creed is stolen from the Bible. The doc- 
trines proposed in the theology of deism are not know- 

19. Ibid., August 2, 1824, pp. 15, 16. 

20. Ibid., p. 11. 

21. Ibid., October 1, 1827, pp. 56, 57. 

22. Ibid., August 4, 1828, p, 7. 

23. Millennial Harbinger , 1855, p. 9. 


able by the five senses which are the "sole avenues of 
human understanding." The deist must, then, accept 
the Scriptures as the basis of his creed or renounce his 
own creed and become a "downright Atheist, instead of 
a Theist. And, indeed, there is no man who can stop on 
this side of pure Atheism who rejects the Christian 
religion. ' m 

Campbell was no less critical of the orthodox theo- 
logians who maintained for a "natural religion." This, 
he insisted, was, in its tendencies, as deistical as the 
"natural religion" of Lord Herbert. He tells of lis- 
tening to a sermon preached by a Dr. Caldwell at Tran- 
sylvania University. Dr. Caldwell commended the Bible 
but, Campbell observed, he was inconsistent with him- 
self in this. He argued that through reason the philoso- 
pher could look up "through nature's works to nature's 
God." Campbell concluded his discussion of this .ser- 
mon by asserting that the Bible "declares that it is by 
faith and not by reason that men can know the world 
was created. It declares that we must believe that God 
exists and that we cannot reason ourselves into a 
knowledge that God exists." 25 This attack upon a phi- 
losophy which sought to discover God was also extended 
to Quakers and others who claimed immediate guidance 
of the Holy Spirit. Campbell reaffirmed his conviction 
that all we can know of God comes from the revelation 
he has given us. He concluded that he was emphasizing 
"the truth that all that is known or knowable of God is 
derived either directly or indirectly from his verbal 
communications to men. ... So long, then, as I believe 
the Bible to be from God, so long I must believe it to 
be a perfect revelation . . . perfect as adapted to man 
in his present circumstances." By this last qualifica- 
tion, Campbell admitted that the revelation is not per- 
fect in an absolute sense. If it were so, we would know 

24. Christian Baptist, October 3, 1825, p. 72. 

25. H>id., May 2, 1825, p. 239. 


God as he knows himself. Many things are now seen 
"as through a glass darkly" but they are adequate to 
our state. Thus the "monitions and impressions" of 
those who claim immediate communications from G-od, 
must be explained in some other way, but are never to 
be considered as giving knowledge of salvation. In sup- 
port of this contention, he cited the conversion of Cor- 
nelius who even had a visit from an angel, but that visit 
was to instruct him to send for Simon Peter to tell him 
the way of salvation and not to communicate the infor- 
mation to him. Campbell seems, however, to have con- 
ceded that there may have been some faint glimmer of 
light through impressions or speculation. He wrote, 
"All the light we have or can have is as useless as the 
feeble ray that finds its way through a small aperture 
into a cell it neither enlightens, warms, or cheers the 
solitary prisoner." We should rather give attention 
to the "prophetic word." Nothing else can be of any 
comparable value. 26 

The Bole of Reason 

This rejection of innate ideas and the ability of rea- 
son to discover eternal truths leads to the question 
about the role of reason. Campbell neither rejected 
nor depreciated the value of reason. As we have al- 
ready shown, he believed that reason created no new 
ideas but only examined, evaluated, and categorized 
what had been received. He was convinced also that no 
truth in any science is contrary to the decisions of rea- 
son. In affirming this, Campbell warned that, in reve- 
lation, there must be a clear distinction between what 
God actually reveals and those things which are not 
found in the revelation but are produced by "the be- 
wildered and confused imaginations of men." Some 
suppose that whatever is contrary to their "ignorance 
and prejudice" is contrary to reason. This they sup- 

26. Ifcitf., November 7, 1825, pp. 89, 90. 


pose because they feel that their own prejudices and 
ignorances are identical with reason. Campbell then 
gave his definition of reason and truth. "My definition 
of historic truth is the agreement of the narrative with 
the fact; of logical truth, the agreement of the terms 
of the proposition with one another, or the conclusion 
with the premises; and of religious truth, whatever 
God, or some one deputed by him, has spoken." 27 In an 
article entitled "Beason Examined by Interrogators," 
Campbell has Eeason assert that the communications of 
revelation are to it as the axioms of Euclid are to the 
mathematician. The communications referred to deal 
with spiritual things, especially with man's relations 
with God. These communications are to be used as 
"first and fixed principles never to be called in ques- 
tion, as rules and measures by which all moral prin- 
ciples are to be tried." A "Thus says the Lord" set- 
tles all disputes and becomes authoritative in all ques- 
tions dealing with the spiritual and eternal world. 28 It 
may be asked, how does reason justify its acceptance of 
certain things as revelation? Campbell frequently cited 
two kinds of evidence. One is the axiomatic character 
of its truths, and the other is the attestation by the 
Spirit, to be seen in the fulfillment of prophecy, in 
miracles, and in the lives of the men who were entrusted 
with the message. In this, he was following the thought 
of Dr. George Campbell. 29 Once it has been ascertained 
that any truth is a revelation from God, reason has no 
other alternative than to follow this truth and to deter- 
mine how it may be put into practice. In the article on 
Eeason, mentioned above, Campbell has Eeason to ob- 

27. Millennial Harbinger, 1832, p. 97. 

28. IMdL, pp. 98, 99. 

29. cf. Campbell, Georg-e, op. cit. I, pp. vi ff. See also, Stuart, Moses, 
Letters to the Rev. Wm. E. C~hanning } Containing Remarks on His Recent 
Sermon, . . . (Andover: 1819), p. 10. 


The phrases "above reason," "contrary to reason/ 9 "accord- 
ant to reason," when fairly tested, mean no more among those 
who think, than above or beyond my experience, contrary to my 
experience, or accordant to my experience. He, therefore, who 
says he believes nothing above his reason, nor contrary to his 
reason, simply says he believes nothing above his experience or 
contrary to it; and therefore revelation to him is wholly 
incredible. 30 

Campbell's answer, then, to onr contemporary problem 
of the paradox of reason and revelation would be that 
our human life and supernatural truths present to us a 
paradox simply because our experience is now too lim- 
ited to make supernatural truth wholly comprehensible. 
He wrote, 

... as revelation immeasurably transcends our experience, it 
can only be affirmed that so far as human experience reaches, 
it accords with revelation; and hence it is fairly to be presumed 
that experience will continue to agree or correspond with revela- 
tion until the terms "revelation" and "experience" will be 
terms of equal value, and cover the same area of thought, 31 

The Nature of Faith 

Campbell believed that all revealed religion was based 
upon fact. Testimony relates to facts only. By fact, 
Campbell always meant something said or done. The 
facts upon which all faith, love, purity, and humanity 
are based are * ' the works of God and the words of God, 
or the things done or spoken by God." Our faith rests 
upon the testimony to these facts. The main difference 
between faith and knowledge is that when we have wit- 
nessed a fact ourselves we are said to know it. When 
it is reported to us by credible persons, we may be said 
to believe it. Campbell concluded, then, that the nat- 
ural order is first the fact, then the testimony, and then 

30. Millennial Harbinger, 1832, p. 99. 
81. Idem. 


the belief. "To this there is no exception, more than 
against the universality of the laws of gravity.' 3 Faith 
cannot transcend the testimony which has produced it. 
There is, however, a difference between the certainty 
and the effects of faith. The certainty depends upon 
the credibility of the witnesses. The effects depend upon 
the facts believed. The more extraordinary the facts, 
the more extraordinary must be the testimony to the 
facts. It is for this reason that supernatural facts re- 
quire supernatural confirmations. Thus, we have re- 
corded in the apostolic writings, works of the Holy Spirit 
seen in the extraordinary and miraculous powers dis- 
played by the apostles and by so many of their converts, 
in attestation of the truth of the message. 32 "What the 
audible and visible demonstrations were to the first 
hearers of the gospel, the written testimony is to us to- 
day. Campbell wrote, "the reading or hearing of these 
things now recorded, stands precisely in the same re- 
lation to faith, as the seeing of the apostles work the 
miracles, or the hearing them declare the truth. The 
words they spake are as much the words of the Holy 
Ghost when in written characters as they were when 
existing in the form of sound. " The miracles were re- 
corded for the same reason that they were worked, and 
the word when written is as capable of producing faith 
as the word when originally preached. 33 Faith, then, is 
the belief of testimony. It is the persuasion of the in- 
dividual as to the nature of God, the divine character 
of the gospel, the effectiveness of Christ's death for 
the sinner, and all the other basic facts which underlie 
the Christian message. It is thus the assent to the di- 
vine truth. During Campbell's earlier years, he placed 
much emphasis on the idea that faith was the belief of 
testimony. In later years, however, his concept of the 
nature of faith seemed to broaden. He never abandoned 

32. Ibid., 1830, pp. 8-11. 

33. Christian Baptist, January 3, 1825, p. 124. 


Ms basic position, but in the debate with N. L. Rice he 
could say, "It is not merely a cold assent to truth, to 
testimony ; but a cordial, joyful consent to it, and recep- 
tion of it" The "grand proposition" upon which faith 
rests is that "Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, the 
Savior of the world. He that believes that proposition 
is ' begotten of God.' " 34 

The subject under discussion in the debate men- 
tioned above was the agency of the Holy Spirit in con- 
version. Campbell took the position that the written 
testimony is as much the testimony of the Holy Spirit 
as were the testimony and demonstration when origi- 
nally heard and seen. Consequently, as those of the 
New Testament period who believed and thus became 
children of God had the Holy Spirit infused into their 
hearts, so we may, when we believe the testimony, re- 
ceive the same Holy Spirit with the same results. 35 

Though Campbell insisted that faith must rest upon 
testimony, this fact did not leave him without a sense 
of deep spirituality in religion. This is apparently 
what he meant when he wrote that the effects of faith 
are determined by the thing believed. He wrote that 
religion may be printed on paper, exist in the mind, or 
fall from the lips. He declared, however, that, in addi- 
tion to this, it must transcend all such manifestations. 
He wrote, 

But religion dwelling in the heart, rooted in the feelings and 
affections, is a living, active, and real existence. It purifies tlie 
fountain of moral life and health. It animates, inspires, controls, 
and gives new impulse to our active powers. It imbues the soul 
with a divine life, and plants the incorruptible seeds of glorious 
immortality in man. This is religion; all the rest is machinery 
or imagery. Language and all its signs, oral and written; ordi- 
nances and all their forms, as types, and paper and ink, are but 

84. The Campbell-Rice Debate (1844), pp. 618, 622. 
35. Millennial Harbinger, 1830, p. 14. 


the means or channel through which, the quickening influence of 
the Holy Spirit plants or waters the undeeaying germ of an eter- 
nal life in the intellectual and moral nature of man. 36 

The study just completed shows how important Camp- 
bell felt the Scriptures to be for the spiritual and moral 
welfare of man. Only by revelation can man know God. 
That revelation is presented in word and deed and is 
preserved for us in the Scriptures. Faith arises from 
the testimony of the prophets, apostles, and others who 
have preserved for us this revelation from God. If our 
faith is thus dependent upon the word of the Scriptures, 
and if eternal life is dependent upon faith, it is essen- 
tial to the welfare of our souls and the happiness of 
mankind that this revelation be preserved and made 
intelligible to every man. The answer to the question 
of how this communication of God's will can be accom- 
plished is found in a study of the nature of inspiration 
and of the principles by which the inspired Scriptures 
may be properly understood. It is to this study that we 
now turn our attention. 

36. IUd., 1837, p. 8. 


The Problem of Inspiration 

We will only premise one sentence, viz., that as God kindly 
revealed himself, his will, and our salvation in human language, 
the words of human language, which he used for this purpose, 
must have been used by his Spirit in the commonly received 
sense amongst mankind generally; else it could not have been a 
revelation; for a revelation in words not understood in the 
common sense is no revelation at all." 

Christian Baptist, December 1, 1823 

In the study of reason and revelation just completed, 
our attention was given to the nature and authority of 
the matter revealed. We are now concerned with the 
Bible as a whole and the manner in which the writers 
were inspired. 

History versus Supernaturally Revealed Truth 

In the articles published in the Christian Baptist, 
Campbell made a distinction between those things in 
the Bible which were purely supernatural and those 
which were historical. As we have already shown, he 
considered the things pnrely supernatural to be divinely 
communicated, because only thus could they be known. 
The historical or human matters were events of human 
experience and called for no revelation in order for their 
being known. Campbell was convinced that this distinc- 
tion was made by both the Old and New Testament writ- 



ers. The prophets called the divine communications a 
word from the Lord or "the burden of the Lord." The 
distinction is made even clearer in Jesus' instructions 
to the apostles. The Spirit would do two things for 
them. First, he would bring to their remembrance all 
the things necessary to the presentation of their nar- 
ratives ; thus they would be faithful historians. Second, 
the Spirit would guide them into all supernatural truth. 
These two kinds of guidance must be distinguished 
clearly throughout the Bible. The failure to make the 
distinction has led to much superstition among Chris- 
tians, on the one hand, and, on the other, to skepticism 
such as that of Thomas Paine in his Age of Reason. 
The distinction made here will enable one to find the 
proper path between these two errors. 1 

When the question of inspiration in each of the above 
cases is raised, Campbell presents the nearest thing to 
what may be called his theory of inspiration, though he 
does not actually systematize it. A correspondent 
wrote to Campbell in June, 1827, asking whether the 
biblical writers employ words or phrases given them by 
the Holy Spirit or whether they invent their own words 
to convey the ideas suggested to them by the Spirit. 
Campbell stated that he saw no real problem here, in 
spite of the great amount of controversy which had been 
raised over it. He wrote, "In all matters purely super- 
natural, the communication was made in words. The 
ideas were suggested and expressed in words." In 
support of this view, he quoted Paul's statement, "We 
speak spiritual things in spiritual words." Campbell 
interpreted this to mean, "in words suggested by the 
Holy Spirit." In those portions of the Scriptures which 
pertain to "human things," however, the situation is 
different. In these narratives, which make up the 
greater part of the Scriptures, the writers were so 

1. Christian Baptist, June 4, 1827, pp. 256-258. 


guided or had things recalled to their memory that they 
were able to give a "faithful narrative. " The material 
is supernatural neither in the matter nor the manner in 
which it is communicated. "The historian was simply 
guided in the selection of documents, and prevented 
from committing errors. . . . The words and phrases 
were in all instances, except in communications purely 
supernatural, of the selection of the writer/' 2 The 
statement regarding the inspiration of the writers in 
matters which were purely historical is quite clear. The 
nature of inspiration in "supernatural'' matters is not 
so clear. Were the writers so circumscribed that they 
were simply automata in the hands of the Spirit? This 
hardly seems to be in harmony with Campbell's views 
in general. The statement that the "ideas were .sug- 
gested and expressed in words" does not make entirely 
clear whether Campbell thought that the exact words 
were dictated by the Spirit, or whether the ideas were 
suggested by the Spirit and the words selected by the 
writers under his guidance. 3 In view of Campbell's con- 
cluding statement that "in all instances except in com- 
munications purely supernatural" the words and 
phrases were the selection of the author, we may have 
reason to draw the negative inference that Campbell 
believed that in "things purely supernatural" the words 
themselves were suggested by the Spirit. There is a 
problem of the possible development of Campbell's 
thought on this matter which we shall take up at a later 

If there were any feeling that Campbell was casting 
doubt on the accuracy of the historical narratives, he 
was careful to make himself clear. At the conclusion 
of the article discussed above, making a distinction be- 
tween divine revelation and historical record, he stated 

2. Ibid., December 1, 1828, pp. 100-101. 

3. Ibid., p. 101. 


that "as historians, the sacred writers are infallible.' 3 
This is true not only in the record of divine communica- 
tions but in the narratives which the writers relate as 
well. He concluded, "It matters not whether these his- 
torians wrote in part or in whole from tradition, from 
their own observation, or from immediate suggestions, 
their historical accounts are to us infallible, because 
sanctioned, approved, and quoted by those under the 
fullest influence of the Holy Spirit. " 4 In the debate 
with Robert Owen, the question was raised about the 
nature of revelation, as to whether the original ideas 
were always suggested to the writer or whether the 
ideas communicated were only a refreshing of the mem- 
ory of former impressions. Campbell stated that the 
matter had been adequately discussed elsewhere, but 
that, in any case, it did not affect the authenticity of the 
record. The writers were, in any case, under the guid- 
ance of the Spirit of God. Campbell did insist, however, 
that in spite of the fact that there were among the Jews 
as well as Christians many authentic documents, even 
some among the apocryphal books, only the books of the 
Old and New Testaments constitute a part of our reli- 
gion and have just claims on us. 5 

In answer to the ridicule from some skeptics about 
the content of the Old Testament, especially the lives 
and conduct of some of the men mentioned there, Camp- 
bell stated that these objections arose from ignorance of 
the content. The term "revelation" applies only to 
divinely communicated ideas. The writers of the Old 
Testament were faithful witnesses of the history, even 
where the record recounts the immoral actions of men. 
A distinction must be made between accurate historical 
record and divine communication. 6 This distinction 

4. md. t June 4, 1827, p. 259. 

5. Campbell-Owen Debate (1878), pp, 352, 353. 

6. Ibid., p. 174. 


rests upon Campbell's differentiation between inspira- 
tion and revelation. There are, narrated in the Bible, 
many historical facts which it would be absurd to call an 
immediate revelation from God. The term "revela- 
tion" must be limited to the communication of spiritual 
and eternal truths by God himself. 7 Inspiration, on the 
other hand, can be applied to guidance given to the writ- 
ers, whether in things " human" or things supernatural. 
Jesus' promise of leading the apostles into all truth 
and of bringing all things to their remembrance by the 
Holy Spirit, includes "all that we understand by in- 
spiration in its primary and secondary import." 8 

Spiritual Guidance 

As to the manner in which the Spirit guided the writ- 
ers, Campbell was quite specific. It could be observed, 
he wrote, that each of "the eight authors of the Living 
Oracles" had his own peculiar idiom and mode of think- 
ing, reasoning, and expressing himself on the subject 
of Christianity just as on every other subject How is 
this to be explained if each was guided by the same 
Spirit? Campbell answered, 

. . . while the ideas were suggested by the Holy Spirit, the in- 
spired person was left to the choice of words and to Ms own 
mode of expressing himself; and therefore we find each of them 
distinguished by idiomatic or peculiar modes of expression, as 
much as by his own name. Though we must regard these writers 
as using their own modes of speech, and as selecting their own 
words, both in speaking and writing; yet so plenary was their 
inspiration that they could not select an improper term or a word 
not in accordance with the mind of the Spirit. That they did 
select different words to express the same ideas cannot be dis- 
puted: for the person whom one calls a lunatic, another calls 

7. rbid., p. 146. 

8. Campbell, Alexander, A Connected "View, etc., p. 19. 


a demoniac; and each writer gives his own version of almost 
everything he narrates. 9 

This statement seems to express Campbell's mature 
view of inspiration. At least, nothing which he wrote 
later in the Harbinger or elsewhere seems, to this 
writer, to show any basic change of view. It is suffi- 
ciently comprehensive to apply to all parts of the Scrip- 
ture, whether historical narrative or divine communica- 
tion. Granville Walker, in a recent book on Preaching 
in the Thought of Alexander Campbell, feels this to be 
a radical departure from the view expressed in the 
Christian Baptist in 1828, which we have presented 
above. Walker assumes that in 1828 Campbell had two 
standards for inspiration. In historical narrative, the 
ideas were suggested to the writers and they chose their 
own words in which to express the ideas. In revelation, 
the words themselves were communicated by the Holy 
Spirit. In the statement in the Millennial Harbinger 
quoted just above, Walker feels that there is a single 
standard for all inspiration for all the Scripture. In 
all cases, the ideas were suggested by the Spirit and 
the words were selected by the writer. 10 It is possible 
that such a change as that suggested by Walker did take 
place. As early as 1826, in the prefaces to his New Tes- 
tament, Campbell had discussed the differences in the 
style of writing, selection of materials, and method of 
thought in the writers of the New Testament. While 
he does not discuss a theory of inspiration in these pref- 
aces, he certainly does imply a considerable difference 
in their works. It is probable, therefore, that Camp- 
bell's ideas on the subject underwent some change, but 
that such a radical change as that maintained by Walker 
seems improbable in view of the fact that he carried 

9. Millennial Harbinger, 1834, pp. 200, 201. 

10. Walker, Granville T., Preaching in the Thought of Alexander Oamp- 
tell (St Louis: 1954), pp. 109-111. 


these same prefaces unchanged through six editions of 
the New Testament from 1826 through 1839. Another 
evidence, that, though there may have been a change in 
emphasis, the change was not a basic one, comes from 
the debate with Eobert Owen held in April, 1829. When 
Campbell was asked about Matthew's reference to Jere- 
miah in Matthew 27:9, when the passage actually is 
found in Zechariah, Campbell answered that our mod- 
ern divisions of the Old Testament were not so clearly 
distinguished by the people of the biblical period. The 
Jews thought in terms of the Law, the Prophets, and 
the Psalms. This arrangement may account for the 
error, but even if it cannot be explained as other than 
an error, "it affects no more the credibility of the testi- 
mony of Matthew concerning Jesus Christ, than the fact 
of Paul's forgetting how many he had baptized in Cor- 
inth, proves that he was not inspired with an infallible 
knowledge of the Gospel." 11 It may be objected that 
the discussion here related only to the recording of 
factual data. This is true, but it seems to border very 
closely on the view expressed by Campbell in 1834. 

