WHY SO Many ENGLISH BIBLE TRANSLATIONS?
A) EARLY TRANSLATIONS OF THE SCRIPTURES.
1. The Septuagint (LXX) translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek. Begun about 250 B.C.
2. Translations of portions of the Old Testament into Greek by Aquila and Theodotian, 2nd century A.D.
3. The Targums, free translations of the Old Testament into the popular language, the Aramaic, 2nd century A.D.
4. The Old Latin Bible, Old and New Testaments (2nd century A.D.) out of which came the Vulgate of Jerome, the text used in the Roman Catholic Church.
5. An Ancient Syriac Version, 2nd century.
6. Two Egyptian Versions in different dialects,3rd Century.
7. Peshito-Syriac, 4th century.
8. Gothic Version, 4th century.
9. Ethiopic Version, 4th century.
10.Armenian Version, 5th century.
B) WHY SO MANY ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS?
The Bible was originally written using 11,280 Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek words, but the typical English translation uses only around 6,000 words. Obviously, nuances and shades of meaning can be missed, so various organisations and individuals come up with different English translations.
So in interpreting the various verses in the Bible, it is best to take the following into consideration:
1. the original language and its original meaning
2. the cultural context in which the verses appear
3. the context of the central theme in that particular book
4. what do other books in the Bible say about that topic.
5. what do the various Bible experts say about the topic
It is, therefore, always helpful to compare translations. Another advantage of reading various versions of the Bible is that one can often find small differences—often a single word or a phrase—that can speak more directly to us as we are meditating on the Word of God.
C) BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH TRANSLATION
From the early Middle Ages until the Reformation of the sixteenth century, the Latin Vulgate was the official Bible of the Church. This was unfortunate, since only a few educated people could read Latin. Thus the Bible was a closed book to the majority of people. The later Medieval period, however, saw the production of several partial translations into Old English (Anglo-Saxon). The first full translation of the Bible in our language was the Middle English translation of John Wycliffe in 1382. Still, it was not until the time of William Tyndale in the Reformation that the Bible was translated into English from the original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. From Tyndale’s translation work at the beginning of the sixteenth century to the translation of the King James Version early in the seventeenth century, several English versions were produced:
1525 Tyndale’s New Testament
1535 The Coverdale Bible
1539 The Great Bible
1560 The Geneva Bible
1568 The Bishop’s Bible
1611 The King James Version.
The King James Version reigned dominant until well into the twentieth century, and still remains popular. Whereas almost all English translations from Tyndale to the American Standard Version tended to be literal, the twentieth century saw the rise of other less literal forms of translation.
D) TYPES OF BIBLE TRANSLATION
1) WORD FOR WORD (LITERAL)
2) MEANING FOR MEANING
3) WORD FOR WORD AND MEANING FOR MEANING BLENDS
E) TRANSLATIONS OF THE SCRIPTURES INTO OLD AND MIDDLE ENGLISH. (A.D.300-1500)
1. A paraphrase in poetry by Caedmon of Whitby, 680 A.D.
2. Two versifications of the Psalms, about 700 A.D.
3. The Gospel of John by Venerable Bede, finished May 27, 735 A.D.
4. Exodus and the Psalms, Alfred the Great, 901 A.D.
5. Two interlinear translations of portions of the Scriptures from the Latin Vulgate, about 950 A.D.
6. A translation of the greater part of the Bible into Norman French, 1260.
7. Four versions of the Psalms, and parts of the New Testament, 1350.
8. John Wycliffe, the first complete translation into English from the Vulgate; New Testament completed in 1380, the Old Testament in 1384.
F) MODERN ENGLISH TRANSLATION (1500-1900)
1. Tyndale; the first translation from the original Hebrew and Greek, 1525-1536.
2. Coverdale; the first complete Bible ever printed. It was based on the Vulgate, Luther’s German Bible, and Tyndale, 1535.
3. Matthew’s (really Roger’s) Bible. The first authorized version, 1537.
4. Crammer’s, or the Great Bible, 1539.
5. The Geneva Bible, published by the English exiles in Geneva, the first Bible with chapter and verse divisions, based on the Vulgate, 1557-1560.
6. The Bishop’s Bible, 1564-1568.
7. The Rheims/Doual Translation. Roman Catholic translation from the Latin Vulgate of the Old Latin Bible.
8. The Authorized, or King James Version, 1611.
In 1604, King James I of England authorized that a new translation of the Bible into English be started. It was finished in 1611, just 85 years after the first translation of the New Testament into English appeared (Tyndale, 1526). The Authorized Version, or King James Version, quickly became the standard for English-speaking Protestants. Its flowing language and prose rhythm has had a profound influence on the literature of the past 300 years. (LITERAL)
9. The Revised Version; New Testament, 1881; Old Testament, 1884.(LITERAL)
10. Darby Translation
First published in 1890 by John Nelson Darby, an Anglo-Irish Bible teacher associated with the early years of the Plymouth Brethren. Darby also published translations of the Bible in French and German.
11. Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)
The Bible text designated YLT is from the 1898 Young’s Literal Translation by Robert Young who also compiled Young’s Analytical Concordance. This is an extremely literal translation that attempts to preserve the tense and word usage as found in the original Greek and Hebrew writings. The text was scanned from a reprint of the 1898 edition as published by Baker Book House, Grand Rapids Michigan. The book is still in print and may be ordered from Baker Book House. Obvious errors in spelling or inconsistent spellings of the same word were corrected in the computer edition of the text.
G) TWENTIETH CENTURY ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS (1900–)
1901 The American Standard Version (ASV).
An American revision of the Authorized Version growing out of American scholars’ participation in the Revised Version. (LITERAL)
First published in 1901, this has long been regarded as the most literal translation of the Bible. This makes the ASV very popular for careful English Bible study, but not for ease of reading. While the KJV was translated entirely from “western manuscripts,” the ASV was influenced also by the older “eastern manuscripts” that form the basis for most of our modern English translations.
1903 The New Testament in Modern Speech.
R.T.Weymouth’s attempt to render Greek grammatical constructions carefully.
1924 A New Translation of the Bible.
An idiomatic, colloquial, and sometimes Scottish translation by James Moffatt.
1927 Centenary Translation of the New Testament.
Helen B. Montgomery’s missionary heart produced a translation in the language of everyday life.
1937 Williams New Testament. By Charles B. Williams.
A Baptist professor’s attempt to translate into English the nuances of the Greek verbs.
1938 The Bible: An American Translation.
E. J. Goodspeed and J. M. Powis Smith produced the first modern American translation with the Apocrypha.
1952 The Revised Standard Version (RASV).
Revision of the American Standard Version and the King James Version by an international translation committee seeking to maintain literary awesomeness for worship. (LITERAL)
The Revised Standard Version (New Testament, 1946; Old Testament, 1952) is one of the most widely read translations of the Scriptures. Formally, the RSV is a revision of the AV (Authorized Version of 1611, otherwise known as the King James Version) and the ASV (American Standard Version of 1901), utilizing the best texts available at the time.
1955 The Holy Bible.
Translated by Ronald Knox, a Roman Catholic, from the Latin Vulgate.
1958 The New Testament in Modern English.
A free translation by J. B. Phillips originally done for his youth club. (PARAPHASE)
1965 The Amplified Bible.
A version by the Lockman Foundation suggesting various wordings throughout the text.
1966 The Jerusalem Bible (JB).
Originally translated into French by Roman Catholic scholars from the original languages.
(WORD FOR WORD AND MEANING FOR MEANING BLENDS)
1969 The New Berkeley (Modern Language) Bible.
A revision of the Berkeley Version of 1959 by Gerrit Verkuyl with attached notes.
1969 The Bible in Worldwide English(BWE)
This New Testament was originally prepared by Annie Cressman, who died in 1993. She was a Canadian Bible teacher in Liberia in West Africa. Whilst teaching students in a Bible School where the language used was English, she found that she was spending more time explaining the meaning of the English than she was teaching the Bible itself. So she decided to write this simple version in easy English so that her students could easily understand.
In 1959 the Full Gospel Publishing House in Toronto, Canada, printed a trial edition of the Gospel of Mark. A further edition was published in 1962 by the American Bible Society. The whole New Testament was first published by SOON Publications in India in 1969 in hardback form. This was assisted by Operation Mobilisation (OM) and was reprinted in 1971.
The vision to reprint a new edition of the whole New Testament has now been carried out by SOON in conjunction with EPH and OM. Where a change to more modern words has been made, this has been kept in line with the Authorised Version.
1970 The New English Bible.
A translation with literary quality but some idiosyncratic language. Translated by representatives of Britain’s major churches and Bible societies and based on the most recent textual evidence. (MEANING FOR MEANING)
1970 The New American Bible (NABV).
A new translation by Roman Catholic scholars (the Bishops’ Committee of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) from the original languages. (LITERAL)
1971 The New American Standard Bible (NASB).
A revision by the Lockman Foundation of the American Standard Version of 1901 with the goal of maintaining literal translation.
