King James Bible: Purple Letter Edition

King James Bible: Purple Letter Edition

(Based on the 1611 Authorized Version Old and New Testaments)

Preface to the Reader

Purpose and Intent: The premise of this humble effort is simple:  The assumption that the main purpose in reading God’s Word is to learn more of Him.  One of the impediments for the casual Bible reader is the unfortunate use or assignment of pronouns in virtually all extant translations.  The purpose here is to use a tri-color font scheme to clue the reader as to whom a noun or pronoun refers: Deity, angels, man, or ‘other’.

The spectrum of pronoun resolution difficulty ranges from perfectly clear and obvious, to somewhat vague, to a little confusing, to outright misleading, and enigmatic.  Many vague usages are readily resolved from the immediate or broader context; others require more diligent research; and some defy certain resolution.  The cause of the difficulty may be simple ambiguity, failure to adhere to antecedent rules, or in a few cases ‘dual resolution’.  In some instances, the entity that a given pronoun refers to will change within a verse or sentence – a phenomenon some have come to refer to as “pronoun swap”.  To varying degrees, these can cause confusion as to who is being discussed; and what conclusions are to be drawn from the passage.  This is particularly critical when the subject may be God.  The goal here is to use visual clues (font colors) to enable the reader of God’s word to more readily comprehend what His word tells us of Him, without the distraction of having to decipher what are true references to the Triune God: one or more members of the Holy Trinity.  This is by no means a scholarly work; and it likely will find little appreciation or value among true Biblical scholars, or those well versed in the original Hebrew or Greek texts.  Indeed, it may earn their well-deserved disdain.  But they are not the ones for whom this was undertaken – but rather the layman in the pew who simply wants to be able to read God’s Word, with greater comprehension and appreciation of who God is – and of His character - without the confusion or distraction of having to interpret on the fly who is being referenced – God, mortal man, or some other entity.  This is what this poor effort seeks to remedy in this simplistic fashion.  In a sense, it is not unlike the “Red Letter Edition” of the Bible (first published in 1900), which set out to readily identify to the reader the words uttered by our Lord, Jesus Christ, while on earth.  Frankly, the words of Christ are more readily identified from the context than are some references to God (as opposed to other entities) throughout the Bible.  Some Bible translations seek to remedy this pronoun resolution problem by capitalizing pronouns that refer to God.  While helpful, the capitalization remedy is inherently limited, since the pronoun “I” is always capitalized, as are any pronouns that happen to start a verse, sentence or quote, rendering capitalization an unreliable indicator.

Caveat: With the higher level of difficulty of this undertaking comes the higher risk of unintended misinterpretation and misrepresentation.  The goal of this effort is ease of reading and comprehension; relieving the reader of the task of repeatedly solving those identity riddles within Scripture that can, through careful study, be resolved.  The great majority of these identity questions are of this type.  However, there is a residual minority of tougher identity questions that cannot be resolved with any high degree of certainty.  The intent here is not to offer, nor to favor, one answer over another in these questions.  The author is uniquely unqualified to act as an authority or as ‘referee’ in areas of dispute.  Let him here apologize for and disavow any instance where it might be construed that he has ‘taken sides’ on any such dispute.  He will attempt to serve as a convenient ‘clearing house’ of those reputable scholarly and authoritative sources of light that can be focused on these issues; but will not knowingly represent one view as more credible than another.

Bible Text Version Used and its Preparation - The Authorized King James Version was chosen for this project because it is “public domain”, and free of copyright encumbrances.  The copy used as the base text for this “Purple Letter Edition” pronoun resolution project was not what a “purist” might regard as “the 1611 AV KJV”, if, indeed, such a text exists.  There are several ‘flavors’ of what is today called the “AV KJV”.  The text base as received did not have the Gothic type set that the original 1611 AV printing had, with the attendant letter and spelling variations.  Nonetheless, this old KJV text had inherent problems that posed greater consternation for most readers than what this project set out to alleviate.  These problems were mainly in the areas of bizarre punctuation, and archaic words.  (It also included the Apocrypha, which was deemed beyond the scope of this project, and is not included in this “Purple Letter Edition” rendering.)

Re-punctuating the text was required to better conform to current punctuation rules and usage.  (As received, the text was characterized by the prolific use of colons where periods, commas, and semicolons were better suited.  About the only places where colons rarely occurred were those places where they were appropriate.)

Then there was the need to replace archaic words with ones we are more familiar with today.  After doing word-substitution through much of the Pentateuch, I was suddenly gripped with pangs of remorse for having replaced those fine old words.  So I began the word change process again – this time retaining and enclosing the archaic words with ‘braces’ ({}), and preceding them with italicized substitute words to effect a “verbal bridge” to span the four centuries from the 1600s to now.  It was only after these preparatory efforts that the text was ready for the intended “pronoun resolution font color-coding” project.  Throughout this project, every effort was made to preserve and not alter the text from its original intent and meaning.  Even so, the resulting text may not exactly match your favorite AV KJV. 