An even more specific note on this subject appeared 
in the Millennial Harbinger of 1831 in Campbell's reply 
to a Humphrey Marshall who sought to discredit the 
reliability of the witness of the Gospel writers by citing 
their differences in reporting the words of Jesus. He 
called attention especially to the differences between 
Mark 14:30 and Matthew 26:34 in the narrative con- 
cerning the crowing of the cock. Campbell stated that 
he believed that there was no contradiction. Marshall 
would still object, he thought, that one must decide 
which of the two writers records the actual words of 
Jesus. Campbell wrote in reply, "Not one of the his- 
torians pretends to do this. Many of Ms maxims they 
quote, and a few of his sayings they publish, but not 

11. Campbell-Owen Debate, pp. 357-358. 


with a scrupulous or rather a superstitions regard to 
every letter, pause, and point ; but with the most faith- 
ful regard to scope and meaning. " Campbell then re- 
ferred to the more detailed discussion of the problem 
at the end of the Gospels in the First Edition of his 
New Testament in 1826, page 214. 12 By writing in this 
manner, Campbell shows that he felt that no great 
change had come in his thought since 1826. One fur- 
ther fact seems to indicate that no such radical change 
had taken place as that suggested by Walker. We have 
seen how closely Alexander Campbell followed the ideas 
of Dr. George Campbell of Aberdeen. In the work of 
the latter on the Four Gospels, the nature of the inspira- 
tion is defined. George Campbell wrote, "The matter, 
or all that concerned thoughts, was given them: what 
concerned the manner, or enunciation, was left to them- 
selves. " Concerning the divine guidance, he wrote, "So 
far only were they over-ruled, in point of expression, 
by the divine Spirit, that nothing could be introduced 
tending, in any way, to obstruct the intention of the 
whole. " 13 Here we have, in one of Alexander Camp- 
bell's chief sources, a theory of inspiration almost, if 
not exactly, identical with his most mature view. Camp- 
bell was so ready to express disagreement with any 
source on a point of difference that it seems that he 
would have made some comment about his departure 
from George Campbell if, in 1826, he had made a dis- 
tinction as clear as that proposed by Walker. It would, 
of course, be natural to conclude that his thought on 
this point, as well as on others, underwent development, 
but it seems very probable that the fundamental char- 
acteristics of his view of inspiration were worked out 
as early as his first publication of the New Testament 
in 1826. 

12. Millennial Harbinger, 1831, p. 371. 
IS. Campbell, George, op. cit. I, pp. 38, 39. 


Again in 1837 Campbell wrote in the Millennial Har- 
binger an article making still clearer Ms view of inspira- 
tion. There is reprinted from the New York Baptist 
Register a speech delivered at an anniversary meeting 
of the American and Foreign Bible Society in that year, 
by Spencer Cone, president of the Society. Cone stated 
that "Scriptures claim for every jot and tittle of them- 
selves the same plenary and verbal inspiration. ' ' Not 
only the sentiments but the very words are the words 
of Jehovah. The writers were no more left to their own 
judgment in the selection and arrangement of sentences 
than in the choice of facts or doctrines. Campbell re- 
plied that Cone could give no proof of any such claim on 
the part of the biblical writers. If it could be proved 
it would "greatly impair the reasonings of the most able 
defenders of the inspiration of the Bible. 7 ' He ex- 
plained his meaning by writing, 

It would be a great reproach upon the four Evangelists to 
represent them as believing every jot and tittle of the words 
of Messiah and of themselves to have been inspired, when not 
any two of them narrate the same parable, conversation, sermon, 
or aphorism in the same words. The ideas and leading terms 
that represent them may be so regarded but not every jot and 
tittle. 14 

The Authority of the Scriptures 

The view of inspiration presented by Campbell was 
felt by him to be wholly compatible with the finality of 
the revelation presented in the Bible. He wrote in 1826, 
". . . in the Christian religion there are no new discov- 
eries, no new improvements to be made. It is already 
revealed, and long since developed in the apostolic writ- 
ings." 15 If it be objected that this view of the finality 
of the biblical revelation leaves no room for men called 

14. Millennial Harbinger, 1837, pp. 397, 398. 

15. Christian Baptist, February 6, 1826, p. 168. 


and sent by God today, Campbell responded that the 
real question was whether or not we need a new mes- 
sage. If there is no need for a new message, there is no 
need for messengers who have received new revelations 
from the Holy Spirit. He concluded his statement by 
declaring, "In the natural world we might as reason- 
ably look for, and expect a new sun, a new moon, and 
new stars; as, in the kingdom of Christ, to expect new 
ambassadors, new messages from God, new revelations 
of the Spirit." 16 

Campbell's view of the Scriptures enabled him to use 
the word "infallibility" without hesitation. He would 
not maintain what was then meant by the term "verbal 
inspiration." He does use the term "plenary inspira- 
tion." To him the latter term meant that the writers 
were fully guided by the Holy Spirit. This guidance 
consisted in the selection of documents, the selection and 
arrangement of narratives, and the selection of lan- 
guage which would, without error, express the revela- 
tion which God made to them and through them to oth- 
ers. This revelation was authoritative and final. No 
new revelations or guidance of the Holy Spirit for this 
purpose would b>e needed. As the true and perfect rec- 
ord of God's revelation, the Bible was the final author- 
ity for the Christian and for the Church. The Scrip- 
tures are thus adequate as a means for leading men to 
God. Campbell wrote, "The whole world with whom 
this Spirit of God strives in the written word now as it 
once did in the mouths of the prophets and apostles, 
have no excuse for their infidelity or unregeneracy. 


The Nature of Biblical Language 

The conclusion just reached immediately causes one 
to raise the question, Can a man really understand the 

16. IUd., October 6, 1823, pp. 68, 69. 

17. JT&itf., May 5, 1828, p. 220. 


revelation presented in the Scriptures? To this ques- 
tion, Campbell gave an emphatic "Yes!" This was 
with him a favorite subject. He stated this position 
concisely in an article written in 1823. 

We will only premise one sentence, viz. that as God kindly re- 
vealed himself, his will, and our salvation in human language, 
the words of human language, which he used for this purpose, 
must have been used by his Spirit in the commonly received 
sense amongst mankind generally; else it could not have been 
a revelation; for a revelation in words not understood in the 
common sense is no revelation at all. 18 

Against some popular objections, Campbell maintained 
that the Bible was not designed simply to be understood 
by man in his unfallen state, unimpaired by sin. From 
an examination of the Bible, he explained, the inference 
is inevitable, "that the Bible is designed for, and adapted 
to, the children of men in their present circumstances, 
to improve their condition here, and to fit them to 
become members of a pure, refined and exalted society 
hereafter." 19 He insisted upon this conclusion again 
in a sermon delivered in Zanesville, Ohio, in 1830. He 
there drew the inference that the words and phrases 
of the New Testament are "to be interpreted by the 
common rules of interpretation applied to all writings 
of the same antiquity; or, indeed, to any human writ- 
ings, ancient or modern." 20 Thus, there is no need for 
the Holy Spirit to impart to the reader what God has 
already intelligently caused to be written in intelligible 
human language. 21 

These views of the intelligibility of the language of 
the Scriptures were not at all peculiar to Alexander 
Campbell. P. S. Fall, minister of a Baptist Church in 
Louisville, Kentucky, who had come under Campbell's 

18. I&id., December 1, 1823, p. 121. 

19. IUd,, June 5, 1826, p. 255. 

20. Millennial HWbing&r, 1830, p. 558. 

21. I&id., p. 363. 


influence, wrote a similar statement in a circular letter. 
That the view was not generally accepted among the 
conservative Baptists, however, is evidenced by the fact 
that when the letter was presented to the Long Eun 
Association in Kentucky in September, 1825, for ap- 
proval, it was rejected when the vote was tied and the 
moderator cast his vote against it. 22 In 1828 the Chris- 
tian Baptist carried a series of articles on the subject 
of the intelligibility of the Scriptures, written by Alex- 
ander Straith, whom Campbell characterized as "a very 
learned and intelligent Presbyterian Doctor." Straith 
emphasized the fact that the Scriptures were originally 
written in intelligible human language and that, in 
translation, the language should be so rendered. 23 At 
one point he wrote, 

God manifestly considers Ms message as sufficiently clear to his 
rational creature man in every condition in which it can visit 
him, and threatens, of course, to inflict the severest punishment 
upon Mm if lie neglect, pervert, or reject it. Now, had not the 
message been deemed sufficiently clear and certain to every 
sinner when it reached Mm, justice could not have approved 
such severity, nor God threatened to inflict it for this plain 
reason, that an unintelligible message is no message. 24 

.The most prominent American advocate of this view 
was Moses Stuart of Andover. It is to him, probably 
more than to any other, that Campbell referred in pre- 
senting his views of the interpretation of the Scriptures. 
He held essentially the same views on this subject as did 
Stuart, who once wrote, 

When God speaks to men, it is in language which men are wont 
to use, and which they can understand. . . . From these consider- 
ations we may deduce the conclusion that the men who spoke 
and wrote the things contained in the Scriptures, and those to 

22. Christian Baptist, February 6, 1826, pp. 15 Off. 

23. IMd., VI, pp. 18f., pp. 73JGE., pp. 270C., VII, pp. 

24. Ibid., July 6, 1829, p. 270. 


whom they were originally addressed, did understand, or might 
understand, the ideas which were intended to be conveyed. . . . 
No good reason can be given, why the preaching of the prophets, 
of the Savior, and of the Apostles, was not as intelligible to a 
Jewish audience, as the preaching of a faithful minister of the 
gospel, in England or America, is to an English or American 
congregation. 25 

The information derived from this study regarding 
the inspiration of the Scriptures and their adaptability 
to man in Ms present situation, raises a problem regard- 
ing the governing principles by which the Scriptures 
may properly be interpreted. The next section of our 
study is devoted to this subject. 

25. Stuart Moses, "Remarks on Doddridge's Family Expositor," The 
Family Expositor or Paraphrase and Version of the New Testament 
(Amherst, Mass.: 1843), p. xiv. 


Some Basic Principles 

He, then, that would interpret the Oracles of God 
to the salvation of his soul, must approach this volume 
with the humility and docility of a child, and meditate 
upon it day and night. To such a one, there is an 
assurance of understanding, a certainty of knowledge, 
to which the man of letters alone never attained, and 
which the mere critic never felt. 

A Connected View 

Contemporary Methods of Interpretation 

In the period in which Alexander Campbell wrote 
and worked, there were three major types of methodol- 
ogy in biblical interpretation. One of these types was 
the rationalistic, which was basically philosophical and 
was represented by Kant, who sought to form a union 
between philosophy and religion. The result was to 
place morals in the ascendency at the cost of much of 
the historical in Christianity. 1 In an article by Augustus 
Hahn of Leipsic, translated by Edward Eobinson, this 
rationalistic view is characterized as being purely phil- 
osophical. The philosophical scheme is the criterion by 
which all Scripture is interpreted or evaluated. Hahn 
considered Kant's moral interpretation, presented in 
his Religion within the Bounds of Pure Reason, to be 
the most striMng example of this position. Hahn dis- 
cussed, as very closely related to this, the method of in- 
terpretation in which a historical or traditional element 

1. Farrar, Frederic, History of Interpretation (New York: 1886), pp. 



becomes the criterion of interpretation. Only those 
interpretations can be allowed which support the tradi- 
tional dogmata. This differs only in the matter of the 
criterion from the rationalistic view. 2 Still another 
method described by Hahn is the allegorical, which he 
characterized as the "offspring of a mental departure 
from the faith of one's ancestors, and the community 
to which one belongs . . . occasioning a difference which 
one wishes either to conceal or to excuse and render 
venerable." Hahn rejected this view on the ground 
that it is not recommended by the Scriptures, that there 
are no certain laws by which it may be practiced, and 
that it is superfluous since it gives no concrete results 
which the grammatico-historical method does not give 
when * ' exercised in a pious spirit. ' ' Over against these 
various methods, Hahn presented the grammatico-his- 
torical method of interpretation. The proper use of 
historical and literary context will give the proper 
meaning of a passage of Scripture. 3 This method was 
practiced in America, especially in the Andover school 
and by Moses Stuart, its most prominent advocate. 

Campbell often engaged in discussions about these 
different methods of interpretation. He was concerned 
only occasionally with the rationalistic method. The 
one outstanding instance of his conflict with this ap- 
proach was his debate with Robert Owen on The Evi- 
dences of Christianity. In this debate Campbell met 
Owen largely on the ground of philosophy. He insisted 
upon the rejection of the doctrine of innate ideas ; hence, 
he maintained, man can know God only through revela- 
tion. 4 Campbell's answer to the problem presented by 
moral conditions described in the Bible, especially in 
the Old Testament, was, as we have already seen, a dis- 
tinction between history faithfully recorded and a reve- 

2. Biblical Repository, Vol. First 1831, pp. 127-129. 

8. Ibid., pp. 124-126, 

4, Campbell-Owen Debate, pp. 50, 51, 145, etc. 


lation which makes the will of God known to man. He 
also argued for a progressiveness of revelation, which 
we shall discuss later. These were the answers, in gen- 
eral, which Campbell gave to Eobert Owen, and to the 
deists, and the " Free-thinkers." While he gave as 
much attention to the historical development of biblical 
religion as they did, he insisted upon the supernatural 
character of the revelation which gave it spiritual char- 
acter and made it authoritative. 

Campbell found himself confronted more often with 
what was called "spiritual" or "allegorical" interpre- 
tation. While the conflict with rationalism was waged 
with those who attacked Christianity, the battle against 
this type of interpretation was waged against the ortho- 
dox, especially among the conservative Baptists. One 
example of Campbell's attack on "spiritual" interpre- 
tation is found in an article in the Christian Baptist of 
1829. The article contains a letter written to the Dover 
Association by a certain Lewis Turner. Campbell's in- 
troduction to the letter contains a scathing denunciation 
of the attempt on the part of a "Baptist Bishop" to 
keep the Scriptures from the "saints" by claiming the 
necessity of spiritual guidance in interpretation. In the 
letter an Elder Swift is quoted as calling the Bible a 
sealed book and a dead letter to the unregenerate. He 
stated, " 'The secret of the Lord is with them that fear 
Him,' " and "until this secret was revealed to the sinner, 
he might as well read Voltaire or Tom Paine in order to 
conversion, as to read the Scriptures." 5 As a further 
example, Campbell, at one time, cited the misinterpreta- 
tion of 1 Corinthians 12:7. Paul had been interpreted 
as teaching that every man, in order to understand the 
Scriptures, must have some kind of afflation or commun- 
ication from the Spirit. Campbell argued, however, 
that the manifestation of the Spirit must be some spir- 

5. Christian Baptist, March 2, 1829, pp. 171-172. 


itual gift by which the Spirit is shown to be present with 
the individual. It does not refer to a power of the Spirit 
which must be given to each before he can understand 
the Scriptures. 6 

Allegorical preaching also was attacked by Campbell. 
He reprinted in the Millennial Harbinger a tract writ- 
ten by a Samuel Stennett, a Baptist who died in 1795 
and who was well known for his proficiency in classical 
and oriental languages. Stennett deplored the practices 
of the pulpit which he felt to be wholly inappropriate 
to a Christian assembly. He particularly denounced 
the allegorical method used in preaching. He wrote, 
" Figures are applied to that to which they bear no re- 
semblance, or at most but a very obscure and imperfect 
one. The doctrine of types is treated as if no bounds 
were to be affixed to a wild imagination, and the 
preacher were at liberty to impose his own conceits on 
all the circumstances in Jewish ritual/' Stennett 's 
criticism extended to the allegorical usages of the com- 
mon life of the patriarchs and even the geography of the 
Old Testament. Campbell reprinted this tract as ex- 
pressing his own objections to such methods. 7 In an 
answer to E. B. Semple, a prominent Baptist preacher, 
Campbell wrote in 1831 that even a classical education 
is of no value to one if, in interpretation, he tends to 
allegorize. He observed that with many it was consid- 
ered a sign of unregeneracy for one to give attention to 
the literal meaning of the Scriptures as of importance. 
"To affirm that God means what he says, and says what 
he means, in the usual acceptance of the words, is blas- 
phemy against the doctrine of spiritual meanings and 
mystical faith. " He wrote further in condemnation of 
this view, "I am bold to avow my conviction, that of all 
the plagues under which Christendom has been afflicted 

6. lUd., November 1, 1824, p. 76. 

7. Millennial Harbinger, 1844, pp. 253, 254. 


... for the past twelve hundred and sixty years, the 
greatest has been the Egyptian mythological rules of in- 
terpretation, in the hands or heads of the ' Christian 
priesthood/ " 8 

This error of " spiritual" and "allegorical" interpre- 
tation had its result in what Campbell called "textuary 
preaching." By this term, he meant the use of the 
text out of its context and without attention to its lit- 
eral meaning. A letter to the Christian Baptist reported 
such a sermon preached by the Beverend George Wal- 
ler. The text was John 11 :28, "The Master is come and 
calleth for thee." The sermon was divided into three 
parts. The first was "The Master, who he is." This 
section dealt with the divinity of Christ and the doctrine 
of the trinity. The second part of the sermon took the 
phrase "is come." This dealt with Christ's coming at 
his advent, the coming in the person of his ministers, 
and finally the millennium. Under the third part, "call- 
eth for thee," the preacher discussed calls as "manda- 
tory" and "invitatory." Campbell wrote in reply to 
this that, when he read this letter, he called a little girl 
and asked her what Martha had meant by the statement 
The little girl understood the statement literally. He 
then wrote that he left it to his readers whether or not 
the little girl were the better expositor. He concluded, 
"This textuary system must go down, and we rejoice 
to know that its going down is with no ordinary speed. 
If Christians will not weep it down, men will laugh it 
down." 9 In writing of this practice of interpretation 
when applied to quotation of Scripture out of context, 
Campbell observed that no practice had done more to 
obscure the meaning of Scripture and to produce "the 
most romantic and enthusiastic tenets" than had the 
textuary system. In this, preachers follow one another, 

8. IUd., 1831, pp. 199, 200. 

9. Christian Baptist, May 7, 1827, pp. 220-222. 


so that it may be concluded that "not one in a thousand 
dares to think for himself, and to exercise his own facul- 
ties on the Scriptures." 10 It is clear from these obser- 
vations that Campbell rejected as wholly untenable 
both the rationalistic and the mystical methods of in- 
terpretation of the Scriptures. The former he rejected 
because it did not properly take into account divine rev- 
elation. The latter he rejected because it largely re- 
jected the intelligent use of language and relied upon 
some mystical guidance of the Spirit for meanings which 
were not found in the text. 

Grammatico-Historical Method 

Campbell's view accorded with what is called the 
grammatico-historical method of interpretation. He 
found that this view was advocated by the most capable 
men during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. 
Among them he named Whitby, Grotius, Locke, Ham- 
mond, Taylor, Peirce, Benson, Campbell, Macknight, 
Michaelis, Vitringa, Ernesti, and others. These men had 
been criticized by the orthodox as being destitute of the 
teachings of the Spirit, unregenerated men, or at least 
of doubtful reputation. Campbell felt that at times they 
did not carry out the method to perfection but, as far as 
they went, they "did obeisance to the only rational sys- 
tem of reading and interpreting the sacred records." 11 

In his writings Campbell often referred to those to 
whom he owed his methodology in interpretation. From 
these references, it would seem that one of his earliest 
sources and perhaps the most influential was the work of 
Dr. George Campbell in his Dissertations on the Four 
Gospels. In this work, several rules of interpretation 
are elaborated. The general rules call for one to ac- 
quaint himself with the writer's style of composition. 

10. Ibid., August 7, 1826, pp. 22, 23. 

11. Millennial H&rUnger, 1834. p. 199. 


He must tlien determine the historical circumstances 
under which the book was produced and received and 
must, finally, determine the design of the writer and the 
scope of the book. For more specific rules, George 
Campbell wrote that the reader must examine the con- 
text of doubtful words, determine how they are used 
elsewhere, and note what meaning they have in parallel 
passages. In the case of a?ra Aeyo/*eva classical writers 
should be consulted. The words of the church fathers 
and modern writers must be used with discrimination. 
The " analogy of faith" can be used only when there has 
been no dispute on the doctrine involved. The reader 
must study the growth of a language in order to be clear 
on the etymology of a word. 12 These principles are so 
close to those presented by Alexander Campbell and his 
use of George Campbell's works is so consistent that it is 
logical to conclude that he originally adopted his views 
very largely from George Campbell's works. 

The work which Campbell used most consistently after 
the beginning of the publication of the Christian Bap- 
tist in 1823 was that of Moses Stuart. The latter 's 
translation of the work of Ernesti became a common 
source reference for Alexander Campbell. It was ac- 
cepted by him as a standard for the proper method of 
interpretation. In 1831 he printed a statement from 
Moses Stuart to Dr. Channing on the proper method of 
interpretation. 13 The basic principle stated here is that 
the interpreter must seek to determine the import of 
every passage as it was intended to be understood by the 
original writers. Campbell introduced the article by 
describing Stuart as "one of the most learned Rabbis 
and most renowned Biblical Critics now living on this 
continent." 14 In 1832 Campbell reprinted in the Mil- 
lennial Harbinger, with warm commendation, an article 

12. Campbell, George, op. cit. 1, pp. 132-176. 

13. Stuart, Moses, Letters to the Rev. Wm. E. Charming, p. 11. 

14. "Extra on the Extra Defended," Millennial Harbinger, Oct. 10, 1831, 
p. 25. 


by Stuart entitled, "Are tlie Same Principles of Inter- 
pretation to Be Applied to tlie Scriptures as to Other 
Books?" The article is a reprint of the discussion ap- 
pearing in the Biblical Repository in January, 1832. An 
examination of this article in comparison with Camp- 
bell's views printed later shows such similarity as to 
demonstrate a heavy dependence of Campbell upon Stu- 
art 's works. 

