Checking a second hand KJB is PCE before purchasing


It is important to have the correct, perfect and final text of the King James Bible, since there are correctors (e.g. publishers) who have changed some aspects of King James Bible texts. The final form of the King James Bible is the Pure Cambridge Edition (circa 1900), which conforms to the following:

1. “or Sheba” not “and Sheba” in Joshua 19:2
2. “sin” not “sins” in 2 Chronicles 33:19
3. “Spirit of God” not “spirit of God” in Job 33:4
4. “whom ye” not “whom he” in Jeremiah 34:16
5. “Spirit of God” not “spirit of God” in Ezekiel 11:24
6. “flieth” not “fleeth” in Nahum 3:16
7. “Spirit” not “spirit” in Matthew 4:1
8. “further” not “farther” in Matthew 26:39
9. “bewrayeth” not “betrayeth” in Matthew 26:73
10. “Spirit” not “spirit” in Mark 1:12
11. “spirit” not “Spirit” in Acts 11:28
12. “spirit” not “Spirit” in 1 John 5:8

This is the list to use to identify the PCE. A fuller list can be seen here which compares editions:

Now, what about something like where some PCEs have “Zarah” and some “Zerah” at Gen. 46:12? Copies of the PCE have both spellings of that, it’s a variation within PCEs. The quick answer is that the correct form can be seen by checking, that is, “Zerah”.

A PCE is defined as a KJB edition text which follows a small set of criteria, e.g. 1 John 5:8 lower case “s” on “spirit”, etc. (The list of 12 criteria above.)

There is also a “critical” correct exemplary PCE text, i.e. that which is supplied on the website.

Thus, a PCE copy you might own might have some printing mistake somewhere, like a full stop missing or something somewhere, for example, a copy printed by Collins, from 1959 Iona Octavo let’s say.

Here we are defining Edition (with a capital “E”) as conformity to the set of editorial choices (i.e. the PCE) while an edition (I.e. a print run in a style for a certain publisher in a certain size a certain year) may exhibit some variation unique (an erratum like a missing full stop) or in minority (like the variation in the spelling of the word “Zarah” which goes across various printings). Remember, the PCE by Bible Protector resolves and presents what is actually standard, but yes I have used Collins Bibles a lot in Church, because they are PCE, not because their printing is “immaculate”.

(I now use Church Bible Publishers printed Bibles at Church, personally, I use a Large Print Turquoise Reference, they are PCE and they are well bound.)

Now, to get onto the quick way I might check a Bible. Say I visit a book sale, a second hand book store or whatever. To make a quick check, I will see the publisher, if it is Collins or Cambridge, I am expecting it likely to be correct. For a quick check, I don’t go through a huge list, I just do this:

1. Front Page is King James Bible
2. Ezra 2:26 says “Geba” not “Gaba”
3. 1 John 5:8 says “spirit” not “Spirit”

Yes? Then I will likely purchase. (Hopefully you can get a person to check for you if you are buying online.)

The Cambridge Standard Text is a different edition, it was made by Cambridge after it purchased Eyre and Spottiswoode, and it does not have italics. Cambridge also has some other editions, like Concord, French Morocco Large Print, Windsor and post-PCE Cameo. Those printings from the 1980s onward will likely fail the test at least at 1 John 5:8.

In the past, the Trinitarian Bible Society (TBS) Bibles, and British & Foreign Bible Society Bibles (BFBS) were PCEs printed by Cambridge, often at their Pitt Press, which is distinct from their University printing location. Because of this, Pitt TBS and Pitt BFBS copies can differ to other Cambridge printings of the PCE in a few places, like making into small capitals “ELI ELI LAMA SABACTHANI” etc.

Now to actual indications of types of printings and presentations of the range of 32mo, 24mo, 16mo, 12mo, 8vo (Octavo), 4to (Quarto) and if you can ever find Folio sized Cambridge printed KJBs from 1928 to 1984 are likely PCE. These also come in a series of names like gemstones, i.e. Ruby, Amethyst, Diamond, Sapphire, Emerald, Turquoise, etc.  And also the beloved Cameo. Further, Pitt Press has its Pitt Octavo (Brevier), Pitt Brevier (no italics) and Pitt Minion Bold Figure Reference styles.

Likewise Collins, and sometimes World, and sometimes known as HarperCollins, have a similar array of PCEs in those sizes, 32mo etc. up to Family Bible (quarto) and Lectern Bible (Folio) size. These will include Iona, New Brevier, Fontana, Popular (from their Clear-Type Press) etc. These will be dated from approx. 1932 to 2007 at least. Not every single Collins printing was PCE, but most were.

Incidentally, Cambridge printed for SGM Publishing House, the Mormons (as well as through their Baker Books branding in the USA) and Collins printed for the Freemasons, Presbyterian Church, etc. Thus, you can find PCEs with those brandings on them, of course, I like to re-cover those Bibles.

At the back of Cambridge-printed Bibles are little letter and numbers, on the last page, which gives the print run amount, the printing press letter and the year in the 20th century, e.g. 120 F 57, one of my many Ruby Sunday School style 24mos, meaning, 120,000 printed at machine F in 1957, while another is 150 G 58.

Collins have a Licence printed in the front just after the title page, the date at the bottom just before the signed name will indicate the year, e.g. nineteen forty-five, and also tell you how many were to be printed. It seems that the 1950s was especially a high volume printing period.