Skip to comments.History of Bible Translation
Posted on 10/01/2004 9:20:44 AM PDT by restornu
When approaching the Bible and this history of its translation, one should realize that there are no original documents known to exist.
Bible translators over the centuries have relied on the oldest manuscripts they had access to or earlier translations in different languages.
The process has been further complicated by changes in language usage and syntax.
Many (if not all) Bibles represent to some degree the theological stance of its translators.
The truth is that the world may never know the exact meaning of the originals, but as long as more ancient documents are discovered which enlighten our understanding of ancient times, new and increasingly accurate interpretations of the Scriptures will continue to be made. The process of translation is never ending.
FROM HEBREW TO LATIN: A BRIEF HISTORY OF EARLY TRANSLATION
Early Hebrew Bible Translations
Scholars believe that the last books of the Hebrew Bible were completed by 150 BCE and that the books were canonized within a half-century of that date. The 1947 discovery of the first century CE Dead Sea Scrolls brought to light the oldest known copies of the Hebrew Bibleyet still some two hundred years distant from even the youngest of the Old Testament books. The lack of ancient Hebrew manuscripts is being attributed to the practice of burning errant or damaged scrolls.
But the greatest difficulty when considering the Old Testament is not the lack of early texts, but that the original versions would have been written in Hebrew lacking punctuation (including spaces between words) and consisting solely of consonants. It was not until the work of the Masoretes(1) (Traditionalists), a famous school of Jewish scholars, in the seventh or eighth century CE, that an elaborate system of vowel-signs was introduced to Biblical Hebrew.
In order to preserve the original text for future generations, the Masoretes enumerated such details as the exact number of words in every book, noting carefully any peculiarities of orthography that these, too, might remain unchanged, while they added in the margin various notes as aids to the reader and translator (Leishman, 15).
But a comparison with the Hexapla, written by Origen around 250 CE, shows that those closer in chronology to the writing of the original texts do not agree completely with the word divisions of the Masorete editors (Price, 29).
The Septuagint (LXX) (3rd Century BCE)
The Hellenization of much of the known world in the centuries preceding the Common Era, resulted in a need for a translation of the Hebrew scriptures into Greek. The result was the Septuagint (Latin septuaginta), meaning seventya name derived from the approximate number of translators.(2) Most scholars agree that it originated in Egypt, where a sizable Jewish community had settled.
The Septuagint is valuable to scholars because it is based on very early texts of the Hebrew Bible (older than the Dead Sea Scrolls). Additionally, the dissemination of the Jewish scriptures in Greek in the Hellenistic world, in the words of G. Adolf Deissman, ploughed the furrows for the gospel seed in the Western world.(3)
Other Early Translations
Several other early translations of the Hebrew Bible are known to us still today. Among the most prominent is the Samaritan Version (ca. 5th Century BCE). Tradition holds that Manasseh, a grandson of the Jewish high priest in the days of Nehemiah, married a Samaritan woman.
When he was deposed of the priesthood (Neh. 13:28), Manasseh established a rival temple in Samaria, based upon the Pentateuch. Two ancient manuscripts at Nablus exist to this day, and comprise the Samaritan Version.
Because of the historical political and religious animosities between the Jews and Samaritans, the Samaritan Version is considered an independent witness to the Jewish Pentateuch. Though substantial in their agreement, certain alterations are obvious in the Samaritan Version, most notably for the purpose of justifying holy sites in Samaria.
Another early Greek version was that of Aquila, dating to 150 CE. His translation is amazingly literal, which brings clarity to some of the original Hebrew words from which he was translating. The most notable editorial change over the Septuagint is the rendering of the Hebrew word Mashiash (Messiah) in words other than the Greek Christos (Christ).
Early New Testament Versions
There is still much speculation as to the original language of the Gospels. Some suggest that they were written in Aramaic, the colloquial tongue of Palestine and later translated into Greek; while others insist that they were originally written in Greek for easy dissemination through the Hellenistic world (Leishmann, 29-33).
The oldest known New Testament manuscripts are the Codex Sinaiticus (the Sinaitic Manuscript) and the Codex Vaticanus (the Vatican Manuscript).
Fragments have since been discovered dating back as far as the second century CE, but the Codex Sinaiticus represents the oldest complete copy of the New Testament (ca. 350 CE). The value of these manuscripts is that they are based on even earlier texts.
The Alexandrian Manuscript (ca. 450 CE),(4) the Codex of Ephraem (5th Century CE),(5) and the Bezan Codex (6th Century CE)(6) are other early versions, the Bezan Codex having been written in both Greek and Latin.
In the Second Century CE, a Syrian scholar named Tatian composed the Diatessaron (meaning by four), a harmony of the four Gospels in the Syrian language (a sister language to the Aramaic of Galilee).
Another Syrian translation, known as the Sinaitic Syriac, also dates to the Second Century CE, and may be the earliest translation of the Gospels into any language (Leishman, 63).
The standard Syriac version today is the Peshitta (meaning simple, easily understood), a translation of the entire Bible in Syrian, which dates to the early Fifth Century CE.
Latin Vulgate (405 CE) Jerome Originals lost
The earliest Latin translations are believed to have originated in North Africa not later than 150 CE due to a growing Christian population (Leishman, 58).
Translated by Jerome (Eusebius Hieronymus)(7) between AD 383 and 405, under the appointment of Pope Damascus, the Latin Vulgate (from vulgata meaning common)(8) quickly became the commonly accepted Latin version.
