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Full text of "The story of Bible translations / by Max L. Margolis"

Presented to the 

LIBRARIES of the 

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO 

from 

the Library of 
Arthur Paulin 



THE STORY OF 
BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 



THE STORY OF 
BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 



BY 

MAX L. MARGOLIS 




PHILADELPHIA 

THE JEWISH PUBLICATION SOCIETY OF AMERICA 
1917 




COPYRIGHT, 1917, BY 
THE JEWISH PUBLICATION SOCIETY OF AMERICA 



TO 

PHILIP N. AND CARRIE G. ARONSON 

IN FILIAL LOVE 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

I. THE TARGUM 9 

II. THE SEPTUAGINT AND THE LATER GREEK VERSIONS. . 26 

III. ANCIENT CHRISTIAN TRANSLATIONS 44 

IV. JEWISH TRANSLATIONS IN THE MIDDLE AGES 50 

V. THE AGE OF THE REFORMATION. LUTHER AND THE 

KING JAMES VERSION 64 

VI. MODERN TRANSLATIONS BY JEWS AND CHRISTIANS.. 79 

VII. AGENCIES FOR CIRCULATING THE BIBLE 107 

VIII. THE DIFFICULTIES INHERENT IN ALL BIBLE TRANS 
LATIONS II 7 

INDEX J 3i 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

(Size Reduced) FACING 

PAGE 

BRITISH MUSEUM ABOUT 1300 c. E ^ 

CODEX VATICANUS 4TH CENT ^3 

PALIMPSEST OF THE CAIRO GENIZAH 42 

CODEX PETROPOLITANUS 916 c. E c t 

THE PENTATEUCH, CONSTANTINOPLE 1547 62 

WITZENHAUSEN S JUDEO-GERMAN VERSION, AMSTERDAM 

I6 79 .-- 63 

THE GUTENBERG BIBLE (VULGATE) OF 1456 66 

FIRST RABBINIC BIBLE, VENICE 1516-7 67 



CHAPTER I 

THE TARGUM 

It is not my intention in these pages to add one 
more reference-work to the many excellent ones 
which have to do with Bible translations. Biblio 
graphical completeness will not be attempted. I shall 
Prefatory confine m y self to the Hebrew Scriptures 
Remarks ^ w ^^ c ^ a ^ one I mav speak with first-hane 
knowledge, but even so the subject is a 
vast one. The external or human side must needs 
receive attention, but the general reader will none 
the less be interested to learn how the epoch-making 
translations go with great cultural and religious 
upheavals and how all of them display certain char 
acteristics which seem to inhere in the oldest and 
youngest alike. 



The Obiect T rari wn i cn Israel received with 



of Bible iyf ll l readiness at the foot of mount 
Translation Sinai was in the opinion of the rabbis 
originally intended for all mankind as 
a guide to their salvation. God spoke not in secret 
(Isaiah 45. 19), but in the open and free desert, that 
all men might have access to the revealed Word; 
indeed the Torah was offered first to the Gentiles, but 



io STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

Esau and Ishmael and other nations were unwilling 
to forego killing and immorality and stealing which 
the Decalogue forbids. The rabbis also assert that 
Joshua had the Torah engraved upon the stones of 
the altar (Joshua 8. 30-32) not only in the original. 
but also in all the other tongues of the world. Of 
these translations the nations secured transcripts, but 
after reading them, they turned their back upon the 
Torah. Accordingly, the object of the translation 
would have been to make the Scriptures known to the 
alien. There is an eltrnent of truth in this contention, 
and we shall come t speak of it in connection with 
the earliest Greek translation (chapter II). It may 
suffice for the present to recall the recognition con 
ceded by Maimonides to the two daughter-religions 
that through them the words of the Torah have been 
spread to the utmost isles and among many nations. 
The great Jewish thinker would have accorded un 
stinted praise to the stupendous efforts of modern 
Bible societies (chapter VII). Yet for all that the 
primary object of Bible translation was to serve a 
need nearer home, that those to whom the original 
was a sealed book might profit by reading the Scrip 
tures in the language spoken by them. 

Just at what time among the Jews of Palestine 
Hebrew ceased to be the spoken language of the 



THE TARGUM 



people is a mooted question. The older view has it 
that the Jews lost their Hebrew speech in the Baby- 
The Change ^ on * an ca ptivity whence they brought 
of Speech ^ ac ^ w ^ ^ iem ^ ie Aramaic. Hebrew 
in Palestine. and Aramaic are sister languages be 
longing to the group known as Semitic 
and comprising in addition Arabic, Ethiopic, and 
Assyro-Babylonian. There is a close resemblance 
among them all in structure and vocabulary, and 
Hebrew is related to Aramaic as Low German or 
Dutch is to High German. The people, of course, 
have no ear for resemblances often disguised, plain 
though they may be to the scholar. In the days of 
Hezekiah Aramaic was understood by the courtiers ; 
to the common soldier it meant an unintelligible gib 
berish. Ezra (in the fifth century) is reported to 
have read the Law to the assembled people dis 
tinctly (Nehemiah 8. 8) ; according to the rabbis, 
he read with interpretation/ that is, with an accom 
panying rendition into the Aramaic. That, of course, 
may simply imply the carrying of a custom in vogue 
at a later period back to Ezra, to whom many other 
institutions are ascribed. It has been urged that the 
Aramaic spoken in Palestine was a dialect differing 
from the Babylonian variety and could not have been 
imported from the East. It has therefore been 



12 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

argued that the change of speech must have occurred 
in Palestine itself a century or so after Ezra. But 
we know now that the Jewish military colony, which 
settled in Egypt long before Cambyses (529-522), 
spoke and wrote Aramaic in the days of Nehemiah. 
We must understand that the change in Palestine was 
gradual, Hebrew succumbing in the North earlier 
than in the South. For a time indeed both languages 
were spoken and understood, until at length Hebrew 
vanished from the mouth of the people. As late as 
the second century of the current era Hebrew was 
still spoken in some nook or corner, but in the main it 
had become a sacred tongue understood by the 
learned, but unknown to the unlettered who con 
versed in Aramaic. 

But the Word of God was to be understood of the 

people. Just how early the custom arose for the 

Scriptures, the Torah and the Prophets in particular, 

to be read on the sabbath in the synagogue 

is not known. But when these lessons had 
Targum. 

become a fixed institution, it followed of 

necessity that a translation into the people s speech 
should go hand in hand with the reading of the origi 
nal. The rabbis call all translations Targum, but the 
name is specifically applied to the Aramaic version. 
At first the Targum was oral. Beside the reader 



THE TARGUM 13 



stood the Targeman (hence the word dragoman ), 
the official interpreter. A verse, or in the case of the 
Prophets a connected section not exceeding three 
verses, was read in the Hebrew and immediately 
translated into Aramaic. Both the original, from the 
scroll, and the translation, from memory, were to be 
declaimed in the same pitch, and the interpreter was 
enjoined not to lean against the desk, but in defer 
ential posture to stand some way off. The transla 
tion frequently assumed the character of free expo 
sition with a view to inculcating the interpretation 
which the schools placed upon a law or custom and 
in general to bringing down the scriptural word to 
the comprehension of the common people. The 
prophetic lessons naturally lent themselves to amplifi 
cation ; the interpreter turned preacher, prefacing his 
remarks with a direct address to the congregation in 
some such words as O my people, sons of Israel/ or 
The prophet saith. This freedom had its dangers, 
especially at the time of the rise of the heresies out 
of which a new religion was born. The Talmud dis 
countenances the practice of certain interpreters who 
introduce the law Leviticus 22. 28 ( whether it be 
cow or ewe, ye shall not kill it and its young both in 
one day ) with the homily : As our Father is mer 
ciful in Heaven, so shall ye be merciful on earth/ 
The rabbis themselves enjoin the imitation of divine 



14 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

^ s 

mercy : As He is gracious and merciful, so be thou 
gracious and merciful. Nevertheless the plea is 
made that the commandments of the Torah must not 
be turned into mere ethical prescriptions. The trans 
lator must not wander too far from the original. He 
who renders a verse as it reads, with strict literalness, 
lies; he that makes additions is a blasphemer. In 
Leviticus 1 8. 21 it is forbidden to give over of one s 
seed unto Molech ; the Mishnah makes mention of a 
paraphrastic (free) rendering by which the prohibi 
tion was made to refer to sacrificing one s offspring 
through intercourse with a pagan woman. The 
abominable Molech worship had become a thing for 
gotten, and the translators thought themselves justi 
fied in applying the scriptural condemnation to a 
regrettable laxity prevalent in their days. Neverthe 
less such translators were to be silenced with rebuke. 
The wording of the original was paramount, and a 
translator who made the slightest error by investing 
a Hebrew word with an unwonted meaning was 
publicly corrected. Among the instances cited are 
the renderings (plain) herbs for bitter herbs 
(Exodus 12. 8) and vessel for basket (Deuter 
onomy 26. 2). To quote a parallel from another 
quarter : when the book of Jonah was read in a Chris 
tian church in Africa from Jerome s new Latin ver 
sion (chapter III), there was an uproar, because 



THE TARGUM 15 



the miraculous plant (4. 6), which in the older trans 
lation based upon the Greek had been rendered 
gourd/ was now identified with the ivy/ 

The rabbis looked with disfavor upon written 
Targums. Translation naturally partook of the 
character of interpretation, and all interpretation 
_,,,.. was classed with the oral law. It was 

Ha D D1H1C 

-.. , believed that when Moses delivered the 

Disapproval 

e XTT ..* written Law into the keeping- of the 
of Written 

T r urns P riests ne a ls instructed his successor 
Joshua, and Joshua the elders, and the 
elders the prophets, and the prophets the men of the 
Great Synagogue, in all the ramifications of each 
subject by word of mouth. Writing seemed to 
bestow a measure of sacredness, and nothing was to 
rival the Scriptures in authority. Only the things 
written might be written ; what was handed down by 
word of mouth must be transmitted orally. The 
written Word of God, moreover, was held to be 
capable of more than one sense ; to fasten upon it just 
one was not permissible. However, it was not so 
much the written copy that was placed under the 
ban as the public use of it. Written Targums were 
found in private possession at an early time. Rabbi 
Samuel son of Isaac (in the fourth century), on 
entering the synagogue, remonstrated with a scribe 
who read from a written Targum. At an earlier 



1 6 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

period it is reported of Gamaliel the Elder that he 
had a copy of the Targum of the book of Job im 
mured beneath a layer of stones in the Temple. 
When a fire broke out on the sabbath, such volumes, 
as indeed copies of any other translation of the 
Scriptures, were to be saved along with the scrolls 
of the original ; but the former must then be stored 
away, withdrawn from public use. The ancients had 
a wonderful memory, but as the traditional lore grew 
in magnitude and the retentiveness of scholars weak 
ened, the private volumes were produced and suc 
cessively recast, until at length they became the pub 
lic property of the Jewish people. Mishnah, Gemara, 
Targum, all passed through similar stages of growth, 
each with its Palestinian recension and its Babylonian 
counterpart. Just as the Babylonian Talmud sup 
planted the Palestinian in point of authority, so the 
Babylonian Targums overshadowed those of Pales 
tine out of which they had grown, the Babylonian 
schools placing their seal of approval upon a form 
suitable to the needs of the time. 

In the foremost rank stands the Baby 
lonian Targum of the Pentateuch which 
Onkelos. . _ . . __ n . - 

goes by the name of Onkelos. When in the 

sequel Aramaic had given place to Arabic as the lan 
guage spoken by Eastern Jewry, or when in the West 
the Jews had adopted the speech of the European 










,". 5*Ws >1 " 

-s 






BRITISH MUSEUM ABOUT 1300 C. E. 
With the Targum after each verse and Masoretic notes In the margins 



THE TARGUM 17 



nations, this Targum continued to be read and 
studied. On the eve of the sabbath it was customary 
to read the lesson in advance, twice in the original 
and once in the Targum. The wording of the trans 
lation was as zealously guarded as that of the original. 
According to the Babylonian Talmud, the version 
was the work of Onkelos the proselyte under the 
supervision of Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Joshua ; but 
the statement, it has been clearly shown, rests upon a 
nisunderstanding : the parallel statement in the Pales 
tinian Talmud speaks of Aquila (Akylas) who trans 
lated the Scriptures into Greek (chapter II). In 
ternal evidence points to the times of Rabbi Akiba in 
which the earlier layers of the Targum must be 
sought. Thus the language is but slightly tinged 
with foreign elements, and those are mainly Greek; 
where the parallel Targttms of Palestinian redaction 
(see below) make mention of Byzantium or Con 
stantinople, Onkelos speaks of the Romans; where 
Onkelos indulges in amplification of a legal (halakic) 
or sermonic (haggadic) character, he reproduces 
matter taught by Akiba and his school. The home 
land of the Targum was certainly Palestine : the 
Aramaic of its diction is unmistakably of the Western 
variety, but slightly retouched by Babylonian or 
Eastern idioms. It was in Babylonia, however, that 
the Targum became authoritative in home and school. 



18 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

To the scholars of the Babylonian Talmud this Tar- 
gum is our Targum/ the one in general currency 
and universally recognized, as opposed to the render 
ing of this or that scholar operating in his own per 
sonal capacity. As we translate is a frequently 
recurrent mode of citing it. In particular it was 
Rab Joseph the Blind (died in the year 323) who was 
familiar with the Targum, although other scholars 
before and after him quote from it. In the main the 
Targum ascribed to Onkelos exhibits a marked 
fidelity to the wording of the original, yet not at the 
cost of intelligibility ; only here and there the literal 
rendering is given up so as to inculcate a legal point, 
and in the poetic passages the text is somewhat ffeely 
expanded with a view to weaving in a homily of the 
rabbis. It is certainly free from all the spurious 
renderings of the kind referred to above, which the 
rabbis discountenanced. The production apparently 
was suffered to reach the people only after it had 
passed muster under the critical eye of the responsible 
leaders. It is indeed a learned piece of work. It was 
meant to supersede the ampler and more popular ver 
sions upon which it probably rests. In revising the 
older models the author proved rather editor, excis 
ing any feature that seemed objectionable. He gave 
to the people that which in his opinion they most 
stood in need of and in a manner suitable to their 
comprehension. 



THE TARGUM ig 



It is fortunate, however, that the other Targums 
to which authority was denied did not wholly perish. 
We have for the Pentateuch a parallel Aramaic trans 
lation which is spoken of as the Targum of Jerusalem 
T k e or the Palestinian. It used to go erro- 

Palestinian neousl y b y the name of Targum Jona- 
Editions ^ ian J ^ i s therefore frequently referred 
to as Pseudo-Jonathan. Side by side 
with the complete text runs a parallel recension 
extant in a fragmentary condition. In point of 
redaction this Targum is certainly posterior to Onke- 
los; in Genesis 21. 21 the names given to Ishmael s 
wives are apparently those of Mohammed s. On the 
other hand, elements of high antiquity are not want 
ing, as when in Deuteronomy 33. 1 1 we read : The 
enemies of the high priest Johanan shall not survive. 
Moreover, it has preserved traces of an older norm 
of law (halakah), and points to many variations 
from the received Hebrew text. In general, the 
Palestinian Targum embellishes the text with ser- 
monic (haggadic) expansions; in it are also found 
objectionable renderings castigated by the rabbis. 

Our Targum of the Prophets was, like that 
of Onkelos, edited in Babylonia, but we possess 
scanty remains of a Palestinian recension. Accord 
ing to the passage in the Babylonian Talmud which 
ascribes the Pentateuch Targum to Onkelos, the 



20 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

author of the translation of the Prophets was a dis 
ciple of Hillel by the name of Jonathan son of 
Uzziel. The Babylonian teachers (Amoraim) were 
well acquainted with it, and here again Rab Joseph 

_, is responsible for most of the cita- 

The Targums . , , 

* ^ ^ tions. It naturally contains both 
for the other 

T> * XT- older and more recent matter, but it 

Parts of the ... . . , . . 

. , is free from polemics with Chnsti- 

Scriptures. . /T . , 
anity. In the Latter Prophets (Isaiah- 

Malachi) the subject-matter lent itself to paraphras 
tic embellishment, while in the historical books 
(Joshua Kings) there is on the whole a scrupu 
lous adherence to the letter. The Targums to the 
third section of the Scriptures (the Writings, Ketu- 
bim : Psalms Chronicles) are peculiar to the Palestin 
ians. They never appear to have received official 
sanction. Some, like those on the Song of Songs, 
Ecclesiastes, and one of the three on Esther, partake 
of the nature of midrashic works, while others, like 
the translation of the Psalter (contrast, however, the 
lengthy homily to Psalm 91), are literalistic. The 
Targum of Proverbs seems to have been taken over 
from the Christian Syrians (chapter III), as is shown 
by the language and the points of contact with the 
Septuagint. In all of them old material stands side 
by side with later elements, as when in Pslam 83. 7 
the Hungarians are mentioned. The Samaritans, 



THE TARGUM 21 



likewise, possess an Aramaic translation, naturally 
confined to the Pentateuch which alone they recog 
nize as Scripture. 

