p. 75, Exodus 15
In 1611, when the translators of the King James Bible explained in The Translators to the Reader that "diversity of signification and sense in the margin, where the text is not so clear, must needes doe good, yea, is necessary, as we are persuaded," they were articulating a format issue which would only grow more complex with time. In our century, we have seen an ever-growing need for the Bible to carry along with the text an immense amount of accumulated scholarship. Integrity demands that translators and editors give every possibility for the meaning of a scriptural wordat the same time allowing the text itself to stand without being covered by scholarly notation.
The Ryrie Collection contains an interesting example of format complexities that arise when attempting to render the text in accordance with the latest scholarly documentation. James Moffatt (18701944) translated the New Testament, published in 1913, and the Old (1924), and the whole Bible, revised, in 1926. He was a man of great biblical learning who managed to get a substantial amount of textual knowledge on the page without disturbing a remarkably pleasant reading text.
Moffatt uses an unobtrusive, but meticulous, system of symbols. For example, ellipses (...) are used to designate problematic passages, since, as Moffatt explains, "the traditional or Massoretic text of the Old Testament, though of primary value, is often desperately corrupt." He points to Genesis 35:22, Judges 3:7, and 1 Samuel 13:1 as "broken or defective, though our English version usually conceals this," and notes that "at other points [the text] is in such disrepair that no conjecture can heal it." Such passages are quietly marked with three dots. To separate and identify the J and E documents, he brackets the text, and for interpolations and later editorial additions, which creep into the Old Testament, he uses double brackets.
Moffatt also reveals the text and textual scholarship by differentiating between prose and poetry in the original. For almost three centuries the King James Version had by its format veiled the presence of poetry appearing within the text. When the need for revision finally bore fruit with the publication of the Revised Version (188185) the reviser-translators allowed poetic expression to retain its poetic structure in print, placing prose in paragraphs. The American Revised Version (1901) followed the Revised Version in format arrangements, but substantially shortened the prose paragraphs. Moffatt's version and the Revised Standard Version [10.6] continued format arrangements pioneered by the Revised and American Revised Versions.
Formatting biblical text with its complexities of notes and interpretation "must needes doe good." Contemporary proof of this wisdom is gained when one opens the Ryrie Study Bible.