Its historical importance lies in the fact that until the time of the Reformation, it was the Bible of the Christian world. At the Council of Trent (1545-1563) it was recognized as the authentic and authorized Bible of the Roman Catholic Church (Leishman, 61).
BIBLE TRANSLATION IN REFORMATION-ERA EUROPE
One of the earliest French translations of the Bible was sponsored by Peter Waldo, a wealthy merchant of Lyons, France, in the late twelfth century. He paid Bernardus Ydros, a priest, to do the work of translation, not only of the Bible but also of the recorded lives of the Saints.
From his studies, Waldo launched a radical reform movement, which quickly was deemed heretical. When Waldos translation was presented by his followers at the Third Lateran Council in 1179, it too was branded heretical.
In the decade following, the religious authorities acted swiftly to suppress the Waldensians and other related movements.
Fearing that vernacular translations would usurp the teaching functions of the church, Pope Innocent III, in December 1199, ordered the burning of all manuscripts found in the possession of dissident groups (Worth, 51).
The earliest German translations of the New Testament were made around the year 1400. Several Old Testament translations appeared in the fifty years following. The only name readily associated with any of the earliest German translations is John Rellach, a Dominican. He intended to translate the entire Bible, but was only able to complete Joshua, Judges, and Ruth (c. 1455) because of opposition.
In 1480 the Cologne German Bible, expressly written for the common person who could not read Latin, made its debut.
Even Martin Luther put his mind and hand to the task of translating. His theory of translation was twofold: First, [the translator] must be faithful to the intent of the sacred writer even if verbal literalness is sacrificed. Second, he must use language, idioms, and expressions that convey a clear meaning (Worth, 45). It only took Luther three months to translate the New Testament.
The Old Testament proved more difficult, and it was a decade before his work was completely finished. The first volume appeared in 1522.
Immediately Duke George commissioned Jerome Emser, a stark opponent of Luthers, to critique the work. Emser carried out the assignment with great enthusiasm, and, in 1527, published his own version of the New Testament, which was essentially Luthers but sufficiently catholicized.
Other European Translations
Perhaps the earliest complete translation of the Bible (possibly only the OT) in Europe into the vernacular was in Norway c. 1220, and appears in Old Norse.
The earliest manuscript of the complete Bible in Ecclesiastical Slavonic (the liturgical language of Eastern Europe and Russia) dates to 1499.
The Reformation created a wave of vernacular translations in Europe in the first half of the Sixteenth Century.
The Gospels and Epistles had already been translated into Danish by 1465, and a complete translation of the New Testament appeared in 1524.
The first complete Swedish translation of the New Testament appeared in 1526, with partial translations dating back to earlier than 1350.
The first Icelandic translation was printed in 1540 as that country too was swept into the Lutheran Reformation.
The New Testament was translated into Finnish in 1548. Almost all of these first translations were based on the Vulgate.(9)
THE BIBLE IN ENGLISH
Early English Translations
As early as the Seventh Century CE, portions of the Bible began to appear in the vernacular in England. Caedmon, a common cowherd, paraphrased several Old and New Testament narratives into English. At the same time, Aldhelm translated the Psalms.
But the most substantial work was done by the Venerable Bede, a monk at Northumbrian monastery of Jarrow-on-Tyne, who left his pupils a translation of the Gospel of John upon his death.
In the Tenth Century, all four Gospels appeared in English in the Lindisfarne Gospels composed by Aldred. In the same century Abbot Aelfric translated a considerable portion of the Old Testament.
The Thirteenth Century brought a paraphrase of the Gospels and Acts by Ormulum, and the Fourteenth brought the Psalter by Richard Rolle (d. 1349), the hermit of Hampole. These early works prepared the way for the complete English translations that soon followed.
The Wycliffe Bible (1384)
Appalled by the abuses of the pre-Reformation church stemming from, what was in his opinion, a misinterpretation of the Bible, John Wycliffe (b.1324) set about to translate the Scriptures into the common language of the people.
He is regarded as having produced the first complete translation of the Bible in English. His translation of the New Testament was completed by 1380, his efforts beginning with Revelation before turning to the Gospels and then the Epistles.
His work on the Old Testament, however, was not solely original.
Wycliffe completed the work of one of his friends, Nicholas de Hereford, who had been exiled by his ecclesiastical opponents.
It is important to note that Wycliffes translation was a rendering of the Latin Vulgate, and not rooted in original Hebrew or Greek manuscripts.
John Purvey undertook a revision of the Wycliffe Bible two years after his death because Wycliffe had often been so literal in his translation of the Latin that the meaning was obscured in English.
Purveys contribution was so skillful that the result is often referred to as the Wycliffe-Purvey Version.
It has been claimed that the Wycliffe Bible did more than any other one thing to create and unify the English language.(10)
The Tyndale Bible (NT 1526)
A graduate of Oxford and Cambridge, William Tyndale brought to Biblical translation a substantial base in ancient languages: Latin, Hebrew, and Greek.
He had a deep appreciation for Erasmus edition of the Greek New Testament and resolved to translate it into English.
Tyndale also observed that the clergy of his day had a poor knowledge of the Bible, so he sought to make it accessible and understandable to even the lowliest farmer.
After being denied patronage by Cuthbert Tunstall, the Bishop of London, Tyndale found support in a London merchant and alderman named Humphrey Munmouth.
But opposition grew steadily to Tyndales endeavor until, in 1524, he went into voluntary exile in Hamburg.
His work was completed the following year, and his rendering of the New Testament was to be published in Cologne.
