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#118 - KJV punctuation differences and Bible Lesson markings

by Robert Nguyen Cramer

This BibleTexts website administrator has very much enjoyed questions and insights that have been emailed to him ever since this site was launched in September of 1996. On this page I share with BibleTexts browsers a few of the questions, insights, and responses, so that we all can further learn from and with each other.





The Feb 22, 2004, full text Bible Lesson has a mistake in citation 7 for 2 Samuel 20:22. The story of Sheba is incomplete. Verse 22, which is supposed to end at the 1st period, does not go as far as it is supposed to; thus, it skips the part that says Sheba's head is cast out to Joab.



The verbiage about Sheba's head is NOT part of this week's Bible Lesson. It turns out that the problem wasn't a typo in the any edition of the Quarterly. It was a matter of the difference in punctuation between different editions of the King James Version (KJV). In at least some editions, the text and punctuation of 2Sa 20:22 read as follows:

Then the woman went unto all the people in her wisdom: and they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and cast it out to Joab. And he blew a trumpet, and they retired from the city, every man to his tent. And Joab returned to Jerusalem unto the king.

In that edition, ending the verse at the 1st period results in the following reading:

Then the woman went unto all the people in her wisdom: and they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and cast it out to Joab.

That reading provides a little more detail than was planned by the Bible Lesson Committee (!), but it would be correct according to some KJV punctuation. The Bible citation is supposed to end after "wisdom."

Here's a little background. Almost all of today's printed and electronic editions of the KJV are based upon Dr. Benjamin Blayney's 1769 revision of the KJV, which like many of its KJV-revision predecessors, does not include the Apocrypha and the marginal notes that were in the original 1611 edition of the KJV. Spelling and punctuation also are quite different from the 1611 edition. Even in today's editions of the KJV, there remain some punctuation and spelling differences among major publishers.

I first experienced this years ago when newly elected as First Reader. During a service I had read "further" in a verse. After the service I was criticized by a fellow member in the congregation who told me I should have read "farther." It turned out that the difference was that I was reading from a Cambridge edition of the Bible, and my critic was reading from an Oxford edition of the Bible. Both Bibles had been purchased in a Christian Science Reading Room. I have since learned that the evolution of the KJV Bible before and after 1611 is much more involved than is generally known, as documented at


Copyright 1996-2004 Robert Nguyen Cramer