While preserving the literal accuracy of the 1901 ASV, the NASB has sought to render grammar and terminology in contemporary English. Special attention has been given to the rendering of verb tenses to give the English reader a rendering as close as possible to the sense of the original Greek and Hebrew texts. (LITERAL)
1971 The Living Bible.
A conservative American paraphrase by Kenneth N. Taylor originally for his children (begun in 1962). (PARAPHASE)
1976 The Good News Bible (Today’s English Version, TEV)
A translation by the American Bible Society into “vernacular” English. (MEANING FOR MEANING)
1979 The New International Version (NIV)
A readable translation by evangelical scholars incorporating the most recent textual evidence.
The New International Version is a translation of the Bible made by over a hundred scholars working from the best available Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts. The goals of the translators were to produce an accurate translation that would have clarity and literary quality. The NIV had its beginning in 1965. The NIV New Testament was published in 1973, and the Old Testament was finished in 1978.
(WORD FOR WORD AND MEANING FOR MEANING BLENDS)
1982 The New King James Version (NKJV)
A modernization of the King James Version of 1611. Based on the original language texts available to the King James Version translators. (LITERAL)
1985 The New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) Catholic Bible.
(WORD FOR WORD AND MEANING FOR MEANING BLENDS)
1987 The New Century Version.
A translation committee’s update of the International Children’s Bible.
1989 The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).
A translation committee’s update of the Revised Standard Version. (LITERAL)
1989 The Revised English Bible.
A British committee’s update of the New English Bible maintaining literary quality but avoiding idiosyncratic language.
(WORD FOR WORD AND MEANING FOR MEANING BLENDS)
1991 The Contemporary English Version (New Testament).
A simplified text originally conceived for children and produced by the American Bible Society.
1996 New Living Bible (NLB)
H) BIBLE STUDY-—GENERAL GUIDELINES AND SUGGESTIONS
· The literal (word-for-word) versions are the most accurate renditions of God’s Word and include the least amount of translational bias.
· Since the literal versions are the most accurate, they are usually the best for Bible study.
· The King James Version is linked to more study aids (such as Strong’s and Young’s Concordances) than any other English Version.
· Because of their literary style, many of the less literal versions (such as the NIV) make good versions for personal reading.
· It is helpful to include both literal and less literal translations on your bookshelf.
· It is best to stay with a single version for most of your reading and study (this aids in memorization).
· When choosing your main Bible, look for durable binding, cross-references and perhaps wide margins (for your personal notes).
· Study Bibles, since they do not encourage personal study, are best used as bookshelf references.
I) CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER OF THE BOOKS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.
While no arrangement of these books can be made with absolute confidence, the following dates are sufficiently reliable to serve the purpose of the Bible student.
James – 50 A.D.
First Thessalonians – 52-53 A.D.
Second Thessalonians- 52-53 A.D.
Galatians – 55 A.D.
First Corinthians – 57 A.D.
Second Corinthians – 57 A.D.
Romans – 57-58 A.D.
Philippians – 62-63 A.D.
Colossians – 62-63 A.D.
Philemon – 62-63 A.D.
Ephesians – 62-63 A.D.
Luke – 63 A.D.
Acts – 64 A.D.
First Timothy – 65 A.D.
Titus – 65 A.D.
Second Timothy – 66 A.D.
Mark – 66 A.D.
Matthew – 67 A.D.
Hebrews – 67 A.D.
First Peter – 67-68 A.D.
Second Peter – 68 A.D.
Jude – 68 A.D.
Revelation – 68 A.D.
John – 85 A.D.
Epistles of John – 90-95 A.D.
J) EXTRA CANONICAL BOOKS.
In addition to the books that have been generally recognized among Protestants as worthy of a place in the Canon, or collection of Sacred books, which taken as a whole makes up the Bible, there are certain other books which had their origin in the period beginning after the time of Malachi, and closing with the Christian century. They are called the apocryphal books of the Old Testament, and while regarded by the Roman Catholic Church as having a place in the Canon, and by many Protestants as containing much profitable reading, their value is clearly below that of the books included in our Canon. They are as follows:
Psalms of Solomon.
Ecclesiasticus, or the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach.
Prayer of the Three Children, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon, apocryphal additions to the Book of Daniel.
The Prayer of Manasseh.
The Wisdom of Solomon.
The Epistle of Jeremiah.
A similar class of literature grew up subsequently to the writings of the New Testament and connected with it. Among books of this class may be named the following:
The Apocryphal Gospels.
The Shepherd of Hermes.
The Epistles of Clement to the Corinthians.
Epistle of Barnabas.
Paul and Thecala.
If you want a translation from some of the many Bibles in the Internet, go to www.biblegateway.com