When his opponents got word of his location, they came after him. Tyndale escaped to Worms, where the first complete New Testament translated from the Greek into English was published in 1526.
Hundreds of copies made their way to England, mostly by secret means, and many were seized and destroyed by the ecclesiastical authorities. Nevertheless, the translation grew in popular acceptance.
Tyndale continued his translation work, and before 1535 he had published a rendering of the Pentateuch and Jonah and a revised edition of the New Testament.
In May 1535, he was captured by his foes and held prisoner in the castle of Vilvorde near Brussels. His sixteen-month imprisonment allowed him to complete the translation of the Old Testament books of Joshua through Second Chronicles.
But before finishing the entire Old Testament, Tyndale met with a martyrs death on October 6, 1536. Leishman notes that it may justly be affirmed that we owe much of the literary charm of our familiar Authorized Version to the fine work of William Tyndale, who has been named the apostle of England, and also the true father of our present English Bible (87).
Coverdales Bible (1535)
On October 4, 1535, a year before Tyndales death, Miles Coverdale published a complete English translation of the Old and New Testaments in Zurich (or possibly Antwerp).
He used Tyndales translation of the New Testament, the Pentateuch, and Jonah, and provided his own translation of the books from Joshua to Malachi (apparently unaware of Tyndales translation work in prison).
It was the first complete translation of the Bible into English from the original languages.
But while Tyndales rendering of the Old Testament represented a fresh interpretation of the Hebrew, Coverdale, unschooled in Hebrew or Greek, relied on five sundry interpreters to produce his work.
Though he does not mention them by name, it is supposed that they include Tyndale, the Latin Vulgate, Pagninus Latin Version, Luthers German rendering, and Zwinglis Zurich Bible. Even though it was based largely upon Tyndales work, Coverdales Bible gained the acceptance of the King of England in 1537.
Matthews Bible (1537)
Tyndales prison translation of Joshua through Second Chronicles fell into the hands of friend John Rogers.
Under the pseudonym Thomas Matthew, Rogers had the translation publishedusing all of Tyndales work and Coverdales translation of the rest of the Old Testament.
Appearing a few weeks before Coverdales edition, it was the first English version to gain the authorization of the English Crown.
It is of great irony that King Henry VIII, under the prompting of Archbishop Cranmer and Thomas Cromwell, authorized a Bible which was two-thirds comprised of the work of William Tyndale whom he had branded a heretic just months earlier!
Matthews Bible was, however, quickly superceded by the Great Bible which appeared first in 1539. It was so named because of its enormous size.
Under the order of the King, a copy was to be placed under public viewing in every parish in the kingdom.
Its lasting influence can be seen in the Psalter of the Book of Common Prayer where the Great Bibles rendering is used instead of the more familiar King James Version.
Breeches Bible (NT 1557; OT 1560)
Named for its rendering in Genesis 3:7 that Adam and Eve sewed figge tree leaves together and made themselves brechis, the Breeches Bible represents the work of the English Reform movement in exile in Geneva during the reign of Queen Mary I. John Knox was the pastor of the British congregation in Geneva for a long time and allowed the exiles to develop their doctrines and principles freely.
He was succeeded in his pastorate by William Whittingham, who had, incidentally, married John Calvins sister.
It was Whittingham who published a scholarly rendering of the New Testament in 1557, which became the nucleus of the Genevan Version, the first English translation to use both chapter and verse numbering.
The Old Testament translation was added in 1560 and the name Breeches was coined for the Genevan text. It quickly obtained widespread popularity.
Bishops Bible (1568)
Because of the popularity of the more liberal Breeches Bible, Archbishop Parker of Canterbury made arrangements to have the Great Bible revised by a committee of nine bishops so to produce an up-to-date yet orthodox rendering.
It was published in 1568 but received little acclaim. A revised edition appearing in 1572 had better success.
Rheims-Douai Bible (NT 1582; OT 1609/10)
Another attempt at an orthodox rendering was the work of Oxford scholars William Allen and Gregory Martin, both living in France after having been exiled from England. The New Testament was produced first, printed in Rheims in 1582.
The Old Testament followed in 1609-10 and was printed in Douai; thus the name Rheims-Douai.
While lacking because the translation was based solely on the Latin Vulgate, the Bible has had a lasting impact because of the introduction of such terms as advent, grace, and evangelize.
King James Version (KJB) (1611)
Perhaps the mostly widely known and oft quoted English translation is the King James Version, also known as the Authorized Version.
King James I was an enthusiastic student of the Scriptures, having translated several sections of the Psalter and paraphrased the book of Revelation.
In January 1604, during his first year of reign, James was considering the Millenary Petition, a Puritan document requesting changes in the Prayer Book because of poor Biblical translations, when he realized that he had never yet seen a Bible well translated into English.(11)
A large committee of Anglican and Puritan clergy and lay scholars (around 50 in number) was convened to undertake a new translation. The result was the Authorized Version, which appeared in 1611, taking its name from its title page, which read: Appointed to be read in Churches.(12)
The King James Version, more than a translation, was a revision of several earlier translations including the Bishops Bible, the Genevan Bible, the Great Bible, and Matthews Bible, as well as incorporating the work of Wycliffe, Tyndale, and Coverdale.
The committee also considered renderings and commentaries in other languages, including Chaldee, Hebrew, Syrian, Greek Latin Spanish, French, Italian or Dutch (Leishman, 106).