The chief importance which attaches to the Ara 
maic Targum lies in the fact that it enables us to 
gain an insight into the interpretation of the Scrip- 

, f tures at a time when tradition had not 

Character of 

., _ yet wholly died out. Not only those 

the Targum. * . \ 

Targums which received official sanc 
tion, but also those less authoritative, keep close to 
the sentiments of the Synagogue, and constitute an 
invaluable source of information concerning the re 
ligious development in post-biblical times. Naturally 
the ideas which run through the Targum are identical 
with those which the talmudic-midrashic literature 
opens up to us ; moreover, they have their points of 
contact with an older period in which the later writ 
ings of the biblical collection itself had their origin. 
When Maimonides engaged in warfare upon the 
notion which ascribed bodily form to the Deity, he 
was able to point to the authority of the Targums, of 
Onkelos in particular. The scholars may full-well 

,, know that the prophets indulge 

Anthropomorphisms . . 1M . _ 

, , in similes likening the Creator to 

toned down. 

the creature and that the scrip 
tural modes of speech are merely accommodations to 
the human ear; not so the ordinary folk. For their 



22 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

1 

sake the human traits attributed to the Deity are 
sedulously toned down. Thus God does not smell the 
sweet savor of an offering, but accepts it with plea 
sure; on the Passover night He does not pass over 
the Israelites, but spares them ; He does not go before 
the people, He leads it; instead of God hearing or 
seeing, it is said that it was heard or revealed before 
Him; the hand that covers Moses becomes the pro 
tecting Word, just as the wind which He blows is 
the Word which He speaks ; the finger of God is re 
duced to a blow from before Him, God s feet are His 
glorious throne, and God s staff is the staff wherewith 
miracles are wrought. Actions unbecoming God, as 
when He meets Moses to slay him (Exodus 4. 24), 
are ascribed to His angel. Just as God must not be 
humanized, divine appellations may not be used of 
human beings. Moses is to be to Aaron a master, 
not a God. The sons of God who took the daughters 
of man for wives were not even angels, for angels do 
not go a-wooing, but sons of rulers. There cannot 
be any comparison between the Lord and the gods. 
Who is like unto Thee among the gods ? who is like 
Thee, etc. (Exodus 15. 1 1 ) is made to read : There 
is none beside Thee, for Thou art God, O Lord ; there 
is none except Thyself. All personification of inani 
mate objects is wiped out. The promised land does 
not flow with milk and honey, but yields those prod- 



THE TARGUM 23 



ucts ; the sword does not come, but murderers with 
the sword ; Ezekiel does not eat the scroll, but listens 
attentively to its contents ; and the proverb : The 
fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children s 
teeth are set on edge is paraphrased into the state 
ment that the fathers have sinned and the children are 
beaten. Thus in deference to the ordinary intelli 
gence which may take a figure of speech literally all 
the poetry of the original is sacrificed, and the ele 
vated style of the sacred writers is reduced to com- 
monplace. Where the honor of the 
Jewish people or of the heroes of 

t P biblical times is involved pains are 

swish People taken that nothjng of a deroga tory 

character may adhere to them. Israel 
is not a perverse and crooked generation, nor a 
foolish people and unwise/ but a generation that 
hath changed its deeds and is become changed, and 
a people that received the Law and learned not wis 
dom. Rachel does not steal her father s household 
gods, she merely takes them; Jacob does not steal 
Laban s heart, as the Hebrew idiom has it, he just 
hides from him his departure ; indeed he departs, he 
does not flee ; nor does Israel flee from Egypt, he de 
parts. Moses does not marry a Cushite woman, but 
a beautiful woman; Leah s eyes were pretty, not 
weak. An extreme case occurs in Genesis 49. 14 f., 



24 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

where the sense of the original is turned into its 
very opposite. Instead of becoming a servant under 
taskwork, Issachar, according to the rendering of 
Onkelos, shall conquer the provinces of nations and 
destroy their inhabitants, levying tribute upon them 
that are left over. 

... In all the points mentioned the Tar- 

An Ancient 

_ , gum carries to an extreme a tendency 

lenciency. 1 * 

which we meet with in the other ancient 

versions; it will therefore be unnecessary to revert 
to the subject again. The process indeed ascends 
higher up. A rabbinic tradition enumerates eighteen 
(or eleven) cases where the scribes corrected the 
original reading. If Ezra is credited with introduc 
ing the corrections, we must bear in mind that in the 
opinion of the rabbis the ready scribe who headed 
the Great Synagogue not only collected the sacred 
writings but also edited their text. As a rule the aim 
is to wipe out undignified expressions concerning the 
Deity. To cite one example, the original reading 
in Habakkuk i. 12 is said to have been Thou diest 
not in the place of the present correction : we die 
not. There is doubt in the minds of scholars whether 
some of the instances adduced by the rabbis may not 
rest on conjecture. On the other hand, there is rea 
son to believe that the text has been altered in a much 
greater number of places. Thus where the sacred 



THE TARGUM 25 



writers spoke of cursing God the text was made to 
say bless for curse. It is a euphemism pure and 
simple. Sometimes the alteration betrays itself by 
its form, as when in Judges 18. 30 a suspended n 
marks the transformation of Moses, the ancestor of 
the Levite who ministered at the idolatrous shrine of 
the Danites, into Manasseh. And when at length the 
text had become stable, alterations which no longer 
could be introduced into the text itself were enjoined 
upon the reader who tacitly substituted a different 
word in the reading. Thus words which proved 
offensive to a more refined taste were eliminated. 
The culminating point, however, was reached in the 
translations, official or unofficial. The ancients were 
rather distrustful of the comprehension of the com 
mon people, and fidelity to the letter was readily 
sacrificed when it was felt that the scriptural truth 
might be obscured and the Word of God be brought 
into disrepute with the ignorant. If to-day we have 
largely, though not wholly, outgrown the apprehen 
sions of the ancients, it is because we have a laity 
trained in a way of looking upon the Scriptures which 
is itself the outcome of the unremitting efforts 
of those earlier translators and their authoritative 
sponsors. 



CHAPTER II 

THE SEPTUAGINT AND THE LATER GREEK 
VERSIONS 

Westward had been the march of the Aramaic lan 
guage, eastward was the progress of the Aramaic 
Targum. The Babylonian Jewry, with antecedents 
dating from the time when the mighty Assyrian and 
Babylonian monarchs transplanted the conquered 
Israelites and Judeans, was linked to Palestine by 

Translations into the b nd f lan & Ua & e and culture 

other Languages In the Spiritual domain Palesti "e 
, . , was the giver and Babylonia the 

spoKcn Dy 

Dispersed Jewry. taker: and when at Ien 8 th the 
leadership had passed on to the 

Babylonian schools, their scope consisted in adapt 
ing and carrying on the learning of Palestine 
rather than in original production. Farther to the 
east where the sway of Aramaic terminated, in 
Elam and in Media, the Scriptures were read in the 
vernacular of those countries ; the translations, how 
ever, are no longer extant. There were transla 
tions in many more languages, and the rabbis ex- 



SEPTUAGINT AND LATER GREEK VERSIONS 27 

pressly enjoin that the Scriptures may be read in 
all tongues, that is in all the tongues spoken by Jews 
in the lands of their dispersion. In the second cen 
tury before the Christian era a Jewish poet puts in 
the mouth- of the Sibyl the word that all lands and all 
seas are full of Jews. Whithersoever a Jew migrated, 
he was welcomed by fellow-Jews; everywhere his 
God went with him, to every place he carried with 
him his Scriptures. The rabbis make mention of 
a version in Coptic, the language of the native popu 
lation of Egypt inhabiting the rural districts, and it is 
quite possible that elements of this version are im 
bedded in the later Church version of the Christian 
Copts (chapter III). But the greatest and most 
important of all the translations in the hands of dis 
persed Jewry was undoubtedly the Greek. The 
advent of Alexander the Great and the reign of his 
successors meant outwardly the subjection of the 
Orient by the Occident, but inwardly the West really 
succumbed to the East which since time immemorial 
had exercised a potent influence on the European 
mind. In the long run a compromise was effected, 
but in the chaos of diverse nationalities and cultures 
the Jew stood out distinct. He entered into the 
sphere of Western culture, and was greatly attracted 
by it; Greek wisdom, stubbornly resisted in the sec 
ond pre-Christian century, later on invaded Palestine ; 



28 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

but even in the dispersion where the powers of resist 
ance were weakest and the allurements of the Hellen 
istic culture greatest, the Jew maintained his individu 
ality, and gave back to the world in thousandfold 
measure what he took from it. The beauty of 
Japheth, the father of Javan, dwelt in the tents of 
Shem. Through the medium of the Greek the liter 
ature of the Jew became the possession of mankind. 
Without the Greek translation of the Scriptures the 
Christian conversion of Europe would have been 
well nigh impossible. The rabbis recognized the 
fact, and from their subsequent experience of the 
havoc wrought to the fortunes of the Jewish people 
through the Christian schism they may be pardoned 
for likening the day on which the famous translation 
saw its light to the day on which the golden calf was 
fashioned. A fast-day in Palestine and in the lands 
swayed by its spiritual dominion, it was a day of 
rejoicing from year to year in Alexandria where the 
epoch-making event occurred. This fact will serve to 
gauge the diversity of sentiment in Palestine with its 
eastern dependencies and in the colonies exposed to 
the immediate influence of Greek culture. 

The re-entrance of the Jev into the land of the 
Pharaohs began at an early period. Egypt had 
horses, and Palestine had more people than it could 
support, and so the Judean kings from Solomon 



SEPTUAGINT AND LATER GREEK VERSIONS 29 

downward traded their subjects for horseflesh. Jew 
ish soldiers served in the army of Psammetich II 
(594-589 B. c.) against the Ethiopians. A large 
_ . , body of Jews migrated to Egypt after the 

S ttl m nt murc * er f Gedaliah, overruling the oppo- 

. _ sition of Jeremiah who was made to ac- 

in Egypt. 

company the exiles. Long before the 

conquest of Egypt by Cambyses Jews had been set 
tled as military colonists on the southern frontier of 
the realm. Of forceful deportations in the Persian 
period and later by the first of the Ptolemies we read 
in ancient writers; as late as Roman times Jews 
inhabiting a Syrian village know themselves as 
Persians in original allegiance. The Jew was in 
Egypt before the Greek, but under the second 
Ptolemy already the large and influential Jewish com 
munity of Alexandria began to exchange their Ara 
maic speech for the language of the governing race 
which was the Greek. 

The Epistle Jt is * n the reign f the second 

of Aristeas on Ptolem y> surnamed Philadelphus 

the Origin ( 28 5 2 47 B. c.), that the translation 

of tlie of the Law (Pentateuch) into Greek 

Se tuasint * S P^ ace< ^ ^y the circumstantial nar 
rative known as the Epistle of Aris 
teas which purports to be a contemporary record by 
one of the king s courtiers. Nay, according to the 



30 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

story, the initiative proceeded from the king or rather 
the king s librarian, Demetrius of Phalerum, who 
advised that a copy of the Law of the Jews should 
be deposited in the royal collection of books then 
already numbering upward of two hundred thousand 
volumes. An embassy, headed by the captain of the 
royal bodyguard and Aristeas, is dispatched to Jeru 
salem with rich presents and a letter to the high priest 
Eleazar who forwards to the king a copy, richly 
executed in golden letters, by the hand of seventy-two 
elders, six from each of the tribes of Israel, men 
learned in the law and able to translate the Hebrew 
into Greek. After presentation to the king the com 
pany of translators is set to work on an island, far 
away from the noise of the city. Every day they all 
translate, each one by himself, a portion of the Law, 
and then they meet to compare their results and to 
agree upon a common form. In seventy-two sessions, 
each lasting until the ninth hour, the work is com 
pleted. Demetrius causes the translation to be read 
to the Jewish community, who receive it warmly and 
beg that a copy be placed in their hands. A curse is 
pronounced upon any one who shall make alterations 
in a work of such excellence and accuracy. The 
Greek Pentateuch is then read to the king, who ex 
presses delight and surprise, greets the book with a 
gesture of reverence, and orders that care be taken 
of it and that it be sacredly guarded. 



SEPTUAGINT AND LATER GREEK VERSIONS 31 

So far the story, which distinctly asserts that the 
translators, working singly and with varying results, 
composed their differences in common sessions, a 
proceeding natural enough with a company of trans- 
j. lators. Subsequently, when the 

_ , ,,. , numerous variations in the manu- 

Embellisninents. 

scripts of the translation were ob 
served, it was held that the translators worked in 
groups of two, and that under the text divergent or 
alternate renderings were registered. In itself it is 
a plausible conjecture indeed that, much after the 
fashion of the King James Version (chapter V), the 
text was accompanied by a margin in which not only 
the rejected renderings favored by a minority of the 
company found a place, but also the more accurate 
or literal rendition of the original when in accommo 
dation to the genius of the Greek language a freer 
paraphrase had been adopted in the text. In direct 
contrast stand the still later embellishments, accord 
ing to which each translator worked in a cell by him 
self, and yet their several efforts were found to be 
identical to the letter a miracle indeed which has 
not happened since to any other company of Bible 
translators ! But then the notion prevailed that 
the seventy-two translators were inspired prophets. 
Another point in which a later generation disre 
garded the express language of Aristeas is the inclu- 



32 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

sion of all the rest of the Scriptures in the translation 
executed under royal auspices. 

Modern scholars are quite agreed that the Epistle 
of Aristeas cannot be the work of the Gentile courtier, 

but is rather the composition of a Tew. The 
Modern J 

story of the translation of the Law is really 

incidental to the central theme which is a 
description of the Jewish people and their land and 
a glorification of the wisdom of the Jews. Naturally 
the praise would be more effective when coming from 
a Gentile whom the writer impersonates. A few 
errors in detail are pointed out, but in the main it is 
conceded that the author or the source excerpted by 
him betrays a remarkable familiarity with the court 
life of the early Ptolemies. That Philadelphus who 
was a patron of learning should evince an interest in 
the Law of the Jews need not be regarded as improb 
able. Nevertheless the story is rejected as a fabri 
cation, and it is thought more plausible that the 
initiative belongs to the Jewish community of Alex 
andria experiencing a need for a version in the Greek. 
As in the case of Mendelssohn s translation into High 
German at the close of the eighteenth century (cha- 
ter VI), the leaders of the community, by means of 
the Greek translation, set about to prepare the Jew 
for his entry into the Greek life of the city. If we 
may at all lay the scheme at the door of the Jewish 




CODEX VATICANUS-4TH CENT. 
The most ancient of the manuscripts of the Septuagint 



SEPTUAGINT AND LATER GREEK VERSIONS 33 

community, another motive will have played into it, 
namely, to open up the Jewish Law to the inspection 
of the Gentile population and to convince the world 
that the Jews, possessed a culture which rivalled the 
wisdom of Hellas. It is quite possible that a copy 
was presented to the king or that royal sanction was 
obtained for the translation. It must be added that 
the Epistle of Aristeas speaks of earlier but inade 
quate efforts at translation and that, while the Tal 
mud records the legend of the seventy-two transla 
tors, it also registers a tradition ascribing the version 
to five elders. 

Internal evidence shows that the five books of the 
Law could not have been translated by one person. 

_ . , There is a difference of style and manner 

btyle and . . 

D . . of rendering pointing to a number of 

translators, just how many remains to be 
ascertained. On the whole the translation must be 
pronounced a success. It oscillates between a freer 
method of rendition and a slavish adherence to the 
letter. The language employed was not the classical 
Greek, but the Hellenistic dialect which was then 
rapidly supplanting the older varieties of Greek 
speech and becoming the uniform literary vehicle 
among the cultured classes. Naturally the diction 
of the Scriptures offered difficulties when it had to 
be cast in a foreign mould ; but then the newer Greek 



34 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

had developed many points of style resembling the 
biblical. At all events it was a happy inspiration to 
let the inherent beauty of the simple diction of the 
original shine through the alien garb, and in this 
respect the manner of those early translators became 
the model for similar efforts in the future. It may 
be that a Greek with more classic tastes might find 
the thinly disguised Hebraisms barbaric ; at the same 
time there attached to the translation the merit of 
bringing the peculiar literature of the Jew to the com 
prehension of the plain people. In Alexandria as 
well as in Palestine the Bible, whether in Greek or 
Aramaic, was to be the people s book. 
T , In the main the translators under- 

. , stood their Hebrew well, and admirably 

Translators . 

_. . . hit the sense of the original. Tradition 

Knowledge . 

