Walton’s project for a Polyglot Bible (catalogue no. 73 ) met with some early criticism in 1653–4 because of fears that the variant texts which it presented would undermine belief in the authority of the Bible. Using material which was later incorporated into the prolegomena to the Polyglot, Walton replied to his critics in the first edition of the Introductio, published in 1654. He set out a method for understanding oriental languages, and outlined the uses to which the different surviving texts of the Bible could be put.
Walton stressed that there were really benefits to the multiplicity of versions, since they allowed one to construct the history of the transmission of the Bible, and to correct errors which had crept into the text over time, in particular those introduced by earlier editors, such as the Masoretes, who were unsympathetic to the true, Christian message. He argued that a knowledge of the full range of ancient, oriental texts of the Bible provided assistance in determining the true meaning of the original, since, following the confusion of languages at Babel, not even Hebrew had been completely preserved from the alterations of time. Although he maintained a humanist faith in the possibility of establishing the true, authoritative text of scripture, Walton was thus sensitive to the differences between versions. Also, as an Englishman who was proud of his country’s recent acquisition of the Codex Alexandrinus (a manuscript of the Greek Old Testament), Walton was especi ally reluctant to concede automatic priority to the surviving Hebrew text of the Bible.