In the first century of our common era, the first martyr gave his life because of his stance for God, Stephen. (Acts 7:54-6) These early disciples of Christ had been given a commission that all Christians are expected to carry out: Matthew 24:14: “this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world.”... Continue Reading →
Bible translation goes back to 280 to 150 B.C.E., when (seventy-two, according to tradition) translators gave us the Hebrew Old Testament books in Greek. From those days forward, translators have lived very dangerous lives, in trying to bring us the Word of God in the common languages of man.
Erasmus said of God's Word, "I WOULD have these words translated into all languages, so that not only Scots and Irish, but Turks and Saracens too might read them . . . I long for the ploughboy to sing them to himself as he follows his plough, the weaver to hum them to the tune of his shuttle, the traveler to beguile with them the dullness of his journey." (Clayton 2006, 230)
The King James Version has reached the milestone of the 400th anniversary of its first publication. Academic and religious conferences, museum displays, books and articles, and commemorative editions of the KJV have exploded in such quantity that 2011 can confidently be declared the year of the King James Bible.
On the Bible translation scene, advocates of colloquial English Bible translations regularly and rigorously debunk the King James Version. In turn, it has become common for these debunkers to attempt to drive a wedge between the King James Version and William Tyndale's translation work nearly a century earlier.
Jerome’s Latin name was Eusebius Hieronymus. He was born about 346 C.E. Jerome’s translation of the Hebrew Scriptures was considerably more than simply some revision of a text that existed in his day. For centuries it altered the direction of Bible study and translation. “The Vulgate,” said historian Will Durant, “remains as the greatest and most influential literary accomplishment of the fourth century.” There is no denying it, Jerome would say things that were unkind and critical of others though often clever, with a contentious personality. He alone redirected Bible research back to the Hebrew text. With a sharp eye, he studied and compared ancient Hebrew and Greek Bible manuscripts, which are not available to us today. His work also came before that of the Jewish Masoretes. Therefore, the Vulgate is very valuable for examining alternate readings within Bible texts. Jerome’s translation would become the basic Bible for Western Christianity, while the Greek Septuagint (LXX) continues to be used in Eastern Christianity even to this day.
Prior to 2001, Dr. Leland Ryken, a professor of English at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, served on the translation committee as their literary stylist for the 2001—English Standard Version. He has penned numerous books on the different theories of Bible Translation.
UNTIL THE MIDDLE OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY, all major English Bible translations were based on the premise that the goal of Bible translation is to take the reader as close as possible to the words that the biblical authors actually wrote.
It may not take much to convince you of the premise of this chapter. The Bible is, after all, the Bible. But literal translation has no claim to priority unless the individual words of the Bible are very important.