It was a "Eureka!" moment for Professor Jeffrey Alan Miller. Or, more specifically as he described it, a "thunderstruck, leap-out-of-bathtub moment," referencing Archimedes' reaction to discovering water displacement.
But what Miller discovered had nothing to do with running down the street naked, with the exception of the biblical account of King David dancing down the streets with his clothes falling off. According to The New York Times, the American was searching an archive at the University of Cambridge for a letter related to Samuel Ward, one of the King James Bible's translators.
Instead he found what may be the oldest draft of the 1611 King James Bible on record. Experts still need to verify its age and authenticity, but if real, it would be one of just four of its types of manuscripts in the world.
The draft could provide new insight into the complexity of the process and the methods used in translating the Bible.
Professor Miller describes the draft by saying, “You can actually see the way Greek, Latin and Hebrew are all feeding into what will become the most widely read work of English literature of all time. It gets you so close to the thought process, it’s incredible.”
In addition to the Old and New Testament, the draft includes the Apocryphal book of 1 Esdras and a partial manuscript of the Wisdom of Solomon.
Martin Luther was the first major translator to put in the Apocryphal books in a separate section from the Old and New Testament back in the 1530s. The 1611 KJV included numerous books of the Apocrypha with a header to set them apart, but the British Puritan revolution in the 1600s later eliminated them entirely as not being divinely inspired.