An American scholar, searching in the archives of a Cambridge University library, was looking for an undiscovered letter from the early seventeenth century. He found what he was looking for. He also found something else: the earliest working draft yet discovered of a section of what later became the King James Version of the Bible. Dated to between 1604 and 1608, the notebook is the work of Samuel Ward, master of Sidney Sussex College, and in the 1980s had been catalogued as “verse by verse commentary” with “Greek word studies and some Hebrew notes.” As Professor Miller tried to decipher what passages Samuel Ward was commenting on in the seventy or so pages of notes, he realised it was not commentary but a draft.
“You can actually see the way Greek, Latin and Hebrew are all feeding into what will become the most widely read work of English literature of all time,” Professor Miller said. “It gets you so close to the thought process, it’s incredible.”