Campbell felt that this method of interpretation was 
becoming a common procedure. In 1837 he reprinted 
from the Biblical Repository a part of an article on "A 
Method of Promoting Christian Union." In the essay, 
it was stated that prominent theologians in Europe, 
Great Britain, and the United States had come to agree 
upon this method of interpreting the Scriptures. It was 
expected that the adoption of a common method of exe- 
gesis would lead to a common understanding of the 
great doctrines of the Scriptures. This, in turn, should 
remove some of the causes of the ill-feeling and con- 
troversy which had ravaged so much of Christianity. 15 
In 1853 Campbell, in a discussion of the need of a new 
version of the Scriptures, stated that the laws of inter- 
pretation were then settled "by such tribunals of litera- 
ture and science as have the sanction of the educated 
world." The Scriptures now are interpreted by the 
same rules as are the ancient writings on any other sub- 
ject. This common approach would provide the possibil- 
ity of a new common translation of the Scriptures, both 
correct and clear. 16 

The Role of the Individual Interpreter 

In the acceptance of the grammatico-historical method 
of interpretation, Campbell felt several factors to be in- 
volved. In the first place, he insisted upon the right of 
private judgment. By this he meant the right of every 

15. Millennial Harbinger, 1837, p. 214. 

16. J6L, 1853, P. 4. 


Christian to investigate the Scriptures for himself. In 
his conclusions from such an investigation, no Christian 
should be stigmatized because of his judgment arrived at 
in this process. " Every man must think for himself 
and act for himself, else he is but a machine." Camp- 
bell felt that this principle was far too little recognized 
among both Protestants and Catholics. 17 Private inter- 
pretation of Scripture is quite another thing. If private 
interpretation means "individual interpretation," as 
Campbell felt it must mean, all such explanation is fal- 
lible since, whether it is the explanation of one man or of 
a great council, it is still the work of one individual or a 
collection of individuals and so is as fallible as man him- 
self. Campbell would deny that any such private inter- 
pretation could claim authority in the church as binding 
upon its members. He wrote, " . . . rather let me have 
Jesus and his Apostles as my infallible guides in faith, 
sentiment, and behaviour." 18 It is important to have in 
mind what Campbell means by private interpretation as 
distinguished from private judgment. It apparently is 
his contention that testimony is the rule of faith. This 
rule of faith and of doctrine is to be found in the Scrip- 
tures. The message of the Scriptures is as understand- 
able as is the explanation of any pope, council, or inter- 
preter. The distinction between private judgment and 
private interpretation, then, rests on the conviction 
that each person is to read the Scripture by the common 
rules of literary procedure. He is obligated to study and 
understand this for himself. This is private judgment 
which every intelligent person must make. Private in- 
terpretation, on the other hand, is a doctrine proposed by 
individuals or councils by which a particular doctrine is 
forced upon the belief of others or to which other pas- 
sages of Scripture must conform. This kind of inter- 

17. IMd., 1847, pp. 219, 220. 

18. IMd., 1834, pp. 11, 12. 


pretation is something which goes beyond the clear 
teaching of the Scripture and, therefore, must always 
be regarded as fallible and subject to review by every 
person as he examines it in the light of the Scriptures. 
In this emphasis, Campbell stands out from most of his 
contemporaries. The rationalist felt that by his reason 
he had arrived at the truth, or that the church had ar- 
rived at authoritative dogmas and that these need only 
be stated to demand the assent of the multitudes. The 
mystic, on the other hand, felt that he knew by the voice 
of the Spirit in his heart what was the truth of the Scrip- 
ture. The ideas thus arrived at were considered to be 
authoritative for others also. Campbell followed neither 
of these approaches. He insisted that every man who is 
capable of exercising his reason is thus capable of un- 
derstanding the Scriptures, and that, in fact, it is his 
responsibility to do so. Grod has spoken to men in un- 
derstandable human language. This emphasis is one 
of Campbell's great contributions to American thought. 
This distinction between private judgment and pri- 
vate interpretation is a part of Campbell's general ar- 
gument against interpretation by the "analogy of faith" 
so frequently used by Protestants and the "unanimous 
consent of the Fathers" used by the Catholics. He ob- 
jected to the latter because he believed that there is no 
such thing as the "unanimous consent" of interpreters 
on the doctrines of the church. The Popes, Councils, 
Creeds, and Fathers contradict themselves. This is evi- 
dent every time a new Pope is crowned, saints canonized, 
or sinful saints released from purgatory. 19 The "an- 
alogy of faith" is equally bad as a criterion for the in- 
terpretation of Scripture. The principle involved in the 
use of the "analogy of faith" is that, where there is a 
dispute about the meaning of a passage, that meaning 
is to be preferred which best accords with the faith of 

19. J&i&, 1837, p. 19. 


the church:. This is, in reality, Campbell argued, a pro- 
cedure by which the interpreter assumes a perfect knowl- 
edge of the true faith. In case of an ambiguous passage 
of Scripture, that passage is to be interpreted in the light 
of the doctrine which the interpreter has already ac- 
cepted as conclusive. The result is that the Scripture 
is forced to agree with the creed or the doctrinal state- 
ment assented to by the interpreter. Campbell main- 
tained that there was a basic fallacy in this. The only 
way in which the "analogy of faith' 5 could become a 
safe guide in interpretation would be for all the parties 
first to agree upon what the faith is. He concluded, "... 
then having learned the faith without the Bible, all will 
agree to interpret the Bible by the analogy of faith." 
This, of course, he felt to be entirely inconsistent with 
the ultimate authority of the Scripture over the faith 
of the church. He cited, in support of his view, a state- 
ment from Dr. George Campbell giving essentially the 
same criticism of this use of the "analogy of faith." 20 
It has been argued by some of Campbell's interpreters 
that he proposed, in opposition to the method suggested 
above, what might be called the "common mind" of 
Christians. This contention is based largely upon a 
statement written in the Declaration and Address by 
Thomas Campbell. The proposal for unity made by 
Thomas Campbell was based upon the idea that Chris- 
tians can unite neither upon human standards such as 
the creeds nor on "a vague indefinite approbation of 
the Scriptures." Instead of these, union is to be founded 
"upon the plainest and most obvious principles of di- 
vine revelation and common sense the common sense, 
we mean of Christians, exercised upon the plainest and 
most obvious truths and facts, divinely recorded for 
their instruction." 21 F. D. Kershner interpreted this 

20. Campbell, Alexander, A Connected View* pp. 66-68. 

21. Campbell Thomas, op. cit. f pp. 46, 47. 


principle to mean that that is to be considered the tru< 
meaning of Scripture which is understood by the en 
lightened common mind of Christians through the cen 
turies. He believed that this principle was adopted frj 
Alexander Campbell as a basic element in his interpre 
tation of Scripture. 22 Jesse B. Kellems interprets this 
view by writing, ' * If asked how this common mind is t( 
be known, they [Thomas and Alexander Campbell! 
would reply, that it is composed of those in each sphere 
who are best prepared to know on any given subject 
In a word, it might be defined in the modern academic 
phrase, 'the concensus of scholarship.' " 23 The vie^ 
of Kershner, upon which Kellems depends, has elements 
of truth in it. To give the concept of Alexander Camp- 
bell presented here the title of " common mind," how- 
ever, seems to misunderstand it. Campbell was verj 
skeptical of the ability of the multitude to decide issues 
relating to religion. In his debate with N. L. Bice, he 
stated, "I never quote a majority as a test of truth . . 
the majority of the world are pagans. ... So far, then, 
the truth must rest upon other evidence than the suf- 
frage of an untaught, unthinking, fickle multitude. " 2 - 
Campbell's respect for the scholarship of his day is 
clear, however. His constant use of scholarly methods, 
the citation of outstanding scholars, and his agreemenl 
with the principles which he felt to be recognized by the 
best interpreters, are evidence that he felt there was a 
"common mind" among those who advocated the gram- 
matico-historical method of interpretation of the Scrip- 
tures. The "common mind" Campbell felt, then, was 
an agreement upon the methods of interpretation tc 
be used for valid results. He did not believe, however, 
that there was any measurable unity of mind on results 

22. Kershner, F. D., op. cit., pp. 44ff., 100. 

23. Kellems, Jesse, Alexander Campbell and the Disciples (New York: 
1930), p. 177. 

24. Campbell-Rice Debate, p. 287. 


and conclusions. This seems to be as far as one can go in 
finding confirmation of Kershner's thesis of the "com- 
mon mind" in Alexander Campbell's thought. 

Instead of the " analogy of faith " as a criterion for 
the interpretation of the Scriptures, Campbell proposed 
the "analogy of the Scriptures." He believed that the 
Bible was wholly consistent with itself because it was 
produced by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In support 
of this procedure of interpretation, he wrote, 

... no interpretation of Scripture can be rationally received, 
which contradicts these capital points of piety and morality so 
repeatedly asserted in the Scriptures, and that by necessity, 
all obscure, ambiguous, or figurative words and sentences, must 
never be interpreted in a sense that will contradict those that 
are plain; and that all opinions, doctrines, and practices, 
which are founded upon a single word, or a sentence or two, 
contrary to the general scope and repeated declarations of the 
Holy Spirit, are to be wholly repudiated. 25 

This survey of the general situation in which Camp- 
bell lived and wrote will suffice to place him in the 
proper perspective as far as his methods of interpre- 
tation are concerned. Our attention must now be given 
to the specific rules and practices which determined his 
interpretation and translation of the Scriptures. 

The Work of the Interpreter 

1. The Use of the Original Languages 

Alexander Campbell was insistent that a knowledge 
of the original languages of the Scripture was essential 
to its proper interpretation. In his diary for the winter 
of 1808-1809, there is an entry stating that one who 
teaches religion and morality must be well instructed 
in both of these and in the original languages of the 
Scriptures "for without them he can hardly be qualified 

25. Campbell, Alexander, A Connected View, p. 68. 


to explain scripture or to teach religion and morality." 
Furthermore, he must know his own language well so 
that he can express its meaning with the utmost sim- 
plicity and "without anything in his diction either finical 
on the one hand or vulgar on the other." 26 In the 1826 
preface to his New Testament, Campbell explained that 
an intimate knowledge of the Septuagint Greek is essen- 
tial in translating the New Testament. This is due to the 
fact that the Greek of the New Testament is highly 
colored by the Greek Old Testament. The language of 
the Septuagint is characterized by Campbell as "a sort 
of Hebrew Greek." "The body is Greek but the soul is 
Hebrew." The use of the Septuagint in the synagogues 
of the Hellenistic Jews and the use of that idiom by the 
Lord and his apostles "must have essentially affected 
the idiom of all the inspired writings of the Christian 
Apostles." Hence, while a knowledge of classical Greek 
is of value, more attention should be given to the Sep- 
tuagint than to classical usage. 27 

Campbell believed that the language of the Bible can 
be understood in the same manner as the language of 
any other book. Moses Stuart maintained this as a basic 
principle of interpretation and translation. He wrote 
that when God speaks to men he speaks in language 
which they commonly use. Those who originally spoke 
and those who heard did understand or at least could 
understand what was said to them. In modern times, 
it is only necessary that a correct and clear translation 
be made and people then can understand the Bible with a 
clarity equal to that of the original hearers or readers. 
This entails, of course, a difficult problem in translation, 
for the translator must recapture the ideas involved. 
To do this, he must put himself, so far as possible, in 
the condition of the original hearers. If he then puts 

26. Richardson, Robert, op. cit. I, p. 138. 

27. The Sacred Writings (1826), pp. 7, 8. 


these ideas into an accurate and clear translation, he 
places the readers in a position to understand the whole 
quite as clearly as those who heard in the first place. 
For the translator, this demands a good knowledge of 
the original languages of both the Old and the New Testa- 
ments. The good expositor must know these because the 
meaning of any term is dependent upon the idiom in 
which it was expressed. 28 

2. Literary Context 

The literary context is of great importance in inter- 
pretation. In order to determine the meaning of any 
term, Campbell contended, one must examine it and de- 
termine how it is used either universally or specifically 
in all the places where it occurs. This decision, of course, 
requires much reading and attention, but it will reward 
the one who pursues this course. 2 * In stating this rule, 
Campbell was proposing the principle of understanding 
a word both in its literary and its historical context. In 
examining a word in its context, one must apply to it 
the same literary principles as those applied to a word 
in any other literature. It is to be inferred from the fact 
that revelation was made in the common language of 
the day, that such words as faith, hope, love, repent- 
ance, regeneration, and the like "were in the world be- 
fore the Christian era, and were used in the same sense 
by the inspired speakers and writers as was current in 
those days. 7 ' 30 

The literal or grammatical meaning of a word refers 
to its primitive meaning. In the case of the Scriptures, 
this would denote its meaning in current usage in the 
biblical period in which a work was written. The mean- 
ing of a word is acquired not naturally, but by usage 

28. Stuart Moses, "Remarks on Doddridge's Family Expositor," op. cit. f 

29. Christian Baptist, December 4, 1S26, p. 106. 

30. Millennial Harbinger, 1830, p. 558, 


or custom. Hence, we are not at liberty to give to words 
meanings which we please, but must use them in con- 
formity to custom. The meaning of words not already 
familiar to us is determined by the testimony contained 
in dictionaries which faithfully present the meaning to be 
attached to the term. Campbell, after stating this, 
quoted Moses Stuart to the effect that in any given case 
we are to attach "but one sense to a word at the same 
time, and in the same passage, unless they design to 
speak in enigmas/ 731 Where, however, the same word 
is used in different contexts, it may have different mean- 
ings. In such cases, the usage and context should de- 
cide which of the meanings should be attached in a par- 
ticular instance. If this fails, the reader should study 
the design of the speaker and examine parallel passages. 
The examination of a word in these contexts should give 
the reader of a biblical word the same certainty of mean- 
ing which he feels in reading a word in any other litera- 
ture. 32 

Figurative language presents a peculiar problem for 
the interpreter. Campbell devoted a lengthy section 
to this problem in his book on principles of interpreta- 
tion. He called attention to the fact that Oriental lan- 
guages are much more highly figurative than Western 
languages. It is in this area, he believed, that the "rank- 
est error 7 ' in the interpretation of Scripture is to be 
found. The problem arises from the confusion of figura- 
tive language with the literal. There are two extremes 
to which interpreters may go. Some, on the one hand, 
"literalize 77 everything. Others, on the other hand, 
"spiritualize 7 ' everything. The true interpreter must 
find the way between these two extremes. He must be 
careful to recognize that the Bible contains all of the 
variety of language which is present in common usage, 

31. Campbell, Alexander, A Connected View f p. 24. See ErnestI, J. A., 
op. cit. t p. 8. 

32. Campbell, Alexander, A. Connected View, pp. 23-25. 


and that the language of the Bible must be understood 
as we understand any other language. 33 

The primary problem involved here is how to dis- 
tinguish when language is literal and when it is figura- 
tive. As a guide to the solution of the problem, Campbell 
proposed three rules to determine when language must 
be understood figuratively. First, where the literal 
meaning would involve impropriety or an impossibility, 
the language should be understood figuratively. This 
rule applies in such cases as Jeremiah 1 :18, where Jere- 
miah is told that he is to be an iron pillar and brazen 
wall. Second, where what is affirmed is incompatible 
with or contrary to the subject of which it is affirmed, the 
language is to be understood figuratively. This is the 
case in the reference to the "kine of Bashan" in Amos 
4:1. The third rule is that where the literal sense of 
words is contrary either to common sense, to the con- 
text, or to the scope of a passage, the figurative sense 
must be chosen instead. This rule is applicable to the 
statement about God sleeping, in Psalm 44:23. In giv- 
ing these rules, Campbell stated that they were essen- 
tially the same as those proposed by Stuart and Home 
and that they are derived from Morus and Ernesti. 34 

In the discussion of metaphorical language in general, 
Campbell gave several rules of interpretation. Where 
the comparison involved is obvious or where it is ex- 
plained by the writer, no problem of interpretation 
should arise. This is true also where the context or 
parallel passages explain the meaning. Even in diffi- 
cult passages, context must be the determining factor. 
A historical study of the setting may explain the mean- 
ing, as in the case where Jesus speaks of his sending 
a sword rather than peace. Here, the context of the 
passage and later historical developments show what 

33. Hid., pp. 27-30. 

34. IU&, p. 53. 


is meant. The doctrinal import of a passage may also 
provide a key to the interpretation of a figure. Thus, 
Peter's description of Christians as " living stones" is 
explained by the general concept of the nature of cor- 
porate Christian fellowship. Ordinarily each figure is 
intended to show only one point of comparison and ought 
not to be strained beyond that point. Where a figura- 
tive expression relates to an idea which is elsewhere 
expressed in literal, clear terms, the latter should de- 
termine the meaning of the former. Finally, the appli- 
cation of imagery ought to be made, not from modern 
usage, but from the usage contemporary with the 
speaker or writer. In all of these rules, it will be no- 
ticed that one must always interpret in the light of the 
context of the passage. "We must so recapture the con- 
text, both literary and historical, that we can under- 
stand the figure as it was understood by the original 
hearers or readers. This poses a problem for the trans- 
lator which we shall discuss at a later point. In listing 
these rules, Campbell frequently referred to Horne, and 
it may be inferred that the latter is the primary source 
from which they are derived. 35 

There are several conditions which make the use of 
literary context difficult for us today. Campbell pointed 
out that the Bible is the work of at least thirty-five in- 
dependent writers. Although they were under divine 
guidance, each preserved everything peculiar to him- 
self as a man. This independence of the individual 
writers means that there will be no fewer than thirty-five 
varieties of style in the Bible. This variety is further 
complicated by the fact that the writers presented their 
work in different languages and under different cir- 
cumstances. So far, then, as literary context is con- 
cerned, one must acquaint himself with the style of the 

35. Ibid., pp. 52-58. 


writer, and especially with the design and flow of 
thought which is evident in the book or any section of 
it. 36 

The format of our modern Bibles presents a prob- 
lem in reading in context. One of the obstacles to proper 
understanding is the marginal references which appear 
in many Bibles. If wisely used, these are a great help 
to the reader. However, the reader must be cautious 
about following these implicitly, for he may soon be 
following the glosses and comments of the paraphrast 
rather than the text of the Scripture. These things are 
helps to those who know how to use them, but they 
can never substitute for a careful, consistent reading 
of the Bible itself. 

Certain other devices within the text must be handled 
carefully. Chapter and verse divisions may be more 
of a hindrance than a help. Campbell believed that 
these divisions had "so dislocated and broken to pieces 
the connexion, as not only to have given to the Scrip- 
tures the appearance of a book of proverbs, but have 
thrown great difficulties in the way of an easy intelli- 
gence of them." 37 Punctuation is frequently dependent 
upon these divisions and so may be faulty. The reader 
should be careful to give attention to the text and not 
to follow blindly the punctuation found in the common 
version of the Bible. In order to overcome the difficulties 
posed by these divisions and the punctuation dependent 
upon them, Campbell proposed a rule. "In reading the 
historical and epistolary parts .<?/ the sacred writings, 
begin at the beginning and follow the writer in the train 
of his own thoughts and reasonings ? to the end of the 
subject on which he writes irrespective of chapters 
and verses." 38 This principle is embodied in the different 

36. Hid., p. 18. 

37. IUd. t p. 93. 

38. n>id. t p. 94. 


editions of the New Testament published by Campbell. 
In the first and second editions, the text is put in sec- 
tions and paragraphs. Verse and even chapter num- 
berings are subject to this arrangement. Only one no- 
tation appears on a page, and that in the margin. If 
no paragraph breaks on the page, then no notation of 
either chapter or verse is made. In the third edition, this 
procedure is modified slightly. The number of each 
verse is placed in the margin, but no break was made 
in the text to indicate where the verse break should 
come. In the fourth and sixth editions, the beginning 
of each paragraph is indented a bit deeper than in the 
earlier editions and the verse number, identifying the 
first verse of the paragraph, is given, slightly indented. 
There is no notation of verse within the paragraph. 
This format gives more emphasis to paragraphs as com- 
plete thought-sections and makes the page appearance 
better than in some of the earlier editions. In this way, 
Campbell sought, in his New Testament, to maintain 
a continuity of thought so that the reader could see 
the whole section in a literary context. 

