The following paragraphs are taken from the article "English Versions" by Sir Frederic G. Kenyon in the Dictionary of the Bible edited by James Hastings, and published by Charles Scribner's Sons of New York in 1909.

The Rheims and Douai Bible (1582-1609)

The English exiles for religious causes were not all of one kind or of one faith. There were Roman Catholic refugees on the Continent as well as Puritan, and from the one, as from the other, there proceeded an English version of the Bible. The center of the English Roman Catholics was the English College at Douai, the foundation (in 1568) of William Allen, formerly of Queen's College, Oxford, and subsequently cardinal; and it was from this college that a new version of the Bible emanated which was intended to serve as a counterblast to the Protestant versions, with which England was now flooded. The first instalment of it appeared in 1582, during a temporary migration of the college to Rheims. This was the New Testament, the work mainly of Gregory Martin, formerly Fellow of St. John's College, Oxford, with the assistance of a small band of scholars from the same university. The Old Testament is stated to have been ready at the same time, but for want of funds it could not be printed until 1609, after the college had returned to Douai, when it appeared just in time to be of some use to the preparers of King James' version. As was natural, the Roman scholars did not concern themselves with the Hebrew and Greek originals, which they definitely rejected as inferior, but translated from the Latin Vulgate, following it with a close fidelity which is not infrequently fatal, not merely to the style, but even to the sense in English. The following short passage (Ephesians 3:6-12), taken almost at random, is a fair example of the Latinization of their style.

The Gentils to be coheires and concorporat and comparticipant of his promis in Christ Jesus by the Gospel: whereof I am made a minister according to the gift of the grace of God, which is given me according to the operation of his power. To me the least of al the sainctes is given this grace, among the Gentils to evangelize the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to illuminate al men what is the dispensation of the sacrament hidden from worldes in God, who created al things; that the manifold wisedom of God may be notified to the Princes and Potestats in the celestials by the Church, according to the prefinition of worldes, which he made in Christ Jesus our Lord. In whom we have affiance and accesse in confidence, by the faith of him.

The translation, being prepared with a definite polemical purpose, was naturally equipped with notes of a controversial character, and with a preface in which the object and method of the work were explained. It had, however, as a whole, little success. The Old Testament was reprinted only once in the course of a century, and the New Testament not much oftener. In England the greater part of its circulation was due to the action of a vehement adversary, W. Fulke, who, in order to expose its errors, printed the Rheims New Testament in parallel columns with the Bishops' version of 1572, and the Rheims annotations with his own refutations of them; and this work had a considerable vogue. Regarded from the point of view of scholarship, the Rheims and Douai Bible is of no importance, marking retrogression rather than advance; but it needs mention in a history of the English Bible, because it is one of the versions of which King James' translators made use. The Authorized Version is indeed distinguished by the strongly English (as distinct from Latin) character of its vocabulary; but of the Latin words used (and used effectively), many were derived from the Bible of Rheims and Douai.

Frederic G. Kenyon

Continue with the article: The Authorized Version.