. __ , was on the whole still a living thing. 

of Hebrew. . * 

I he meaning of words was derived from 

the dictionary of life; the translators made, or rather 
were, their own dictionary. The vicissitudes through 
which the Jewish people had passed, the change of 
speech being not the least of them, will explain how it 
happened that at a given point tradition had been 
cut in twain and much was suffered to be effaced 
from the memory of the Jews. In all such cases the 
translators sought to approximate the true meaning. 
Take for instance the rarer words denoting precious 



SEPTUAGINT AND LATER GREEK VERSIONS 35 

stones or certain animals and plants which were 
identified with a varying 1 degree of certainty or proba 
bility. There is nothing improbable in the notion 
that the translators came from Palestine. Like the 
translator of Sirach in a subsequent period, they 
acquired or perfected their knowledge of Greek on 
settling in Egypt; and like the same disciple of the 
wise, they occasionally committed those blunders that 
mar a piece of work otherwise meritorious. Cer 
tainly from the schools in Palestine came those bits 
of interpretation evolved by generations of expound 
ers that cannot be said to be obvious in themselves. 
And as the Palestinian interpretation was largely 
expressed through the oral Targum, the many coin 
cidences between the latter and the Greek version 
become intelligible. At times the translators may 
have indulged in concessions to the spirit of the 
time and environment. The talmudic tradition enu 
merates thirteen deliberate alterations introduced by 
the translators; only a few, however, may be veri 
fied from the extant manuscripts of the version. 
The most interesting case is the circumlocution 
rough-foot for hare in Leviticus n. 6, because 
the ordinary Greek appellation of the hare (lagos), 
it was feared, might be offensive to the royal family, 
the first Ptolemy being surnamed Lagi. As the 
rabbis expressed themselves, the king s wife (or 



36 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

mother) bore the name of hare. Traces of the influ 
ence of Greek philosophy have been detected, but 
they are insignificant. 

The translation of the seventy-two reputed elders 
has come to be named for short that of the Seventy 
_ . . or Septuagint (from the Latin septua- 

of the other ginta r = sevent > )- The name clun 

i> t XT. not on ty to the version of the Penta- 

Parts of the 

. , teuch, but also to that of the whole of 

Scriptures. 

the Scriptures. For in due sequel the 

other parts of the Scriptures likewise were translated 
into Greek, naturally at different times and by differ 
ent hands. In the whole, certain groups of books 
stand out clearly as the work of single translators. 
It goes without saying that the manner of translation 
differs, ranging from the freest paraphrase, as in 
Proverbs and Job, to the most slavishly literal trans 
lation, as in Samuel and Kings. The translator of 
Job excels as a Greek writer, showing an acquaint 
ance with the master-products of Greek poetry. He 
considered himself at liberty to shorten the original 
considerably, omitting some eight hundred lines. 
Isaiah is the worst translated book. Just when the 
whole of the Scriptures was completed in Greek 
is a matter of uncertainty. Roughly speaking the 
process of translating the Bible into Greek covered a 
period of a century or a century and a half. When 



SEPTUAGINT AND LATER GREEK VERSIONS 37 

the grandson of Jesus son of Sirach arrived in Egypt 
in the year 132 B. c., he found * the Law and the 
Prophets and the remainder of the books in Greek. 
The Law and the Prophets are definite terms cover 
ing the first two parts of the Hebrew Scriptures, the 
second division containing not only the prophetical 
writings (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the Twelve), 
but also the historical books (Joshua Kings) which 
incorporate records of prophetic activity and, more 
over, were believed to have been compiled by inspired 
prophets. As for the remainder of the books, the 
appellation is no more vague than the name Ketubim, 
Writings, by which the third division goes. Inci 
dentally the Siracid reveals that the purpose of trans 
lation was to enable those that resided in a foreign 
land to obtain instruction and wisdom from books 
- , . otherwise beyond their comprehension. 

- _ And so the Wisdom of the son of 

Sirach, which in Palestine and Baby- 
wanting in ... J 
AT, TT T. Ionia hovered on the borderland between 
the Hebrew 
p writings avowedly sacred and those 

which remained outside the biblical col 
lection, found a place in the Greek Bible, and with it 
many more books, some of which were from the 
outset composed in Greek and were therefore un 
known in Palestine, while others, though originally 
written in Hebrew or Aramaic, had not been accorded 



38 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

scriptural rank at home. All these writings com 
prise, so to speak, the fourth and fifth part of the 
Scriptures, known as Apocrypha or books with 
drawn from public use and at best tolerated only for 
private reading, and Pseudepigrapha, i. e., spurious 
writings assigned to authors of the past and for the 
most part sectarian products deviating from the path 
of conduct and doctrine marked out by the authori 
tative leaders in Palestine. If we to-day are in a posi 
tion to read in the First Book of the Maccabees, for 
instance, the exploits of Judas Maccabeus, who made 
Jacob glad with his acts, and his memorial is blessed 
for ever, we owe a debt of gratitude to the Christian 
Church which, having received the Greek Scriptures 
at the hands of the Greek-speaking Jews of the 
empire, with pious zeal kept them intact, and rescued 
from oblivion literary records of near-scriptural rank. 
-, ,. The passing on of the Greek Bible to 

Q , the Christian Church was itself the cause 

TT of the rise of a series of newer Greek 

Versions. 

versions or revisions dating for the 

most part from the second Christian century. The 
Jews looked askance at the older translation which 
was marred by evident blunders and moreover dif 
fered at times widely from the recognized text of the 
original. Here and there, too, there had crept into 
the copies Christian interpolations, as when in Psalm 



SEPTUAGINT AND LATER GREEK VERSIONS 39 

96. 10 the words from the cross were added to the 
sentence the Lord reigneth. Yet Greek was the 
language of the Jew of Asia Minor, Northern 
Africa, and Europe. The first place among the later 
Greek versions unquestionably belongs to the effort 
of Aquila, a proselyte from Pontus, who 
worked under the eye of the celebrated Pales 
tinian teachers, Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Joshua. 
Though his mastery of the Greek language was such 
as only a native Greek could command, he chose with 
painstaking fidelity to produce a word-for-word 
translation in which not only the sequence of words 
in the original was faithfully reproduced, but even 
Hebrew word formations were imitated, and every 
particle received an equivalent. The effect of the 
whole was naturally barbaric, and it was said of him 
that he translated not words, but syllables. The 
Palestinian authorities, however, lauded the trans 
lator in superlative terms; the accuracy with which 
the original was followed outweighed all consider 
ations of style. The consecration of the letter was 
the Synagogue s weapon of defence against the nas 
cent Church ; while the copies of the Septuagint made 
by Christian hands became more and more disfigured 
by scribal corruptions, the text of the original was 
zealously guarded by the Synagogue, and the scribes 
lovingly counted every letter that no alteration should 



40 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

creep in. Moreover, the Septuagint, whether from 
the start or in consequence of Christian manipula 
tions, contained renderings which were offensive to 
the Jew, as when in Isaiah 7. 14 the mother of 
Immanuel was spoken of as a * virgin. Aquila 
naturally substituted, in accord with the Hebrew, a 
young woman ; he equally avoided as a rendering 
for Messiah the Greek Christos, which had become 
a name imparting to the Church its very appella 
tion, selecting in its stead an inoffensive synonym. 
Aquila s translation continued in use among Greek- 
speaking Jews to a late date, and the emperor Jus 
tinian (527-565) granted permission for its employ 
ment in the synagogues. 

Symmachus. T ffset Aq " ila>S literalism > S y m 
machus, a Jewish Christian of the 

Ebionite sect, produced a translation which was in 
the nature of a paraphrase aiming rather at the sense 
than at a verbal rendering. Nevertheless he made 
frequent use of Aquila, exactly as was done by 
Theodotion anotner contemporary, Theodotion, like 
Aquila himself a convert to Judaism, 
who, however, struck a happy medium, combining 
elegance of diction with fidelity to the original. These 
three translations or rather revisions of the Septua 
gint there were several others whose authors re 
mained unknown were made use of by the two 



SEPTUAGINT AND LATER GREEK VERSIONS 41 

great fathers of the Church, Origen (185-254) and 
Jerome (346-420), in their work of improving the 
current Church Bible. Though both are reported as 
having studied Hebrew, Origen turning for advice 
to Rabbi Hillel brother of Rabbi Judah II the Patri 
arch and Jerome having for his teacher a scholar 
by the name of Barannina, they relied for their 
information about the contents of the Hebrew origi 
nal, or, as they expressed themselves, the Hebrew 

n . , truth/ mainly upon the Three, Aquila 

Ungen. s . . . 

_ ,. . - serving as a dictionary, as it were, Sym- 

, n , machus as a commentary, and Theodo- 
tne Greek . f 

Q . tion as a translation. Origen transcribed 

ocnp Lures. 

them (as well as the other anonymous 

versions) in his monumental edition of the Greek 
Bible, where Aquila occupied the third column next 
to the Hebrew in the original square characters and 
in Greek transliteration, thus enabling the student 
to pronounce every Hebrew word and at once to 
ascertain its meaning; then came the free Symma- 
chus, then the text of the Septuagint, then Theo- 
dotion, then in the remaining columns the other 
versions wherever they were available. The Septua 
gint text occupying the fifth column was entirely 
recast so as to square with the Hebrew truth : gaps 
were filled up from the Three, in particular from 
Theodotion; additions not found in the Hebrew, 



42 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

though copied, were marked as unwarranted ; proper 
names made unrecognizable in the current manu 
scripts were adjusted to the Hebrew text in the later 
pronunciation; other corrections were boldly intro 
duced ; the sequence of the Hebrew was restored, not 
only where the Hebrew text had been disturbed on a 
large scale, as in Exodus and Jeremiah, but almost 
in every line. The bulky work, known chiefly as 
Hexapla (a book of six columns), was deposited in 
the library of Caesarea, the nucleus of which had been 
formed by Origen out of the biblical collection pos 
sessed by Symmachus and acquired by a certain 
Juliana ; there it was inspected by Jerome, but after 

a century or so all traces of it were lost. 
Remains , ^ . . ,, 

A few leaves of a copy containing the 

Psalms were recently discovered in Milan ; 
Hexapla. , , . , ~ . 

other fragments were found m the Cairo 

Genizah, the contents of which it was the merit of 
the late Dr. Schechter to discover and transfer to the 
University of Cambridge; from the same Genizah 
came the long lost Hebrew original of Ecclesiasticus, 
as also a fragment of the translation of Aquila. With 
the exception of Theodotion s Daniel which was read 
in Christian churches in preference to the older but 
freer Greek version, and which is therefore extant as 
a whole, all our other knowledge of the later Greek 
versions comes from stray notes on the margin of 










PALIMPSEST OF THE CAIRO GENI2AH 

The upper writing in Hebrew of the 11th cent., the lower in Greek of the 
6th cent. Contains Aquila s version 



SEPTUAGINT AND LATER GREEK VERSIONS 43 

Septuagint manuscripts, excerpts made by learned 
owners from Origen s great work, and is naturally 
fragmentary. It is after all mainly to the Christian 
Church that we^owe whatever knowledge of them we 
may possess; for, while, as the Cairo leaves prove, 
in the earlier Christian centuries copies of the Greek 
translations later than the Septuagint were current 
in Egypt, subsequently, when the Greek had ceased 
to be spoken by Egyptian Jewry, the parchment was 
turned by copyists to a use nearer home after the ink 
had been washed away. 

But before we dismiss the subject of Greek trans 
lations of the Scriptures, mention must be made of 
a learned effort by a Jew of the four 
teenth century to render the Bible into 

classical (Attic) Greek (the Aramaic 
Translations r -^ 1 i .1 -^ 

. , passages of Daniel he gave m the Doric 

dialect) ; naturally he embodied the 
results of Jewish exegetical labors then accessible 
(chapter IV). On the other hand, the translation 
in modern Greek and in Hebrew characters which 
accompanies the Hebrew text of the Pentateuch 
printed in Constantinople 1547 (see below, chapter 
IV) was to serve a practical purpose, that it might 
be useful to young Jews and that they might accus 
tom themselves to speak correctly/ 



CHAPTER III 
ANCIENT CHRISTIAN TRANSLATIONS 

For nearly two centuries the Christian Church 
knew no other Scriptures than the collection taken 
over from the Jews. Only towards the end of the 
second century was the New Testament placed on 
an equal footing with the Old, and both together 
made up the Bible of the Catholic Church. The 
two oldest Christian translations of the 

Hebrew Scriptures, dating from, or at 
Translations. 

least in their beginnings ascending to, 

the second century, are the Syriac and the Latin. 
The Syriac language is really a variety of the Ara 
maic ; it was spoken in the north of Syria and Upper 
Mesopotamia, and it survives to this day in certain 
circumscribed localities in a multitude of modern 
forms, chief among which is the Urmi dialect, first 
reduced to writing in the year 1836 by Dr. Perkins, 
an American Presbyterian missionary, who trans 
lated the Bible afresh into it. There are several 
translations in the older Syriac, but the oldest and 
noblest, frequently called the Queen of Versions/ is 



ANCIENT CHRISTIAN TRANSLATIONS 45 

known as Peshitta, which means the Simple, that is 
the common and widely current. It was made from 
the Hebrew with the assistance of Jews, combining 
with fidelity to the original elegance of style and 
Th P h tt em bdying, notably in the Pentateuch, 
elements of interpretation rooted in 
Jewish tradition. The translation of Chronicles 
reads like a Targum, just as conversely the Targum 
to Proverbs was borrowed by the Jews from the 
Peshitta (chapter I). Intercourse between Jews and 
Christians was facilitated in those regions by the 
employment of the same vernacular. Nevertheless 
the version as we have it to-day is largely intermixed 
with alterations made on the basis of the Septuagint 
which was the Church Bible. The Psalter in particu 
lar is permeated with Greek influence, as is natural 
with a book used in the liturgy. 

Obscure though the beginnings of the Latin 
Church translation may be, it is clear that the need 
for it arose in the provinces, specifically in North 
_, Africa, rather than in Rome where Greek 

J.H6 

Old I tin was ^ e l an & ua e f tne Church in its 
early days. It is really not permissible 
to speak of one translation ; parallel versions cropped 
up in various localities. We have the testimony of 
Augustine (354-430) that as different copies of the 
Greek were chanced upon, diverse translations were 



46 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

made with varying degrees of skill. What is common 
to all of them is the character of the Latin which is not 
the classical, but of the rustic variety such as was 
used in the popular speech throughout the confines 
of the empire, leading over to the later forms known 
as the Romanic languages. The new religion 
Christianity had been embraced by the humble and 
poor, the scriptural message was for the people, the 
broad masses, and it was fitting that the Bible every 
where should speak their language. As the Church 
in the capital became Latinized, the divergences in 
the copies of the Latin version and the crudity of its 
, diction called for a revision. At the bid- 
dine of the Roman bishop Damasus the 
Revisions. 

task was undertaken by Jerome (346- 

420). While in Rome (in the year 383) Jerome 
slightly retouched the Psalter, which revision Dama 
sus at once introduced in the liturgy; it is still in 
use at St. Peter s. A second and more thorough 
revision on the basis of Origen s text in the Hexapla 
(chapter II) was executed nine years later at Bethle 
hem; this edition, known as the Gallican Psalter, 
gained first aamission in Gaul ; it is also the rendition 
incorporated in the ordinary editions of the Vulgate. 
In Palestine, however, Jerome set about to acquire a 
knowledge of the Hebrew by the aid of Jewish 
teachers, and under their guidance, as well as with the 



ANCIENT CHRISTIAN TRANSLATIONS 47 

help of the later Greek versions (chapter II), he pro 
duced a new translation which under the name Vul 
gate was destined to become the acknowledged Bible 
of the Catholic Church and of Western Europe. 
Altogether fifteen years were spent on that work, the 
various books coming out at intervals in response to 
Th V 1 t ^ e P rom Pti n g s of friends. The Solo 
monic writings were done in three 
days, Tobit in one day, Judith over night, the two 
latter from an Aramaic copy which his Jewish 
teacher read off in Hebrew translation, while a scribe 
took down the Latin at Jerome s dictation. The 
Psalter he rendered now, for the third time, from 
the Hebrew; this newer version, however, remained 
outside the Vulgate. Certain of the apocryphal 
books (chapter II) were left by Jerome in their old 
unrevised form. Like all innovations, Jerome s new 
translation gained ground but slowly; but as time 
went on it superseded the older Latin versions, until 
at length in the fourth session of the Council of Trent 
(April 8, 1546) it was pronounced the only authentic 
Latin translation to be used in public lessons, dispu 
tations, sermons, and expositions. Unfortunately 
the text was vitiated through admixture of readings 
from the Old Latin, and to this day the Catholic 
Church has been solicitous in purifying the version. 
In the main the Vulgate is characterized by a Latin 



48 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

diction which aims at being classical. The co-ordina 
tion of clauses peculiar to Hebrew construction is 
turned into stately periods, frequently the original is 
contracted, and at times words are added for the sake 
of clarity. To bring out the sense, and if needs be by 
paraphrase, was Jerome s chief concern. In the 
Douai Bible (1609), which is the authorized Catholic 
rendition of the Vulgate into English, the character 
of Jerome s style is still largely preserved, a factor 
which together with the many Latinisms employed 
by the translators, Catholic exiles from England, 
differentiates it, to its disadvantage, from the Angli 
can version of 1611. Modern Catholic Churchmen 
candidly admit the superior diction of the latter, and 
in their revisions freely borrow from it. 

Of course, the Catholic English Bible 
Translations 

,, remains a tertiary product such as the 

in other _ . . _ . 

Old Latin was denominated by Jerome. 

