Archive for category Bible translation
Earlier this year I found an old Welsh book in Wales on Christian martyrs dating to 1813. The book itself covers the lives of William Tyndale, Martin Luther, George Marsh, John Bradford, Nicolas Ridley, and so forth and the pages appear in good condition for the age. However, a page that stood out to me contained an image of William Tyndale. The 16th century martyr and translator of the New Testament into English. The reason the print stood out is because Tyndale’s image had been ripped out.
Tyndale was a good Christian man and dedicated his life to the delivering of the Word of God to all English speaking people. The Church of his day rejected him, but his translation work laid the foundations of the Coverdale Bible, Bishops Bible, Geneva Bible and the King James Bible of 1611 and all significant English translations from 1535 to this day. 80-90% of the New Testament in the King James Bible has been shown to be the translation work of Tyndale.
The torn image seems to be deliberate? I say this because the book appears to have no damage elsewhere. However, even if the tare is coincidental, it still begs me to think upon how torn apart true Christians can be at times. Men like Tyndale held fast to the Bible and would not deny the text even in the face of danger, excommunication, imprisonment and execution. And how often has it taken place since his day that men and women who stand firm upon the text of the Bible are either rejected by the Church or ridiculed, mocked, insulted, and maligned by the world.
How true is that of our day.
Many people today can go into a bookshop and buy a Greek New Testament. Many Christians or scholars do this and no doubt many consider that they now own the New Testament in the ‘original Greek’. However, this may be a misunderstanding.
If we look back to the 16th century, we see that there were many Greek and Latin New Testaments published during that century. For example, between 1516–1521, Erasmus published his Greek New Testament which he based upon the best available manuscripts of his day. In 1550, Stephanus published his Greek New Testament based upon the best available manuscripts of his day. In 1556, Theodore Beza published both a Greek New Testament and a Latin New Testament, again based upon the best available manuscripts of his day.
Contrary to what many believe or are told, the translators of the King James Bible did not exclusively use the ‘Textus Receptus’ by Erasmus. Research reveals that in many passages the King James Bible translators preferred the textual renderings of Stephanus’ 1550 Greek New Testament, and also Theodore Beza’s 1556 Latin New Testament. They also consulted the Latin Vulgate.
We know for certain that Tyndale used Erasmus’ Greek New Testament for his 1526 and 1534 New Testaments, and that the majority of the New Testament of the ‘original’ King James Bible was merely a revision of Tyndale’s 1534 New Testament. Likewise, in many ways the KJV was also a revision of the Geneva Bible. Yet even in that, many of today’s publications of the King James Version are not the original 1611 text.
One common mistake is the idea that the King James Version was not revised until 1881. This is simply untrue. The original translators of the King James Version wrote by hand and the original manuscripts had to be printed. Thus, the many printing errors happened and thus the KJV underwent many print revisions in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Research into many original prints of the KJV between 1611-1762 reveal a number of printing errors including the popular ‘Adultery Bible’ and the ‘Vinegar Bible’ yet it should also be noted that there are other Bibles too which also contain less harmful printing errors. Some of these errors can be found in ancient copies of the Geneva Bible and the King James Bible, some of them involving page numbers and scriptures written underneath engravings.
Perhaps more than that, there were some who disagreed entirely with the way the KJV translators rendered certain passages. One of the main 18th century revisions of the KJV was by Cambridge Bible scholar Dr. Francis Sawyer Parris (1707-1760), who’s work was included in the 1762 KJ revision based upon years of his work. In 1769 a revision was published which incorporated much of Paris’ work. His work remains in most King James Bible translations published today.
One of the noteworthy changes to the KJV can be found in Titus 2: 13. In the 1611 the text reads;
- “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ;”
The 1769 revision reads;
- “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;”
Note the removal of the comma after “God” and before “and our Saviour”, which I think puts more emphasis upon the Godhead and Deity of Jesus Christ.
With that line of thought in mind, many people are not actually reading the original 1611 King James Verse. However, here are some further following texts which may help identify which KJV a person is reading:
- Matthew 16: 16. “Thou art Christ” (1611) “Thou art the Christ (1762)
- Matthew 26: 75. “The words of Jesus” (1611) “The word of Jesus” (1762)
- John 15: 20. “The servant is not greater than the Lord” (1611) “The servant is not greater than his Lord” (1762)
Fair enough, the revisions made in the 17th -18th centuries do not appear to alter doctrine, but they were revisions none-the-less. And the 1769 revision arguably enhances the proclamation of the Deity of Jesus, and the doctrine of the Godhead (Trinity).
Likewise it is not only so with the KJV but revisions also took place with publications of various Greek New Testaments. These revisions include the Textus Receptus and Stephanus and even the Latin Vulgate.
Today, if a person were to purchase a 19th century print of the Greek New Testament by Stephanus, it is likely that they would be getting a re-worked version of Stephanus’s 1551 NT which had been updated and altered by a man named John Mill. This is often referred to as ‘Mill’s text’.
John Mill (1645-1707) was an English Theologian and Oxford scholar who worked on the Greek New Testament based upon around 100 or so manuscripts. He also claimed to have found “30,000 discrepancies”.
Thus, it is likely that if a person has a Stephanus’ GNT according to ‘Mill’s text’ it will not be the original text of Stephanus’ 1550.
This can also be the case with the Latin Vulgate or Biblia Sacra, which is often the edition of the Vulgate published under Pope Clement V111.
The probable facts are that unless a person acquires an actual original print or facsimile of either Erasmus, Stephanus, or possible Beza, the person will not be getting the actual original desired work, but a text which has been altered, or updated in later centuries. Facsimiles or original prints are the best.
Over the past two – three years, I have been sporadically presenting and producing a documentary on Welsh Bible translator William Salesbury.
Salesbury was born c 1520 in Llansannan, Wales. He was educated at Llanrwst and Oxford and spent time in London where he became involved with the printing press. However, during the reign of Mary Tudor (1553-1558) he returned to Wales and went into hiding. Upon the accession of Elizabeth 1 Salesbury appealed to Parliament to translate and publish the New Testament. He was granted his request and he became the first person to translate the New Testament into the language of Welsh.
Salesbury was a mysterious character, who suffered for the faith and although many aspects of his life remain unknown, it is the legacy of the man which is arguably of the greatest interest. From my perspective, researching ancient Welsh, Latin and English Bibles is always a joy, and travelling hundreds of miles around the beautiful countryside of North Wales, and the great cities of England, in the footsteps of the 16th century Linguistic Reformed Scholar has been an intriguing adventure.
The documentary will be released in the future. Keep posted!
Matthew 16: 18 as translated in most Bibles is an over literal reading. Willaim Tyndale in his 1526 New Testament used the word ‘Congregation‘ in translation of of the Greek “Ekklesia“.
It is this exact term which is likely that Myles Coverdale employed this word and translation from Tyndale. The Greek ‘ekklēsia‘ holds the meaning of ‘assembly‘ and it is likely that Tyndale translated this word correctly, even more so than many other translations.
This wording is not contained in many translations, but it is in the Tyndale NT, The Coverdale Bible and the Bishops Bible.
Even in such texts as Revelation 2: 9, where the Greek ‘sunagoge‘ is used, Tyndale employs the same word ‘Congregation‘. Which no doubt has many complications for the established ‘Church’. For, in Tyndales understanding, the congregation is the Church and her leadership and not the established order of the Clergy or Kings.
Is there any wonder why the established ‘state’ church burned his translation?