Vol.IV No.IV Pg.4
May 1967

Story Of The Text ...4

Robert F. Turner

"Versions" of the Bible are not modern inventions. The Old Testament had already been translated from the Hebrew into Greek by time of Christ, and the Apostles quoted freely from this (Septuagint) version. Then, sometime in the second century A. D. both the Old and New Testament were translated into Aramaic -- the Peshito Syriac version; used as the common Bible of the Syrian Christians to this day.

In North Africa, where the Latin language prevailed, a need was felt for the scriptures in this tongue. A version followed, now called the "Old Latin," which was cited by Latin writers as far back as Tertullian, who lived about 150-220 A.D.

Some 200 years later many copy variations had arisen, and Damasus, Bishop of Rome, asked the scholar Jerome to make a revised version. This was done (382-85 A. D.) and became known as the "Latin Vulgate" (or common version). It was used as a basis for translation into many other languages including Wycliffe's translation into English, in 1382.

By 1408 Wycliffe's work was being revised -- always in search of a more pure and accurate text. The prologue to this version states that the translators gathered "many old Bibles, and other doctors and common glosses, and to make a Latin Bible somewhat true; and then to study it anew - " which is an insight into the problem they had in finding a sound basis for translation. The "Authorized" (or King James version) 1611; and the American Standard version, 1901; are based upon far more extensive research, as we shall see. However, early English versions had a profound effect upon the expressions of our current text. Wycliffe and Tyndale had much to do with establishing the "Bible sound" that many of us (including myself) hold dear today. Such sentiments are harmful only when they preclude factual study.

Today, with modern printing methods, revisions are seldom needed to "correct" copy errors; and purity of the basic text has advanced beyond the need for major changes here -- so why have further versions? (1) The search must continue for purity, eves in minute details. Our God, who gives us daily bread when we work for it, has marvelously preserved His word for those who honestly seek for it. (2) Our language is constantly changing -- our children are unfamiliar with earlier expressions; and we must keep the truth clearly discernible.

Compare the following lines from Alfred's day (870-901), Wycliffe's time (1382), and our own American Standard N. T. (1901):

"Uren Fader dhic art in heofnas" (A)

"Our Fadir that art in heuenes" (W)

"Our Father who art in heaven" (AS)

"Sic gehalyed dhin noma" (A)

"Halewid be thi name" (W)

"Hallowed be thy name" (AS)

The Anglo-Saxon became early English, which in turn became "modern" English with a touch of "middle" English remaining. But each, in his time, and stands the "version" of his day. Following articles will warn of abuse often found in modern speech versions.