Nevertheless, in the official service of 
the Church the greater part of the Scriptures is read 
in a translation directly resting on the original, while 
the Coptic (in various dialects), Gothic, Armenian, 
Ethiopic, Georgian, as well as the English transla 
tions prior to the Reformation, are tertiary products, 
based on the Greek or the Latin of Jerome ; the Arabic 
versions were made from the Greek, Syriac, and 
Coptic, and one Persian translation goes back to the 



ANCIENT CHRISTIAN TRANSLATIONS 49 

Peshitta. However, in the Coptic and Ethiopia there 
are elements taken directly from the Hebrew (chap 
ter II ) . The date of all these Church versions varies, 
ranging from the third to the thirteenth century. 
The Gothic version was contemporary with Jerome ; 
there is a letter extant from the pen of the most 
erudite among the fathers of the Church to two 
Gothic scholars who, unfamiliar with the languages 
of the original, experienced difficulty in accounting 
for the differences between Jerome s newer version 
and the Greek. The Church father welcomes with 
delight this interest in the Scriptures from the far-off 
north, coming at a time when polished Greece is 
asleep. With the Psalmist he calls out: Their 
sound is gone forth into all the earth, and their words 
to the end of the world (Psalm 19.5 according to 
the Septuagint). 



CHAPTER IV 
JEWISH TRANSLATIONS IN THE MIDDLE AGES 

The rabbis speak of two kinds of Hebrew, the lan 
guage of the Scriptures and the language of the wise 
in which the Mishnah and the cognate literature are 
composed. The latter has been wrongly likened to 
the scholars Latin of the Middle Ages; it is rather 
a natural outgrowth from the older language. In- 

The Precursors deed the later writin " s of the Hebrew 
Bible and the earliest leal norms 



of the Science 
of ScriDtural known as halakahs are indited in a 
Interpretation. transi tional style half-biblical half- 
mishnic. Many words which the 
biblical writers had no occasion to use have been pre 
served in the later literature. The Jewish Book of 
Prayer has noble pieces of pure Hebrew. Thus for 
the most part a living tradition of the Hebrew lan 
guage continued long after it had vanished from the 
mouth of the people. The rabbis themselves knew 
their Bible well. There is not a page of the Talmud, 
a chapter of the Midrash, that is not replete with 
biblical quotations. The genealogical chapters of 
Chronicles with their mere lists of names were as 



owwiwU* 














CODEX PETROPOLITANUS 916 C. E. 
With super-linear vocalization and Masoretic notes 



TRANSLATIONS IN THE MIDDLE AGES 51 

familiar to them as a chapter from Deuteronomy or a 
psalm. They were not strangers to simpler gram 
matical observations, and the finer points of the scrip 
tural idiom did not escape their attention. Neverthe 
less their interest in the Bible was mainly practical : 

it served as a basis for legal deductions or 
Talmud. 

moral lessons. The sea of the Talmud 

threatened to submerge the fountain-head out of 
which it had sprung. The talmudic teachers readily 
conceded their ignorance in matters of spelling and 
the like, and left the care of the sacred text to the 
elementary schoolmasters. To these humbler schol 
ars we owe the invention of the vowel and accent 
points in which was deposited a goodly portion of 
the traditional pronunciation and interpretation of 
the biblical Word; it is they who built up in suc- 

, cessive stages the Masorah, that gigantic 
Masoran. 

system of lists now on the margin of 

copies of the sacred text prepared for private use, 
now in independent works, a veritable fence ward 
ing off the innovations not sanctioned by tradition. 
In the school of Tiberias these studies were particu 
larly cultivated. The two great Masoretes, Ben 
Asher and Ben Naphtali, emerging towards the close 
of the gaonic period, are already semi-grammarians. 
The Karaitic schism with its revolt against the Tal 
mud paved the way for a return to the Scriptures in 



52 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

which the Rabbanites were not slow to take a lead 
ing part. Naturally the first attempts signified a 
_, _ groping in the darkness. Kalir, the 

great Hturgist of the eighth century, 

strives after biblical diction, but his 
Scriptures. 

perverted notions of the laws of gram 
mar render his poetic productions, rich in thought as 
they are, exceedingly unedifying on the side of lan 
guage. The schoolmasters had done well in their 
way ; now it was the task of the scholar to resurrect 
petrified tradition by the application of the scientific 

m , . , .- method. The men to whom it fell to 

Ine scientific 

M th d f construct the Hebrew grammar and 

, , , . the Hebrew dictionary and the Bible 

Interpretation. 

commentary and Bible criticism were 

at home in the post-biblical literature, that great 
store-house of linguistic material ; they knew the two 
foremost sister-languages of the Hebrew, the Ara 
maic from their study of Targum and Talmud, and 
the Arabic which they spoke ; they were versed in the 
great Arabic literature ; they were familiar with the 
Koran and the poets; they studied the native Arab 
grammarians and lexicographers, who with great in 
dustry and finesse of perception had built up an accu 
rate science of their rich language apt pupils of the 
Syrian grammarians whose efforts rested upon the 
lore of Greece where grammar as a science had its 
origin. 



TRANSLATIONS IN THE MIDDLE AGES 53 

The first among these Bible students was he whom 
posterity celebrated as the first spokesman in all the 
branches of Jewish learning, the Gaon Saadya, that 
formidable fo e of Karaism (892-942). Master of 
the law (halakah), liturgical poet, theological con 
troversialist, philosopher, he, like many another 
, spiritual leader in Jewry in a similar crisis, 
realized that the study of the Scriptures 
must be the corner-stone of Jewish learning. To 
aid in a correct handling of the Hebrew language by 
the poets of the synagogue, he wrote a Hebrew 
grammar and a dictionary of the sacred language. 
As a direct help to the understanding of the Scrip 
tures, he collected ninety words which occur but 
once or rarely in the Bible, having neither brother 
nor friend/ and showed how, by the aid of the later 
Hebrew or the cognate Arabic, their meaning became 
clear. To cite but one example: Isaiah 14. 12, at 
the end, he recovers for the Hebrew verb the mean- 
_. ing cast lots upon in the place of lay low 

still found in the current translations and 
Arabic .... 

. dictionaries ; the corresponding noun, mean 
ing lot, he located in the Mishnah. By far 
transcending in importance was his translation of 
the Scriptures into Arabic, in some books accom 
panied by a commentary. Though not a paraphrase, 
the version is by no means literal. Where necessary 



54 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

a word is added to bring out the sense clearly ; sev 
eral verses are frequently joined together in a syn 
tactical nexus, and thus, though the original coloring 
is lost, the translation gains in lucidity. With a view 
to the same end a positive Arabic equivalent is intro 
duced where the meaning of the Hebrew is doubtful, 
in order not to awaken in the laity the thought that 
there are obscure expressions in the Scriptures. What 
is principally aimed at is clarity and elegant diction. 
Ancient names of places are modernized. Though 
an upholder of tradition, Saadya emancipates himself 
from the forced interpretation of the rabbis, thus 
breaking ground for a rational exposition based on 
grammar and an adequate observation of the usage 
of words within the compass of the entire Scriptures. 
He does not consider himself bound by the marginal 
corrections (variants) of the Masoretes (chapter 
VIII), and frequently embodies in his translation the 
textual reading (ketib) in the text. Though natu 
rally not free from faults, Saadya s version served 
as a mine in the hands of successive generations of 
Bible students; but it was intended in the first 
instance for the people, the Jews in the vast domain 
of Arabic culture; to this day it is read by the 
Yemenite Jews, who, driven from their home by per 
secution and employed as common laborers in the 
Jewish colonies of Palestine, bring with them the 



TRANSLATIONS IN THE MIDDLE AGES 55 

Scriptures in the Hebrew original, the Targum 
neatly pointed, and Saadya s Arabic translation. 

The Babylonian center of Jewry was now in the 
last stages of -dissolution; another was preparing in 
_, _. the West in the Iberian peninsula, the 

, North African coast serving as a bridge. 

On the banks of the Ebro, in Tortosa, 
Hebrew 

_. , . under the patronage of the Jewish states- 

Dictionary. TT 1 T1 01 H/T 1 

man Hasdai Ibn Shaprut, Menahem 
ben Saruk (about 960) worked out in Hebrew the 
first complete dictionary of the Scriptures. Un 
fortunately he had not hit upon the right under 
standing of the structure of Hebrew ; he was attacked 
by Dunash, a pupil of Saadya s, who won 
over the rich and powerful Maecenas. The 
fame of both soon spread beyond the confines of the 
Moorish dominions. In Northern France a new 
school of Jewish learning, branching off from the 
seat of talmudic erudition established in the Rhenish 
provinces by Gershom the Light of 

Exile, was in course of construction. 
the Popular , 

Solomon son of Isaac, better known as 
Commentator. ,./,-, N 

Rashi (died 1105), the great commen 
tator of the Talmud, found leisure to write a commen 
tary on the Bible. His exposition of the Pentateuch 
in particular became in time the most popular and 
widely used, and ever after it meant the sum of lay 
education for a Jew to have read his Homesh ( Penta- 



56 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

teuch) with Rashi. What made for the popularity of 
this commentary was its intermediate attitude be 
tween the traditional interpretation of the rabbis and 
the more modern rational exegesis. In grammatical 
matters, Menahem and his critic are Rashi s chief 
guides. The feud which ensued between the disciples 
of both had not yet become known outside Spain ; the 
French commentators worked in isolation, producing 
some good results, and the aged Rashi confessed to 
his grandson, Samuel son of Meir, that, were he at lei 
sure, he should have to revise his own commentary in 
accordance with the newer interpretations coming up 
daily. Interspersed in Rashi s commentary, as in all 
the productions of the French school, are renditions 
of difficult Hebrew words and phrases in French ; we 
also possess independent glossaries, thus amounting 
to a partial Jewish version of the Scriptures in 
French which constitutes one of the early records 
of the language. Catholic priests who sought out 
Rashi brought him a knowledge of Jerome s Latin 
version; conversely, Rashi s commentary was ex 
cerpted in Latin by the apostate Nicholas de Lyra 
(died 1340) whose Postillae Perpetuae, printed in 
1471-2, exercised a potent influence on Luther s 
German translation of the Bible (chapter V). 

Meanwhile a revolution had been wrought in 
Spain. To a disciple of Menahem, Judah son of 



TRANSLATIONS IN THE MIDDLE AGES 57 

David Hayyuj, who taught in Cordova at the begin 
ning of the eleventh century, fell the momentous and 
__ . t epoch-making discovery of the funda- 

, . mental character of Hebrew root struc- 
tne irst 

-, . . ture. The memory of the first sram- 

Grammanan. . , TT J . 

manan, as Hayyuj was called, was 

cherished by posterity; his system was improved in 
detail by Jonah Ibn Janah, the greatest of medieval 

_, _ , Hebraists/ in the first half of the 
Ibn Janah: 

the Greatest eleventh Centur 7- A physician by pro- 
. __ ,. , fession, he employed his leisure in deep- 

TT , ... ening the newly won scientific study of 
Hebraists. * * 

the Bible through a series of contro 
versial treatises, but chiefly through his double work 
containing a grammar and dictionary of the Bible lan 
guages. Both Hayyuj and Ibn Janah composed their 
works in Arabic; their influence was therefore con 
fined for the time being to their immediate circle, 
though later on their efforts were made accessible to a 
wider public through translation into Hebrew. How 
seriously these pioneers in Bible interpretation took 
their task may be gauged by what Ibn Janah tells of 
of his teacher Isaac son of Saul : he was in the habit of 
reciting the one hundred and forty-third psalm in his 
nightly devotions, but he ceased to do so when he 
found that he was unable to interpret a certain word 
in the ninth verse. Gifted with keen observation and 



58 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

a fine insight into the spirit of the Hebrew, Ibn Janah 
became the guide of posterity ; his works were freely 
excerpted, but in the course of time were forgotten, 
until they were resuscitated in the nineteenth century. 
W. Robertson Smith laments the fact that this fine 
scholar has been neglected by expositors subsequent 
to Gesenius (chapter VI). The work so auspiciously 
begun by Ibn Janah was carried on by men of genius ; 
the Scriptures were now better understood, and the 
Hebrew of the Bible became a vehicle of poetic pro 
ductions, metrical and rhymed after the manner of 
the Arabs, under the hands of famed singers, such as 
Solomon Ibn Gabirol and Judah ha-Levi. The learn 
ing of the farthest West, for which Saadya in the 

__ . East had laid the foundations and to 

Hai Gaon. 

which another Eastern Gaon, Hai (died 

1038), before the flickering flame of the Babylonian 
schools became wholly extinct, had made a notable 
contribution, was at once carried to fruition and dis 
seminated through the darkest abodes 
Ibn Ezra: **_ 

XT. c. A - of Jewry by Abraham son of Meir Ibn 
the Scientific _ J . J J 

n Ezra (1002-1167). A born wanderer, 

Commentator. , . 

this profound scholar, poet, and phil 
osopher traveled far and wide, away from his native 
city Toledo in Spain through North Africa and the 
Orient, to Rome, to France, to England, sojourning 
everywhere, composing works and laying bare the 



TRANSLATIONS IN THE MIDDLE AGES 59 

secrets of knowledge. In 1 140 we find him at Rome 
writing a Hebrew grammar and commentaries on the 
Five Scrolls and Job; at Lucca in 1145 he defends 
the Gaon Saadya, comments on Isaiah, and begins 
his exposition of the Pentateuch; at Mantua in the 
same year he produces another grammatical work; 
at Beziers in 1155 he writes on the divine name; the 
next years find him at Dreux, in France, busy with 
commentaries on Daniel, the Twelve, Exodus, and 
the remainder of the Pentateuch. In his preface to 
the Torah he defines his exposition as bound up with 
grammar. Ibn Ezra was a thorough-going rational 
ist; his guarded remarks on the Babylonian author 
ship of the Second Isaiah (an opinion advanced, as he 
tells us, by a predecessor) and on the anachronisms in 
the Pentateuch pointing to a post-Mosaic compilation 
of the Torah make him a forerunner of criticism and 
the inspirer of the theories propounded by Spinoza. 
His commentaries are for the most part written in a 
succinct and at times enigmatic style, but they are 
replete with references to older expositors, and are 
stimulating throughout, scintillating with keen wit, 
and everywhere testifying to a fine perception of the 
scriptural language and subject-matter. Next to 
Rashi s Bible commentary, that by Ibn Ezra enjoyed 
great popularity, though his influence extended pri 
marily to the scholars. Like Rashi, Ibn Ezra wrote 
5 



60 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

in Hebrew. On his wanderings he made many 
friends; in France he met Rashi s other grandson, 

Rabbenu J aco ^ son ^ ^ ir > surnamed Tarn, who 
Tam still operated with Menahem and Dunash, 

defending the former against the latter, 
but independently arriving pretty nearly at the con 
clusions long anticipated by the first grammarian. 
Nowhere was Ibn Ezra s appearance more welcomed 
than in the Provence, the bridge between the southern 
peninsula and the north. A hundred and fifty years 
later a Provencal scholar of Beziers reports thus 
concerning the profound impression made by Ibn 
Ezra s advent there : Our fathers told us of the 
joy with which the great of our land, its pious men 
and rabbis, received Ibn Ezra when his wanderings 
brought him to them. He opened the eyes of the 
inhabitants of these regions, and wrote for them com 
mentaries and other works. In the Provence Ibn 

The Kimhis. Ezra s seed y ielded rich fruit ; Joseph 
Kimhi (about 1150), whose native 
home was Spain, and his two sons, Moses and David, 
who lived by tutoring, brought to consummation the 
labor of three centuries, and though much work was 
done after them, it remained for the most part of an 
inferior character. David (1160-1235) in particu 
lar, the author of a masterly Hebrew grammar and 
dictionary, became the famed teacher of posterity far 



TRANSLATIONS IN THE MIDDLE AGES 61 

beyond the confines of his own people. When at the 
revival of learning in the early sixteenth century 
Christian Churchmen, following in the footsteps of 
Jerome in the fourth century, sought instruction in 

Hebrew at the hands of Jewish schol- 
David Kimhi. J 

ars, all that these teachers could impart 

to them was a digest of the labors of David Kimhi. 
In 1506 the humanist Reuchlin wrote the first Hebrew 
grammar and dictionary produced by a Christian 
scholar, and his teachers were Jacob Jehiel Loans 
and Obadiah Sforno. Sebastian Minister and Paul 
Fagius were the pupils of Elias Levita (1469-1548), 
a versatile man who became the link between Kimhi 
and the Christian Hebraists. 