3. Historical Context 

The historical context was considered by Campbell 
to be as important as the literary context. He felt that 
the first readers had a truly self -interpreting New Testa- 
ment. They were acquainted with the vernacular in 
which it was written. They were familiar with the cir- 
cumstances of life and custom to which reference is so 
frequently made. They knew their own geography and 
history; hence, they needed only to read the books care- 
fully in order to understand God's message to them. 
It was with this idea in mind that Campbell prepared the 
prefaces and appendix to his New Testament. He 
wished to make available to his readers all the inf orma- 


tion necessary to enable them to understand the cir- 
cumstances and the incidents referred to in the New 
Testament text. He believed that if the readers were in 
possession of this information the New Testament 
would be for them, also, a self -interpreting book. 39 

In the study of the Gospels, Campbell explained, one 
should not suppose that any one of them presumes to 
relate all that took place in the ministry of Jesus. 
Bather, each writer has his own design in writing. This 
design may be determined from his expressed statement 
as in the case of Luke and John, or it may be derived 
from the general trend of the content as in the case of 
Matthew and Mark. Since, then, the design of a writer 
was his guide in the selection and arrangement of his 
material, "so it is the only infallible guide, when known, 
to the interpretation of what he has written."* Thus 
one may read the Gospels as history and in so doing 
will have little difficulty in understanding them. Epis- 
tolary literature is more difficult. The reason for this 
difficulty is that the writer assumes, on the part of his 
readers, a knowledge of events, circumstances, and prac- 
tices which he does not attempt to explain. Many of 
these references are obscure to us; hence, we must re- 
capture the historical situation in which these works 
were produced and received. In order to put ourselves 
in a position to understand these works, we must re- 
member that we are dealing with events which took 
place many centuries ago. The people lived under dif- 
ferent circumstances from those in which we live. Their 
problems arose out of previous circumstances and from 
their present state as Christians. The writer presented 
his epistle in the light of the total situation. How, then, 

39. Millennial Harbinger,, 1833, p, 4. 

40. The Sacred Writings (1832), pp. 14, 18. 


are we to understand what was written in these con- 
ditions? Campbell stated his general principle by writ- 

We must place ourselves in Judea, in Kome, or in Corinth, and 
not in those places in the present day; but we must live in them 
nearly two thousand years before we lived at all. We must 
mingle with the Jews in their temple and synagogues. We must 
visit the temples and the altars of the Pagan Gentiles. We must 
converse with Epicurean and Stoic philosophers with Pharisees 
and Sadducees with priests and people that died centuries 
before we were born. We must place before us manuscript copies 
of these epistles, written without a break, a chapter, or a verse. 
We must remember that the writers spoke to the people before 
they wrote to them. We must not only attend to what they said 
and wrote, but to what they did. And we must always bear in 
mind the numerous and diversified enemies, in and out of author- 
ity, with whom they had to conflict. 41 

Campbell admits that these requirements may seem 
difficult. The truth is, however, that when we read a let- 
ter from anyone, we are accustomed to give attention 
to these very things. Even in the case of the biblical 
literature the problem is not so difficult as it may at 
first seem. The number of facts to be known is not 
great; it is rather the importance of the facts which 
counts. 42 

One of the key features involved in the historical con- 
text was, for Campbell, his doctrine of the covenants. 
In his views on this subject, Campbell was out of har- 
mony with the conservative Baptists and with many 
others. E. B. Semple, who was often a spokesman for 
his fellow Baptists, condemned Campbell's doctrine 

Closely associated with the concept of the covenants, 
in Campbell's thought, was the idea of progressive reve- 
lation. He wrote in 1846 that the Bible, as a divinely in- 
spired book, " proceeds upon the plan of a gradual and 

41. 11>id., P. 32. 

42. JM&, p. 33. 


severely. He declared that the Old and New Testa- 
ments are essentially the same as to obligation, and 
that they have the same relation to each other as do the 
different parts of the New Testament. Semple admitted 
that there are certain parts of the Old Testament which 
have been abrogated and have ceased to be obligatory be- 
cause their purpose was accomplished. The same, how- 
ever, may be said for various parts of the New Testa- 
ment. He wrote, "It is to my mind worse than wanton 
to endeavor to invalidate the unquoted parts of the Old 
Testament . . . because others have accomplished their 
day/' Semple felt that this procedure might destroy 
the whole Scripture. No one has any right to assert 
that any part of Scripture has been abrogated unless 
the Scripture itself declares it to be so. 43 Campbell's 
answer to this attack was that Semple was arguing 
against his "most juvenile essay in a Sermon on the 
Law," preached in 1816. This is an admission by Camp- 
bell that his views on the subject had changed and ma- 
tured since that time. He is now convinced that in the 
writings of Moses and the Prophets there is much useful 
history as well as communications from God of immense 
importance. This viewpoint does not imply, however, 
that we are equally obligated to obey Moses and Christ. 44 
Campbell felt that a proper understanding of God's 
covenants would open the way to the understanding of 
the whole Bible. God's covenant with Abraham was of 
supreme importance. This covenant contained two 
promises which were essentially different and each of 
which was the basis of a whole era of God's dealings 
with mankind. The first of these promises dealt with 
Abraham and his natural descendants. This promise 
was put into effect in its fullest scope at the giving of 

43. Millennial Harbinger, 1831, p. 10. 

44. Ibid., pp. 


the Law at Sinai. Out of this promise, the whole Jewish 
nation grew. The law of Moses was intended specifically 
as the government relating to this promise. The second 
promise was spiritual and dealt with all nations. This 
was enacted through Christ and through the proclama- 
tion of the Gospel. The inheritance promised under the 
first covenant was fleshly and temporal, relating only to 
one nation. The inheritance given by the second promise 
was spiritual and eternal and was for all nations. In 
explaining the manner in which this view of the covenants 
related to the interpretation of Scripture, Campbell 
stated : 

Prom that moment a single family of two branches constitutes 
the meridian line of all revelation, of all developments. . . . By 
keeping these two, the Bible is all intelligible; by making them 
one, no man can understand the Old Testament or New. By 
this key of interpretation, all covenants, promises, laws, ordi- 
nances, principles, dispensations, etc. etc., are to be interpreted, 
understood and applied. 45 

The law of Moses cannot be salvaged and made oblig- 
atory upon Christians, Campbell argued, by making a 
distinction between the moral, ceremonial, and the ju- 
dicial. The Scriptures never divide the law in this way. 
Such division was the work of the schoolmen who divided 
so many things in their philosophy that they made Chris- 
tianity into "an incomprehensible and ineffable jargon 
of christianized paganism and Judaism. " The law of 
Moses was given for a limited time. It was designed to 
continue until, in Christ, the promised seed should come. 
If it be objected that this interpretation leaves us with 
no moral law, Campbell answers that the moral law of 
Christ is far more appealing and effective than that of 
Moses ever was. 46 

45. Campbell-Rice Delate, p. 290. 

46. Christian Baptist, January 5, 1824, p. 147. 


progressive development, adapting itself to all the con- 
ditions of human existence." As in man there are in- 
fancy, childhood, manhood, and old age, so the Bible 
recognizes this development in the human race and 
adapts itself to that development. 47 Several years 
earlier, Campbell had presented the basis upon which 
this contention rested. He argued, "Things entirely 
unknown can only be communicated to the mind by 
things already known." Q-od thus reveals himself in 
terms of what men already know. He is presented as 
Father, as Husband, as Light, and through many other 
figures. On the basis of this principle, Campbell argued 
that when the kingdom was constituted, God revealed 
himself as king. When wars and battles were the order 
of the age and men reverenced their gods in the light of 
their victories, God revealed himself as "Lord of Hosts" 
or God of armies. 48 Such a principle of development led 
Campbell to propose that there have been basically three 
dispensations in God's dealings with man. At first, God 
revealed himself directly to the patriarchs. He presented 
himself to Israel in the covenant at Sinai. In Christ, he 
has revealed himself to the church and for the world. 
Thus, while there is one religion in all ages so far as its 
distinguishing character and design are concerned, in the 
presentation of the divine character and in our relation- 
ships to each other there has been progression. It was 
not consummated all at one time. 49 This concept of devel- 
opment led to a careful examination of each passage in 
its historical context for a proper understanding of its 
application to a given situation. 

The General Rules 

With this survey of the general pattern, we are ready 
to summarize the rules of interpretation which Campbell 

47. Millennial Harbinger, 1846, p. 253. 

48. Christian Baptist, June 1, 1829, pp. 257, 258. 

49. I&ieZ., November 3, 1828, p. 90. 


advocated. As we have seen repeatedly, the basic con- 
cept was that Scripture should be understood by the 
same principles as those applied to all literature. At the 
end of some one hundred pages of discussion, Campbell 
summarized his conclusions in seven rules. 50 

1. One must first consider the historical circumstances 
of the book, such as order, title, author, date, place, and 

2. With reference to such things as promises, com- 
mands, exhortations, etc., one must consider who speaks, 
the persons addressed, and the dispensation under which 
the incident took place. 

3. The same philological principles are to be applied 
to whatever is written in the Bible as are applied to the 
language of other books. 

4. Common usage as determined by the proper testi- 
mony such as dictionary and context must always decide 
the meaning of a word. 

5. In figurative language, one must always determine 
the point of resemblance, and judge, from the nature of 
the figure, the standpoint from which the resemblance is 
to be viewed. 

6. In interpreting symbols, types, allegories, etc., there 
is one supreme rule: "Ascertain the point to be illus- 
trated; for comparison is never to be extended beyond 
that point." 

7. "For the salutary and sanctifying intelligence of 
the Oracles of God . . . we must come within the under- 
standing distance." This last rule was strongly stressed 
by Campbell. He wrote that with God there is an under- 
standing distance. "God himself is the centre of that 
circle, and humility is its circumference." By this state- 
ment, Campbell means that one must have an ardent de- 

50. Campbell, Alexander, A, Connected View* pp. 96-98. 


sire to know the will of God. ' ' Humility of mind, or what 
is in effect the same, contempt for all earth-born pre- 
eminence, prepares the mind for the reception of this 
light, or what is virtually the same, opens the ears to 
hear the voice of God." Campbell concluded, "He, then, 
that would interpret the Oracles of God to the salvation 
of his soul, must approach this volume with the humility 
and docility of a child, and meditate upon it day and 
night. ... To such a one, there is an assurance of under- 
standing, a certainty of knowledge, to which the man of 
letters alone never attained, and which the mere critic 
never felt." 51 


When one takes into account the whole system of in- 
terpretation which Campbell proposed, he can under- 
stand a statement which has led some students of Camp- 
bell to the conclusion that his views on reading the Scrip- 
ture underwent a radical change. In 1823 Campbell 
wrote, "Beware of having any commentator or system 
before your eyes or your mind, open the New Testament 
as if mortal man had never seen it before." 52 In the 
debate with Eice he said, "Let every man take up the 
book and read it as though it had fallen from heaven 
into his hands. Let him read it candidly, decide accord- 
ing to evidence and fact, and then let him act in perfect 
harmony with his convictions." 53 Set over against such 
statements as these are Campbell's detailed articles on 
the principles of interpretation, his prefaces and appen- 
dixes to the New Testament, and his criticism of the 
popular methods of interpretation in his day. It can- 
not be contended that the first view expressed is his 
earlier outlook and that the latter is his more mature 
view. It is true that in different periods of his activity 

51. Ibid., pp. 98, 99. 

52. Christian, Baptist, December 1, 1823, p. 122. 

53. Campbell-Rice Debate, p. 657. 


and work he placed more stress on the one or the other, 
but this stress seems to be more of an emphasis than a 
difference in basic view. The point of difference between 
the two seems to be that, in giving his principles of in- 
terpretation and in his helps for readers in his New Tes- 
tament, Campbell was trying to equip people to read in- 
telligently for themselves. On the one hand, he felt him- 
self to be clearing away false methods of study which 
colored and distorted the meaning of Scripture. On the 
other hand, he was giving such historical and factual in- 
formation as would help the reader put himself in a posi- 
tion to read the Scriptures as they had been read by 
those who first received them. He insisted upon giving 
to the reader the information which would enable him 
to read the Bible as intelligently as he read any other 
book, and thus to let him draw intelligent conclusions. 
It was his aim to bring to the common reader the equip- 
ment for interpretation which usually was possessed only 
by scholars and found only in theological schools. 

In a day such as ours, when the public has the oppor- 
tunity to read, hear, see and decide on any issue, it is 
difficult to realize the boldness involved in Campbell's 
proposal. In the first place, he was instructing people 
how to read the Bible as intelligently as they read any 
other piece of literature and was assuring them that they 
were wholly capable of doing so. Second, he was pro- 
viding information in his prefaces and appendixes so 
that every man could have at his finger tips the knowl- 
edge usually available only to the scholar. Further, he 
frankly stated that there were passages of Scripture 
which were of questionable authenticity and listed them 
so they could be examined by every reader. It is not 
strange that he was charged with unsettling the minds of 
people. He was, on the contrary, paving the way for a 
reading of the Scripture by the laity which would put 
them in a position to examine and evaluate the preach- 
ing which they heard and to act as intelligent Christians. 

Tribulations of the Translator 

The labors bestowed upon the original text, . . . the 
great advances made in the whole science of herme- 
neutics . . . since the commencement of the present 
century, fully justify the conclusion that we are, or 
may be, much better furnished for the work of inter- 
pretation than any one, however gifted by nature and 
by education could have been, not merely fifty but 
almost two hundred and fifty years ago. The living 
critics and translators of the present day, in Europe 
and America, are like Saul amongst the people head 
and shoulders above those of the early part of the 
seventeenth century. 

"Address to the American Bible Union Conven- 

The Need for a New Translation 

Alexander Campbell's interest in a new translation of 
the New Testament grew out of the use of the Campbell, 
Macknight, and Doddridge New Testament, published in 
London in 1818, as well as Ms dissatisfaction with the 
King James Version. In the Christian Baptist of 1828 
and 1829 Campbell printed in full the text of the preface 
to the Authorized Version. He introduced the series by 
writing that it was of great importance to him to break 
the spell " which an ignorant and bewildered priesthood 
has thrown over this volume." He believed that a care- 
ful reading of the prefaces would lead to a proper evalua- 
tion of the work and show its inadequacy for contempo- 
rary reading. The emphasis in these articles was not 
an unqualified denunciation of the King James Version. 
It was an attempt, rather, to place before the readers the 



aim which the King James translators had in mind in 
their realization that the Bible must always be kept in 
the living language of the people. 

One of the weaknesses of the King James Version, 
Campbell felt, was that it was not a true translation of 
the received text. Tyndale's version was the original 
basis of the Common Version, and Tyndale often forsook 
the Greek to follow the Latin. Later English versions 
were essentially revisions of antecedent texts. The King 
James Version was simply the last in the series. It could 
not, then, be truly called a new translation. The version 
was further weakened, Campbell believed, because it was 
the work of a large committee. Compromise and conces- 
sion are always necessary in such a procedure. Thus, a 
translation made under these circumstances will be weak- 
ened by such compromise. Campbell would prefer the 
translation of one candid, learned, and impartial man 
like Dr. George Campbell, to a committee of forty-nine 
who would have to work out compromises on difficult 
points. 1 Still another defect which Campbell saw in the 
King James Version was that it was constantly being 
emended, though without notation and unofficially, by 
publishers who printed it. Campbell reprinted from the 
New York Courier an article in which the writer stated 
that it was being asserted, and that it was probable from 
the hurried manner in which Bibles were multiplied, that 
many of the common editions are "scandalously inaccu- 
rate, if not wilfully falsified, to sanction the peculiar 
tenets of the sects by whom they are published. ' ' Camp- 
bell thoroughly agreed with this and cited it as proof of 
the contention which he had made years before. He con- 
sidered the incompetency and deliberate alteration to be 
worthy of severe censure. He, however, pointed out that 
his own experience had taught him that it is most difficult 
to publish a book without errors in it. 2 

1. Millennial Harbinger, 1839, p. 521. 

2. Ibid., 1833, pp. 283-286. 


Even stronger support was given to the objections to 
the King James Version by the publication in 1841 of an 
Authorized Version of the Bible, claiming twenty thou- 
sand emendations of the text. 3 Campbell referred to this, 
pointing out such examples as the two different transla- 
tions of the same Greek phrase as "into the remission of 
sins" and "for the remission of sins." 4 The title page 
of this 1841 edition was later made the basis of the charge 
that in the King James Version of the Scriptures there 
were 20,000 errors. Campbell published some of these 
statements as evidence of the need of a new translation. 5 

Campbell's major attack on the King James Version 
was based upon two features which he felt to be defects. 
The one was theological and the other linguistic. He was 
convinced that the theological and political situation in 
which the translators found themselves had made it im- 
possible for them not to read their theological views into 
their translation. In support of this view, he presented 
Macknight's criticisms. Among other things, Macknight 
stated that the version often differed from the Hebrew 
to follow the Septuagint, if not the German, especially 
in the spelling of proper names. The Vulgate was fol- 
lowed in many cases and words were Anglicized rather 
than translated. The translators were pliable to the 
king's wishes and therefore reflected in the translation 
his views of witchcraft, predestination, and similar doc- 
trines. The translation is theologically colored by the 
views of Anglicanism. Macknight's concluding observa- 
tion was that, in spite of all the care given to the trans- 
lation, many passages remained mistranslated, and im- 
proper additions were made in other places. 6 These and 

3. The Holy Bible, Containing the Authorized Version of the Old Testa- 
ment and New Testament, with twenty thousand emendations (London: 

4. Millennial HarUnger, 1849, p. 610. 

5. Ibid., 1858, pp. 32, 33, 384, 385. 

6. Christian Baptist, June 6, 1825, pp. 259, 260. See also James Mac- 
knight, op. cit. I, pp. 27-29. 


similar criticisms were frequently made by Campbell in 
both the Christian Baptist and the Millennial Harbinger. 
His basic contention was that not even the best linguists 
could make an adequate translation when put in the posi- 
tion of the translators of the King James Version. 7 

Campbell's linguistic criticisms of the King James 
Version were based largely upon the changes which had 
taken place in the English language since 1611. He 
stated that, even if the translation made at that time had 
been in every respect correct and true to the language of 
Britain in that day, the changes in English which have 
been introduced since that time would necessitate a new 
translation. 8 This statement made in the preface to the 
first edition of his New Testament is followed by several 
pages of discussion of words which had changed their 
meaning radically during that period. In his preface to 
the " Fourth or Stereotyped Edition/' Campbell com- 
pared the style of language of the King James Version to 
the old Gothic buildings in Britain. The fact that they 
have been places of worship has caused them to be ven- 
erated and preserved. So, the language of the King 
James Version is as dead and as inadequate as these 
buildings, but it has been preserved because it is the 
language in which the Scriptures are widely known and 
used. He concludes, "We might as reasonably contend 
that men should appear in the public assemblies of wor- 
ship with long beards, in Jewish or Roman garments, as 
that the Scriptures should be handed to us in a style per- 
fectly antiquated, and consequently less intelligible. ' ?9 

Thus Campbell believed that a new version of the 
Scripture was needed, not because the King James was 
wholly false, but because textual studies had demon- 
strated the need for the re-evaluation of many passages, 
and because the changes in the English language over a 

7. Millennial Harbinger, 1851, p. 39. 

8. The Sacred Writings (1826), p. 3. 

9. lUd. (1833), p. 78. 


period of some two hundred years demanded that the 
Bible be revised so that it could speak in the vernacula? 
of the day. 

In spite of these objections to the King James Version, 
Campbell did not reject it as valuable for daily use. He 
felt that the translators of this version, in spite of the 
problems which they faced, had excelled all others since 
that time in various ways. He wrote of them that, "with 
all the imperfections of Bible literature and Bible learn- 
ing in their day, they achieved an honor unprecedented 
in the annals of our language for perspicacity of mind, 
as well as of style, thought, and sentiment." 10 It should 
be noted, in passing, that this statement was made in 
1854 and so reflects a more mature and mellowed judg- 
ment than is presented in the criticisms carried in the 
Christian Baptist. As far as learning the way of salva- 
tion and Christian piety, Campbell believed that the 
candid reader could accomplish this by the careful study 
of any version, even the Douay. 11 These versions will 
differ in their plainness, clarity, and ease of understand- 
ing, but they still will teach men the way of holiness. 12 

In the publishing of the several editions of the New 
Testament, Campbell never indicated his desire that these 
should be adopted to the exclusion of the King James 
Version. In all his controversies he quoted from the 
latter because of its common acceptance. His desire was, 
rather, that the New Testament published by him be read 
and compared with the Common Version. This proce- 
dure would make people more intelligent regarding the 
Scriptures than if they read one version exclusively. 18 
His aim in publication was to give to the reader the 
equipment which he needed to determine the exact mean- 

10. Millennial Harbinger, 1854, p. 369. 

11. Ibid., 1850, p. 399. 

12. Christian Baptist, April 6, 1829, p. 212; Millennial Harbinger, 1850, 
p. 452. 

13. Millennial HarKwger, 1838, p. 94. 


ing of Scripture. It appears, then, that he intended to 
narrow the gap of understanding between those who 
were specialists in biblical languages and history, and 
the common man. If the common reader had in his hands 
a good vernacular translation, Campbell believed he 
would be able to think for himself and to use the Scrip- 
tures as they were originally intended to be used. Such 
an understanding of the Scriptures could be very bene- 
ficial. It would lead to a better knowledge of God in the 
Christian community. It would do more for the conver- 
sion of the world than any means in human power. 1 * Fur- 
thermore, it would, by the general acceptance of the 
truth, tend to heal the wounds caused by sectarianism 
and promote the proclamation of the truth in a spirit of 
love and with a sound mind. 15 

The Work of the Translator 

Campbell felt that the translator must be highly quali- 
fied for his task. In pointing this out, he made a distinc- 
tion between preaching in its simplest terms, on the one 
hand, and the interpreting of the Scriptures, on the 
other. By this he was implying that it is possible 
for a man to proclaim Jesus and give his reasons for 
believing in him without being a learned student of the 
Scriptures. The one who expounds or interprets the 
Scriptures, on the other hand, must be acquainted with 
the Bible both linguistically and historically. E. B. Sem- 
ple, who frequently criticized Campbell, objected to this 
view that it made a distinction where none should be 
made. If one is to explain anything, Semple argued, he 
must first understand it for himself. The Bible is, in 
many cases, difficult to understand. No man, then, who 

14. IUa., 1832, p. 271. 

15. Campbell, Alexander, "Address to the American Bible Union Con- 
vention, April, 1852," Popular Lectures and Addressee (Cincinnati: n.d.) 
pp. 5 7 Off. 


is not qualified to interpret is qualified to preach. 16 It 
must be recognized that Campbell's distinction is difficult 
to maintain. It seems to set limits where the lines of 
demarcation fuse. He was basing the distinction on his 
view of the nature of the New Testament preaching. 
This preaching was essentially a recital of the historic 
facts of the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, 
along with the offer of salvation. 17 Teaching or exposi- 
tion of the Scripture was much more than this witnessing. 
It was the explanation of difficult problems and the appli- 
cation of Christian principles to action. In making this 
distinction, Campbell was anticipating, in principle, the 
discussion of the Jcerygma and didache recently popu- 
larized by C. H. Dodd. Alexander Campbell derived the 
idea from George Campbell. In making this distinction, 
he faced the practical implication of the problem of the 
content of the Jcerygma. The fact that the contemporary 
study of the problem has shown the difficulty of determin- 
ing the exact content of the Jcerygma demonstrates the 
reality of the problem which Campbell faced and explains 
the difficulty which he had in making a precise and clear 
distinction between simple preaching, on the one hand, 
and interpretation or exposition, on the other. 