MODERN ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS AND REVISIONS
The Revised Version (RV) (NT 1881; OT 1885)
In 1870 a group of leaders of the Church of England were assembled to revise the King James Version.
The revision was deemed necessary because of changes in the English language and the discovery of important early manuscripts.
The committee was composed of ninety-nine men: thirty-four Americans and sixty-five British (only forty-one from the Church of England).
For any change to occur from the original, two-thirds had to vote affirmative.
The process took ten and a half years to produce a revision of the New Testament and a total of fifteen years for the Old Testament. The Revised Version, however, never reached the status of its cherished predecessor.
American Standard Version (ASV) (1901)
Since the Revised Version was limited to only necessary changes, a conservative mandate partly self-imposed and partly required by the Anglican Church, many revisions did not make the final edition.
These revisions were championed by the American contingent, which agreed to hold publication for fourteen years. So in 1899 the American members brought their revisions together to create the American Standard Version (or American Revised Version), which was first published in 1901.
Among the notable changes was the uniform usage of Holy Spirit for Holy Ghost. The acclaim for this version quickly outstripped that of the Revised Version.
Revised Standard Version (RSV) (NT 1946; OT 1952)
In 1929 the International Council of Religious Education obtained the copyright on the American Standard Version.
The council subsequently appointed a committee of fifteen scholars to review the text for the purpose of determining whether a further revision was necessary. They concluded that there was justification for a revision, and in 1937 the revision was officially authorized.
Ninety-one Protestant scholars from the United States and Canada were assembled for the task. Their revision of the New Testament appeared in 1946 and was followed by the Old Testament in 1952.,P> With the addition of the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books of the Old Testament in 1957, and three additional texts from the Eastern Orthodox Church (3 and 4 Maccabees and Ps 151) in 1977, the Revised Standard Version became officially authorized by all major Christian churches: Protestant, Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Othodox (Preface, Harper Collins Study Bible, xxv).
The New English Bible (NEB) (NT 1961; OT 1970)
A new translation from the ancient texts, The New English Bible was a collaboration of the majority of British Churches.(13) The effort was first initiated by the Church of Scotland in 1946, and later joined by representatives of other major denominations.
The translation of the New Testament was completed in 1961, with the Old Testament and Apocrypha following in 1970.
A final revision was completed two years later and the translation has continued unchanged since.(14)
Todays English Version (TEV) (NT 1966; OT 1976)
A project of the American Bible Society, Todays English Version was created for those with a basic level of English vocabulary by using language that is natural, clear, simple, and unambiguous (Preface, Good News Bible, 1976).
The New Testament translation, which appeared in 1966, was based on The Greek New Testament printed by the United Bible Societies (3rd edition, 1975).
The Old Testament translation, which appeared a decade later, was based on the Masoretic Text of the Biblia Hebraica (3rd edition, 1937).
The most notable feature of this version is its use of modern terms for the Biblical hours of the day and measures of weight, capacity, distance, and area.
Additionally, where a persons name appeared with different spellings in different books, this version records the most common or widely accepted spelling throughout.
The New International Version (NIV) (NT 1973; OT 1978)
Begun in 1965 by the International Bible Society with the intention of creating a new translation of the Bible in contemporary English, the New International Version represents the work of over one hundred scholars from the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand working directly from the best available Hebrew, Aramiac, and Greek texts (Preface, The New International Version, 2nd edition, 1984).
The translators were of a diverse theological background and of many denominationsincluding Anglican, Assemblies of God, Baptist, Brethren, Christian Reformed, Church of Christ, Evangelical Free, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Nazarene, Presbyterian, Wesleyan, and others.
Through various levels of committees, each passage was revised three times to ensure accuracy before final publication. The translation progressed under one overarching goal: that it would be an accurate translation and one that would have clarity and literary quality and so prove suitable for public and private reading, teaching, preaching, memorizing and liturgical use (Preface, NIV, 1984).
While the Masoretic Text from the Biblia Hebraica was used for the translation of the Old Testament, attention was paid to the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Samaritan Pentateuch, and the other early translations discussed above, when textual questions arose.
For the New Testament, the translators used several Greek New Testament texts, employing textual criticism when necessary to make a choice between different readings. The resulting NT version was first published in 1973, followed in 1978 by the OT, and a revised edition in 1984.
The Jewish New Testament (1979)
Based on the United Bible Societies The Greek New Testament (1975), The Jewish New Testament seeks to present the New Testament from a Jewish point-of-view. It was translated by David H. Stern, a Messianic Jew.
Believing the New Testament to be primarily a Jewish document (written by Jews for both Jews and Gentiles), Stern retranslated the NT to present what he deems its original Jewishness. This change is evident on three levels:
Cosmetically by using neutral terms and Hebrew names: execution-stake not cross, Yaakovnot James. Culturally and Religiously by highlighting Jewish features: Chanukkah not the feast of dedication, tzitzit not fringe.
Theologically by correcting mistranslations resulting from anti-Jewish theological bias; for example, at Romans 10:4 the Messiah is the goal at which the Torah aims, not the end of the law (Stern, xix-xx).
Revised English Bible (REB) (1989)
A revision of The New English Bible, the Revised English Bible was the work of a panel of translators under the direction of W. D. McHardy, commissioned by the Joint Committee who had overseen the original.(15)
The need for the revision arose when the NEB began to be used in liturgical settings, the implications of which had not been fully anticipated by the translators.(16)
The aim of the revision then was several-fold: " to ensure that the style of English used is fluent and of appropriate dignity for liturgical use, while maintaining intelligibility for worshippers of a wide range of ages and backgrounds, avoid complex or technical terms where possible, and to provide sentence structure and word order, especially in the Psalms, which will facilitate congregational reading but will not misrepresent the meaning of the original texts" (Preface, REB, x-ix).