The influence of Kimhi, as we shall have occasion 

to see later (chapter V), may be traced in every line 

. of the Anglican translation of 161 1. His 

. _ . fame spread early; in the far-away East 
in Persian. , 3 

he was studied, his interpretation being 

made the basis of a Persian translation done by a 
Jew about 1400, of which the books of Isaiah, Jere 
miah, and (in part) Ezekiel are extant (in a Paris 
manuscript; published by Lagarde in 1884). Of a 
later date is the Persian version of the Pentateuch 
by Rabbi Jacob Tawos, printed at Constantinople 
in 1546 and reproduced in the fourth volume of 
Walton s Polyglot. Of two Greek versions by Jewish 



62 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

authors mention was made above (chapter II) ; the 
one was certainly influenced by Kimhi, while the 
other served the purposes of Jews in the Byzan 
tine empire. The edition in which the latter was 
printed (Constantinople 1547) contains the Penta 
teuch together with the Haftarot (Prophetical les 
sons) and the Five Scrolls (Song of Songs, Ruth, 
Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther) in the Hebrew, 
in the Targum which every child of Israel is en 
joined to read, in Neo-Greek and in Spanish (both 
in Hebrew characters), the two languages in vogue 
among our people in the captivity, the remnant of 
Judah and Israel dwelling in Turkish lands, accom 
panied by Rashi s commentary. The 
In Spanish. J . , J 

Spanish translation rests upon previous 

labors executed in Spain in the preceding centuries. 
In 1422 Rabbi Moses Arragel translated the Bible 
from the Hebrew original at the bidding of a prince 
of the Church and with the assistance of Francis 
can clerics. The famous Ferrara Bible in Spanish 
(printed in 1553) was a revision of that version; it 
was edited by Abraham Usque (otherwise Duarte 
Pinel) and published at the expense of Yom Tob 
Atias (otherwise Jeronimo de Vargas). It is inter 
esting that in certain copies, as a concession to 
Christian readers, the rendering virgin is found 
in Isaiah 7. 14, while those which were intended for 



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TRANSLATIONS IN THE MIDDLE AGES 63 

the Jews adopted the expression young woman or 
retained the Hebrew word untranslated ( la alma ). 

_ _ , _, We possess a manuscript transla- 

In Judeo-German. . A . 

tion of a part of the Bible in Judeo- 
German dating- from the year 1421. A translation 
of the Pentateuch in the same dialect was printed at 
Constance 1543-44 by the baptized Jew Michael 
Adam, and Elias Levita s rendition of the Psalms 
appeared at Venice in 1 545. The most popular work, 
constituting to this day in the east of Europe the 
Bible of the Jewish woman, was the Teutsch- 

, , Homesh/ also known as the 

Zeenah u-reenah. 

Zeenah u-reenah (Go forth, ye 

women, and see)/ by Jacob son of Isaac of Janow, 
which was printed in Amsterdam in 1649. The first 
complete Bible in Judeo-German was that of Jekuthiel 
Blitz (Amsterdam 1676-8), and another version by 
Joseph Witzenhausen (Amsterdam 1679) was a P" 
__ . , proved by the Council of the Four 

Lands. The Samaritans had an Arabic 
Samaritans. . 

translation of the Pentateuch by Abu 

Said (eleventh century) who adapted Saadya s ver 
sion to the needs of his own people; the Karaites 

__ . , likewise had an Arabic translation of 
Versions by . 

. their own, made by a learned contem 

porary of the Gaon ; they also read the 
Scriptures in a Tataric version, dating from about 
1640 (printed in Goslov 1841-2). 



CHAPTER V 

THE AGE OF THE REFORMATION. LUTHER AND 
THE KING JAMES VERSION 

The official Bible in Christian Europe throughout 
the Middle Ages was Jerome s Latin in the West and 
the Greek in the Byzantine Empire. Vernacular 
translations, at first mere paraphrases in rhyme or 
prose and partial, confined to the Psalter, in course of 
time verbal and complete, arose everywhere. Where 
_, ,., the spoken language was akin to Latin, 

. , as in Romanic countries, the attempts 

., , . naturally date from the time when the 
Keionnation. 

gulf between the mother-tongue and 

the daughter dialects widened and the older lan 
guage was no longer understood by the people ; else 
where the need manifested itself so soon as Christi 
anity had taken root and here and there at the very 
moment of its introduction. Thus Cyrillus and 
Methodius, the apostles to the Slavs, are said to have 
invented for them an alphabet based on the Greek, 
and are credited with having laid the foundation for 
the version in ihe Old-Bulgarian dialect which from 



THE AGE OF THE REFORMATION 65 

the very beginning was used in the services of the 
Orthodox Church. In the Catholic West vernacular 
renditions were private undertakings as an aid to the 
understanding of the Latin upon which they were 
based and often accompanying it in the form of inter- 
linears. The Catholic Church, as guardian of the 
Scriptures, was rather jealous of the vernacular 
Bible; frequently indeed, from the early thirteenth 
century downward to the rise of the Reformation, 
Bible translating went hand in hand with movements 
aimed at breaking down the Church s authority by 
the very appeal to the direct Word of God, and was 
undertaken in spite of the opinion of many clergy 
that the mysteries of the Bible should be kept from 
the ordinary man/ Venerable monuments of the 
early history of Europe s national languages, these 
translations are far more important as so many stages 
in a religious upheaval, long in preparation, culminat 
ing in that revolt of the North which rent the Church 
in twain. The first complete French translation dates 
from the middle of the thirteenth century; a partial 
version in Provengal had preceded it among the fol 
lowers of Peter Waldus, influencing in turn the 
earliest efforts in Italian in the fourteenth century ; 
the first complete English Bible is associated with the 
name of Wycliffe who in the same century led the 
attack against the Papacy ; versions in German multi- 



66 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

plied as the Papal authority declined; in the early 
fifteenth century John Huss, the Bohemian reformer, 
who perfected a vernacular translation for his 
countrymen, was burned at the stake. In all these 
centuries, though the Word of God proved its inher 
ent potency with which it found its way to the minds 

The Invention and hearts of the P e P le > Bible c P ies 
of Printing. multiplied by hand, were costly. It 
required the invention of printing to 
spread the vernacular Scriptures among the masses. 
The first printed book was the Bible in Latin 
(1452-6), and more than a dozen editions of the 
German Bible were issued from various presses before 
the first edition of the Greek (the Complutensian, 
printed in 1517, published in 1520; the Aldine at 
Venice, 1518-9) made its appearance. When on the 
loth of December, 1520, Martin Luther signified his 
break with Rome by committing to the flames the 
The Printed w hole body of the canon law, twenty- 

TT v, TV ui one partial or complete editions of 
Hebrew Bible. 

the Hebrew Scriptures had been 

struck off from presses owned by Jews or Christians, 
pious wealthy Jews sometimes defraying the costs 
(chapter VII), under the editorial care, or at least 
with the assistance, of learned Jews. The most 
notable of these editions, opening up the stores of 
Jewish exegetical labors, was the first Rabbinic Bible 



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THE AGE OF THE REFORMATION 67 

issued in Venice (1516-7) by Felix Pratensis, a con 
vert to Christianity, and dedicated to Pope Leo X; 
an improved and much enlarged edition followed in 
1524-5 including the Masorah revised and compiled 
by Jacob son of Haim Ibn Adonijah, who subse 
quently likewise embraced Christianity. Thus the 
way was paved for the newer Bible learning in which 
Christian scholars, at first timidly and largely in 
dependence upon Jewish predecessors, then with 
greater originality and with increased facilities, were 
to exercise themselves, and Bible translating was 
placed on a surer foundation by a return to the origi 
nal fountain-head. 

In the early sixteenth century a Catholic editor 
of the Vulgate complains that the Jews make light of 
Translations the Church translation and urge upon 
based on the head of the Church of Rome the 

the Original. need of a new rencntion - Somewhat 
earlier, toward the end of the fifteenth 
century, a German translator of the Vulgate declares 
it as his purpose that every intelligent layman may 
know how to answer the evil-minded Jews. Of the 
In Latin new ^ atm translations based on the origi 
nal we may single out those by Sanctes 
Pagninus (1541), Sebastian Minister (1534-5), Leo 
Juda (Zwingli s collaborator; he was assisted by a 
baptized Jew) and his associates (1543), Chateillon 



68 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

(who also translated the Bible into French, 1551), 
Immanuel Tremellius, a baptized Jew, with whom 
was associated his son-in-law du Jon (1579). All 
of these, more or less felicitously executed, were 
learned productions, and they proved of great assist 
ance to those whose familiarity with the original 
tongues, notably the Hebrew, was rather modest. 
Minister s rendition indirectly influenced the King 
James Version. The use of Latin explains itself 
only from its being the language of the learned, 
continued beyond the century of the Reformation. 
But the very essence of the revolt against Rome con 
sisted in the breaking up of the international Church- 
empire and in the rise of the independent state-nation 
alities ; and wherever the reformatory movement took 
root, the placing of the Bible within the comprehen 
sion of the laity by means of vernacular renditions 
followed of necessity. The Vulgate and the trans 
lations derived from it were to be banished; new 
translations based upon the original took their place. 
Foremost among the Protestant translations, 
monuments at once of the new piety and the national 

cultures with which they became in- 
Luther s T , , ^... 

terwoven, are Luther s German Bible 
Translation. . r _ , . 

on the continent of Europe and the 

various attempts in England culminating in the 
Authorized Version of 1 6 1 1 . Luther based his trans- 



THE AGE OF THE REFORMATION 69 

lation upon the original, using the Brescia edition of 
1494; his knowledge of Hebrew and Aramaic, how 
ever, was but moderate. Naturally he made use of 
commentaries, chiefly those of Nicholas Lyranus, 
which, as was pointed out above (chapter IV), went 
back to Rashi, and also of earlier translations. The 
work proceeded slowly, the Book of Job in particular 
baffling his ingenuity, and days were sometimes spent 
over a few verses. For the Book of Leviticus he had 
several sheep killed, and a butcher of the town named 
to him in German the various parts of the animal. 
The work was completed in 1530, and the first com 
plete edition of Luther s version appeared in 1534. 
The avowed aim of the translator was to serve the 
needs of the common people ; he therefore strove to 
make his rendition clear and intelligible, without, 
however, destroying the coloring of the original. 
Ten editions issued during Luther s lifetime testify 
to the popularity of the work which, while not free 
from faults and here and there marred by straining 
a doctrinal point in a spirit of polemics, secured a 
permanent hold on the German nation, and largely 
promoted the development of the German language 
and literature. With the spread of Lutheranism be 
yond the confines of Germany, Luther s version 
became the basis of the translations used in Denmark, 
Sweden, Norway, and Holland. 



70 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

Luther s influence is also clearly perceptible in the 
first printed English Bible, the work of William Tyn- 
dale. The pupil of Erasmus at Cambridge, upon 
discovering that there was no place in all England * 
_ . . to execute a translation of the Scriptures 
into English, chose to exile himself to Ger 
many, where he made ample use of the version by the 
German reformer. His translation of the Pentateuch 
was printed in 1530; a strongly controversial tone 
marked the annotations, which, in part at least, 
were derived from Luther. In 1531 followed the 
Book of Jonah. Tyndale continued to be busy with 
revisions of his previous efforts and with preparing 
for print other parts of the Scriptures. Imprisoned in 
Belgium at the instigation of his enemies, he touch- 
ingly asked for warmer clothing, but also for a 
Hebrew Bible, grammar, and dictionary ; on the sixth 
of October, 1536, he died a martyr to the cause of 
the English Bible, and his last words at the stake 
were a prayer that God might open the king of 
England s eyes. The first complete translation of 
, the Bible into English, printed in 1535-6, 

was dedicated to the king (Henry VIII) ; 
it was the work of Miles Coverdale, and was under 
taken at the bidding of Thomas Cromwell. Coverdale 
lacked originality, his sources being Luther, Tyndale, 
and the Swiss-German version by Zwingli and Leo 



THE AGE OF THE REFORMATION 71 

Juda; but his work won the approbation of the 
throne, and the Bible in English circulated freely 
among the people despite the hostility of the bishops. 
Fresh translations, which were really revisions, fol- 
nr lowed quickly. In 1537 appeared what is 

known as Matthew s Bible, based chiefly 
upon Tyndale s published and manuscript 
efforts; it was sold in England by leave of the king 
and the Archbishop of Canterbury. A new revision 
by Coverdale, with the aid of Minister s Latin ver 
sion, followed in 1539-41 (the Great Bible), and 
G copies of it were set up in every church. 

The people flocked to the churches, dis 
daining the sermons of the preachers, but 
listening to the Word of God itself read by some 
one, in disregard of the order of divine service, to 
a crowd of worshippers, and we hear of an ecclesi 
astic making complaint that diverse wilful and un 
learned persons inconsiderately and indiscreetly read 
the English Scriptures, especially and chiefly at the 
time of divine service, yea in the time and declaration 
of the word of God. The spirit of the complaint is 
that which held the common people in tutelage; in 
the eagerness of the people who would convert the 
churches into reading conventicles and meeting 
houses there was brought to new life the spirit of 
Judea and its synagogues. 



72 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

The reaction which set in under Mary, with 
Cranmer and Rogers burnt at the stake, drove the 
reformers to the continent. There the Puritan fol 
lowers of John Knox separated from the moderate 
section and withdrew to Geneva, the home of Calvin, 
the Swiss reformer, and of Beza, the most prominent 

_, ~ biblical scholar of the day. A new 

The Geneva _ .. t 

_., English translation was the result, the 

work of Whittingham and a group of 
kindred spirits, who based themselves on the Great 
Bible, introducing at the same time many alterations 
which were marked by a closer approximation to the 
Hebrew. The edition, known as the Geneva or 
Breeches Bible (Genesis 2. 7 read: They sewed fig- 
leaves together and made themselves breeches; so 
already Wycliffe), appeared in 1557-60. It at once 
became popular (between 1560 and the outbreak of 
Civil War in England no less than 160 editions were 
struck off), supplanting in the private homes of the 
people the Great Bible, an unwieldy folio volume used 
in the churches. It is the first English Bible with 
verse numeration. It had marginal notes, Calvinist 
in tone, but generally free from offensive asperity. 
Its influence on the King James Version was marked. 
With the restoration of Protestantism under Eliza 
beth steps were taken for a new revision which might 
be acceptable for public service. The Great Bible had 



THE AGE OF THE REFORMATION 73 

been discredited by the Genevan effort ; yet the latter 
was too much identified with a particular party in 
the Church to serve the purpose. In the year 1562 
Archbishop Parker, a man of great learning, invited 
a company of divines, who for the most part were 
bishops (hence the name Bishops Bible), to under 
take the task. Each of the collaborators was assigned 
, a portion of the Scriptures, the Archbishop 

_. , . reserving for himself the work of editing 
Bishops 
... the whole and seeing it through the press. 

The Bishops Bible was printed in 1568 
and at once introduced in the churches. It failed, 
however, to supersede the Geneva version. There 
was too much unevenness in the new revision, the sev 
eral revisers working separately and without consul 
tation with their fellow-workers. Thus upon the 
_, accession of James I a fresh under- 

.. _ taking was set on foot resulting in 

v . the King James Version of 1611. A 

scheme was drawn up in 1604 by the 
king himself who selected in person the revisers from 
both the ritualist and puritan parties of the Church. 

T , ,,. , The most important instructions were 

me iiing s 

T ,. the following: 

Instructions. 

The ordinary Bible read in the 

church, commonly called " the Bishops Bible," to be 
followed, and as little altered as the truth of the 
original will permit, 



74 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

The old ecclesiastical words to be kept. 

No marginal notes at all to be affixed, but only 
for the explanation of Hebrew . . . words. 

Every particular man of each company to take 
the same chapter or chapters, and having translated 
or amended them severally by himself, where he 
thinketh good, all to meet together, confer what they 
have done, and agree for their parts what shall 
stand. 