Campbell maintained that the translator must be an 
interpreter of great skilL The qualifications which he 
must possess had been stated by George Campbell in his 
Dissertations on the Four Gospels. The translator must 
give a true representation of the original. He must at- 
tempt to convey as much of the genius of the language 
and the spirit and style of the writer as possible. The 
translation should also be natural and easy and should 
avoid anything which obscures the sense or makes the 
construction ungrammatical. 18 In such a translation, the 
translator must not seek originality but faithfulness to 

16. Millennial Harbinger, 1831, pp. 195, 196. 

17. The Sacred Writings (1826), Appendix, p. xix, Note XXXIX. 

18. Campbell, George, op. cit. II, pp. 142-145. 


the original language and thought of the author. 19 Moses 
Stuart proceeded essentially on the same principles. A 
translation must make the original author entirely in- 
telligible, and yet "preserve all the shades, coloring and 
nice transitions, and (so far as may be) even the idioms 
themselves of the original. . . .' 72 A translation thus 
becomes in itself a commentary, the sum of all of an in- 
terpreter's labors presented in the briefest manner 
possible. 21 

Alexander Campbell believed that the translator must 
act with the utmost honesty, and that under no circum- 
stances must he depart from what he candidly believes 
to be the meaning of the sacred writers. 22 At the outset 
of his work, Campbell had believed that this could best 
be done by an individual translator who would correct 
and emend his work until only that remained which 
would be the best presentation of the original author's 
views. 23 By the time the American Bible Union Version 
was proposed, however, he had changed his point of view. 
If the men were selected for their piety, single-minded- 
ness, and learning in both the ancient and modern lan- 
guages they would be capable of producing a faithful 
and intelligible translation. 24 

Translation versus Revision 

Campbell recognized that a distinction must be made 
between translation and revision. The translator has 
much freedom in the selection of wording and style. A 
reviser, on the other hand, may use new words or even 
make new sentences, but he must preserve the "style 

19. Ibid., I, p. xxi. 

20. Stuart, Moses, "Remarks on Doddridge's Family Expositor," op. cit.j 
p. xiv. 

21. Millennial Harbinger, 1832, p. 276. 

22. The Sacred Writings (1832), p. 54. 

23. Ibid. (1826), p. 6. 

24. Campbell, Alexander, "Address to the American Bible Union Con- 
vention," op. cit.j p. 585. 


and the verbiage of the work which he revises." 25 The 
first problem which presented itself was how far a new 
" verbiage " was necessary or advisable. In determining 
this, Campbell showed a considerable mellowing from the 
sharp criticisms of the King James Version made in 
earlier years. One should respect the views of those 
who have so long used and highly venerated the Common 
Version. Not every word should be newly translated, but 
the revisers should "judiciously, and in good taste, re- 
tain as many of the words and phrases of the Common 
Version as, with a due respect to the original and the 
wants of the age, they judge necessary." Where, how- 
ever, the Common Version fails to present the "mind of 
the Spirit" in language that is definite and clear to the 
present age, it should be altered to give the best possible 
translation. 26 

A revision of the King James Version immediately 
raised the question of the "transference" rather than 
the "translation" of terms. The main words at issue 
were "baptize," "baptism," "church," "bishop," 
"presbyter" and "deacon." Campbell felt that these 
should be translated into contemporary English idiom. 27 
The problem of such transference is created because of 
the fact that when a word is carried over from the Greek 
or Latin it is immediately invested with a theological 
meaning and becomes an ecclesiastical term. Instead of 
transferring such words, Campbell insisted, they should 
be translated so that they are "just as perspicuous, defi- 
nite and precise, to our understanding and conviction, as 
the original tongues to which G-od committed them." 28 

The choice of the correct word is a problem for the 
translator, because every word has varied meanings. In 

25. Millennial Harbinger, 1855, p. 200. 

26. Ibid., 1854, p. 298. 

27. IUd., 1862, p. 378. 

28. I&id., 1864, p. 371. 


translating, we should attempt to select that meaning 
which will give to the reader the precise idea found in 
the original word in its context. Only when the vernacu- 
lar has no word which can express the meaning of the 
original should it be transliterated into English. 29 Where 
no real ambiguity of sense is involved, the translator 
may prefer a smooth and idiomatic expression to a stiff 
and formal literal rendering. 30 However, in cases where 
the passage under consideration is subject to dispute, 
Campbell suggested that the translator should prefer 
"to be literal to a fault." 31 In case of an ambiguity in 
the original, the translator should not seek to judge for 
his readers but should attempt to leave the ambiguity 
and put it in such a form as to leave the reader to decide 
for himself what appears to be the appropriate idea. 82 
In all cases of doubt, in translation as well as in inter- 
pretation, the context must be utilized to determine the 
meaning of any word or passage. 83 


These principles very largely sum up Campbell's view 
of the qualifications and the task of the translator. As 
he stated these principles, Campbell was convinced that 
the scholarship of his day was better qualified f ot this 
task than that of any other period since the days of the 
apostles. One of his reasons for this confidence was the 
wide acceptance of the grammatico-historical method of 
interpretation. The interpreters were provided with a 
fund of biblical philology, geography, and history which 
enabled them, better than scholars of any other period, 
to recapture the circumstances of the biblical world and 

29. Ibid., p. 400. 

30. The Acts of the Apostles, op. tit., p. 83. 

31. Ibid., p. 14. 

32. IUd. t pp. 176, 177. 

33. Ibid., p. 154. 


hence to interpret it in terms o the vernacular. 84 The 
second factor which equipped the contemporary trans- 
lators for their task was the fund of information result- 
ing from biblical criticism. The stock of ancient manu- 
scripts available was unknown to the King James trans- 
lators. "A flood of light in Greek literature and biblical 
criticism has burst upon the world since those days." 35 
Campbell stated in 1852 that biblical learning, criticism, 
and translation had, in the past one hundred years, "ad- 
vanced, in every essential characteristic and accompani- 
ment, much more, in what is usually called Christendom, 
than was practicable or possible anterior to that date." 36 
In the address in which this statement was made, Camp- 
bell summarized his judgment on this matter by saying, 

The labors bestowed upon the original text, in ascertaining 
the genuine readings of passages of doubtful interpretation, 
and the great advances made in the whole science of hermeneutics 
the established laws of translation since the commencement 
of the present century, fully justify the conclusion that we are, 
or may be, much better furnished for the work of interpretation 
than any one, however gifted by nature and by education, 
could have been, not merely fifty, but almost two hundred and 
fifty years ago. The living critics and translators of the present 
day, in Europe and America, are like Saul amongst the people 
head and shoulders above those of the early part of the seven- 
teenth century. 37 

It was this conviction of the possibilities opened up by 
an intelligent and consecrated scholarship in his day that 
gave Campbell his diligent and fearless impetus in the 
publication of the Campbell, Macknight, and Doddridge 
New Testament and in the revision of Acts for the Ameri- 
can Bible Union. 

34. Campbell-Rice Debate* p. 51. 

35. Millennial Harbinger, 1839, p. 519. 

36. Campbell, Alexander, "Address to the American Bible Union Con- 
vention/* op. cit., p. 584. 

37. Ibid., p. 583. 


Evaluations and Conclusions 

A regard for the oracles of God, and a strong desire 
for the unadulterated milk of the word, will triumph 
over the declension and fall of every species of intoler- 
ance and bigotry. And that translation will be uni- 
versally received which has the strongest claims on an 
intelligent, united, and happy Christian community. 

The Sacred Writings, 1832 

It is necessary, in order to place Campbell's work in 
its proper perspective, to make some evaluations and 
draw some conclusions. 

In the Light of Basic Principles 

We have spent some time in discussing Alexander 
Campbell's principles of interpretation and translation. 
We need now to attempt to determine whether lie was 
able consistently to carry out those principles in Ms 
work of editing and translating the New Testament. 

Campbell operated on the basis of two fundamental 
principles. One of these was the conviction that the 
Scriptures are to be understood on the basis of the same 
principles as is any other literature. In taking this posi- 
tion, Campbell was following the lead of the best inter- 
preters of his day. The subsequent wide acceptance of 
the grammatico-historical method of interpretation in- 
dicates the validity of his position in this. In particular, 
the current emphasis upon philological studies shows 
that this methodology is basic to any proper understand- 
ing of the Scriptures. This point needs little verifica- 
tion. The second basic contention of Campbell was that 



the Scriptures should be translated into the vernacular 
in such a way that they could be understood by the com- 
mon reader as well as by the theologian and the scholar. 
This principle, again, has been vindicated by the twen- 
tieth-century interest in modern-language translations. 
The multitude of private translations, as well as the pro- 
duction of the Revised Standard Version, indicates that 
our contemporary theological world has a very ,strong 
interest in the presentation of the Bible in a form which 
is both understandable and attractive to the common 
reader. Our problem, then, is to determine, if possible, 
how far Campbell achieved the goal which he set out to 

1. Textual Criticism 

In the field of textual criticism, the judgment of Camp- 
bell in following the text of Griesbach has been largely 
justified. The omissions which Campbell made accord 
very well with the current judgment on this matter, even 
though more recent textual studies have brought ques- 
tions about texts which were not questioned by Camp- 
bell. The questionable character of John 7:53 8:11 
which Campbell indicated in his first two editions of his 
New Testament accords with the views of contemporary 
scholarship. That he restored it without notation in the 
later editions indicated Ms belief that the evidence 
against it did not justify rejection. The fact that he 
was producing a popular and not a critical edition would 
leave him, in this case, with but little choice other than to 
restore it wholly. He had rejected the device of printing 
questionable passages in italics as he had done in the 
first two editions. In making this change, he scarcely left 
open the possibility of printing it in type different from 
the rest of the text as the revisers of the E.S.V. have 
done in this case and in Mark 16 :9-20. This would have 
tended to make the work more critical than popular. The 


same consideration probably dictated Ms course in re- 
storing the doxology in Eomans 16 :25-27 without a nota- 
tion of its possible displacement. 

The case of Acts 8 :37 is different. It was rejected as 
definitely spurious in all the editions of the New Testa- 
ment produced by Campbell. That it was restored in the 
translation of a part of Acts, published in the Millennial 
Harbinger, probably indicated a growing conservatism. 
The fact that it was carried without a notation in the 1858 
American Bible Union Version of Acts would indicate 
that he had become satisfied with its authenticity against 
the evidences of his earlier sources. There are other in- 
dications of a more cautious attitude toward textual criti- 
cism in his later years. 

The use of Griesbach's text of Acts 20:28, where the 
reading "Lord" is substituted for "God" apparently 
has been vindicated by later studies, and it appears in 
the later standard English versions, though Ssov is re- 
stored in Nestle ? s text. 1 The rejection of the passage on 
the "three heavenly witnesses" in 1 John 5 :7 has become 
standard procedure. The rejection of these two readings 
brought Campbell much criticism, but he maintained his 
position on them throughout his career. We may say, 
then, that in general, Alexander Campbell adopted the 
best critical works of his day and that Ms decision in this 
has been vindicated by later research. 

Several details of translation should be examined here. 
In his translation of Matthew 28:19, Campbell insisted 
upon a distinction between efe and fr. He believed that 
to translate & in this passage as " in " was an error. * * In 
the name," he argued, refers to the authority by which 
the act is performed. "Into the name" indicates the act 
of submission to the parties named. This, he believed, 
gave greater significance to the baptismal formula. The 

1. Nestle, IX Eberhard, Novum Testamentum Graece (Stuttgart: 1948), 
m loco. 


reading, however, was based more largely upon linguistic 
than on theological grounds. The history of the transla- 
tion of this passage is interesting. The American Stand- 
ard Version read it "into the name." The E.S.V. has 
restored "in the name." This change probably reflects 
the change of view regarding the significance of ek and 
the tendency to blend ev and & in their meaning. 2 

Campbell was insistent upon the significance of the 
definite article. In this, he follows Stuart and others of 
his time. Where the article does not appear, he insisted 
that no definite article should be read in English unless 
it be demanded by the syntax. With this principle in 
mind, he read John 4:24 as "God is Spirit," and He- 
brews 1:2, "a Son," rather than "his Son." Campbell 
also insisted on the proper use of tenses ; thus he some- 
times read an imperfect in such a way as to indicate con- 
tinuing action, and often translated a present as progres- 
sive to fit the context. In his use of tenses, however, he 
was not always consistent. He had a preference for par- 
ticipial constructions and often made his language pe- 
dantic and stilted by using an English participial con- 
struction where a temporal clause would have suited the 
vernacular much better. On the whole, he attempted to 
be true to the literal Greek text, and sometimes was so 
even to a fault. 

2. Vernacular Rendering of Ecclesiastical Words 

The rendering of 0ewrrfffi> as "immerse" has probably 
been more widely publicized than any other feature of 
Campbell's New Testament. In fact, frequently the only 
distinctive feature to be mentioned by bibliographers is 
that it is an "immersionist version." 3 It is obvious that 

2. See Robertson, A. T., A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in 
the Light of Historical Research (New York: 1915), pp. 584-596. 

3. Simms, P. Marion, The Bible in America (New York: 1936), pp. 248, 
249 ; Cheek, John L., "New Testament Translation in America," J B Z/, 
LXXII, June, 1953, p. 104. 


the view which Campbell had held since 1812 regarding 
baptism would have influenced him greatly in the choice 
of this translation. He believed, however, that in mak- 
ing this translation he was acting in consistency with his 
basic principles. He argued, on the basis of the discus- 
sions of baptism by George Campbell in his Dissertations 
and that of Moses Stuart in an article in the Biblical 
Repository of 1833, that the primitive meaning of the 
word was to "dip, plunge, or immerse. " He cited 
Stuart's long list of witnesses for this meaning. 4 Alex- 
ander Campbell consistently referred to the works of 
scholars who were not immersionists in support of this 
primitive meaning, because he felt that these men could 
not be accused of bias in favor of immersion as a con- 
temporary practice. One of his principles of transla- 
tion was that, so far as possible, a word should be trans- 
lated in such a way as to give to the reader the same idea 
that the original gave to the first readers. Having thus 
assumed that the original meaning of the word was to 
dip, plunge, or immerse, without any theological connota- 
tion, Campbell felt it necessary to translate it as a non- 
ecclesiastical word. The result intended was that, when 
read in its original setting, the word would be sufficiently 
nontheological to present the reader with the New Testa- 
ment import of baptism as the physical act by which the 
believer made a public demonstration of his total sub- 
mission to God. It is in the light of this approach that 
Campbell's use of " immerse " is to be viewed. It is 
doubtful that Campbell expected this reading to become 
commonly accepted, at least in his day. He gave no indi- 
cation of how far he expected his publication of the New 
Testament to be circulated beyond the Baptists and Dis- 
ciples. If one is to evaluate this reading in terms of its 
reception as a common version, he will recognize that it 

4. The Acts of the Apostles, op. cit., p. 3 ; cf. Stuart, Moses, "Is the 
Manner of Christian Baptism Prescribed by the New Testament?" Biblical 
Repository, Vol. Third, 1833, pp. 298f. 


would be received only as an "immersionist" version. 
If, on the other hand, he evaluates it in the light of Camp- 
bell's premises of the primitive meaning of the word and 
of his conviction that a word should be as simple and 
noneccelesiastical in translation as it was in the original, 
then he probably will conclude that Campbell was con- 
sistent with his basic principles and with his stated ob- 
ject in translation. 

A translation which was probably as significant as 
"immerse" was the substitution of "congregation" for 
"church." Campbell frequently cited the older English 
versions for this usage. His reason for giving the read- 
ing was that he felt "church" to be an ecclesiastical 
word. It had taken on a theological connotation which 
had not attached itself to e^A^cr/a in its New Testament 
usage. He felt that the word "congregation" properly 
represented the Greek word without being cumbered with 
a variety of meanings such as that of church building or 
ecclesiastical organization. Campbell was wrestling 
with a problem which is current today. Hort, in his book 
on the church, faced a similar problem and decided that 
there is no true, nontheological equivalent in English. 
He decided, therefore, to transliterate the word as ' ' Ec- 
clesia" to avoid ambiguity. 5 The prevalent use of the 
latter term in theological circles today indicates the con- 
tinuing problem. It is doubtful, however, that Camp- 
bell's translation was an adequate solution. The term 
"congregation" has become so closely identified with 
the local aspect of the church that it practically excludes 
its universal features. Campbell did not offer an ade- 
quate solution to the problem, and such a solution has 
not yet been found. 

The word SioS^ also gave Campbell difficulty. He 
felt that the word "testament" which was current in his 
day was so closely identified with a will that its aspect of 

5. Hort, Fenton J*. A., The Christian Ecclesia, (London: 1914). p. 2. 


agreement between two parties was not properly indi- 
cated by the term. He felt, further, that the word "cove- 
nant ' ' had the connotation of an agreement between two 
parties who were usually understood to be equals. This 
was not at all the case, he believed, in man's relationship 
with God. Campbell, therefore, preferred the term " in- 
stitution. " It is intentionally ambiguous, for CampbeE 
thought the original term to have so many connotations 
that it, too, was highly ambiguous. Its meaning must be 
determined from the context. 6 In evaluation, it should 
be said that the term " institution " is so broad that it 
includes far more than the original term. Even with its 
difficulties, " covenant" .seems the better term. 

In his distinction between "hell" and "hades," Camp- 
bell was on firmer ground. He argued, from the discus- 
sions of George Campbell, that "gehenna" refers to fu- 
ture punishment of the wicked and should always be ren- 
dered as "hell." The Old Testament word "sheol" and 
its New Testament equivalent refer to the grave or the 
unseen world and do not necessarily involve future 
punishment. Hence, the transliteration of the Greek 
word as "hades" makes a proper distinction between 
the two. Subsequent translations have vindicated Camp- 
bell's judgment in this usage. 

3. Differences with a Distinction 

Campbell, in his translation, anticipated the current 
discussion of the "kerygma." Following George Camp- 
bell, he maintained that the words wy/nWa, euayye;Uoju,(u, 
/carayye'AAco, and Si8ao-Ko> are to be distinguished in transla- 
tion. KTjpvcrcru he consistently translated as "proclaim." 

KarayyAAo> was translated as "announce." euayyeAi^o/wu 

was read as "publish, or proclaim good news," and 
SiSaovoo was always "teach." These translations were 

6. The Acts of the Apostles, op. cit. f p. 43; The Sacred Writings (1832), 
Appendix, p. 81. 


based on the concept of wj/wyjui as a message of fact which. 
was to be proclaimed as a public event or of public inter- 
est. 7 That these distinctions are justified is borne out by 
the contemporary discussions of the matter. Whether 
or not the use of " proclaim" is wholly justified, is a mat- 
ter of question. It has a formality to it which seems not 
to fit easily into vernacular style, though it is correct in 
its connotation. It is doubtful, however, that Campbell 
could have found a word which would have served his 
purposes better. 

One of the significant peculiarities found in Camp- 
bell's works is the use of " reform" for ^sravolo). His 
purpose was to distinguish it from /iera^eXo ^ai. As we 
have already seen, he followed George Campbell in this. 
The word "reform" was selected because of the convic- 
tion that true repentance was not only a change of mind 
and heart, but, in its biblical sense, it must be accom- 
panied by an outward transformation of life. 8 The em- 
phasis upon conduct certainly needed to be made. It is 
doubtful, however, that "reformation" carried enough 
of an emphasis upon a change of attitude to do what 
Campbell wished. It has come to be expressive, almost 
exclusively, of a change of conduct with only an inference 
that the inward change has taken place. The transla- 
tion, in this case, could not expect general acceptance as 
a common version, even from those who, in general, 
agreed with Campbell. It is doubtful if any single Eng- 
lish word could express popularly what Campbell wished 
to convey as a translation of ^eravo^. 

