American CUP's letter examined

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American CUP's letter examined

Postby bibleprotector » 30 May 2014, 13:54

The following letter from CUP's American Office in 1985 is telling. My comments are in red.

Dear ______________

I am always puzzled when I see occasional references made to the 'Pure Cambridge Edition'.

It would be strange to those who do not understand about presentational purity, and who do not have an aim to uphold the perfection of the King James Bible as the ONLY Bible. Cambridge has long meandered from its traditional standing, and sadly, in recent years, its guardianship has lapsed.

I have seen no real evidence to suggest that there was any distinct revision process undertaken (by or on behalf of Cambridge) at the end of the 19th century (i.e. after Scrivener, and after the process of revision which led to the publication of the Revised Version) which justifies the claim that 'an edition' was consciously developed at that time.

Yet a distinct edition exists with around 50 differences to the late Victorian Cambridge Edition. There are examples of it from the 1920s to the 1980s being printed extensively by CUP and its Pitt Press.

I would suggest that then, as before and after, each time a new setting of the Bible was undertaken the editorial and production teams responsible (whether at Cambridge, Collins, Oxford or elsewhere) took as their pattern copy text for typesetting what they regarded as the best, most accurate version of the text available and re-keyed it as accurately as they could.

The PCE did not arise by accident. Many of the changes are so particular that they would require the highest knowledge of the history of the editions, and are judiciously made with such care as to accurately restore several old renderings which had long been mis-presented.

For a brief period of time it is possible that most Cambridge Bibles did conform to the version of the text that adherents of the 'Pure Cambridge Edition' regard as perfection but we have no means to identify which - if any - Cambridge editions or typesettings of the early 20th century might have been the one that prompts the 'Pure Cambridge Edition' notion.

Rather vague and inaccurate description: the PCE was dominant from the late 1920s to the beginning of the 1980s at least.

On the Bible Protector website (the main proponent of the PCE concept) there is a brief list of key passages/spelling for identification, and a much longer list of over 500 textual elements. (It should be noted that even here, in the context of someone suggesting a definitive piece of research, these 2 lists do not agree: not all the items listed in the 'key' identifiers appears in the supposedly definitive list.)

The key list is for 12 passages designed to be compared to ANY KJB ever made, whereas the list of 500 concentrates on variations between major post-1769 representatives. To imply the inaccuracy of the PCE or its evaluation is poor form (why would CUP shoot itself in the foot by trying to haze up the existence or textual studies into one of its own dominant, if not the most dominant ever considering all those BFBS Rubys, editions?)

Insofar as I have been able to evaluate these it appears that there are three current or recent Cambridge editions which come close to the PCE. Some new Cambridge editions were originated during the 1920s and 1930s, apparently using as their pattern copy a version that (nearly) accords with your expectations. Our Cameo and Turquoise (now called Presentation Reference) and Pitt Minion editions fall into that category.

Small changes were made in the 1980s in some editions to make them no longer PCE. Compare the word "spirit" at Acts 11:12, Acts 11:28 and 1 John 5:8 between these PCE and post-PCE editions.

I have checked these three Cambridge editions against the key list of textual variants, and also against most of the items on the definitive list where the PCE supposedly differs from the Cambridge Concord edition. (NB: the Concord Reference Edition, which originated in the 1950s is based on some editorial work agreed between the 2 university presses of Oxford and Cambridge, and has been described - by the Online Bible amongst others - as the most accurate representation as exists currently).

The PCE does not “supposedly” differ from the Concord, it definitely differs. To uphold the Concord as superior is disputable. Larry Pierce of the online Bible sent that text (after he had worked on it) to be examined by a Japanese corporation who claimed to achieve a very high degree of typographical accuracy, but there are still typographical errors in it (even to this day!). So, it would be foolish to claim the edition's actual accuracy just because it happens to be typographically good. Not only is the Concord not immaculate, but there are also some issues in its spelling and editorial choices, particular its capitalising of the word "Spirit" in Acts 11:12, Acts 11:28 and 1 John 5:8.

Concord mainly differs from 'the PCE' in spellings (e.g. entreat/intreat; enquire/inquire). The other 3 Cambridge editions, Turquoise, Pitt Minion and Cameo, all agree with the PCE (insofar as I have been able to check) except in one particular - they each have 'Spirit' rather than 'spirit' at 1 John 5:8. The evidence I have is that this is a quite deliberate representation - and indeed accords with most modern KJV settings, and also with all modern versions of the Bible that I have in this office. In fact, the Pitt Minion Text Edition originally had 'spirit', but by the 1950s the Pitt Minion Reference edition, using the same basic setting, had been amended to 'Spirit' - presumably to conform to the new Concord, and also the older Turquoise and Cameo editions. (It is possible that those last two originally had a lower case 's', but I have no means of confirming or denying this.)

By thorough observation, we would find that Pitt Minion, Pitt Brevier, Cameo, Emerald, Turquoise, Diamond, Sapphire, Amethyst and Ruby were all PCE, and there are examples of various of these as PCE in and after the 1960s.

The Presentation Reference Edition (Turquoise) and the Pitt Minion Reference Edition are still available, and we are planning to reissue the Cameo during this year. If you are interested in purchasing one of the current editions, I suggest that you contact our US distributor, Baker Publishing Group, or view details on their website (http:/

Hopefully CUP will make its upcoming Cameos to be PCE, but it is not likely considering the progress of modernism.


Cambridge University Press in America sent someone this letter June 3, 1985, in which they admit to changing the word "spirit" to "Spirit",

“I don't know how to say this to you other than to be perfectly honest. We are very grateful to you even though you have put your finger on a matter of some embarras[s]ment regarding the lower case 's' in Spirit, reference 1Jn.,5:8.

“There is no way of knowing how many years this particular edition has carried the misprint. Our Bible department in England was astounded that this has never been noticed before. I assumed some mysterious theological question was involved and overlooked the obvious in my search of commentaries.

“This error of course, will be corrected in subsequent printings thanks to your sharp eyes. Again, we are very grateful.”

It is signed, Jerry L. Hooper.


The lower case "s" on "spirit" was not a misprint, but was deliberately retained in old editions, and allowed to remain over the years. (They confess "ignorance". The time was 1985, when the NKJV and others had now taken over. CUP were willing to make changes. Their attitude was one of making even more changes around 1990 with David Norton's project of making changes).

To say it is a "misprint" is only because there is an assumption that the word "spirit" must always be with a capital "S", even though there are plenty of examples in the KJB where it has lowercase, including references relating to God. Also, commentaries do not neccesarily require "Spirit" (even if such typography is used today), as might be seen from examples, such as Augustine's interpretation, John Gill's exposition and others... (this is hardly "Pentecostal" bias!)
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