As each company finished one book, they were to 
send it to the other companies for their careful con 
sideration. Where doubts prevailed as to any pas 
sage of special obscurity, letters were to be sent to 
any learned man in the land for his judgment. 
Finally, three or four of the most ancient and grave 
divines in either of the universities, not employed in 
translating/ were to be overseers of the translations. 
In 1607 the task was taken in hand. One group 
worked in Westminster at Genesis II Kings ; 
another, at Oxford, revised Isaiah Malachi ; two, 
at Cambridge, were busy with I Chronicles Eccle- 
siastes and the Apocrypha. The work on the entire 
body of the Church Scriptures was accomplished in 
the short time of two years and nine months, the last 
nine months being taken up by a final revision en 
trusted to a committee consisting of two members 
from each center, the total number of revisers being 



THE AGE OF THE REFORMATION 75 

from forty-eight to fifty. The quaint preface to the 
1611 edition contains interesting information on the 
manner in which the revisers executed their task. 
Matters of such weight and consequence/ they 
write, are to be speeded with maturity ; for in a 
business of moment a man feareth not the blame of 

convenient slackness. Neither did we 
From the , . t . . t . 

think much to consult translators or 
Preface to TT , . 

commentators, Chaldee, Hebrew, Syrian, 

Greek, or Latin; no, nor the Spanish 
. [1569 and 1602], French [1587-8], 

Italian [1607], or Dutch [the German of 
Luther] ; neither did we disdain to revise that which 
we had done, and to bring back to the anvil that which 
we had hammered; but having and using as great 
helps as were needful, and fearing no reproach for 
slowness, nor coveting praise for expedition, we have 
at length, through the good hand of the Lord upon 
us, brought the work to that pass that you see. 
Among the great helps was the Geneva Bible. 
The revisers in particular defend two important 
points. The first touches the margin from which 
indeed all comments, not needed for the understand 
ing of the text and in the previous efforts marred by 
a controversial spirit, were sedulously ruled out. 
Some perad venture, they say, would have no 
variety of senses to be set in the margin, lest the 
6 



76 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

authority of the Scriptures for deciding of contro 
versies by that show of uncertainty should somewhat 
be shaken. But we hold their judgment not to be so 
sound in this point. ... It hath pleased God in his 
Divine Providence, here and there to scatter words 
and sentences of that difficulty and doubtfulness, not 
in doctrinal points that concern salvation (for in such 
it hath been vouched that the Scriptures are plain), 
but in matters of less moment, that fearfulness would 
better beseem us than confidence. . . . There be 
many words in the Scriptures, which be never found 
there but once (having neither brother nor neighbor, 
as the Hebrews speak), so that we cannot be holpen 
by conference of places. Again, there be many rare 
names of certain birds, beasts, and precious stones, 
etc., concerning which the Hebrews themselves are 
so divided among themselves for judgment, that they 
may seem to have defined this or that, rather because 
they would say something, than because they were 
sure of that which they said, as St. Jerome somewhere 
saith of the Septuagint. Now in such a case doth not 
a margin do well to admonish the reader to seek fur 
ther, and not to conclude or dogmatize upon this or 
that peremptorily ? For as it is a fault of incredulity, 
to doubt of those things that are evident; so to deter 
mine of those, things as the Spirit of God hath left 
(even. in the judgment of the judicious) questionable, 



THE AGE OF THE REFORMATION 77 

can be no less than presumption. The other point 
concerns the avowed lack of uniformity in rendering 
words of the original text. That we should express 
the same notion in the same particular word ; as for 
example, if we translate the Hebrew . . . word once 
by purpose, never to call it intent; if one where jour 
neying, never travelling; if one where think, never 
suppose; if one where pain, never ache; if one where 
joy, never gladness, etc., thus to mince the matter, 
we thought to savor more of curiosity than wisdom, 
and that rather it would breed scorn in the atheist, 
than bring profit to the godly reader/ 

When the revision left the press, it was attacked 
by Doctor Hugh Broughton, a biblical scholar of 
Tli W k reat eminence and erudition, who had 

, been omitted from the list of revisers on 
Criticised. 

account of his violent and impracticable 

disposition, and whose disappointment vented itself 
in a very hostile criticism of the new version. Des 
pite all cavilling, it became the official version of the 
Anglican Church; though there is no record of an 
official decree ordaining its use in the service, it was 
and is still spoken of as the Authorized Version ; after 
half a century it outdistanced the Geneva Bible in 
popularity, taking its place as the undisputed Bible 
of the English nation. Its production fell upon a 
period when, as at no other time, the standard of 



78 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

literary taste, under the influence of such masters as 
Spenser, Sidney, Hooker, Marlowe, and Shakespeare, 
was at its highest. It has an inimitable charm and 
rhythm ; the coloring of the original is not obliterated, 
,, and yet examples abound of idiomatic 

M tchl renditions reproducing the thought in an 

T.. . admirable manner. It ranks as a classic 

Diction. . 

in English literature, and has exercised a 

potent influence upon writers of English to this day. 
A venerable document of a great literary and relig 
ious period, after three centuries of unquestioned 
sway, it was found capable of improvement on the 
side of interpretation and in some of its vocabulary 
and phraseology which are not quite intelligible to 
readers acquainted with modern English only ; but all 

. ,, . - attempts at a fresh revision have based 
A .Basis tor 
11 TI t themselves upon it as a starting-point. 

Eevisions When modern revisers have changed its 
matchless diction where no difference of 
meaning was involved, they have erred in their zeal. 
Practical as the object of all Bible translations must 
be, the King James Version, in which so many earlier 
efforts have deposited their happiest and best, has 
pointed out the way how with accuracy of rendition 
there must go elegance of style, and how a translation 
of the Scriptures must aim at rivalling the stately 
diction of the original. 



CHAPTER VI 

MODERN TRANSLATIONS BY JEWS AND 
CHRISTIANS 

The * great helps which were available when the 
King James Version was produced were largely 
increased as the centuries rolled on. The study of 
Arabic was begun in Europe almost simultaneously 
with that of Hebrew, and notable progress was 
achieved early. At Oxford the chair of Arabic was 

worthily occupied by Edward Pococke 
Progress / J . 

* -n-i-T i from 1636 to 1691. Synac studies were 
of Biblical 

St d propagated in the seventeenth century 

by Assemani and others, while Ludolf in 
after 1611: ;,, *- 

1 66 1 opened up a knowledge of Ethiopic. 

The greatest undertaking of the seven- 
Chnstians. 

teenth century was the London Poly 
glot edited by Brian Walton with the assistance of 
many scholars (1655-57), which superseded earlier 
efforts by its wealth of contents ; the Oriental versions 
invited a comparative study of the languages in which 
they were composed; a still greater help proved the 
appended dictionary of seven Oriental tongues, the 



8o STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

stupendous work of Edmund Castle which cost him 
his eye-sight and the bulk of his private fortune. 
European scholars, led by de Dieu and others, re 
discovered the affinity of the Semitic dialects which 
had long before been set forth by the Jewish gram 
marians of the first three centuries of the second 
millennium. English scholars of the seventeenth 
century compiled two collections of biblical commen 
taries by Christian scholars who combined with the 
newer learning a mastery of rabbinic lore. The 
received Hebrew text was criticised as faulty by 
Cappellus (1624) and Morinus (1669) an d just as 
stubbornly defended by Buxtorf the younger (1648, 
1662). Buxtorf s work was carried on somewhat 
pedantically by Alting in Holland (1654) and Danz 
in Germany (1696) who made light of comparative 
grammar; but the eighteenth century witnessed a 
revival of the method by which the other Semitic 
dialects, chiefly the Arabic, were drawn upon for an 
elucidation of the Hebrew language, both in struc 
ture and vocabulary. Its most illustrious exponent 
was Albert Schultens in Holland (1686-1750) who, 
however, in his zeal overshot the mark. In Germany, 
the three Michaelis did creditable work through 
textual editions and commentaries, marking the 
transition from pietistic orthodoxy to rationalism. 
Towards the end of the century Carsten Niebuhr 



MODERN TRANSLATIONS 81 

brought home with him from a journey to the Orient 
more accurate and complete copies of the Achaemen- 
ian inscriptions at Persepolis, and thus laid the foun 
dation for a -decipherment of the Assyrian wedge- 
shaped script; excavations of the ancient mounds in 
the Tigris-Euphrates valley, carried on successively 
in the nineteenth century, brought to light the Assyro- 
Babylonian as a new, hitherto unknown, Semitic 
tongue, and laid bare a vast literature which proved 
of great value for a knowledge of ancient Oriental 
civilization and history in biblical times. While 
Kennicott in England (1776-80) and de Rossi in 
Italy (1784-88) published their scholarly results of 
the collation of hundreds of manuscripts of the 
Hebrew Scriptures, Lowth translated and expounded 
Isaiah, freely admitting that the prophets spoke pri 
marily to the men of their own time. Equally famous 
is his treatise on the sacred poetry of the Hebrews 
(1753), which, together with Herder s essay on the 
same subject ( 1782), paved the way for the study of 
the Bible as literature. Herder s intuitive conception 
of a people s literature as rooted in the folk soul and 
in a distinct civilization was systematized in profes 
sorial language by Eichhorn who emphasized that 
the Hebrew Scriptures were to be understood in 
their Oriental setting ; he also independently hit upon 
the conjecture, advanced some time previously by 



82 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

Jean Astruc, that the Pentateuch was composed of a 
number of parallel documents. At the turn of the 
century we find Rosenmiiller at Leipzig compiling a 
voluminous commentary on the Bible, and Gesenius 
at Halle in a sober and painstaking manner building 
up the science of Hebrew grammar and lexicography. 
Far more original was Gesenius pugnacious rival 
Ewald, who as grammarian, translator, and historian 
became the guide of the modern school of Bible 
students. Dillmann, who, like a second Ludolf , was 
master of Ethiopic lore, and who will be remembered 
as one of the greatest commentators of the nineteenth 
century, Wellhausen, who revolutionized the study 
of biblical history, and Noldeke, the greatest Oriental 
ist of our age, all acknowledge their indebtedness to 
Ewald. Of a more conservative bent of mind was 
Franz Delitzsch, the erudite student of rabbinic liter 
ature, excelling alike in mastery of detail and in ripe 
independent judgment. Biblical learning has since 
made stupendous progress. The Bible lands have 
been explored, described, and surveyed; excavations 
everywhere bring to light undreamt-of finds shedding 
light on the remote past in which the sacred writers 
lived ; the languages and fortunes of many races men 
tioned in the Bible have been thoroughly studied ; a 
critical method has been applied to the ancient rec- 



MODERN TRANSLATIONS 83 

ords, biblical and non-biblical. Two new sciences, 
that of comparative religion and that of comparative 
literature, are assisting in the clarification of many 
points scarcely touched upon in older commentaries. 
In the modern commentary the net result of all these 
multifarious branches of biblical study is deposited ; 
it is to be regretted, however, that the commentary 
of the very latest sort is more concerned with all the 
by-work of criticism than with verbal interpretation. 
Compared with the master-builders of half a century 
ago, the average Bible commentator of to-day has a 
very inadequate knowledge of Hebrew, knows still 
less of later Hebrew, and obtains his information con 
cerning the versions from second-hand sources. The 
text of the original is being freely tampered with in a 
manner which would be laughed at in the field of 
classical studies. Moreover, it cannot be denied that 
there is an undercurrent of hostility to things Hebrew 
and a lack of sympathy with the Hebrew Scriptures. 
All biblical scholars are naturally interested in the 
literature of the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, and 
here again great achievements have been made and 
new texts brought to light. Serious Christian schol 
ars are fully cognizant of the fact that the Pentateuch 
requires for its elucidation a knowledge of the rab 
binical halakah. 



84 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

Among the Jews, biblical learning in the centuries 
that followed the expulsion from Spain remained at a 
standstill. With the destruction of the Jewish center 
in the land where great achievements had been ac 
complished, the Jewish scholars lost contact with the 
Arabic, a knowledge of which proved so fruitful in 

the hands of Christian Hebraists. Moreover, 
Among 

the catastrophe itself produced a depression of 

the spirit which inclined the mind to allegori 
cal and mystical interpretation, and prevented deep 
researches in philology. In Italy and in free Holland 
secular learning was within the reach of the Jew : 
Azariah dei Rossi in the sixteenth century, who trans 
lated the Epistle of Aristeas into Hebrew and revived 
interest in the long forgotten Alexandrian version, 
stood like an isolated peak, and was far in advance 
of his time, and Manasseh ben Israel in the seven 
teenth century, who appealed to Cromwell for the 
re-admission of his co-religionists into England, was 
in touch with the Dutch school of Christian Hebra 
ists, and utilised his wade learning in the effort to 
straighten out biblical difficulties. His erudite work, 
the Conciliador, written in Spanish, has been trans 
lated into Latin, Italian, and English. From the 
Levant and Italy hailed the two students of the 
Masorah, a difficult and abstruse subject which else 
where was left severely alone: Menahem Lonzano 



MODERN TRANSLATIONS 85 

(1618) and Solomon Jedidiah Norzi (1626). In 
1628 a Jew of Posen, Isaac Levita, anticipated 
Alting s philosophical treatment of Hebrew gram 
mar, and -in the early eighteenth century Solomon 
Hanau in Germany, who sustained himself as an 
elementary teacher travelling from place to place, 
propounded novel theories of vowel development in 
Hebrew. For the most part the best minds of Ger 
many and Poland exercised themselves in the casu 
istry of the Talmud and the codes or were immersed 
in mysticism. Once more the Talmud overshadowed 
the Bible, and the most that was done in the exposi 
tion of the Scriptures consisted in writing long- 
winded supercommentaries. The German Jews of 
the eighteenth century were, with a few exceptions, 
devoid of secular education; the instruction of the 
youth was in the hands of teachers from the East to 
whom a Hebrew grammar was an impious book. In 
The Second this environment grew up the man to 
Return to whom it fell to effect the second return 
the Bible. to the Bible, which paved the way for 
the Jewish renaissance a revolution of 
Jewish thought and life penetrating the darkest 
corners of the East and creating multitudinous prob 
lems of adjustment which to the present day occupy 
the minds of Jewish leaders. 



86 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

Moses Mendelssohn, the popular! zer of Wolffian 
philosophy and the man of letters who enjoyed the 
friendship of Lessing and his circle, opened a new 
epoch through his translation into High German of 
biblical books, in particular of the Pentateuch. Its 
effect upon his co-religionists was twofold. It served 

, r , , , as a text-book for acquiring- the Ian- 
Mendelssohn 

, , . guage of the educated, which led natu- 

, , rally to familiarity with the German 

School. 

literature and German culture. Then 

again inwardly it wrought a change by luring away 
the youth from the narrower occupation with codes 
and casuistry to the wider field of biblical interpre 
tation and to the appreciation of the Scriptures as 
literature demanding and creating an aesthetic taste. 
The translation was accompanied by a commentary 
in Hebrew, rational and grammatical, for which the 
best of the older commentators were excerpted and 
in part the results of Christian research were utilized ; 
while Mendelssohn himself wrote a considerable por 
tion thereof, the more difficult books were expounded 
by his collaborators, notably the grammarian Solo 
mon Dubno and the poet Hartwig Wessely. Though 
the work won the approbation of the Berlin rabbinate, 
it was put under the ban by the spiritual leaders of 
Altona, Furth, and Frankfort-on-the-Main ; the un 
compromising Moses Sofer, who died in 1839, 



MODERN TRANSLATIONS 87 

admonished his children to refrain from reading 
Mendelssohn s writings. The friends and disciples 
of the philosopher, of whom the best known is 
David Friedlander (1750-1834), completed the 
work of translation and exposition for the rest of 
the Bible. The coterie of scholars who handled the 
Hebrew language with the skill of the best medieval 
writers came to be known as the Biurists, from the 
word Biur (interpretation) by which the commen- 
, tary was designated. What characterizes 

them is a sober rationalism, which, however, 
Biurists. 

lacked the solid foundation of historical 

perspective and critical acumen. To the Mendels- 
sohnian era belongs Judah Loeb Benseeb (died in 
1811), the grammarian and lexicographer; Ignaz 
Jeitteles (1773-1838), the author of a very imperfect 
grammar of the Aramaic ; and Solomon Pappenheim 
(174018x4), the writer on Hebrew synonymies. 
Under the spell of the sage of Berlin stood likewise 
the fine grammarian and student of the Masorah 

Wolf Heidenheim (1757-1832). The 
Rise of the . . 

nineteenth century saw the rise of the 
Scientific <..* , , u , i u c 1 

scientific school, headed by Solomon 

Judah Rapoport (1790-1867) and Leo 
pold Zunz (1794-1886). Obscure periods in Jewish 
history and large important portions of Jewish 



88 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

literature were made the subject of painstaking inves 
tigations characterized by vast erudition as well as 
by the application of the critical method. Zunz made 
noteworthy contributions to biblical criticism; the 

German translation of the Bible, with 
The Zunz 

which his name is associated, was largely 

the work of Arnheim, Fiirst, and Sachs, 
and served a practical need (1837-8). In general it 
may be said that, with notable exceptions, the scholars 
who followed Zunz s lead in the building up of the 
science of Judaism left the Bible severely alone. 
Abraham Geiger (1810-1874), who early 
in life came under the influence of Heiden- 
heim, had the sagacity to recognize that the structure 
which these men were rearing would be incomplete 
unless a reverential but at the same time critical study 
of the Bible were included, and that, so long as Jew 
ish scholars, bent upon discoveries in new soil, dis 
dained exploring the mines of the old biblical field, 
the Christian hegemony in Bible work would remain 
in force. In an epoch-making work, by which bibli 
cal scholars of the subsequent generation, both among 
Jews and Christians, were profoundly stimulated, 
Geiger sought to trace the inner history of the origi 
nal text and the ancient versions as it kept pace with 
the progress of religious ideas in Judaism. The 



MODERN TRANSLATIONS 89 

arguments in detail have proved capable of correction 
in the light of newer finds and knowledge, but the 
main thesis of the book remains unshaken. Zechariah 
Frankel (1801-1875), the first head of the Breslau 
Rabbinical Seminary, made the Alexandrian version 
the subject of fruitful studies, and his younger col 
league, the far-famed historian of the Jewish people, 
Heinrich Graetz (1817-1891), made noteworthy con 
tributions to biblical science. It will suffice to single 
out his works on the Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes 
(1871) and his two volumes on the Psalter (1882-3). 
It must be owned that in these works, as well as 
in his Emendations posthumously published by 
Bacher ( 1892-3) , he shows an all too facile method of 
dealing with the received text. In Italy, at the begin 
ning of the nineteenth century, Isaac Samuel Reggio 
(1784-1855) was the author of an Italian translation 
of the Pentateuch accompanied by a Hebrew com 
mentary (Vienna 1821), both still largely under the 
influence of the Mendelssohnian school. From him 
proceeded the impetus to the foundation of the Rab 
binical School at Padua; to its head, 
Samuel David Luzzatto (1800-1865), un 
questionably belongs the first rank among modern 
Jewish students of the Bible. It may be said of him 
that he raised biblical studies among the Jews to 



90 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

the dignity of a specialty, requiring a man s whole 
time and energy and pursued as a profession. Scion 
of an ancient family from which had sprung many 
erudite scholars, he possessed a wide range of Jewish 
and secular knowledge, and wrote Hebrew with mas 
terly efficiency. He had access to rare manuscript 
treasures, and was at home in the medieval literature 
of the best Jewish grammarians and commentators. 
His study of Onkelos was epoch-making, and stimu 
lated Geiger s researches ; he wrote a Hebrew gram 
mar in Italian on modern lines ; his grammar of the 
biblical (and talmudic) Aramaic elicited the praises 
of Noldeke ; his commentary on Isaiah and his shorter 
comments on other books of the Bible show the pains 
taking scholar and judicious critic; his translations 
of several biblical books into Italian, notably of Job 
(1853), Isaiah (1855), and the Pentateuch (1871-6), 
were based on a thorough acquaintance with Hebrew 
in all its stages, and bore witness to a deep love for 
Judaism and the monuments of the past. He was a 
bitter foe of the Northern innovations which meant 
to him the surrender of Judaism to the spirit of Hel 
lenism, and he was equally severe on Ibn Ezra and 
Maimonides for their compromise with the alien 
spirit. While Luzzatto with all his battling against 
the forces of disintegration remained the objective 
student who sought the truth and knew how to keep 



MODERN TRANSLATIONS gi 

apart the plain meaning of the Scriptures scientifically 
ascertained and the later outgrowth of rabbinic 
interpretation, Samson Raphael Hirsch 
(1808-1888), the protagonist of orthodoxy 
. , in the West, subordinated in his German 
Pentateuch (1867) the Bible word to tra 
dition; on more original lines worked in the East 
Meir Leibush Malbim (1809-1879), who sought 
. . to prove by fine observations of the idiom 
of the Scriptures how the tradition of the 
rabbis was rooted in the biblical word. On similar 
lines, in our own days, D. Hoffmann (1843 ) 
who successfully combated Wellhausen on his own 
ground (1904), produced a notable commentary on 
Leviticus (1905-6) and on Deuteronomy (the first 
part, 1913). Luzzatto and Malbim were drawn 
upon half a century ago by the learned Franz 
Delitzsch; to-day it is gratifying to note the fre 
quency with which Christian commentators make 
mention of a living Jewish Bible student, 
Arnold B. Ehrlich, an American by long 
residence in this country. His great work on the 
Bible, first published in Hebrew, which he master 
fully handles, and latterly, in much enlarged form, 
in German (seven volumes, 1908-14; the book of 
Psalms is dealt with in a separate volume which 
appeared in 1905), though marred by irrelevant 

7 



92 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

attacks on time-hallowed tradition and by the con 
fident spirit with which untenable positions are ad 
vanced, is nevertheless replete with solid and original 
observations, testifying to a profound insight into 
Hebrew idiom. 