Few modern-language translations have given the at- 
tention to the problem of translation as over against 
transference of words that Campbell did. The words 
repent, blaspheme, church, baptize, preach, and other 
Anglicized words are usually retained in the standard 

7. The Sacred Writings (1826), Appendix, p. xix. 

8. Ibid. (1832), Appendix, p. 74; cf. Campbell, George, op. cit. I, p. 322. 


translations. A few translators, however, have worked 
at some of the problems. The Bible in Basic English 
renders the common word "repent" as "let yonr hearts 
be turned, " in Matthew 3:1 and elsewhere. The Twen- 
tieth Century New Testament , the translations of Mof- 
fatt, Goodspeed, and E. A. Knox, and the E.S.V. in 2 
Corinthians 7:8-10 render ^sra^eXo^at as "regret" and 
luLravoiav as "repentance." This is an attempt, similar to 
that of Campbell, to make a distinction between the two 
words. Campbell rendered ^sra^iXo^ai as "repent" and 
perdvoLav as ' * reformation. ' ' He probably would have con- 
sidered "regret" as a good reading for i^tr^iXo^i. The 
Twentieth Century New Testament reads K^piWo) "pro- 
claim" and "make proclamation" instead of "preach." 
This is almost identical with Campbell's use of "pro- 
claim. ' ' The words ' ' bishop ' ' and ' ' deacon ? ' gave Camp- 
bell trouble. In the earlier editions he had tried a direct 
translation of the words <briWo7ros and Sta/covos, but in the 
third edition he returned to the traditional readings. 
The Twentieth Century New Testament reads "presid- 
ing officer" for "bishop" and "assistant officer" for 
"deacon." Goodspeed reads "superintendent" and 
"assistant" respectively. Also, the reading "blas- 
phemy" had been rejected by Campbell in favor of "de- 
traction," and for the verb "to blaspheme," "inveigh 
against" or "speak against" was used. The Bible in 
Basic English reads it as "speak an evil word against." 
The Twentieth Century New Testament has "impious 
speech," closely approximating Weymouth's "impious 
speaking." Goodspeed renders it as "abusive speech." 
These samples show that, at least in some cases, the 
problem of transference rather than translation is both- 
ering editors of the New Testament today as it did Camp- 

The contemporary theological atmosphere is even more 
indicative of the reality of the problem as Campbell 


faced it. Karl Earth's book on Christian baptism and 
the great amount of literature that it has called forth on 
the subject is a contemporary demonstration that the 
question of baptism still needs examination. The posi- 
tion taken by Barth on the significance of baptism is 
strikingly like the basic ideas in Campbell's approach. 
Even if we do not need a new word for translation, it is 
evident that we do need to fill the old word with a living 
content and significance. Likewise, the word " church' 7 
presents a problem. The contemporary attempt to re- 
capture the New Testament significance of the word is 
demonstrated by the recent studies presented by New- 
bigin in The Household of God and that of Oepke in Das 
Neue Gottesvolk, as well as many others. We have al- 
ready discussed the problem of kerygma and didache. 
Campbell's distinction here is certainly significant. 

In view of the facts stated just above, it appears to the 
writer that Campbell's concern over transference rather 
than translation was a very real problem. It did not 
arise simply out of a sectarian bias. The problems with 
which he wrestled are now considered to be real theolog- 
ical problems. Thus, to call Campbell's translation an 
"immersionist" version is only a partial truth. It was 
an effort to solve, through the use of significant nontheo- 
logical terms, some of the problems which did not come 
to general public attention for some one hundred years 
after Campbell did his work. This fact is very signifi- 
cant in any evaluation of Campbell's translation. 

The examination of these distinctive features leads the 
writer to the conclusion that Campbell was generally 
consistent with his fundamental principles of interpreta- 
tion. It is clear, however, that he achieved only in part 
what he set out to do. In seeking to make both a clear 
and a popular translation, he was at times forced to uti- 
lize words which did not express fully what he desired. 
This failure he attempted to correct by discussing the 


problems in the appendixes and notes. It may be safe 
to conclude that if one had used Campbell's New Testa- 
ment for comparative reading along with the King James 
Version, as Campbell often recommended, this compari- 
son would have served well to stimulate his thinking and 
to give him an understanding of the Scriptures which 
was not available to him from reading the A.V. alone. 
This approach to the matter reflects Campbell's confi- 
dence in the ability of the people to draw correct conclu- 
sions from the Scripture if they have adequate informa- 
tion and use the same common-sense approach which 
they use in reading any other literature. The New Ver- 
sion was submitted primarily as an aid to the reader to 
this end. This is radically different from the view repre- 
sented, for example, by Tittman, who felt that the func- 
tion and the security of the church depended on making 
the Scriptures, correctly interpreted by men of learn- 
ing, open to all Christians. The contrast between these 
two highlights one of Campbell's great contributions to 
the thought of his day. 9 The conclusion of Simms seems 
wholly justified that it " was unquestionably the best New 
Testament in use at that time. . . ." 10 

In the ILight of Contemporary Translators 

The fact that most of the editors and translators of 
the New Testament during this period gave little or no 
credit to the sources upon which they depended makes 
an evaluation of this matter difficult. In the three or 
four decades following the publication of Campbell's 
New Testament, many private translations were pub- 
lished. Some of these have been discussed in the treat- 
ment of the sources used by Campbell in his translations 
of Acts for the American Bible Union. Several of them 

9. Tittman, J. A. H., "On Simplicity in the Interpretation of the New 
Testament," Biblical Repository, Vol. First, 1831, p. 453. 
10. Simms, P. Marion, op. cit. f p. 249. 


seem to show some dependence upon Campbell. In 1851 
Spencer H. Cone and Wm. H. Wyckoff edited a New Tes- 
tament, using basically the Authorized Version but mak- 
ing many emendations. The aim apparently was to dem- 
onstrate what might be done by way of revision by the 
American Bible Union. In this version, "Holy Ghost" 
gave way to "Holy Spirit"; "immerse" was used for 
"baptise" throughout except in Matthew 3:1, where 
John was called "the Baptist." This retention of the 
word was made apparently in deference to the name 
"Baptist." In the speeches in Acts, the address "Men 
and brethren" gave way to "Brethren," as it is read 
by Campbell. In several places of minor importance, 
changes were made which were identical with the work 
of Campbell. For example, in Acts 17 :23 Paul speaks to 
the Athenians about their "objects of devotion." In 
Acts 26:14, "pricks" was replaced with "goads." In 
Acts 27:30, "under color as though" was replaced by 
"under pretext that," which is very similar to Camp- 
bell's reading. In Eomans 3 :4 and elsewhere, "God for- 
bid" was replaced by "By no means." In 1 Thessaloni- 
ans 4:15 where Campbell modernized the term to read 
"precede" rather than "prevent," the same reading 
is used by Cone and Wyckoff. These few illustrations, 
along with others which could be cited, give the impres- 
sion of a dependence on Campbell's work. The close 
relationship which we have already noticed between 
these two men and Campbell make the conclusion a vir- 
tual certainty. 

A translation of the Gospels made by Andrews Norton 
in 1885 shows what may be a dependence upon Alexander 
Campbell, though the differences between the Gospels as 
published by Alexander Campbell and the original trans- 
lation by George Campbell are so slight that a clear 
differentiation seems impossible here. The language 
is modernized, and thus it gives the appearance of hav- 


ing, at least, followed the lead of Alexander Campbell. 
"Bepent" and " repentance " are usually rendered by 
"reform" and "reformation." This feature is, how- 
ever, not conclusive as to the dependence of Norton. 
George Campbell used "reform" instead of "repent" 
quite consistently, but in Matthew 11 :20, 21 ; 12 :41 ; Luke 
10 :13 ; 11 :32 ; 17 :3, 4, he retained ' ' repent. ' ' Alexander 
Campbell rendered all of these as "reform" except 17:4. 
Norton retained "repent" in three of the passages 
where the word is retained by George Campbell. In 
three of the cases where Alexander Campbell departed 
from George Campbell to read "reform" consistently, 
Norton reads "reform." Thus, he agrees with George 
Campbell and the A.V. in three passages against the 
reading of Alexander Campbell. In three cases he 
agrees with Alexander Campbell against George Camp- 
bell. The three cases of departure from George Camp- 
bell seem to indicate that he was following Alexander 
Campbell, though the facts are not conclusive evidence 
of this. Mark 3:29 reads "utter calumnies against the 
Holy Spirit," according to Norton's version, where Al- 
exander Campbell reads "speak slanderously against." 
George Campbell reads it "detract from." Norton's 
reading seems closer to that of Alexander Campbell. In 
John 1:11, Norton reads, "He came to his peculiar 
possessions, and his peculiar people received him not." 
Alexander Campbell reads it, "He came to his own land, 
and his own people did not receive him." The latter 
reading was chosen from Thomson in preference to the. 
reading of George Campbell. Thus, Norton seems to 
be closer to Alexander Campbell than to George Camp- 
bell. In John 11:38, Norton reads, "by this time the 
body is offensive." The reading in Alexander Camp- 
bell's text is, "by this time the smell is offensive." The 
similarity between the text of Alexander Campbell and 
his basic English text of the Gospels makes identification 


of the source of Norton's work especially difficult. The 
modernization of the language and the readings cited 
above, however, give a presumption in favor of Alexan- 
der Campbell as the source upon which Norton depended. 

The American Bible Union translators show a great 
dependence in the notes to the translation upon George 
Campbell, Thomson, Doddridge, and sometimes on Mac- 
knight. Alexander Campbell seems not to be mentioned 
in the notes on Matthew, though the work of A. C. Ken- 
drick is. The significance of this fact will be apparent 
when we examine the work of Kendrick. Alexander 
Campbell is specifically listed as one of the sources for 
the notes in the translation of Mark and of Luke, though 
there is only infrequent reference to him in the notes. 
In these works, the chief contribution of Campbell seems 
to be the consistent use of "immerse." 

A translation published by Eobert Young in Edin- 
burgh in 1871 seems to reflect many of the characteristics 
of the New Testament published by Alexander Camp- 
bell. There is an unpaged preface on the Hebrew style, 
in which the n^es of Lee, Gesenius, Moses Stuart, Mac- 
knight, and Doddridge appear. These sources were used 
in some of the same ways by Alexander Campbell in his 
New Testament of 1832. In the text, "messenger" is 
used for "angel" apparently throughout. "Reform" 
and "reformation" appear consistently for "repent" 
and "repentance." "Eeign" is sometimes used for 
"kingdom" as in George Campbell's Four Gospels, and 
the reading was adopted by Alexander Campbell. The 
term "Holy Spirit" is used throughout. Instead of 
"church," "assembly" is used consistently. "Hades" 
is substituted for the reading "hell." The language is 
not, in general, modernized, though several archaic 
words are read in modern style. Several of the read- 
ings resemble closely, and some are exact duplications 
of, Campbell's New Testament. It is possible that 


Young used Alexander Campbell's New Testament in 
the British Edition; however, the retention of "baptize" 
and the failure to modernize may indicate that he used 
the original Campbell, Macknight, and Doddridge New 
Testament published in Britain. No definite conclusions 
on this question seem possible. 

There are several translations which can be identified 
more definitely as dependent upon Alexander Campbell. 
In 1833 Rodolphus Dickinson, designated on the title 
page as rector of a Protestant Episcopal Church in 
South Carolina, produced a New Testament. There can 
be no doubt that he was dependent upon Alexander 
Campbell's work. There are no chapter or verse num- 
bers or divisions in Dickinson's work. The text is in a 
running narrative broken only by paragraph divisions 
through each book. The word "angel" is sometimes re- 
jected in favor of "messenger," though not consistently. 
' ' Reform" always appears instead of * ' repent. " " Holy 
Spirit" is used throughout. The parallels between Dick- 
inson's translation and that of Campbell are far too 
numerous to list, but several are of such a nature that 
they indicate direct dependence. In John 1:3 "it" is 
used instead of "him," in reference to the "Word. In 
Matthew 6 :22, following Campbell, the order of the sen- 
tence is reversed to read, "The eye is the lamp of the 
body." In Acts 2:21 the reading is, "every one who 
invokes the name ..." and in 2:22 it is "Jesus the 
Nazarean." In Acts 8:33 the reading is identical with 
Campbell's, "In his humiliation his condemnation was 
extorted." In 1 Corinthians 1:23, where Campbell reads 
"a crucified Christ," Dickinson has, "Christ, even that 
crucified person." The dependence is further shown in 
Matthew 2:15 with the reading, "Thus was verified the 
declaration of the Lord by the prophet," which varies 
only slightly from Campbell's usage. In James 2:1, 
Dickinson reads "... of our glorious Lord." This is of 


interest in that it follows the reading of Campbell's third 
edition in spite of the fact that, in most cases, Dickinson 
seems to follow the second. The language of the whole 
is modernized but is ornate and overly rhetorical and is 
wholly unstated to devotional reading either in public 
or in private. 11 It may be only coincidence that George 
W. Smith of the Episcopal Recorder attacked Campbell's 
New Testament in his magazine in February, 1834, It is 
possible, however, that the publication of a New Testa- 
ment by Dickinson, an Episcopalian, in 1833, following 
Campbell's work, may have brought the latter to Smith's 
attention and called forth his criticism. 

A New Testament which equally shows dependence up- 
on Alexander Campbell is the work of A. C. Kendriek. 
Though Kendriek 's name does not appear on the title 
page, it is signed to the preface of the New Testament 
in a Bible published by David Bernard in 1842. 12 The 
presumption is, therefore, that Kendriek is the transla- 
tor of the New Testament. No notation is made of de- 
pendence upon Alexander Campbell, but the nature of 
the text betrays it. In the preface to the whole Bible, 
the names of such translators as Thomson, Webster, 
Wesley, Scarlett, Dickinson, Harwood, George Camp- 
bell, Macknight, Stuart, Doddridge, "and some others" 
are listed. The omission of Alexander Campbell's name 
may very well be accounted for by the general Baptist 
prejudice against him at this time. Since no names are 
mentioned in the preface to the New Testament, the 
omission of Alexander Campbell's name there is quite 
natural. The text is not in modern language. "Im- 
merse" is used throughout except in Matthew 3:1, where 
John is called "the Baptist." Several readings show 
a clear dependence upon Campbell. In John 1:3, "it" 
is read for "him." In Matthew 16:18, Jesus is quoted 

11. Weigle, Luther A., The English New Testament (1949), pp. 89, 90. 

12. The Holy Bible (Philadelphia: David Bernard, 1842). 


as saying, "Thou art Peter (Eock) . . ." Matthew 6 :25 
reads, "Be not anxious. 57 Acts 27:30 varies a little 
from Campbell to read, "under the pretext " for the A.V. 
reading, "under color as though." Several readings 
are even more certainly derived from Campbell than 
these. Many of the readings could be attributed to the 
original Campbell, Macknight, and Doddridge text, but 
at least a few cannot. In 1 Corinthians 4 :6, where Camp- 
bell departs from Macknight to follow Thomson, Ken- 
drick has followed essentially the reading adopted here 
as ". . . not to prize teachers above what is written," 
Such an interpretative insertion of a word cannot be 
mere coincidence. In Galatians 4:24, Campbell rejected 
Macknight 's reading and followed a reading which he 
attributed to "Peirce of Exon." The reading is, "Now 
this may be allegorized. ..." This is Kendrick's read- 
ing also. Such a coincidence as the independent choice 
of a reading like this from a work so obscure would ap- 
pear all but incredible. In Hebrews 4:3, Campbell de- 
parted from the text of Macknight to read, "Namely 
from the works that were finished at the formation of the 
world." Kendrick reads this passage, "Namely the 
works of God having been finished at the foundation of 
the world." The similarity of these two readings is too 
close to be mere chance. Several similar cases could 
be cited, but these will be sufficient to show that Ken- 
drick knew and used heavily the work of Campbell. The 
significance of Kendrick's work becomes clear in the 
history of the American Bible Union. His version is 
frequently referred to in some of the translations of 
books of the New Testament. Because of this consistent 
use, it appears probable that it was a formative factor 
in the development of the American Bible Union Version 
of the New Testament. If the dependence of Kendrick 
upon Campbell is as clear as the evidence seems to in- 
dicate, it can be said that, at least indirectly, Campbell's 


New Testament produced among the Baptists an impetus 
for a new version of the Bible in spite of the severe op- 
position with which they had confronted it at the time 
of its publication. 

Another translator who, most probably, was influenced 
by Campbell's New Testament was N. N. Whiting. 
Whiting is difficult to identify. No name appears on the 
title page of the New Testament, but the preface is 
signed by N. N. Whiting, Williamsburg, Long Island. 
Simms wrote that he probably was a "Millerite," but 
he gave no evidence for this and stated that nothing in 
the translation would lead to this conclusion. 13 The text 
published by Whiting is printed in paragraph form. 
There is some modernization, though contrary to Camp- 
bell's usage "thee" and "thou" are retained. "Holy 
Spirit" is used throughout as in Campbell's text. "Con- 
gregation" is used for "church," "messenger" for 
"angel," and "immerse" for "baptize," even to the 
name "John the immerser," as Campbell reads it. The 
latter is especially significant in view of the fact that 
even Baptist "immersionist" versions retain the title 
"Baptist." Many readings could be cited in proof of the 
direct use of Campbell's New Testament, but this should 
be sufficient to demonstrate it. It is unfortunate that 
nothing seems to be known about Whiting, but it is quite 
certain that he knew and used the work of Campbell. 

Two translations by Disciples seem to show a consider- 
able dependence upon Campbell's New Testament. In 
1864 H. T. Anderson published at Cincinnati a new 
translation of the New Testament. The text is in para- 
graph form with all verses numbered, but the numerals 
are small, placed within the text, and no verse break is 
made. The language is modernized except for a few 
cases such as Peter's confession of Jesus as the Christ 
in Matthew 16 :16 and in cases where the demons address 
Jesus. The archaic pronoun is used also in prayer- The 

13. Simms, P. Marion, op. cit. t pp. 249, 250. 


major passages omitted by Campbell, such as Matthew 
6:13b, Acts 8:37, Colossians 1:14 (through his blood), 
1 John 5:7 and several minor ones, are omitted here. 
Anderson goes farther, however, by omitting John 7:53 
8:11, which Campbell had retained. " Church" and 
"repent" are used as in the Authorized Version in a de- 
parture from Campbell's text. "Hades' 7 is substituted 
for "hell" in the places where the substitution is made 
by Campbell. "Immerse" is used throughout, as it is 
read by Campbell. Very similar to Campbell's reading 
of John 1:11, is Anderson's "He came to his own coun- 
try and his own people. . . ." Acts 8:33 has an in- 
teresting variation on Campbell's reading. The text is, 
"The sentence against him was taken away; but who 
shall describe the men of his generation?" Campbell 
reads, "his condemnation was extorted; and who shall 
declare the wickedness of his generation." Romans 1 :17 
reads, "He that is justified by faith shall live" where 
Campbell has ' ' the just by faith, shall live. ' ' Ephesians 
2 :8 reads, "and this matter is not of yourselves, it is the 
gift of God." Campbell had used in his second edition 
the word "affair" and in the third "salvation," where 
Anderson has "matter." The specific parallels seem to 
show that Anderson depended upon Campbell's New 
Testament. Anderson wrote, however, in his "Dedica- 
tion and Preface" that he had "made his translation 
without reference to any version ; that is, he adopted no 
version as a basis." He added further that he "was not 
disposed to be trammeled by any version, but desired to 
find the truth of God, as it is contained in the original. ' ' 
The general tone of Anderson's work seems to show 
throughout more of a knowledge of and dependence upon 
Alexander Campbell than these statements might indi- 
cate. The apparent discrepancy seems, to this writer, to 
be explained by assuming that while Anderson did not 
use Campbell's work as a "basis" he did borrow heavily 
from it both in form and in terminology. 


Another Disciple minister, Joseph B. Botherham, pub- 
lished a new translation of the New Testament in 1872 
in London. The publication has an elaborate system of 
critical markings for cross reference and emphasis. The 
text is arranged in paragraph form with the verses 
marked with small numerals in much the same manner 
as the text of Anderson. The main passages omitted by 
Campbell as spurious are omitted here also. In addition, 
Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:538:11 are set off from the 
rest of the text to indicate that they are questionable. 
"Immerse" is used through the whole New Testament. 
"Messenger" is substituted for "angel," and "church" 
is rejected in favor of "assembly." This apparently 
was used as a synonym for Campbell's "congregation." 
The readings "hades," "proconsul," "favor" instead 
of "grace," and many others identical with Campbell's 
readings appear here. Two passages will show how 
close the dependence is. In Luke 2:5, Campbell had 
read "who was pregnant" and in 1 Corinthians 1:23, "a 
crucified Christ." Eotherham reads the first, "she be- 
ing pregnant," and the second "a Christ who has been 
crucified." No further evidence of apparent dependence 
seems necessary. 

This examination of the private translations made 
during a period of some forty years after the publication 
of Campbell's New Testament has, in summary, shown 
definite results. There is evidence that several of the 
translators received at least indirect or partial help 
from Campbell's translations; the dependence may be 
even closer than the evidence permits us to conclude. 
Second, there are several translations which unmistak- 
ably show a copious use of Campbell's work. One of 
those examined comes from an Episcopalian, one from 
a Baptist, one probably from a "Millerite" Adventist, 
and two from Disciples. It is evident, then, that the im- 
pact of Campbell's New Testament reached considerably 
outside the sphere of Ms personal influence. 


