Quaker Bible

Not to be confused with Quaker Faith and Practice.

The Quaker Bible, officially A new and literal translation of all the books of the Old and New Testament; with notes critical and explanatory, is the 1764 translation of the Christian Bible into English by Anthony Purver (1702–1777), a Quaker. The translation was published in two Volumes in London by W. Richardson and S. Clark in 1764, but is not generally regarded as successful.

Comparison with the New English Bible

In 1970, following the publication of the New English Bible, Harold A. Guy wrote an article printed in the Expository Times ;[1] "An Eighteenth Century New English Bible", discussing Purver's Bible translation. Guy makes no further reference to the NEB to justify the analogy claimed by the title of his article.

Whilst both Purver's Bible and the New English Bible endured long gestation periods, that is where any similarity ends. Nevertheless, exploring the attempted analogy can help to highlight certain factors about Purver's version:

Despite the failed analogy, in his article Harold Guy does preserve some details of the story behind the Purver version, and provides some examples of the text.


A portion of Purver's translation was published in parts about 1742 by Felix Farley of Bristol, but the publication received little support. Purver failed to get the whole text published, and gained no backing for his venture, even by the Religious Society of Friends. Even when the Manuscript was published by Dr. John Fothergill at his own expense, the full translation also failed to make any impression.

Various reasons can be advanced for the failure of Purver’s translation; lack of publicity; the fact that it lacked authority (a one-man translation) and it had not been backed by any Church, not even the Religious Society of Friends, to which Purver belonged. Yet the failure to make its mark may owe itself to the deficiencies of his translation.

By some it is held to be an unreliable translation; the Dictionary of National Biography records that Purver "…on arriving at a difficult passage, he would shut himself up for two or three days and nights, waiting for inspiration"[2] Charles Haddon Spurgeon, who was acquainted with Purver’s version remarks "A Quaker Translation. Often ungrammatical and unintelligible. Not without its good points, but much more curious than useful." [3]


  1. Expository Times; issue 81; pages 148-150. Published in 1970
  2. Taken from http://www.biblecollectors.org/articles/untrustworthy_translations.htm
  3. Spurgeon, C H 'Commenting and Commentaries' item 52, Passmore and Alabaster, London, 1890

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