With the entry of the Jew into modern civilization, 
Bible translations into various European languages 
Translations became a necessit y- Foremost stands 
into Various the French Bible ( l8 3 -5i), the work 
European f the erudlte S - Cahen, which was 
Languages enri ched by many contributions from 
the pen of Solomon Munk (1803-67) 
and Leopold Dukes. Lazare Wogue is the author of 
another French version (incomplete; the Pentateuch 
appeared 1860-9), which was largely the basis of 
a popular version by members of the rabbinate in 
France, under the direction of Zadoc Kahn the chief 
rabbi (1899-1906). In Germany the translations by 
Philippson (1839-56), Herxheimer (1840-8), and 
Fiirst (1874) showed progress. In Holland, a 
Dutch translation by S. I. Mulder was printed be 
tween 1826 and 1838 (incomplete) ; in 1901 the Pen 
tateuch was rendered afresh into Dutch by A. S. 
Onderwijser. In Italy, Luzzatto s pupils produced 
a complete Italian version (1868-75). The Penta 
teuch and the Psalter have been done into Russian by 
L. I. Mandelstamm (1862, 1864). A Hungarian 



MODERN TRANSLATIONS 93 

translation was prepared from materials supplied by 
Immanuel Low, Gyula Fischer, and other rabbis, by 
an editorial committee consisting of Vilmos Bacher, 
Jozsef Banoczi, and Samuel Krauss; it was issued 
in 1898-1907 by the Jewish Hungarian Literary 

Society. In England Isaac Delgado, 
Translations ( . 5 

_ ... teacher of the Hebrew Language, 
into English. . . _ ,. * 

printed in 1789 a new English trans 
lation of the Pentateuch in the form of correc 
tions of the present translation [i. e. f the King 
James Version] wherever it deviates from the genu 
ine sense of the Hebrew expressions, or where it 
renders obscure the meaning of the text, or, lastly, 
when it occasions a seeming contradiction/ dedi 
cating his work to Dr. Shute Barrington, Lord 
Bishop of Salisbury. Selig Newman published in 
1839 his Emendations of the Authorised Version, 
and the learned Kalisch wrote a valuable commentary 
in English on Exodus (1855), Genesis (1858), and 
Leviticus (1867-72). Benisch gave Anglo-Jewry a 
complete translation of the Scriptures, which, while 
in the legal portions of the Pentateuch it faith 
fully reproduced Jewish opinion, was intended other 
wise to be an impartial product; it appeared in 
1851-6. Michael Friedlander, the translator of 
Maimonides Guide of the Perplexed, is responsible 
for another translation which represents the Author- 



94 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

ized Version of the Anglican Church slightly re 
touched (1884). In America, in the city of Phila 
delphia, where the first Hebrew Bible (1814) was 
Leeser s P nte ^ m tm s hemisphere, Isaac Leeser 
Bible i ssue d in 1853 a complete version of the 
Hebrew Scriptures in English, which for 
more than half a century has held its place in Ameri 
can and English synagogues. Leeser based himself 
in style upon the King James Version, * which for 
simplicity cannot be surpassed ; but the changes 
introduced by him are so many and so great that his 
translation may lay claim to being an independent 
work. A specialist in Hebrew philology he certainly 
was not, nor did he consider himself such; but he 
made good use of the various German translations 
by Jews in the preceding eighty years, and he is much 
dependent upon the Biurists, Zunz, and the notes in 
Philippson s Bible. 

T , While thus Jewish scholars, for the 

distinct needs of the Synagogue, were 

AHgllCaH 

Revised a PPv m & themselves to a revision of the 
Version venera ble version in use by the Anglican 
Church, improved versions of Exodus, 
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Jonah, Zechariah, Lamen 
tations, and Daniel were attempted by Lowth ( 1778) , 
Hopkins (1784) , Blayney (1784) , Newcome ( 1788) , 
Wintle (1792), and Benjoin (1796). At the begin- 



MODERN TRANSLATIONS 95 

ning of the nineteenth century several complete trans 
lations appeared. But all these were private under 
takings. Definite steps to secure a new English 
Bible for use by the Church of England, which, 
while basing itself upon the translation of 1611, 
was to embody the results of modern investigation, 
were not taken until 1870. It was issued from 
the press in 1885. A volume containing the Apoc 
rypha appeared in 1895. The work of revision 
was distributed among two companies, one taking 
over the Apocrypha. In each company sat schol 
ars and divines of renown from the Church of 
England and the dissenting Churches. Among them 
were Payne Smith, the Syriac scholar; Cheyne, 
Davidson, and Driver, experts in matters of inter 
pretation ; Field, a master of the Greek versions ; the 
Orientalist Sayce; the Arabist W. Robertson Smith; 
and for questions affecting the Hebrew text Chris 
tian David Ginsburg, born a Jew, who with Frens- 
dorff, the Jewish school director at Hanover, and S. 
Baer, the Rhenish teacher in an elementary Jewish 
school, divided the honors of masoretic lore in the 
nineteenth century. They did their work in 792 
days in a space of fourteen years. Two further com 
panies were at work in America, and there were con 
stant exchanges of discussion between England and 
this country. The method of work is described by 



96 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

the English Company in the following words : In 
the first Revision it was the practice for the Secretary 
to read over each verse, first in the original and then 
in the Authorized Version : the proposals for change 
were then taken ; first those communicated in writing 
by absent members, and next those made by the mem 
bers present. Each proposal was moved, and if sec 
onded was discussed and voted upon ; the decision in 
the first Revision being by a majority only. If a pro 
posal met with no seconder, it was not discussed but 
allowed to drop. In the Second Revision, the Secre 
tary read out in order the changes which had been 
made at the first Revision ; if these were unchallenged 
they were allowed to remain, otherwise they were put 
to the vote and affirmed or rejected according as they 
were or were not supported by the requisite majority 
of two-thirds. In the second Revision new proposi 
tions could only be made by special permission of the 
Company, and discussion was limited, as far as pos 
sible, to exceptional cases. In the final review, which 
was in reality the completion of the second Revision, 
the Company employed themselves in making a gen 
eral survey of what they had done, deciding finally 
upon reserved points, harmonizing inconsistencies, 
smoothing down roughnesses, removing unnecessary 
changes, and generally giving finish and completeness 
to their work. Everything in this final survey was 



MODERN TRANSLATIONS 97 

decided by a vote of a majority of two- thirds. They 
wisely refrained from altering the received Hebrew 
text, although here and there they followed in the 
footsteps of "the older version in giving room to a 
tacit change. The merits of the Revised Version, as 
it has come to be called, rest chiefly upon changes of 
interpretation in which ample use was made of the 
progress of biblical science which I have attempted 
to sketch above. So far as the language is concerned, 
they endeavored to retain that of the version of 161 1 ; 
where its wording had to be changed because of an 
altered meaning which had to be adopted, care was 
taken that the diction was on a level with the older 
Elizabethan and Jacobean English. It was a bold 
undertaking to attempt to write in the Victorian age 
the English of three centuries ago ; but in the main, 
and despite the cavilling of critics, they succeeded. 
Archaic expressions were changed into less obsolete 
phraseology, likewise borrowed from past models. 
The revision was assailed most bitterly by Dean 
Burgon in a series of articles, learned but extravagant 
and intemperate. Nevertheless the Revised Version 
has steadily gained ground. The American edition 
of the Revised Version, printed by Thomas Nelson 
& Sons (1900-01), embodies the changes proposed 
by the American companies and rejected by their 
English fellow-workers. A questionable innovation 



p8 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

on the part of the American editors was the substitu 
tion of Jehovah for LORD to express the tetra- 
grammaton. 

Less far-reaching was the revision of Luther s 
version undertaken by a commission of theologians 
belonging to the various factions of the Lutheran 
Church in Germany. A resolution favoring the 
project was carried at the Church Conference of 
Eisenach in 1861 and 1863. The first draft ( Pro- 

m , ~ bebibel ) was printed in 1883, the 

The German 

P . work of revision was brought to a con- 

p . elusion at the Conference of Halle in 

TT , 1890 and was issued in final form in 

Undertakings. y 

1892. it was at once circulated by 

the Wurttemberg Bible Society, while in Northern 
Germany it has met with a lukewarm reception. Of 
a private character and with the avowed purpose of 
bringing to the notice of the educated laity the results 
of the newer criticism were the undertakings by 
Eduard Reuss, first in French ( 1874-81 ) and then in 
German (posthumously published in 1892-4), and by 
Emil Kautzsch (with the assistance of a number of 
scholars; first edition 1890-4; third edition 1909-12). 
Both are accompanied by notes and furnished with 
introductions; in point of originality and taste 
Reuss s work is the superior product. On a par with 
Kautzsch s Bible stands the Dutch version by Kuenen, 






MODERN TRANSLATIONS 99 

Hooykas, Kosters, and Oort (1899-1901), which 
embodies many deviations from the received Hebrew 
text. The Variorum Bible, edited by Cheyne and 
Driver (1876 , third edition 1888), gives, under the 
text of the King James Version, improved renderings 
and readings. We are further indebted to these two 
scholars for fresh translations of parts of the Scrip 
tures which are distinguished by learning and ele 
gance of style. 

With the exodus of Jews from the east of Europe 
to the American continent, which began in 1881, and 

the gradual shifting of the Jewish 
The New J , . 

_ . ,. center to this hemisphere making 

Translation _ . 



r r _ ,. 

published by f r the largeSt a ^ re ^ ate of En S llsh - 

,. _ . , % speaking Jews in the world, the need 

the Jewish * J 

_,..,. of a new English version of the Bible 

Publication 

t f i r use m synagogue, home, and school 

was bound to make itself felt. Leeser s 
America. 

noble translation was there, but a work 

resting in the main upon the German efforts of the 
concluding decades of the eighteenth and the earlier 
period of the nineteenth century was clearly inade 
quate at the end of the century when noteworthy con 
tributions to biblical learning had been made by Jews 
and Christians. The project was conceived at the 
second biennial convention (1892) of the Jewish 
Publication Society of America (organized in 1888). 



ioo STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

The plan, as worked out by a sub-committee in 1893 
and adopted in 1894, called for a revision based on 
Leeser. By 1896 a Revision Committee consisting 
of a number of Jewish scholars in America and 
England, each member undertaking a separate book, 
was at work, and their labors were to be passed on 
by an Editorial Committee presided over by Dr. 
Marcus Jastrow, the learned author of a Dictionary 
of the Talmud, as Editor-in-chief. As the work pro 
gressed, it became evident that the undertaking was 
more in the nature of a fresh attempt at translation 
than of a mere revision of a previous effort ; accord 
ingly, the Book of Psalms, which had been allotted 
to a member of the Editorial Committee, Dr. K. 
Kohler, was issued from the press in advance of the 
whole Bible. The small volume, neatly printed in a 
handy form, appeared in 1903. Dr. Jastrow, who 
had seen it through the press, died two months before 
its publication. In 1905 the Editorial Board was 
reorganized under the presidency of Dr. S. Schechter, 
formerly of Cambridge, England, and then head of 
the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 
New York. It was found, however, that the method 
of carrying on the editing of the translations thus far 
submitted through consultation by correspondence 
was slow and ineffective. At length, in 1908, Dr. 
Cyrus Adler, representing the Jewish Publication 



MODERN TRANSLATIONS 101 

Society, and Dr. David Philipson, on behalf of the 
Central Conference of American Rabbis, which body 
had taken up a project of issuing the Revised Versipn 
of 1885 in a form suitable for the Synagogue, came to 
an agreement which provided for a new Editorial 
Board consisting of seven members, three to be 
chosen by the Conference and three by the Publica 
tion Society, while the seventh member who was to 
be agreeable to both bodies should be Editor-in-chief. 
The choice for the latter office fell upon the present 
writer, who, upon receiving his instructions from the 
Chairman of the Publication Committee of the Jewish 
Publication Society, gave his entire time to the work 
for a space of eleven months, from September i, 
1908, to August i, 1909, during which period he 
prepared a manuscript draft of the new version. In 
addition to manuscripts prepared by the former 
Revision Committee, some of which had been revised 
by the old Editorial Committee and were accompanied 
by learned annotations chiefly from the pen of the 
late Dr. Jastrow, he had before him the two Anglican 
versions of 1611 and 1885, Leeser s work of 1853, 
other translations in various European languages 
done by Jews, and while he naturally surrounded 
himself with an apparatus including the best efforts, 
old and new, of biblical scholars, rejecting no help 
from whatever source it came, he made it his busi- 



102 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

ness to consult at first hand the ancient versions 
and the chief Jewish commentators of medieval and 
modern times. When in December 1908 he met his 
colleagues on the Board (to which by appointment he 
acted as Secretary) consisting of Drs. S. Schechter, 
Cyrus Adler, and Joseph Jacobs, representing the 
Publication Society, and Drs. K. Kohler, David 
Philipson, and Samuel Schulman, representing the 
Conference of Rabbis, he set forth to them the prin 
ciples which had guided him in the preparation of the 
draft, a transcript of which containing the Penta 
teuch had been forwarded to all of them in advance. 
The principles were discussed and somewhat modi 
fied by the whole Board, the body electing Dr. Cyrus 
Adler as its Chairman. Through sixteen sessions, 
each lasting ten days or more, from 1908-15, the 
body of scholars worked in conference upon the draft 
submitted to them. The mode of procedure was as 
follows : the propositions embodied in the manu 
script draft, if unchallenged, were allowed to remain. 
When challenged, a new proposal was made and, if 
seconded, discussed. A vote was then taken, and if 
supported by majority, the proposal was entered. In 
the case of a tie, the Chairman had the casting vote. 
The first proofs of the manuscript thus amended were 
sent out to all the seven members of the Board. The 
result was a mass of annotations returned bv the 



MODERN TRANSLATIONS 103 

Editors, infelicities of expression and imperfections 
of style being removed and good renderings excised 
that they might make room for better, and so many 
of them as were supported by a majority or could be 
disposed of by a general rule of the Board were imme 
diately spread upon the proofs. There remained a 
small number, less than three hundred instances, 
which it was thought proper to reserve for discuss- 
sion in a final meeting, the seventeenth, which took 
place in the autumn of 1915. On this occasion like 
wise the vote of the majority prevailed, the Chair 
man again being given the casting vote in the case of 
a tie. Two members of the Board, Drs. Schechter 
and Jacobs, alas, died shortly after the final session. 
The task of seeing the work through the press fell to 
the surviving members, and no efforts were spared to 
guard against misprints and to insure typographical 
neatness. The cost of preparing the manuscript 
and of printing the first edition was borne by the 
Jewish Publication Society, which at an early stage 
had created a Bible Fund; the largest contribution 
amounting to $50,000 came from that noble patron 
of Jewish learning, Mr. Jacob H. Schiff. Not only 
was the gift ample to cover the expenses of the pres 
ent undertaking, but a balance was left for an enter 
prise which was the chief concern of the late Dr. 
Schechter who constantly urged it upon his col- 



104 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

leagues of the Publication Committee. It is the 
scheme of preparing a popular commentary on the 
Bible in the English language. The first-fruits of 
the Commentary plan, which naturally it will take a 
generation to carry to a finish, appeared in 1908 in 
the shape of a small volume containing the Book of 
Micah in English with an accompanying commentary. 

