Who was Archbishop Newcombe? (translation question)


I was doing some research, and found a Watchtower booklet that quotes a version of the new testament that translates John 1:1 as saying “the word was a god.” This is not the JW’s very poor New World Translation. But they are trying to support their NWT by quoting others, and they quote a publication from the early 1800’s that had a title that went something like “The New Testament, an improved version based on the work of Archbishop Newcombe” or similar. I think it was published in London, about 1808, as I recall.

Does anyone know if this Newcombe was Catholic? I can’t believe the RCC would sanction such a poor translation. Can anyone shed any light on who this guy was, or what the publication was?



It appears that the person in question is Archbishop William Newcome (1729-1800), an archbishop in the Church of Ireland, part of the Anglican Communion, I think. Anyway, he is not listed at www.catholic-hierarchy.org.

The following description of his Bible translation is from

  1. William Newcome, An Attempt toward revising our English Translation of the Greek Scriptures, or the New Covenant of Jesus Christ; and toward illustrating the sense by philological and explanatory notes. 2 Vols. London: for J. Johnson; Dublin: John Exshaw, 1796. A revision of the KJV by Archbishop Newcome, based on the text of Griesbach 1774. This was the first English version to represent Griesbach’s new critical text.


Hey, thanks. That web listing of bible versions was helpful. The specific translation was on the 1800’s page, and was a revision of Necombe’s work by a guy named Thomas Belsham, a unitarian who revised Newcombe to fit his own purposes. So until I find more info, Mr. Newcombe’s reputation is still OK. It’s this guy Belsham who should be ashamed of himself. And they were based on a greek text by Griesbach, who apparently wasn’t as careful as he should have been, either. The source of the translation being unitarian explains why they’d want to mis-translate John 1:1. Thanks again.


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