Sunday, February 11, 2018

Bible Versions

       The earliest and most famous version of the Old Testament is the Septuagint, or Greek translation, executed by Alexandrian Greeks, and completed probably before 130 B. c. This version was adopted by the early Christian Church and by the Jews themselves and has always held an important place in the interpretation and history of the Bible. The Syriac version, the Peshito, made early in the second century after Christ, is celebrated for its fidelity. The Coptic version was made from the Septuagint, in the third or fourth century. The Gothic version, by Ulphilas, was made from the Septuagint in the fourth century, but mere insignificant fragments of it are extant. The most important Latin version is the Vulgate, executed by Jerome, partly on the basis of the original Hebrew, and completed in A. D. 405.
       The printed editions of the Hebrew Bible are very numerous. The first edition entire was printed at Soncino in 1488.
       The books of the New Testament were all written in Greek, unless it be true, as some critics suppose, that the gospel of Saint Matthew was originally written in Hebrew, Most of these writings have always been received as inspired; but the Epistle to the Hebrews, commonly ascribed to Saint Paul, that of Saint Jude, the second of Peter, the second and third of John and Revelation have been doubted. The three oldest manuscripts are:
  1. The Sinaitic manuscript, discovered by Tischendorf in a convent on Mount Sinai in 1859, assigned to the middle of the fourth century 
  2. The Vatican manuscript at Rome, of similar date
  3. The Alexandrian manuscript in the British Museum, assigned to the latter half of the sixth century. 
Each manuscript contains also in great part the Septuagint Greek of the Old Testament. The division of the text of the New Testament into chapters and verses was introduced later than that of the Old Testament, but it is not precisely known when or by whom.
       Of translations of the Bible into modem languages the English and the German are the most celebrated. Considerable portions were translated into Anglo-Saxon, including the Gospels and the Psalter. Wycliffe's translation of the whole Bible (from the Vulgate), begun about, 1356, was completed shortly before his death, 1384. The first printed version of the Bible in English was the translation of William Tyndale, whose New Testament was printed in quarto at Cologne in 1525, a small octavo edition appearing at the same time at Worms. He also published the Pentateuch in 1530 and translated some of the prophetical books. Our translation of the New Testament is much indebted to Tyndale. A translation of the entire Bible, undertaken at the instance of Thomas Cromwell, was published by Miles Coverdale in 1535 and, being made from German and Latin versions, was inferior to Tyndale's.
       The first Bible printed by authority in England was an edition with a preface by Cranmer, hence called Cranmer's Bible. A royal proclamation in 1540 ordered it to be placed in every parish church. This continued, with various revisions, to be the authorized version till 1568. In 1557-1560 an edition appeared at Geneva, based on Tyndale's - the work of Whittington, Coverdale, Goodman, John Knox and other exiles, and commonly called the Geneva, or Breeches, Bible, from "breeches" standing instead of "aprons" in Genesis III, 7. This version, the first printed in Roman letters, and also the first to adopt the plan, previously adopted in the Hebrew, of a division into verses, was for sixty years the most popular in England and was allowed to be printed under a patent of monopoly in 1501. It omitted the Apocrypha, left the authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews open and put words not in the original in italics. The Bishop's Bible, published 1568 to 1572, revised by Archbishop Parker and eight bishops, succeeded Cranmer's as the authorized version, but did not commend itself to scholars or people. In 1582 an edition of the New Testament, translated from the Latin Vulgate, appeared at Rheims, and in 1609-1610 the Old Testament was published at Douai. This is the version recognized by the Roman Catholic Church.

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