Additionally thou was replaced with you in reference to God, and inclusive gender references were used where both genders were implied by the Biblical text. The work was completed in 1989.
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) (1989)
The committee of translators of the New Revised Standard Version saw their work as the third revision of the King James Version (1611), by way of the American Standard Version (1901) and the Revised Standard Version (1952).
The revision was authorized in 1974 to incorporate the most recent discoveries of early manuscripts and the newest scholarship in ancient languages. The committee made use of the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (1977) in their revision of the Old Testament.
Various recent translations of the Septuagint were used for the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books.
The committee utilized the third edition of the United Bible Societies The Greek New Testament (1966) (and was privy to the upcoming 4th edition) when revising the New Testament.
The mandate of the National Council of Churches of Christ (who holds the copyright on the RSV) was: to introduce such changes as are warranted on the basis of accuracy, clarity, euphony, and current English usage (Preface, NRSV, xxviii).
Scholars Version (SV) (1992)
The work of Fellows of the Jesus Seminar, the Scholars Version represents an independent approach at translating the Gospels and other non-canonical documents, free of ecclesiastical considerations or control.
It is the work of twenty-four university scholars headed by Robert W. Funk of the Westar Institute.
The translation is taken directly from Greek, Coptic, Latin, Aramiac, and Hebrew texts. The motto employed in the translation effort was: A translation is artful to the extent that one can forget, while reading it, that it is a translation at all (Foreword, The Complete Gospels, viii).
The result is a translation rendered in the clearest terms, where Jesus is referred to as Jesus the Anointed instead of Jesus Christ,(17) the son of Man is the son of Adam, the kingdom of God is Gods imperial rule or Gods domain, the first day of the week is Sunday, and Joseph and Mary refrain from having sex rather than union or marital relations.
Of additional note is the use of inclusive language, deemed appropriate because of the obvious presence of women and children in Jesus followers (evidenced by the Gospel of Mary among others).
This is but a snap-shot of the literally hundreds of different translations available around the world. Not only is the translation effort ongoing from the aspect that new renderings are being made of the ancient texts, but new translations are being made into modern languages that have not yet received the Bible.
It is clear that each translation has its own motivation: be it for practical, ecclesiastical, theological, or scholarly reasons. And as long as there is a deep desire to understand the Bible clearly, new translations and revisions will continue to be made. Why so many Bibles? - because the work that began thousands of years ago in the setting down of the scriptures for future generations is not yet complete.
1. or Massorites (Price, 26f)
2. For the legend of the Septuagints origin see Norton, 5-9; Leishman, 16-19; Price, 50-71;Worth, 5-9.
3. New Light on the New Testament. Edinburgh, T & T Clark, 1907. p.95; quoted by Leishman, p.21.
4. designated by the letter A
5. designated by the letter C
6. designated by the letter D
7. c. 342-420 CE
8. The title Vulgate was not officially affixed until the Council of Trent (Norton, 31).
9. Norlie, 122-176
10. Robinson, George L. Where Did We Get Our Bible? New York: Doubleday, 1928. p.130; quoted by Leishman, p.83.
11. quoted by Leishman, 104
12. The source of this appointment, however, remains somewhat of a mystery, for strangely enough, scholars agree in affirming that there is no direct evidence to show that it was formally and publicly Authorized, whether by the king of by the Privy Council, by Parliament, or by Convocation (Leishman, 105).
13. The Joint Committee comprised representatives of the Baptist Union of Great Britain and Ireland, the Church of England, the Church of Scotland, the Congregational Church of England and Wales, the Council of Churches for Wales, the Irish Council of Churches, the London Yearly Meeting of the Presbyterian Church of England, the Methodist Church of Great Britain, and the Presbyterian Church of England, as well as of the British and Foreign Bible Society and the National Bible Society of Scotland.
14. Coggan, Donald. Preface to The Revised English Bible with Apocrypha. Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press, 1989. pp. vi-vii.
15. To the list above, in the interim, was added The Roman Catholic Church, the United Reform Church (formerly the Presbyterian Church of England and the Congregational Church), the Salvation Army, and the Moravian Church.
16. Coggan, Donald. Preface. p. vii.
17. Christ has been misinterpreted in modern times by some to be Jesus last name rather than his title.
Bruce, F.F. History of the Bible in English. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978.
The Complete Gospels. ed. Robert J. Miller. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1994.
Good New Bible: The Bible in Todays English Version. New York: American Bible Society, 1976.
The Harper Collins Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version. ed. Wayne A. Meeks. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1993.
Leishman, Thomas Linton. Our Ageless Bible: From Early Manuscripts to Modern Versions. New York: Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1960.
New International Version of the Holy Bible. Michigan, Zondervan Publishing House, 1984.
Norlie, O.M. The Translated Bible: 1534-1934. Philadelphia: The United Lutheran Publication House, 1934.
Norton, David. A History of the Bible as Literature. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
Price, Ira Maurice. The Ancestry of Our English Bible: An Account of Manuscripts, Texts, and Versions of the Bible. New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1956.
Stern, David H. Jewish New Testament. Jerusalem: Jewish New Testament Publications, 1989.
Why So Many Bibles? New York: American Bible Society, 1968.
