Translators of the KJV (AV) Bible – Lawrence Chaderton

The translators of the King James Bible were scholars of the highest caliber. Many of them were among the very top scholars of England and Europe. As a body they were masters not only of Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Latin, but also of the cognate or associate languages that are necessary for research into ancient documents relative to the Bible. These include Persian, Coptic, Syriac, Armenian, and Chaldee. Many of the KJV translators were men of unusual piety, as well, and were bold in their denunciation of “popery.”

Lawrence Chaderton (1537-1640) grew up in a staunch Catholic home and his wealthy father wanted him to be a lawyer. Upon being converted to Christ in 1564, Lawrence abandoned his law studies to attend Christ’s College, Cambridge. When he wrote to his father to request some assistance, the “old papist” wrote, “Son Lawrence, if you will renounce the new sect which you have joined, you may expect all the happiness which the care of an indulgent father can assure you; otherwise, I enclose a shilling to buy a wallet. Go and beg.” When Lawrence replied that he could not give up his faith in the Word of God, his father disinherited him of the large estate; but by God’s grace he never had to beg (Ps. 37:25).

He was thoroughly skilled in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, Spanish, and Italian, and was thoroughly acquainted with the writings of the Jewish rabbis. He was a Puritan and the first Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, which was founded in 1584 and was established with the intent that students would not only study but would “go out and spread knowledge in all parts of the country” (Paine, The Men Behind the KJV, p. 28). McClure says: “Having reached his three score years and ten, his knowledge was fully digested, and his experience matured, while ‘his natural force was not abated,’ and his faculties burned with unabated fire. Even to the close of his long life, ‘his eye was not dim,’ and his sight required no artificial aid. … He was greatly venerated. All his habits were such as inspired confidence in his piety. During the fifty-three years of his married life, he never suffered any of his servants to be detained from public worship by the preparation of food, or other household cares. He used to say, ‘I desire as much to have my servants to know the Lord, as myself'” (McClure, Translators Revived).

As a young man Chaderton began a series of afternoon sermons at the church of St. Clement’s, Cambridge, that continued for 50 years. “Sermons were timed by an hour glass, which stood beside the pulpit. Chaderton’s biographer tells how once having preached for two hours, he feared he had worn out his listeners’ patience and stopped. But the entire congregation cried, ‘For God’s sake, go on! We beg you, go on!’ Chaderton continued for another hour” (Opfell, The King James Bible Translators, p. 47). When he announced that he was retiring from these lectures, forty of the clergy, who said they owed their conversion to his preaching, begged him to reconsider. Two of Chaderton’s brothers-in-law, Samuel and Ezekiel Culverwell, became famous Puritan preachers (Opfell, p. 47). He died in the year 1640 in the one hundred and third year of his age, and it is said that to the end he could read a small-print Greek New Testament without glasses.

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