The popularity of many more recent English translations and versions is also recognized; but this “Purple Letter Edition” is KJV based.  However, much of the information conveyed by this ‘color-coded’ “KJP” could be transferred to and implemented in other translations without much difficulty, beyond the legal copyright issues, if someone sees merit in such an undertaking.

Implementation Notes and Conventions Followed in this Implementation:

Significance of the Three Font Colors Used -

The purple font (I like to think of it as “royal purple” in this implementation), available in most word processors, is used to identify all references to Deity – be it Father, Son, or Holy Spirit.  (As initially implemented, it was the only colored font utilized.)  In this work, all nouns that refer to any member of the Holy Trinity have the “royal purple” font color applied, and are capitalized, except as noted in this paragraph.  “Weak” references, such as the demonstrative pronoun “that”, as in “Him that”, or a possessive pronoun such as “own” as in “His own”, are not capitalized, but will have the purple font.  The word “name”, where it refers to the name of God (whether Father, Son or Spirit), also receives the purple font without capitalization treatment.  Certain nouns and adjectives that are applied to God also receive the purple font treatment without capitalization.  (Those found in Psalm 62 are good examples.)

Later, as the need became apparent, a blue font was adopted to identify non-deity angelic beings and to distinguish between them and Members of the Trinity.  (However, words for Satan and his “angels” have only the regular black font applied to them.) 

A third, darker ”deep purple font” was later adopted and applied to words where it is not clear whether the referenced beings are Deity, angels, true Theophanies (manifestations of God or pre-incarnate Christ), or in those instances where the identity of the referent cannot be conclusively identified.  Please see “Deep Purple Registry” (below) for more information on how these exceptions are handled.

Other Font Nuances Employed and their Significance -

In many instances, it is easier to distinguish between references to the God, the Father, (First Person) and the Holy Spirit (Third Person) of the Holy Trinity, than it is to distinguish between references to God, the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  To aid the distinction between references to our Lord, Jesus Christ and references to the other two members of the Holy Trinity, the “Bold” font is applied to references to God, the Father, and the Holy Spirit, while leaving references to our Lord, Jesus Christ, in normal (non-bold) font.  That distinction ‘device’ was an afterthought in this simplistic implementation – but does not in any way suggest or imply a slighting of any member of the Holy Trinity.  The exception to this “bold/no-bold” rule is the pronoun “I”:  Because it is a single letter pronoun, and is already always capitalized, it will be made bold in all instances where the pronoun “I” refers to any member of the Holy Trinity, to make it more readily noticed.

There is yet another special case that warrants explanation here.  When a pronoun is used in a question as to the identity of an entity, and the correct answer to that question is Deity (i.e., Father, Son or Holy Spirit), the pronoun which the question seeks to resolve will have the “deep purple” non-bold font applied to it to signify that it represents God, when the question is answered correctly.  The two occurrences of “Who” at the beginning of Isaiah vv. 41:2, and 41:4 are examples of this.

Use of Explicit Identification Notation -

In rare cases, explicit identification notation was needed for clarity.  In such cases, a parenthetical insertion of smaller font, enclosed in blue parentheses (), is used.  An example of this is Ezekiel 43:3, where we read: 3.And it was according to the appearance of the vision which I saw, even according to the vision that I saw when I came to destroy the city; and the visions were like the vision that I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell upon my face.  In this verse, where the pronoun “I” appears four times, only the 3rd occurrence refers to God, while the other three occurrences of “I” refer to Ezekiel.  In such cases, a parenthetical insertion, enclosed in blue parentheses (), is employed to further clarify ambiguous or conflicting references, as shown here: “3 And it was according to the appearance of the vision which I (Ezekiel) saw, even according to the vision that I saw when I (the LORD) came to destroy the city; and the visions were like the vision that I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell upon my face.”

These explicit identifications were used only in selected passages in OT books Numbers, Joshua, 1 & 2 Kings, Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel,. Hosea, and Micah.

Deep Purple Registry -

Upon completing the “KJP” (Purple Letter Edition) of the Bible project, the research notes compiled while researching the exceptions or difficult passages and references that required the “deep purple font” treatment were then used to compose a “Registry” of entries for these “exceptions” in book, chapter and verse order.  Each “Deep Purple Registry” entry identifies the question or issue, the passage in question, any appropriate notes or comments, and the resolution arrived at.  This “look-aside” registry approach seemed preferable to imbedded in-line notes within the scripture text, which would have been more of a distraction to the reader.  It enables any reader whose curiosity is raised when a noun or pronoun with the “deep purple font” treatment is encountered to look it up in the Registry, while not encumbering those who do not share this curiosity as to why it is so treated.  This “Deep Purple Registry” is available on this website and can be accessed by clicking the button (box) that appears on the lower right of the website page when the KJP Bible text is displayed.  This “Deep Purple Registry” may also prove useful to readers of other Bible translations when they encounter pronoun ambiguity problems while reading their favorite translation.

My apologies in advance for any confusion, oversights, errors or inconsistencies that may appear in this implementation.  I trust that it serves its intended purpose, despite my foibles.  Please forward any concerns or comments to  (jam)

©2009 by Jim Musser. Used by Permission. All rights Reserved.


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