Worth, Roland H., Jr. Bible Translations: A History through Source Documents. London: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 1992.
1) For source documents from many of the actual Bible translators and their contemporaries, see Worth, Bible Translations: A History through Source Documents.
2) For a side-by-side comparison of the best known Reformation-era Bibles, see Nortons appendix, pp.313-348.
3) The first one-half (113 pages) of Norlies The Translated Bible: 1534-1934 is dedicated solely to Luther and his translation of the Bible into German.
WoW! Great post. Bump for later read!
ping for later
I knew The New World Translation was bad when they wrote: All your Jesus are belong to us.
Thanks for the ping!
How is something infallibe, when it's exact meaning is unknown? Doesn't that make it subjective to whoever did the translating?
And Biblical scholar/translator
Personally, I stay away from translations based on the work of Westcott & Hort.
Have a look at this: http://www.av1611.org/biblecom.html
I've read the contended parts of the Deodati Italian and Russian Synodical Bibles, which pre-date Westcott and Hort by hundreds of years but are not based on the work of the AV translators.
By my reckoning, these older translations in other languages expose W&H as frauds bent on challenging the deity of Christ and the Virgin Birth.
Just my $0.02.
No reference to my favorite: the Jerusalem bible.
By the way for you Catholics: The Septuagint, and NOT the Vulgate is considered authoratative. This is very interesting because I have never found a single English bible based on the Septuagint. To understand how massive the difference is between the two versions, read Luke 4's excerpt of Isaiah (where Jesus cites the Septuagint) and the Isaiah chapter as published in English bibles, following the vulgate. You'd never know you were reading the same passage.
The problem comes from the fact that Jerome believed the false Jewish assertion that the Masoretic text was precisely how they received the Word from God, where it was actually a post-Christian re-working of the scriptures. Finds such as the Dead Sea scroll have confirmed what Trent taught, but which Rome has not followed: that the Septuagint is vastly more similar to ancient texts than the Masoretic text.
Because the Catholic Church holds, correctly, that scripture comes to us via tradition, and because it has been guided by the Holy Spirit not to proclaim false doctrine, there have been no dogmatic errors introduced because of reading a false translation, but I believe personal scripture study and apologetics would be vastly better served if the English bibles were based on the authentic bible, and not the bible of people who denied Christ.
On the Text of the Torah
In this essay, we will list the various evidence we have for the Torah - what are called the "witnesses" of the text. Additionally, we will discuss the usefulness of each witness and, in this, depart from the standard academic method. Emanuel Tov wrote in what quickly became the standard handbook on textual criticism of the Bible, "[M]any scholars, including the present author, believe that all readings which have been created in the course of the textual transmission ought to be evaluated " (Emanuel Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible, p. 295). We disagree. Almost anyone who attends synagogue regularly has witnessed the finding of a mistake in a Torah scroll. An average Torah has some mistakes and therefore the precise reading of any given word is suspect. There are, however, better than average scrolls and even excellent scrolls that have been reviewed carefully many times. Only those witnesses that are known to be excellent scrolls are valid evidence. Average scrolls, such as the one in our synagogue, can hardly be used as proof of the original Torah text.
The translations are not infallible, it is the Principle described in the Scriptures which is infallible. It is our ongoing task to try to understand and apply that Principle.
This site might be interesting to those who are earnest seekers of the "WORD".
It is a Community Forums to brainstorm one views and maybe get a an answer to those naging qustions!
moderate calrification: The Vulgate was considered the standard for the Catholic Church, Latin rite, at Trent. But it was recognized as a mere translation, universally fit for use in Latin masses, whereas the Septuagint was asserted to be the authentic bible in its original, inspired language. This is quite remarkable, since the Septuagint was Greek, and not Hebrew. BUt without (to my knowledge) endorsing the legend of the origin of the Septuagint, the Catholic Church did hold that it was directly inspired.
If this seems odd, consider that at the time of Jesus, there were multitudes of different texts for the Old Testament. The Jews had been very divided, and recognized that the Jews in diaspora needed a single, authoritative work to regard as scripture, and thus the Septuagint actually did represent an attempt by Jews to standardize their own scripture.
Only later, after the Jews blamed the fall of the Temple on the Greek "mongrelization" of their religion, did the Jews insist that only Hebrew was valid as scripture, and only then did they excise from their scriptures the deuterocanonica.
Isn't the understanding of those principles, pretty subjective?
Chronology of Christianity (1AD-Present)
Et Cum Spiritu Tuo ^ | 28 May 1997
Top Ten New Testament Archaeological Finds of the Past 150 Years
Christianity Today ^ | 09/23/2003 | By Ben Witherington III
Actually, it is misleading to think of the Jews or, say, the Coptics of HAVING a canon. At Jesus' time, there was the Law (the Torah), and the Prophets. Jesus refers to these two sets of Hebrew literature frequently. Jesus, however, also refers to "the writings" and cites them authoritatively. There was no set canon for what was included in the "writings" (Scripture in Latin, rhyma in Greek), but the Septuagint included many of them. When, after Jesus' death, the Jews felt it necessary to assert a canon, they created a hierarchy, with the Torah as most important, than the Prophets, and lastly the Khetuvim (writings), forming the TaNaKh.
By tradition, Catholic/Christians incorporated the Septuagint into their bibles without a second thought (except JErome's often misinterpreted assertion that he couldn't translate seven of the books from the Tanakh, since the Jews did not include them in the Tanakh.) Later, Luther would insist that the books not found in the Tanakh were not authentic scripture, and they began to be published as special addenda , and then not at all, in Prostestant bibles.