In the Light of the ASV and the RSV 

One further problem needs consideration. To evalu- 
ate how well Campbell succeeded in producing a true 
modern-language translation, it is necessary to deter- 
mine how well he was able to anticipate other and more 
ambitious efforts since his time. The analyses of the 
modernizations and improvements of the King James 
Version, made by Alexander Campbell, which we have 
presented, demonstrate a very large number of parallels 
to the American Standard Version and the Revised 
Standard Version. These parallels have been pointed 
out from time to time in the process of this study. A 
more detailed study would show an even more striking 
similarity than the incidental references would indicate. 
Such a comparison would, however, be too lengthy and 
too technical for such a work as this. It will be sufficient 
simply to sketch a few of the results which developed 
from one such study. 

In the preparation of the dissertation upon which this 
book is based, the writer made a collation of Campbell's 
version of 1832 and his revision of Acts, made in 1858, 
with the King James Version. The variations from the 
latter version were then compared with the readings of 
the same passages in the ASV and the RSV. In the 
collation and tabulation of the results, no account was 
taken of the modernization of the archaic pronouns or 
of the archaic endings of verbs, since it was presumed 
that these features would be characteristic of any mod- 
ern-language translation. No attempt was made to de- 
termine the number of times any variant was repeated. 
For example, "Holy Ghost " is always rendered "Holy 
Spirit. ' ' This was counted as a variant each time it oc- 
curred. In the collation, attention was given to punctu- 
ation where any change of thought was involved, to the 
modernized spelling of names, to changes in word order, 
and especially to changes in the English word used to 
translate, a given Greek word. 


Campbell's variations from the KJV differed slightly 
in different sections. In the first nine chapters of Mark, 
which was used in the collation as a typical passage from 
the Gospels, Alexander Campbell was following George 
Campbell very closely. In this portion of the text there 
is an average of about six variations per verse from the 
KJV. In Acts, the average was about four and one-half 
variants per verse. In Komans the average was only 
slightly over four variants per verse. In the 1858 Amer- 
ican Bible Union Kevision of Acts, the average is just 
under three variants per verse. 

The point which is most interesting is the extent to 
which Campbell's readings correspond to the readings of 
the ASV and the ESV which came many years later. In 
order to make an evaluation of these similarities, the 
writer classified them into exact duplications, close ap- 
proximations, and fair approximations. Of Campbell's 
variants from the KJV in Mark, a little over ten per cent 
are exactly those which appeared later in the ASV. 
Nineteen per cent of the variants have anticipated ex- 
actly the readings of the ESV. In Acts the similarity 
is even closer. In the 1832 edition of Acts, in over nine- 
teen per cent of his variants, Campbell has anticipated 
exactly the readings of the ASV. Over twenty-three per 
cent of these variations anticipate exactly the readings 
of the ESV. In Eomans, Campbell departed from the 
KJV and gave, in over seventeen per cent of these 
readings, the exact reading used later in the ASV, and in 
over twenty-nine per cent, the readings of the ESV. In 
the Acts of 1858, Campbell anticipated exactly the read- 
ings of the ASV in over twenty-one per cent of his de- 
partures from the KJV. In over thirty-six per cent of 
the variations he has exactly the same reading as the 
ESV. The similarity is shown to be even greater if one 
adds to these figures the total of the instances where 
Campbell's readings resemble closely, or fairly closely, 


the readings of the ASV and the ESV. In the chapters 
in Mark, for example, where Campbell departed from 
the readings of the KJV, he anticipated exactly or in 
some close degree, the ASV in about twelve per cent of 
the cases involved. He anticipated to the same extent 
over twenty-two per cent of the readings of the BSV. 
In Acts the correspondences rise to twenty-five per cent 
of the readings of the ASV and over f orty-f onr per cent 
of these readings in the BSV. In Bomans the percent- 
ages are only slightly lower than the readings in Acts. 
Some attention should now be given to those readings 
in which Campbell departed from the KJV, but which 
are not adopted in later versions. These readings can 
be classified in a few categories. A very large group of 
these readings is the class which make up the peculiari- 
ties of Alexander Campbell's version. They are such 
words as " reform," "immerse," "congregation/ 7 "pub- 
lish" or "proclaim" instead of "preach," "messen- 
ger" for "angel," "speak slanderously" or "revile" 
for "blaspheme," "reign" for "kingdom" and several 
others which recur often throughout the text. Few, if 
any, of these are adopted in the ASV or the RSV, and 
thus make up a considerable proportion of the variants 
not accounted for in the similarities listed above. A sec- 
ond group of readings is those in which the sentences are 
largely recast by Campbell. Campbell usually did this 
recasting for modernization, but a good effect is not al- 
ways realized. An example of such a reordering of the 
wording is found in Mark 4 :16 ff . in the parable of the 
sower, where the KJV reads, "These are they likewise 
which are sown. ..." Instead of this, Campbell reads, 
"The rocky ground denotes those. ..." In Mark 4:27, 
in the parable of the seed growing secretly, where the 
KJV reads, "and should sleep and rise night and day," 
Campbell reads, "While he slept by night and waked by 


day." These two illustrations will serve as samples of 
the kind of rewording which is seldom adopted by either 
the ASV or the ESV. Campbell sometimes gives a read- 
ing which is quite clearly interpretative, in an attempt to 
clarify an obscure passage. An example of this is in 
Acts 7:19, where the KJV reads, "so that they cast out 
their young children, to the end that they might not 
live/' Campbell reads this, "by causing their infants 
to be exposed, that their race might perish. " The .same 
effect is sometimes accomplished by inserting a word or 
a phrase for explanation, as in Roman 12 :13 where, after 
"given to hospitality, " Campbell reads "Follow hospi- 
tality to strangers." Another form of this procedure is 
that in which, instead of a pronoun whose antecedent is 
unclear, the name of the individual is inserted, as in Acts 
17:1, where instead of "they," Campbell reads "Paul 
and Silas." A great number of readings not incorpo- 
rated in later versions are those in which Campbell used 
language derived from his classical education. This 
sometimes resulted in the use of ornate words of Latin 
derivation and at other times in circumlocutions and par- 
ticipial constructions where more direct language and 
temporal clauses would have served better. Finally, the 
greatest number of readings which have not found place 
in later versions are those in which some change was 
made to a synonymous word or where there was a slight 
rearrangement of words for emphasis. Only by chance 
would many of these synonyms have been used in later 
versions unless they were borrowed by direct dependence. 
The results of the collations carried out shows a con- 
sistent trend running throughout Campbell's work. He 
feels quite free to depart from the readings of the KJV. 
Where he does so, he is considerably closer to the ESV 
than to the ASV. The results of the survey are even 
more striking in view of the fact that the revisers of the 
ESV used neither the work of Alexander Campbell nor 


that of his sources. 14 It is a further demonstration of 
the success achieved by Campbell and his sources in their 
attempt to put before the common reader the Scripture 
in his own vernacular. 

It seems strange, at first sight, that Campbell should 
have anticipated the ESV so much more than he did the 
ASV, even though he is separated from the former by 
more than one hundred years. The answer to this prob- 
lem lies, first of all, in the fact that Campbell sought to 
make a true modern-language translation of the New 
Testament. Even at the cost of departure from the Com- 
mon Version he would modernize the style, use a con- 
temporary word, or give a modernized turn to the speech 
wherever his principles of work required it. The ASV, 
on the one hand, was a revision of the KJV which in- 
tended modernization only in a limited way. It is almost 
slavishly true to the Greek text, at times even in word 
order. Thus the modernization could not be as extensive 
as that in Campbell's work. The RSV, on the other 
hand, while it was a revision, was intended to be a true 
modern-language translation. It adheres more closely 
to the KJV than does Campbell, but the intent of the 
whole work makes it follow a pattern similar to that fol- 
lowed by Campbell. Both Campbell's version and the 
RSV are to be considered as modern-language transla- 
tions and so naturally are closer to one another than are 
Campbell and the ASV. 


It is now time to make our final evaluation of Camp- 
bell's work. It is clearly recognized that he was a man 
of his times. His language is that of a man with a clas- 
sical education, writing in the first half of the nineteenth 
century. It cannot be expected that it will be a twentieth- 

14. Weigle, Luther A., A personal letter to the author (New Haven, 
Conn., Nov. 26, 1954). 


century dialect. His translation was influenced, at many 
points, by Ms own views, and so must be evaluated in the 
light of this fact. But, having taken these facts into 
consideration, there is much of a positive nature to be 

The greatness of Alexander Campbell is evident in 
many features of his work. Probably the one which first 
strikes the reader of this study is his use of the exten- 
sive library which he had at his disposal. It must be 
remembered that Campbell was not essentially a school 
man but was in many respects a frontier preacher. The 
books which he read would, however, have done justice 
to any man in a contemporary seminary situation. His 
knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, his use of critical works 
both in English and Latin, his knowledge of a great many 
commentaries, and his careful perusal of many English 
versions and paraphrases demonstrate him to have been 
a scholar of repute in a situation where one would least 
expect to find scholarship. Another striking feature of 
Campbell's work is his advocacy of the grammatico-his- 
torical method of interpreting Scripture. He was a 
thoroughgoing advocate of this phase of biblical scholar- 
ship. On the frontier where preaching was so often 
degraded by the ignorance of uneducated ministers, 
Campbell stood out as an intelligent and consecrated 
preacher of the gospel. Only his academic preparation, 
tempered with a deep spiritual nature, could have made 
this possible. 

It is to his great credit that he labored so industriously 
to place the Bible in the hands of the common reader in 
such a form that he could read it intelligently. There 
were voluminous commentaries and great critical works 
which did this for the scholar. Campbell felt that it 
should be done for the common man. This conviction 
is demonstrated in his insistence that his readers should 
take the New Version which he had published and read 


it side by side with the KJV and then make intelligent 
decisions for themselves. The dignity of the common 
Christian was enhanced when he became as intelligent 
in matters of religion as he was in other matters. It 
was Campbell's aim that this shonld be accomplished. 
In working out this goal, Campbell anticipated, as we 
have seen, much of our contemporary atmosphere. His 
anticipation of the readings of contemporary versions 
of the Scripture is remarkable. His examination and 
discussion of problems which only today are beginning 
to attract the attention of the general public are evi- 
dences of his alertness and of his thoroughgoing knowl- 
edge of the Scriptures. 

If Campbell is a man of such intellectual stature, it 
may be fairly asked, why has he not been placed in the 
rank of American scholarship along with such men of 
his day as Moses Stuart? There seem to be several rea- 
sons for this. He belonged to a new and little-known 
sect which had not attained the rank of denominational 
respectability. As the leader of a movement which was 
to find national prominence only after a century of strug- 
gle, he could claim no widespread honors apart from his 
own people. Furthermore, he was an immersionist. His 
version of the New Testament was probably best known, 
outside the Baptists and Disciples, simply as an " im- 
mersionist " version. This fact clouds much of the light 
that otherwise would come from a careful study of his 
work. Still another factor contributing to this obscurity 
was the fact that he was essentially a preacher and pub- 
lisher rather than an educator. He had attended no 
American seminary and had no direct association with 
any. The fact that he later organized a college alters 
this situation very little. His books were printed and 
published largely by himself. He had no organizational 
connections which would have made him widely known. 
Probably the most decisive factor of all, however, in 


Campbell's theological obscurity, is Ms own view of the 
intellectual ability of the common man. He had always 
insisted that every man should think for himself and 
act for himself on the basis of the Word of God. He 
often insisted that one should "call no man master." 
This lesson was very well learned by those who followed 
his lead in religious matters. They themselves took this 
position and even when they depended heavily upon an- 
other, even upon Campbell, they would not call them- 
selves his disciples. It is for these reasons that Alex- 
ander Campbell has been overlooked, even among Dis- 
ciples of Christ. Not until the rise of the Ecumenical 
Movement and the participation of the Disciples of 
Christ in it, did they begin seriously to evaluate their 
heritage and the work of Alexander Campbell. It is 
hoped that such a study as this may make a contribution 
to that evaluation. 



Original Editions of the New Testament 

of Alexander Campbell 

Known to be Extant 

American Editions 

The Sacred Writings of the Apostles and Evangelists of Je- 
sus 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, with an appendix 
containing critical notes and various translations of difficult 
passages, by Alexander Campbell, Buffaloe, Brooke Co., Va. : 
Alexander Campbell, 1826. 

The Sacred Writings of the Apostles and Evangelists of Je- 
sus 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, various emendations, and an appendix by Alexander 
Campbell, Second Edition, Bethany, Brooke Co., Va. : Alex- 
ander Campbell, 1828. 

Another edition, Same title except for omitting "Doctors of 
the Church of Scotland" . . . Third Edition, Bethany, Brooke 
Co., Va. : Alexander Campbell, 1832. 

Another edition, Same title Stereotyped from the 

Third Edition, revised, Bethany, Va. : 1833. 

Another edition Fourth Edition, Bethany, Brooke 

Co., Va. : M'Vay and Ewing, MDCCCXXXV. 



Another edition, same title Sixth Edition, Pittsburgh: 

Forrester and Campbell, 1839. 

Welsh Editions 

Yr Oraclau Bywiol, neu . . . y Testament Newydd. Wediei 
gyfieitha J. Williams, gyda rhaglithiau ac attodiad gan A. 
Campbell; Llundain: Simpkin, Marshall and Co., 1842. (Dar- 
lowe and Moule, Catalogue of Printed Bibles in the Library of 
the British and Foreign Bible Society, list a reprint under the 
care of Owen Davies in two undated editions in 1881 and 1887) . 

British Editions 

The Sacred Writings of the Apostles and Evangelists of Je- 
sus Christ, commonly styled the Neiv Testament, translated from 
the original Greek, by Doctors George Campbell, James Mac- 
knight, and Philip Doddridge, with prefaces, various emenda- 
tions, and an appendix by Alexander Campbell of Bethany, 
U.8., London: G. Wightman, 1838. 

Another edition, same title New Edition, Edited 

by James Wallis, London: Simpkin, Marshall and Co., 1848. 
(The British Museum General Catalogue lists another edition of 
1841, of which the writer has been unable to find any other 
trace. The British Millennial Harbinger of 1860, p. 138, lists a 
stereotyped edition, Finsbury, J. Haddon, 1848, and another 
edition, revised and corrected by W. Jones, London : J. Haddon, 

The Acts of the Apostles 

The Acts of the Apostles, translated from the Greek, on the 
basis of the common English version, with notes, New York: 
American Bible Union, 1858. (This is the original edition). 

Another edition, revised by the general committee, contained 
in The New Testament . . . The Common English Version, Cor- 
rected by the final committee of the American Bible Union, 
Second Revision, New York : American Bible Union, 1866. 

General Works by Alexander Campbell 

Campbell, Alexander, Infant Sprinkling Proved to be a Human 
Tradition; being the substance of a debate on Christian 
baptism, between John Walker, a minister of the Seces- 


sion, and Alexander Campbell, V.D.M., a Regular Bap- 
tist Minister, Steubenville, Ohio: James Wilson, 1820. 

, Christian Baptism: with its antecedents and conse- 
quents, Bethany, Va. : Alexander Campbell, 1851. 

, The Christian System, in reference to the union of 

Christians, and a restoration of primitive Christianity, 
as plead in the current reformation, Third Edition, 
Pittsburgh: Forrester and Campbell, 1840. 

, A Connected View of the Principles and Rules by 

which the Living Oracles may be intelligibly and cer- 
tainly interpreted: of the foundation on which all 
Christians may form one communion: and of the capital 
positions sustained in the attempt to restore the original 
gospel and order of things . . . revised and corrected, 
Bethany, Va.: M'Vay and Swing, 1835. 

, A Debate between Rev. A. Campbell and Rev. N. L. 

Rice, on the Action, Subject, Design and Administrator 
of Christian Baptism; also, on the character of spiritual 
influence in conversion and sanctification . . . Lexing- 
ton, Ky. : A. T. Skillman and Son, 1844. 

, A Debate on Christian Baptism between the Rev. W. L. 

Maccalla, a Presbyterian teacher, and Alexander Camp- 
bell, held at Washington, Kentucky . . . Buffaloe, Va. : 
Campbell and Sala, 1824. 

, A Debate on the Roman Catholic Religion, held in the 

Sycamore-Street Meeting House, Cincinnati. . . . between 
Alexander Campbell of Bethany, Virginia, and the Rt. 
Rev. John B. Purcell, Bishop of Cincinnati, Cincinnati: 
J. A. James and Co., 1837. 

Owen, Eobert, and Alexander Campbell, A Debate on the evi- 
dences of Christianity, containing an examination of 
the "Social System,' 9 and all the systems of Scepticism 
of ancient and modern times . . . Bethany, Va. : Alex- 
ander Campbell, 1829. 

See also the many articles by Alexander Campbell in the Chris- 
tian Baptist (1823-1830), and the Millennial Harbinger 




'H KAINH AIA0HKM, Novum Testamentum cum lectionibus 
variantibus . . . et in easdem notis. Accedunt loco, Scripturae 
parallela, aliaque ef^i-iKo, et appendix ad variantes lectiones. 
Praemittitur dissertatio, in quo de libris N.T. et Canonis con- 
stitutione agitur; Historia S. Textus N. Foederis ad Nostra 
usque tempora deducitur . . . Studio et labore Joannis Millii, E 
Theatre Sheldoniano: Oxenii, 1707. 

Novum Testamentum. Post priores Step. Curcellaci, turn et 
D D. Oxeniensium labores . . . Editio altera priori auctior atque 
emendatior. Apud J. Wetstenium et G. Smith : Amsterlaedami, 

Novum Testamentum Graec Textum ac fidem codicum, ver- 
sionum et patrum Becensuit et lectionis varietatem adjecit D. 
Jo. Jac. Griesbach, Volumen I, TV Evangelica complectens, 
Editio Nova, Londini: MDCCCIX, Volumen II Acta et Epis- 
tolas Apostolorum cum Apocalypsi complectens, Editio Nova, 
Londini: MDCCCX. 

*H KAINH AIA0HKH, Novum Testamentum ad exemplar 
Millianum cum emendationibus et lectionibuA Griesbachii, Prae- 
cipius vocibus ellipticis thematibus omnium vocum difficiliorum t 
atque locis Scripturae parallelis, studio et labore Gulielmi 
Greenfield, London : Samuel Bagster, 1829. 

'H KAINH AIA0HKH, Novum Testamentum Graece. Re- 
censuit Constantinus Tischendorf f Editio stereotypa ex officiana 
Bernhardi Tauchnitz, Lipsiae: MDCCCL. 

'H KAINH AIAOHKH, The New Testament the 'received 
text' with selected various readings from Griesbach, Scholz, 
Lachmann and Tischendorf, and references to parallel pas- 
sages, London: S. Bagster and Sons, 1851. 




Testamenti Veteris Biblia Sacra sivi libri canonici . . . 
Latini recens . . . Facti . . . Immanuel Tremellio et Francisco 
Junio. Accesserunt libri qui vulgo dicuntur Apocryphi, Latine 
redditi . . . a F. Junio . . . quibus etiam adjunximus Novi Testa- 
menti libros ex sermone Oraeco a Theodoro Beza in Latinum 
converses. 6 parts. Excndebat Heinricos Middeltonus, impenus 
J. Harrison, Londini: 1581. 


The New Testament in Greek and English containing the 
original text, corrected from the authority of the most authentic 
manuscripts, and a new version form'd agreeably to the illus- 
tration of the most learned commentators and critics, with notes 
and various readings and a copious alphabetical index, Daniel 
Mace, London: printed for J. Koberts, MDCCXXIX. 


The Newe Testament of our Lord lesus Christy conferred dili- 
gently with the Greke and best approved translations. By W. 
Whittingham. With the arguments aswel before the chapters 
as for euery Boke and Epistle, also diuersities of readings, and 
moste profitable annotations of all harde places, etc. (The 
epistle declaring that Christ is the end of the lawe, by I. Cal- 
vin), Geneva: C. Badius, 1557. (Campbell had a New Testa- 
ment lacking title page, having John Calvin's preface. He 
thought it to be a New Testament of the Bishop's Bible. It 
was the most ancient which he had seen. A comparison of 
prefaces and readings seems to demonstrate that this was the 
Geneva New Testament described above.) 

"The Geneva Bible," London: Robert Baker, 1607. 
The same London: Eobert Baker, 1615. 

Hammond, H., A Paraphrase and Annotations upon all the 
Books of the New Testament briefly explaining all the difficult 
places thereof, with text, London: J. Flesher for Richard 
Royston, 1653. 


Knatehbull, Sir Norton, Animadversiones in libros Novi 
Testamenti, London: Typis Guil. Godbid, 1659. (Campbell 
used an English translation of this. "Watts, Robert, Bibliotheca 
Britannica, Vol. II, p. 575, lists an English edition published 
in 1693 but no place of publication is given.) 

Expository notes and practical observations on the four Holy 
Evangelists . . . (on the remaining part of fhe New Testament) 
wherein the sacred text is at large recited, the sence explained, 
doubts resolved . . . seeming contradictions reconciled ... by 
William Burkitt, 2 parts; London: T. Parkhurst, 1700. 

A Paraphrase and commentary on the New Testament in two 
volumes . . . t o which is added a chronology of the New Testa- 
ment, a map, and alphabetical tables of all the places mentioned 
in the Gospels, Acts or the Epistles with tables to each of the 
matters contained, and the words and phrases explained 
throughout the whole work, by Daniel Whitby, chantor of the 
Church of Sarum; London: printed by W. Bowyer for Awnsam 
and John Churchill, 1703. 

A Paraphrase and notes on the Epistles of St. Paul to the 
Galatians, I and II Corinthians, Romans and Ephesians, to 
which is prefixed an essay for the understanding of St. Paul's 
epistles by consulting St. Paul himself, John Locke, London: 
Awnsam and John Churchill, 1707. 

The New Testament . . . according to the antient Latin edi- 
tion, with critical remarks upon the literal meaning in different 
places, from the French of Father Simon, by William Webster, 
2 vols., London : John Pemberton and Charles Kivington, 1730. 

A Paraphrase and notes on the Epistles of St. Paul to the 
Colossians, Philippians, and Hebrews; after the manner of Mr. 
Locke. To which are annexed several critical dissertations on 
particular texts of Scripture, by James Peirce, in 4 parts, 
London: J. Noon and J. Chandler, 1727. 

A Paraphrase and notes on the Epistles of St. Paul to Phile- 
mon, I and II Thessalonians, I Timothy, Titus, and II Timo- 
thy attempted in imitation of Mr. Locke's manner to which 
is annexed critical dissertations on several subjects for the 
letter understanding of St. Paul's Epistles, George Benson, 
London: Eichard Ford, MDCCXXXIV. 

A paraphrase with notes on the Epistle to the Romans, to 
which is prefixed a key to the Apostolic writings, or an essay 


to explain the Gospel scheme and the principal words and 
phrases the Apostles have used in describing it, by John Taylor, 
Second Edition; London: MDCCXLVII. 

A Translation of the New Testament "by Gilbert Wakefield, 
3 vols., London: Philanthropic Press, MDCCXCI. 

The Holy Bible . . . with original notes, and practical observa- 
tions, by the Eev. Thomas Scott . . . Second Edition, 4 vols., 
London : Bellamy and Koberts, 1792. 

An attempt toward revising our English translation of the 
Greek Scriptures, or the New Covenant of Jesus Christ; and 
toward illustrating the sense by philological and explanatory 
notes. Vol. 1 by "William Newcome, London: 1796. 

The Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Covenant, com- 
monly called the Old and New Testament translated from the 
Greek, by Charles Thomson, late secretary of the Congress of 
the United States, Philadelphia : Jane Aitkin, 1808. 

Campbell, George, The Four Gospels, translated from the 
Greek. With preliminary dissertations and notes, critical and 
explanatory, in 4 Vols., with the author's last corrections) 
Boston: W. Wells and Thomas B. "Wait and Co., 1811. 

The Holy Bible, according to the Authorized version; with 
notes explanatory and practical, together with appropriate in- 
troductions, tables and indices . . . prepared and arranged by 
the Eev. George D 'Oyly and the Rev. Eichard Mant . . . under 
the direction of the Society for the Promotion of Christian 
Knowledge, for use of families . . . Oxford: 1817. 

The New Testament, translated from the original Greek, etc. 
(The Gospels by G. Campbell . . . the Acts and Revelation by 
P. Doddridge . . . The Epistles by J. Macknight), London: 
John Lepard, 1818. 

A new literal translation from the original Greek of all the 
Apostolical Epistles with a commentary and notes by James 
Macknight, New edition in 6 vols., London: Printed for Long- 
man, Hurst, etc., 1821. 

Kneeland, Abner, The New Testament, being the English 
only of the Greek and English Testament, Philadelphia: Wil* 
liam Fry, 1823. 

A new family Bible and improved version from corrected texts 
of the original and notes, critical and explanatory, and short 
practical reflections on each chapter together with a general 


introduction on the authority and inspiration of the sacred books 
and a complete view of the Mosaic Laws, Rites and Customs, by 
the Kev. B. Boothroyd, 3 vols., Huddersfield : printed for the 
author by William Moore, 1824. 

The Family Expositor, or a paraphrase and version of the 
New Testament; with critical notes, and a practical improve- 
ment to each section, "by Philip Doddridge. American edition 
with a memoir of the author by N. W. Fiske, and an introduc- 
tory essay by Moses Stuart, Amherst, Mass. : J. S. and C. Adams, 
and L. Boltwood, 1831 

The New Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 
The text carefully printed from the most correct copies of the 
present Authorized Version, including the marginal readings 
and parallel texts with a commentary and critical notes, de- 
signed as a help to better understanding of the sacred Scrip- 
tures, by Adam Clarke, New Edition, improved, complete in 
one volume; New York: Peter D. Myers, 1835. 

The look of the New Covenant of our Lord and Savior Jesus 
Christ^ being a critical revision of the text and translation of 
the English version of the New Testament, with the aid of the 
most ancient manuscripts unknown to the age in which that 
version was last put forth by authority, Granville Penn, Lon- 
don: James Duncan, MDCCCXXXVI. 

The English Hexapla, exhibiting the six important English 
translations of the New Testament Scriptures: Wiclif, 1380; 
Tyndale, 1534; Cranmer, 1539, Geneva, 1557; Anglo-Rhemish, 
1582; Authorized, 1611 . . . preceded by an historical account 
of the English translations, London: Bagster and Sons, 1841. 

The Holy Bible being the English version of the Old and 
New Testaments, made by order of King James I, carefully 
revised and amended, by several Biblical scholars, Philadelphia: 
Published for David Bernard, Lippineott, 1842. 

The New Testament or Book of the Holy Gospel of our Lord 
and our God, Jesus the Messiah, a literal translation from the 
Syriac Peshito Version, by James Murdock, New York: Stand- 
ford and Swords, 1851. 

Note: Campbell makes passing reference to Bloomfield, 
"Wesley, Webster, the Douay and a few other versions but the 
above titles include those to which he referred frequently and 
which seem to have been used extensively in his work. 



Cheek, John L., "New Testament Translation in America," 
Journal of Biblical Literature, LXXII (June, 1953), pp. 

Dodd, C. H., The Apostolic Preaching and Its Developments, 
Three Lectures, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1936. 

Donnegan, James, A New Greek and English Lexicon; Princi- 
pally on the plan of the Greek and German Lexicon of 
Schneider . . . "by James Donnegan . . , 1st American, 
from the 2nd London ed., rev. and enl. ~by R. 2?. Patton, 
Boston: Hillard, Gray and Co., 1832. 

Ernesti, J. A., Elements of Interpretation, translated from the 
Latin of J. A. Ernesti and accompanied by notes, with 
an appendix containing exegetical extracts from Morns, 
Beck, and Keil, by Moses Stuart, Andover: Flagg and 
Gould, 1824. 

Farrar, Frederic W., History of Interpretation, New York: 
E. P. Button, 1886. 

Garrison, Winfred E., Alexander Campbell's Theology, its 
sources and historical setting, St. Louis: Christian Pub- 
lishing Co., 1900. 

Hackett, Horatio B., A Commentary on the Original Text of 
the Acts of the Apostles, Boston: J. P. Jewett and Co., 

Haldane, James Alexander, A View of the Social Worship and 
Ordinances observed by the First Christians, drawn from 
the Sacred Scriptures alone . . . Edinburgh: J. Eitchie, 

Home, Thomas Hartwell, An Introduction to the Critical Study 
and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, Fourth edition, 
corrected, London: 1823. 



Hort, Fenton J. A., The Christian Ecclesia, London: Macmil- 
lan and Co., 1914. 

Kellems, Jesse R., Alexander Campbell and the Disciples, New 
York : Richard R. Smith, 1930. 

Kershner, F. D., The Christian Union Overture, an interpreta- 
tion of the Declaration and Address of Thomas Camp- 
bell, St. Louis: 1923. 

Leigh, Edward, Critica Sacra, in Two Parts: The first contain- 
ing Observations on all the radices, or primitive Hebrew 
words of the Old Testament . . . 2nd ed. corrected and 
much enlarged by the author. The second, philologicall 
and theologicall observations upon all the Greek words 
of the New Testament . . . 3rd. ed., London : Printed by 
A Miller and R. Daniel for T. Underbill, 1650. 

Locke, John, An Essay on Human Understanding, In five 
books, 17th ed., London: J. Beecroft, 1775. 

Michaelis, Johann David, Introduction to the New Testament, 
translated from the fourth edition of the German and 
considerably augmented with notes and a dissertation 
on the origin and composition of the first three Gospels, 
by Herbert Marsh, The Second Edition, London: F. and 
C. Rivington, 1802. 

Parkhurst, John, A Greek and English Lexicon to the New 
Testament. To this work is prefixed a plain and easy 
Greek grammar . . . 4th ed., corrected enlarged and im- 
proved, London: Printed by T. Davison for G. and J. 
Robinson, 1804. 

Penn, Granville, Annotations to the Book of the New Covenant, 
with an explanatory preface, with which is reprinted 
J. L. Hug, De Antiquitate Codicis Vaticani Commenta- 
tio, London: James Duncan, MDCCCXXXVII. 

Richardson, Robert, Memoirs of Alexander Campbell, 2 vols., 
Cincinnati: The Standard Publishing Co., 1897. 

Robertson, A. T. A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in 
the Light of Historical Research, New York: George H. 
Doran Co. 1915. 

Robertson, William, Thesaurus Graecae Linguae, secundum Con- 
stantini methodum et Schrevellii. Reseratus concinnatus 
et adornatus studio et industria Gulielmi Robertson, 
Londini: 1676. 


Simms, P. Marion, The Bible in America, versions that have 
played their part in the making of the Republic, New 
York: Wilson Eriekson, Inc., 1936. 

Stokii, Christiani, Clavis Linguae Sanctae Novi Testamenti 
Vocbulorum, significations ordine concinno exhibens tam 
tironum quam Homiletices et Exegeseos cultorum studiis 
apprime inserviens ac subinde concordantarium vicem 
supplens quintum edita cura Joh. Frieder. Fischeri, 
Lipsae : in ofScina Weidmaniana, 1752. 

Stuart, Moses, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, 
with a translation and various excurses, Andover: Flagg 
and Gould, 1832. 

, Letters to the Rev. Wm. E. Channing, containing re- 
marks on his sermon, recently preached and published 
at Baltimore, Andover : Flagg and Gould, 1819. 

, "Kemarks on Doddridge's Family Expositor/ 7 The 

Family Expositor, by Philip Doddridge, Amherst, Mass. : 
J. S. & C. Adams and L. Boltwood, 1834. 

Viger, Francois, De Praecipius Graecae Dictionis Idiotismis 
Liber. Cum animadversionibus Henrici Hoogeveeni, Joan- 
nis Caroli Zeunii, et Godofredi Hermanni, cujus accedit 
De Pronomine autos dissertatio, Ed. 3, auctor et emenda- 
tior, Londini : Apud E. Priestley, 1824. 

Vitringa, Campegius, Observationum Sacrarum Liber Septimus 
in quo typus doctrinae propheticae in quo de prophetis 
et prophetiis agitur Animadversiones ad methodum 
Homiliarum Ecclesiasticarum rite institutendarum, Fran- 
equerae: Jacobum Horreum, MDCCXXVI. 

, Observationum Sacrarum Libri Septem f Duobus volumi- 

nibus comprehensi. In quibus de rebus varii argumenti 
et utilissimae investigations f ex sacris imprimis differi- 
tur, editio tertia, Amstelodami: Apud Fredericum Hor- 

Walker, Granville T., Preaching in the Thought of Alexander 
Campbell, St. Louis: Bethany Press, 1954. 

Weigle, Luther A., ed. Bible Words that Have Changed in 
Meaning, New York : Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1955. 

, The English New Testament from Tyndale to the Re- 
vised Standard Version, New York : Abingdon Cokesbury 
Press, 1949. 


West, Robert Frederick, Alexander Campbell and Natural Re- 
ligion, New Haven : Yale University Press, 1948. 

Williams, John A., Life of Elder John Smith, St. Louis: The 
Christian Board of Publication, n.d. (The Preface is 
dated 1870.) 

Note: This bibliography does not include all of the many 
editions and versions of the New Testament referred to in the 
text. These may be identified by consulting either the British 
Museum General Catalogue of Printed Books, or Darlowe and 
Moule, An Historical Catalogue of the Printed Editions of the 
Holy Scriptures in the Library of the British and Foreign Bible 


The Biblical Recorder, Ealeigh, North Carolina. 

The Biblical Repository, Andover, and New York. 

The British Millennial Harbinger, London, and Birmingham. 

The Christian Baptist, Bethany, Brooke Co., Virginia. 

The Columbian Star, Washington, D. C., and Philadelphia, Pa. 

The Episcopal Recorder, Philadelphia, Pa. 

The Millennial Harbinger, Bethany, Brooke Co., Virginia. 

The Tennessee Baptist, Nashville, Tenn. 


Matthew 1:1, 28 11:38, 74 

1:18, 41 14:10, 42 

2:15, 195 15:16, 55 

3:1, 98, 189, 192, 196 17:3, 4, 193 

3:11, 54 17:20, 21, 40 

4:3, 10, 55 17:36, 38 

4:22, 23, 99 

6:13, 37, 40, 54, 199 John 1:3, 55, 58, 98, 195, 196 

6:22, 55, 195 1:11, 28, 193, 199 

6:25, 41, 197 1:14, 16, 32 

9:10, 41 3:8, 58 

11:12, 40 4:24, 184 

11:20, 21, 193 5:3b-4, 38 

12:41, 193 6:37, 60 

13:20, 42 7:53-8:11, 37, 38, 54, 182, 199, 

13:21, 42 200 

16:16, 32, 66, 198 11:28, 146 

16:18, 75, 98, 196 11:38, 193 

18:17, 98 11:39, 40 

20:22, 37 13:26, 42 
20:22, 23, 33 

23:8, 76 Acts 1:14, 108 

25:27, 42 1=24, 104 

26:34, 135 2:21 > 195 

27:9, 135 2:22 > 195 

27:35b, 37 2 '47, 98 

28:19, 66, 79*, 183 JSi'SA 

Mark 3:29, 193 3:16, 106 

4:16ff., 203 3:22, 106, 109 

4:27, 203 4:16, 108 

7:3-5, 74 4:33, 32 

9:6, 42 7:14, 104, 109 

9:24, 76 7:19, 204 

13:14, 37 7:37, 106, 109 

14:30, 135 7:45, 109 

16:9-20, 37, 182, 200 8:18, 101 

8:24, 104 

Luke 2:5, 40, 200 8:33, 107, 195, 199 

9:56, 38 8:37, 38, 54, 98, 104, 183, 199 

10:13, 193 9:5, 108 

10:41, 42 9:37, 104 

11:32, 193 11:13, 101 




12:4, 108, 109 

13:7, 42 

13:9, 102 

13:19, 102 

13:21, 104 

13:32, 104 

13:48, 106 

14:8, 108 

14:15, 29 

17:1, 204 

17:23, 42, 192 

17:30, 42 

18:5, 101 

18:10, 108 

18:27, 106 

19:15, 102 

19:30, 108 

20:26, 108 

20:28, 29, 38, 66, 771, 107, 183 

21:16, 107 

24:27, 108 

25:12, 107 

26:14, 42, 192 

26:28, 107 

27:14, 108 

27:30, 42, 109, 192, 197 

27:37, 104, 109 

27:40, 107 

28:13, 42 

Eomans 1:2, 55 

1:13, 42 

1:17, 41, 199 

3:4, 42, 192 

7:18, 55 

8:1, 39 
12:13, 204 
14:1, 29 
14:23, 39, 54 
16:25-27, 39, 54, 183 

1 Corinthians 1:23, 195, 200 
4:6, 29, 197 
12:7, 144 
12:12, 32 
13: Iff., 42 

15:29, 33 
16:19, 98 
2 Corinthians 5:21-6:1, 30 

7:8-10, 36, 189 

8:1, 42 

Galatians 4:19, 32 
4:24, 197 

Ephesians 2:8, 41, 55, 199 
4:20, 32 
4:26, 56 

Philippians 1:22, 30 
3:6, 75 
3:20, 31 
4:13, 76 

Colossians 1:2, 76 
1:14, 39, 54, 199 
1:18, 24, 75 
2:2, 76 
4:6, 32 

1 Thessalonians 4:15, 42, 192 
5:14, 42 

1 Timothy 4:12, 42 

2 Timothy 3:16, 17, 56 
Titus 2:13, 77 

Hebrews 1:1, 41, 55 
1:2, 184 
1:4, 55 
4:3, 197 
9:10, 33 
10:38, 41 

James 2:1, 195 

1 John 5:7, 39, 54, 76, 98, 183, 199 

Revelation 1:11, 39 
10:6, 30 
12:2, 40 
12:13, 31 


Acts, revision of, 92 ?. 

American Bible Society, 84, 86, 88 

American Bible Union, 84, 89ff., 

177, 183, 197, 202 
American Christian Bible Society, 

017 QQ 

o7, oo 

American and Foreign Bible 

Society, 85-89 
Anderson, H. T., 198f . 
Appomattox Association, 80 
Authority of Scripture, 120 ff. 

Bagster's Greek Text, 91, 94, lOOff. 
Benson, George, 53, 97, 147 
Beza's New Testament, 96, 195 
Bible in Basic English, 189 
Biblia Sacra Polyglotta, 95f. 
Biblical Repository, 20f., 114f., 

149, 185 

Boothroyd, B., 99 
Bosworth, H. S., 63 
Broaddus, Andrew, 68 
Burnett, D. S., 87f. 

Campbell, D. R., 93 

Campbell, George, 17, 21, 22f., 27, 

29, 32-37, 45, 52, 74, 100, 114ff., 

llSf., 136, 147, 148, 152, 171, 

185, 187f. 

Campbell, Thomas, 115, 152 
Campbell, Macknight, Doddridge 

New Testament, 18, 20, 26, 28, 

67, 76, 82, 170 
Challen, James, 92 
Channing, W. E., 148 
Clarke, Adam, 96 
Clopton, Abner, 80 
Coccejus, 115f. 

Cone, Spencer H., 86, 89, 137, 192 
Critiea Sacra, 96f. 

Davis, John, 64 

Deep Run Association, 85 

Deism, 121f. 

Dickinson, Rodolphus, 195f. 

Dodd, C. H., 36, 176 

Doddridge, Philip, 17, 21, 22, 24, 

291, 34, 46, 77, 106 
D'Oyly and Mant, 74, 97 

Elkhorn Baptist Association, 79 
Episcopal Recorder, 74, 77, 196 
Ernesti, J. A., 53, 114, 116, 147f. 

Faith, 125-128 
Fall, P. S., 139 

Geneva Bible, 67, 95 

Goodspeed's New Testament, 189 

Graves, John R., 73 

Greenfield, William, 53 

Griesbach, J. J., 22, 25, 28f., 37, 

39, 52f., 54, 76f., 82, 100, 102, 

107, 183 
Grotius, Hugo, 147 

Hackett, H. B., 97, 103, 107 
Hahn, Augustus, 142f. 
Hammond, H., 147 
History, 129-133 
Home, Thomas H., 53 
Hort, F. J. A., 186 

Innate ideas, 121f. 
Inspiration, 129ff., 133ff. 

Jennings, Obadiah, 75 

Jones, W., 64 

Judson, Adoniram, 84f . 

Kant, Immanuel, 142 
Kellems, Jesse R., 153 
Kendrick, A. C., 98, 194, 198*. 
Kershner, F. D., 152f. 
Knowledge, 118ff. 
Knox's translation, 189 
Kuinoel, C. T., 97, 106 




Lachmann, K., 100, 107 
Landis, B. W., 20f ., 69, 75f., 79 
Living Oraeles, 59, 62, 65, 133 
Locke, John, 19, 52, 113f., 116, 121, 


London Christian Messenger, 65 
Long Run Association, 140 

Macknight, James, 17, 21ff., 33, 41, 

45, 48, 52, 114f . 
Marshall, Humphry, 135 
Michaelis, John D., 52, 147 
Mill, John S., 53 
Moffatt's translation, 189 
Monroe, Daniel, 84f. 
Murdock, James, 99 

Natural religion, 122 
New York Courier, 171 
Norton, Andrews, 192f. 

Owen, Robert, 132, 135, 143 

Parkhurst, John, 53 
Peirce, James, 53, 147 
Penn, Granville, 99 
Philadelphia Confession of Faith, 

Raines, Aylett, 87 
Reason, 117ff., 122-125 
Redstone Baptist Association, 115 
Reformers, 38 
Regular Baptists, 38 
Revelation, 118ff., 122ff., 128, 129ff. 
Rice, N. L., 127, 153 
Richardson, Robert, 68 
Robertson, William, 53, 96 
Rotherham, Joseph B., 200 

Scholz, J. M. A., 100 
Semple, Robert B., 145, 163f., 175 
Septuagint, 155 
Shannon, James, 92 
Smith, George A., 74f., 77, 79, 196 
Smith, John, 80f. 
Spiritual guidance, 133:8:. 
Stennett, Samuel, 145 
Stock, Christian, 53, 96 
Straith, Alexander, 140 
Stuart, Moses, 52, 97, 114ff., 140, 
148f., 155, 157, 177 

Taylor, John, 41, 147 

Tennessee Baptist, 73 

Thomson, Charles, 24f., 29, 30, 106 

Tischendorf, C., lOOf., 107 

Transylvania University, 122 

Twentieth Century New Testament, 

Tyndale, Wm., 95 

Wakefield, Gilbert, 100, 106 

Walker, Granville, 134ff. 

Waller, Edmund, 70, 81 

Waller, George, 71, 146 

Warder, Walter, 72 

West, Robert F., 118 

Wetstein, J., 53, 96 

Whitby, Daniel, 147 

Whiting, N. N., 198 

Williams, John, 65ff. 

Wrightman, G., 64 

Wyckoff, William H., 88f., 93, 192 

Wycliffe, John, 68, 95 

Yantes, J. L., 73 
Young, Robert, 194f.