The Council of Trent finally asserted a Catholic canon, in response to Luther. It is true that every book in the Catholic canon had since the time of the apostles been regarded as scripture. It is not QUITE true that the Catholic canon was simply the Septuagint:
The Catholic Canon includes 1 Esdras and 2 Esdras (known to Protestants and the AmChurch as Ezra and Nehemiah.) There was a 3 Esdras, which was largely a redaction of key elements of 1 Esdras and 2 Esdras into a single book, with only a handful of verses added. The Council of Trent did not find it necessary for Catholics to defend the authenticity of 3 Esdras, since there was so little in it. And most ancient churches kept EITHER 1 and 2 Esdras OR 3 Esdras, but not both.
Also, there a 151st Psalm included in many early septuagint bibles. Catholics stuck to a holy-number counting following the Jews, and did not keep the 151st Psalm.
Likewise, there were a couple books which were popularized in the early church as part of the "Septuagint Old Testament," even though they were written after Christ. Among them were 3 Maccabees and 4 Maccabees. They are not read, to my knowledge, as part of the mass in any churches, but are often published among the Orthodox and Coptics as part of the bible. There is no theological innovation essential to them.
One must remember that the issue of canonicity is relevant only when one is asserting, or defending against, doctrines arrived at from a reading of the scriptures which is independent of Church tradition. Therefore, one must recogniize that Coptics, Orthodox, and ancient Catholics simply had no concept of "canonicity" until Martin Luther and the Protestant Revolution forced Catholics to cite scripture to counter Protestant assertions against Tradition.
Lastly, there is a final wierd issue concerning which books are canonical: Jesus himself quotes as scripture, as does Paul, certain books which were not included in the Septuagint: Namely, the books of Enoch (a.k.a 1 Enoch) and the Book of Jubilees (a.k.a. the Apocalypse of Moses). Although they were not in the Tanakh either, they were the basis for many teachings in the Talmud, the Jewish collection of wisdom published along with the Tanakh in the first century AD.
It appears this article did not cover Catholic translations in the post-Vatican II era, when the Catholic Church abandoned its position that Jerome's Vulgate Bible was the only authoritative Scripture on which translations were to be based. The New American Bible represents post-1960 Catholic Biblical scholarship.
That would be me. :-)
It is a Community Forums to brainstorm one views and maybe get a an answer to those naging qustions!
It's good for every serious Christian to search for the things that have been covered up until now. What an exciting time it is to be alive and watching Bible Prophesy fulfilled before our very eyes! Thanks for the info!
What I like to know how can one who has honor and integrity tell some one else what we have today is word for word of the original when
1- Originals don't exist
2- We ONLY have copies of copise of copies!
Down through the ages the scripture have been added, omitted, revised, unified to fit etc.
We should be thankful for what we were able to maintain!
The Chronology gives us a little incite to the hands of clergy and goverment have poccession of!
The multitudes could never even own nor read a copy of the scriptures until cir.1500's
The LDS official website offers free access to this important work, yet Article #8 in your Summary of Beliefs still makes an Official LDS Disclaimer that the LDS should only believe the Bible "as far as it is correctly translated". Since Joseph Smith produced the JST, that means meaning a "correctly translated" version supposedly exists now! But it's my understanding that the website doesn't give access to the entire JST. It gives free access to the entirely of every other scripture held sacred by the LDS (including some not mentioned in the "Summary of Beliefs"), and the JST is similarly expurgated in it's printed form. Why does the Church of Jesus Christ, Latter-Day Saints withhold this important scripture from it's members? Or at least make the appropriate changes to Article 8 to reflect the JST's existence?
For what it's worth, the official website says this about the use of the word "translation" as it applies to the JST:
"Because the Lord revealed to Joseph certain truths that the original authors had once recorded, the Joseph Smith Translation is unlike any other Bible translation in the world. In this sense, the word translation is used in a broader and different way than usual, for Josephs translation was more revelation than literal translation from one language into another."
Even with a supposedly restored and properly translated Bible, the LDS church still insists on offering a disclaimer that they don't know if the Bible (KJV, JST, or otherwise) is translated correctly or not. Not exactly the kind of assuredness I'd expect from an organization led by a prophet.
This has got to be the most presumptuous delusional statement I have read in years!
And that opinion is backed up exactly by what authentically verified scholarship? Disappearing into the bush and returning with it does not qualify!
Thanks aruanan I will do some more search!
The Greek text of the UBS4 and the NA27 are virtually identical. The primary difference is the scholarly apparatus/footnotes utilized by each. The UBS4 and the NA27 represent what scholars have concluded regarding the relative reliability of all known textual witnesses (including all complete manuscripts and all partial manuscripts in many ancient languages) that contain all or parts of the New Testament text. These witnesses include Alexandrian witnesses, Western witnesses, and Byzantine witnesses. The Editorial Committee of the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament is comprise of the most highly respected biblical text scholars in the world. Utilizing a very scientific approach, they carry out their work as document historians and text-reconstructionists in an entirely scholarly, non-sectarian, objective manner. After weighing all of the historical and linguistic evidence of the readings of every witness, they discuss and then vote on what they believe to have been most likely the original Greek text of every verse in the New Testament. Their explanations of verses with significant textual variants have been documented in Bruce M. Metzger's excellent A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition (United Bible Societies, 1993).
You will find a lot of information regarding the Greek text behind the KJV in the article and in the weblinks at:
Other excellent resources on the subject are the following:
The Bible in Translation: Ancient and English Versions, by Bruce M. Metzger (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001)
The Book. A History of The Bible, by Chistopher de Hamel (NY: Phaidon, 2001)
The Early Versions of the New Testament, by Bruce M. Metzger (Oxford: Clarendon Press)
The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust the Modern Translations? by James R. White (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1995)
The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, Third Edition, by Bruce M. Metzger (NY: Oxford University Press, 1992)
A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition, by Bruce Metzger (United Bible Societies, 1993) - An excellent resource.
It may be worth noting that the Greek text behind parts of the KJV is based on a later Latin text rather earlier Greek texts. Bruce M. Metzger (The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, pp. 99-100) writes:
For the Book of Revelation he [Erasmus] had but one manuscript, dating from the twelfth century, which he had borrowed from his friend Reuchlin. Unfortunately, this manuscript lacked the final leaf, which had contained the last six verses of the book. For these verses, as well as a few other passages throughout the book where the Greek text of the Apocalypse and the adjoining Greek commentary with which the manuscript was supplied are so mixed up as to be almost indistinguishable, Erasmus depended upon the Latin Vulgate, translating this text into Greek. As would be expected from such a procedure, here and there in Erasmus' self-made Greek text are readings which have never been found in any known Greek manuscript - but which are still perpetuated today in printings of the so-called Textus Receptus of the Greek New Testament...
Those errors in Erasmus' Greek text (which eventually became known as the Textus Receptus or Received Text) are reflected in the errors in the KJV's English text of Revelation. This is illustrated in the many textual corrections needed throughout the KJV's English text of Revelation, especially in chapters 21 and 22, as shown at:
Get ready for the "If the KJV was good enough for the Apostle Paul, it's good enough for me" crowd who will splutter about the "authorized version" or the "textus receptus." It doesn't seem to make any difference to these people that the term "textus receptus" was an advertising blurb for a version of the Greek New Testament that at the time and ever since was known to be defective--late, minuscule manuscripts, Latin interpolations, invented words.
By faith we understand the word and work of GodFaith of the ancients was centered in ChristBy faith men subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, and worked miracles.
1 NOW faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
This article neatly glosses over the fact that most of the early and medeival translations of the Bible were performed by Catholic clergy in good standing, and with ecclesiastical approval. The article ignores the very early production of a translation in Church Slavonic by Cyril and Methodius (where do you think the "Cyrillic" alphabet comes from?), as well as a large number of 14th and 15th century translations produced by Dominicans (regarded as the most fiercely orthodox and anti-heretical order).
The Church has always endorsed responsible biblical translation: as even this article can't ignore, the Douai/Reims translations of the Old and New Testaments, translations in use till this day, both appeared before the KJV.
By faith men subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, and worked miracles.
Sounds like the path Pres. Bush is walking!
Just for clarification on that acronym, the Hebrew word for "prophet" is Navi, which provides the middle syllable.
My new tagline
By faith Bush subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, and worked miracles.
Thanks for posting this article, it's one I'm going to save.
Thanks for the Read..
Well seeing as most scholars figure Jesus was born in what would be a few years BC, it doesn't exactly work now does it?
And in talks like this no one ever suggests the obvious, that people learn Hebrew and Greek. So it takes learning two alphabets and in the case of Hebrew, learning to read right to left with no written vowels. Isn't hard. Plus if you know Greek and Hebrew, not like there's any shortage of reading material. Any rabbi will teach or will arrange Hebrew classes and many big cities have Hellenic societies that teach old Greek, Attic and Koine, though only need Koine for the NT.
Academically you are correct according to the wyas of the world, but with prayer and pondering the Holy Spirit will enlighten our discernment!
The Book is better than the movie.
You are invited to listen to The 174th Semiannual General Conference of the Church will be held on Saturday and Sunday, October 2-3, 2004.
174th Semiannual General Conference
The Sunday morning session of the 174th Semiannual General Conference of the Church will begin Sunday at 10:00 a.m. Live audio streams of conference sessions will be available on the Internet.
12 pm to 2pm est and 4pm to 5pm est
if you missed it and would like to listen to the talks they will store on http://lds.org/broadcast/gc/0,5161,5391,00.html
Thanks for the post.
I quit reading right there.
Going to the home page, the name of the Pastor seems to be that of a woman.
Take that for what it's worth, a lot of very liberal churches have female pastors, extraordinary viewpoints, etc. I'm not saying they do, but it is something to be on the alert to.
I'm a Catholic.
It was a cordial invitation!
All you needed to do was pass on by!
I listen to Catholic talks because I enjoy them!
I respect other for they too have something to offer!
Anyone who buys this had better do some research. There are lots of scrolls written in Hebrew which form the Old Testament, and the New Testament scrolls were in Greek. I find this explanation a real stretch using some documentation that is good and some that is false.
DO NOT BELIEVE THIS, CHECK IT OUT WITH TRANSLATORS OF THE BIBLE.
Also check with Oral Roberts University, as they teach Masters of Divinity, Theology etc
"A Short History of the Jewish People" by Cecil Roth, 1937.
I'm sorry if I offended you; I simply didn't know what you were referring to. I do appreciate your desire for interfaith discussion, and did not intend a slight. As far as "drop on by," where was it? Or did you just mean to tune into something on the internet? For a blogger, you'll find I tend to be very luddite in my word usage.
In fact, using the word luddite is probably luddite. :^)
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