The present writer is too closely 
The Merits . , _ , 

j? XT- IT identified with the new Bible transla- 
of the New . . r 

tion, which leit the press in IQI7, to 
Translation. 

express an opinion on its merits. It 

will not escape the fate of the two Anglican versions, 
and it will be the subject of criticism. If it will sur 
vive, superseding perchance Leaser s single-handed 
effort, its place in the estimation of the competent 
judges in the world of scholarship and in the affection 
of the hearts of the Jewish people in all lands where 
the English tongue is spoken by them will be due to 
whatever scholarly accuracy, simplicity of diction, 
and closeness to Jewish sentiment it may possess. Its 
salient feature, as the reader will gather from the 
Preface, consists in the happy blending of the double 
heritage which is the Jew s in the vast domains of 
the English Empire and in these United States. No 
translation in the English tongue, however, can be 
anything but a revision, a revision of the English 
Bible of 1611, itself a revision. All attempts at 



MODERN TRANSLATIONS 105 

modernizing the Bible English must necessarily fail. 
Once and for all time the revisers of 1611 fixed the 
model for all future undertakings. Naturally the 
later revisions of the nineteenth century constituted 
a help which was gratefully made use of. In matters 
-,, , of interpretation there was great room 

nd th * r i m P rovement - The Jew, to whom 

the Scriptures were given, who treasured 
scriptures. 1 . . 

the sacred writings in the synagogues of 

the dispersion, in whose memory the meaning of the 
original largely, if not wholly, persisted, who, though 
at times he might be swerved into far-off fields of 
mental activity, was again and again recalled to the 
Book, may be trusted to have a truer and more ade 
quate knowledge of it. A wanderer through the 
nations, he has spoken many tongues ; for the unlet 
tered he provided translations ; but he never lost sight 
of the original, a minimum knowledge of which every 
Jew must possess, while the thorough interpretation 
was left to the care of the specialist. Whatever the 
progress of biblical learning has been, however thank 
fully the share of Christian workers in the vineyard 
of the Lord must be acknowledged, the verbal mean 
ing of the Scriptures and with that alone a transla 
tion is concerned stands pretty much where the 
Jewish grammarians and commentators of the Middle 
Ages left it. Surely a poet is the poet s best inter- 



106 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

preter, and a philosopher the philosopher s. In the 
same manner it requires a religious mind to under 
stand psalmist and prophet, and only he that is nur 
tured by Jewish thought, itself rooted in the Scrip 
tures, may hope to master the scriptural Word in its 
fullest and deepest import. Only a Jew can say on 
approaching Holy Writ : This is flesh of my flesh, 
and bone of my bones. He must possess himself, it 
is true, of the philological method and the completest 
apparatus ; but he alone can add thereto that which 
ensures fullest comprehension : the love for his own, 
for the thought that makes his innermost soul to 
throb, which still lives in him albeit faintly, so that his 
understanding of the Scriptures, mediated though it 
be by philological effort, becomes to a considerable 
extent indeed immediate, just as the language of the 
Scriptures is to him in a large measure a living 
tongue. 



CHAPTER VII 

AGENCIES FOR CIRCULATING THE BIBLE 

To make the Word of God understood by all those 
to whom the original was a sealed book was the aim 
of Bible translation. But all those efforts would have 
failed of their purpose had there not been pious souls 
who made it their business to render the work of 

, distribution possible, that those that 
The Work of , 

were not blessed with worldly goods 
Distribution. 

might with the smallest outlay procure 

a copy of the Scriptures. It is a duty incumbent upon 
every Jew to transcribe the Torah or to have someone 
else transcribe it for his use. The copies used in the 
synagogue were habitually the gift of wealthy and 
generous individuals. Before the age of printing 
only the wealthy could afford the cost of having Bible 
manuscripts copied or of securing older manuscripts 
by purchase. Such copies constituted the heirlooms 
of families ; and, as is the fate of all books, they fre 
quently changed owners. Wealth and riches are in 
his house ; and his merit endureth for ever this 
blessing the rabbis apply to him who causes copies of 
8 



108 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

the Scriptures to be made and then loans them to 
others. The Christian monasteries gave employment 
to their inmates through the multiplication of copies 
of the Scriptures ; the costlier ones with their illumi 
nations were works of art, and men, but particularly 
young women, who boasted of good penmanship, 
were much sought after. The emperor Constantine 
requested Eusebius, the bishop of Caesarea, to supply 
him with fifty copies of the Bible to be distributed 
among the principal churches of Constantinople. 
Don Samuel Gacon defrayed the expenses of the 
printing of the Faro Pentateuch (1487) ; the Ixar 
Pentateuch (1490) was made possible through the 
generosity of Solomon son of Maimon Salmati, 
and the Lisbon Pentateuch (1491) names a certain 
R. Eliezer as its noble Maecenas. The expense of 
issuing the revised French Geneva Bible (1588) was 
defrayed by certain wealthy men who sought no 
gain for themselves but only to serve God and His 
Church, and that of producing the first Bible printed 
in America (Cambridge, 1663) was borne by the 
Corporation for the Promoting and Propagating of 
the Gospel of Jesus Christ in New England founded 
in 1649. The Port Royal version of the Gospels in 
French was issued in 1667 in many forms and sizes, 
including very cheap editions for the poor; we are 
told that pious persons sent out from Paris a great 



AGENCIES FOR CIRCULATING THE BIBLE 109 

number of colporteurs to sell copies at cost price, or 
even less, and defrayed the expense by voluntary 
gifts. In modern times societies were formed for 
the express purpose of circulating the Scriptures. 

. , . - The earliest was the Cannstein Bible 
Societies for __ 

-. , ,. Institute at Halle, founded in 1710, 
Circulating 

, s . which passed at the founder s death 

to the care of the famous Orphanage, 
founded in the same city by Francke in 1698, and has 
issued some six million copies of the Scriptures. Far 
greater have been the achievements of the British 
... , and Foreign Bible Society, founded in 

and Foreign T 8o4> In the year of the tercentenai T 
Bible Society. f the King James Bible (1911) it 
could pride itself upon having spent 
nearly sixteen millions sterling and issued more than 
two hundred and twenty-nine million copies of the 
Church Scriptures complete or in parts. Versions had 
been published in some five hundred languages or dia- 
Am ric n * ects * n America ^ e earliest Bible Society 
... was founded at Philadelphia in 1808. The 

g . American Bible Society was organized in 

1816 in the city of New York, with Elias 
Boudinot as president. It has now a record of a cen 
tury of achievement. One hundred and fifteen mil 
lion Bibles have issued from its presses; its total 
budget for 1915-16 aggregates the sum of $652,300. 



i io STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

It has published translations in over a hundred 
languages. 

To these two Bible Societies we are indebted for 
the cheap editions of the Bible in Hebrew. The large 
edition of the masoretic text by the late C. D. Gins- 
burg is being issued at the expense of the British 

Bible Society. In England, an En- 
The languages Bibl / be had for the 

in which b . . , . . . 

price of tenpence and in this country 
the Scriptures * -/ 

for seventeen cents. Through the 
are read ,. r t 

medium of the many versions, natu 
rally for the most part based on the 
Anglican Church Bible, the Hebrew Scriptures, 
wholly or in part, have penetrated into the darkest 
nooks of the five continents, and have reached the 
farthest isles of the sea. In Europe, the Bible has 
been made accessible not only in the manifold dialects 
of the English language, but also in Irish, Manx, 
Gaelic Welsh, Cornish, Breton (Celtic) ; in Ice 
landic, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish (Scandina 
vian) ; next to (High) German also in Dutch and 
Flemish; in the descendants of the Latin, Italian, 
French, Spanish, Portuguese, Romansch (in the val 
leys of the Upper Inn and Upper Rhine), Rouma 
nian ; in Modern Greek and in Albanian ; next to the 
Church Slavonic, in Russian, Polish, Bohemian, Ser 
vian, Croatian, Slovak, Slovenian, Bulgarian ; in the 



AGENCIES FOR CIRCULATING THE BIBLE in 

Baltic languages, Lithuanian, Lettish, Wend; in 
Ossete (Central Caucasus). On both slopes of the 
Pyrenees the Scriptures are read in Basque ; transla 
tions have been made into Finn, Esth, Lapp, Ziryen 
(government of Vologda, N. E. Russia), Hungarian 
(Finno-Ugrian stock) ; into Georgian (Caucasus) ; 
into Turkish. As we cross into Asia, we find the 
natives provided with the Scriptures in Armenian; 
in modern Persian, Balochi (in Baluchistan), Pashto 
(in Afghanistan) ; in Sanskrit, still the language of 
the learned all over India, and in the multitudinous 
dialects known as Indo-Aryan (Asami, Bengali, 
Gujarati, Hindi, Kashmiri, Marathi, Oriya, Pahari, 
Panjabi, Rajasthani, Sindhi, and on the island of 
Ceylon, Sinhalese) ; in the Munda dialects (Mundari, 
Santali) spoken in N. E. India; in the various 
Dravidian tongues (Kanarese, Khond, Malayalam, 
Mai to, Tamil, Telugu, Toda, Tulu) in the provinces 
of India; in the Indo-Chinese languages (Burmese, 
Garo, Kachin, Karen, Khasi, Lepcha, Siamese, Shan, 
Talaing, Tibetan) ; in Chinese, Japanese (the Ainus 
in the northernmost islands of Japan, who speak a 
distinct language, read the Bible in their own ver 
nacular), Korean, Mongolian; in the Malay dialects 
spoken in the Malay peninsula (Malay) and the adja 
cent islands, Sumatra (Batta, Nias), Java (Javanese, 
Sunda), Borneo (Dyak, Sihong), Celebes (Bugis, 



ii2 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

Macassar). On the Australian continent and the 
islands of the Pacific Ocean the Scriptures are read 
in Ilocano and Tagalog (Philippine Islands), in San- 
gir (Sangir), in Mafur, Motu, Mukawa, Toaripi, 
Ubir, Wedau (New Guinea), in Mabuiag (around 
the Torres Straits), in Narrinyeri (South Australia), 
in Kusaie, Ponape, Ruk (Caroline Islands), in New 
Britain (Bismarck Archipelago), in Ebon (Marshall 
Islands), in Mota (Banks Islands), in Bugotu, 
Mwala, Ulawa, Vaturanga (Solomon Islands), in 
Aneityum, Aniwa, Eromanga, Fate, Futuna, Maewo, 
Malekula, Nguna, Opa, Raga, Santo, Tame (New 
Hebrides), in Lifu, Mare, Uvea (Loyalty Islands), 
in Maori (New Zealand), in Gilbert Islands, in 
Rotuma, in Fiji, in Samoa, in Tonga, in Tahiti 
(Society Islands). Coming back to Western Asia, 
we meet with Bible readers in Modern Syriac, Arabic, 
Mehri, Sokotri (Semitic); and as we cross to the 
continent of Africa, the Bible is read in another 
Semitic dialect, Amharic, in Abyssinia; in the 
Hamitic Galla in the same country; in the Berber 
Kabyli, in Northern Africa; then in a multitude of 
negroid and negro tongues: Swahili (on the eastern 
coast from Somaliland to Mozambique), Giryama, 
Gogo, Kamba, Shambala, Taveta (British and Ger 
man E. Africa), Ganda, Nyoro (Uganda), Chewa, 
Tonga, Yao (on the shores of Lake Nyasa), Nyanja, 



AGENCIES FOR CIRCULATING THE BIBLE 113 

Thonga, Tonga (Portuguese E. Africa), Ndau, 
Shona (Rhodesia), Chuana, Pedi, Sheetswa, Suto, 
Xosa, Zulu (.S. Africa), Nama, Herero, Ndonga 
(German W. Africa), Mbundu (Portuguese W. 
Africa), Benga, Bolengi, Fang, Fioti, Galwa, Kele, 
Kongo, Luba, Mongo, Mpongwe, Ngombe, Poto (in 
the Kongo states), Dualla, Isubu, Efik (Kamerun), 
Yoruba, Ibo, Nupe (Niger Territories), Ewe (Togo- 
land in Dahomey), Hausa (Sudan), Accra, Ashanti 
(Gold Coast), Grebo (off Cape Palmas), Temne 
(Sierra Leone) ; on the island of Madagascar the 
Scriptures are read in Malagasy. For the benefit 
of the aboriginal tribes of the American continent 
there exist Bible translations in Acawoio, Arawak, 
Cherokee, Chippewa, Choctaw, Cree, Dakota, Es 
kimo, Lengua, Mapuche, Massachusetts, Micmac, 
Mohawk, Moskito, Muskoki, Nishga, Osage, 
Tukudh, Winnebago. 

It is well to remember that a great many of these 

languages have become known only through Bible 

translations, the preparation of which 

required an infinite patience born of the 
of the A 

_ zeal of the missionary. Among the men 

Translators. , . 1 J . , , *? . . 

(and women) who considered it as their 

blessed work to bring the Word of God within the 
reach of far-off tribes by means of translations in 
their native idioms we may single out William Carey, 



ii 4 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

the Wycliffe of the East/ Joshua Marshman, Robert 
Morrison, Karl Friedrich August Gutzlaff, Henry 
Nott, John Williams, John Gibson Paton, Robert 
Moffat, George Leonard Pilkington, Canon Robin 
son, and Bishop Shereshewski, the l Christian Jew/ 
Several other Christian Jews, like Chwolson and 
Levinsohn in Russia, brought their ample learning 
to bear upon the delicate task of perfecting the trans 
lations which the Bible Societies undertook to circu 
late. The trials of a Bible Society agent have been 
described by George Henry Borrow (1803-1881) in 

a book glowing with freshness, pictur- 
The Power 5 . , ? . 

esqueness and vivacity, The Bible in 

Spain (1843). But the labors of trans 
lators, agents, and colporteurs were 
amply repaid by witnessing the effect which the Bible 
Word brought about everywhere. A notable in 
stance may be cited. A Malagasy woman, Rafara- 
vavy, went to purchase an idol. The maker had none 
ready, and asked her to wait while he made one. He 
thereupon went out into the forest, and cut down a 
small tree. Of the trunk he fashioned the idol, and 
kept the branches for fuel. When preparing the 
evening meal, he used some of these to boil his rice. 
The woman saw all that happened, and went home 
carrying her purchase. A day or two later a mis 
sionary read in her house some passages of the Scrip- 



AGENCIES FOR CIRCULATING THE BIBLE 115 

tures, including the forty-fourth chapter of Isaiah. 
* He heweth him down cedars, and taketh the ilex 
and the oak . . . Then a man useth it for fuel ; and 
he taketh thereof, and warmeth himself; yea, he 
kindleth it, and baketh bread ... He burneth the 
half thereof in the fire ; with the half thereof he eateth 
flesh; he roasteth roast, and is satisfied; yea, he 
warmeth himself, and saith : " Aha, I am warm, I 
have seen the fire " ; and the residue thereof he 
maketh a god, even his graven image ; he falleth down 
unto it and worshipped!, and prayeth unto it, and 
saith: "Deliver me, for thou art my god." The 
woman immediately forswore idolatry, and became a 
devoted Christian. The words of the prophet in the 
Hebrew Scriptures uttered thousands of years ago 
approved themselves as potent to convert a far-off 
African heathen. 

The Jewish Publication Society of America has 
for a quarter of a century assiduously and success- 
fully labored in the field of encouraging 
and propagating Jewish literature in the 
English tongue. Its crowning achieve 
ment is undoubtedly the new English 
Publication TT J . 

. version of the Hebrew Scriptures and 

the projected Bible commentary in En 
glish. The initial steps in both undertakings have 
been made possible chiefly by the generosity of the 



ii6 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

noble American Jew who embodies the best traditions 
of his race, and whose name will be linked to all those 
pious men of the past who made the multiplication 
of Bible copies and prints possible. The Society will 
truly have completed its task only when it shall be 
placed in a position to print and distribute the copies 
of its version at a low cost, to the end that the poorest 
among us may have access, in the tongue which he 
and his children speak and love, to the Word of God 
which is the heritage of the congregation of Israel. 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE DIFFICULTIES INHERENT IN ALL BIBLE 
TRANSLATIONS 

A frequent query must now be answered. l Is not 
the Word of God one and the same ? why then should 
Bible translations differ ? The common assumption 
is that with a working knowledge of the language of 
the original and a dictionary at hand the translation is 
easy. Yet translators habitually make apologies for 

their shortcomings and point out the 
The Difficulties ,. rr .. . , * . . 

difficulties with which they are con 
fronted. The translator s preface 
the Translator. r _ 

has a stereotyped content. Every 
where we meet with the same diffidence and antici 
pation of unfavorable criticism. The prototype of all 
prefaces to Bible translations, the Prologue to the 
Greek Sirach (chapter II), tersely expresses the diffi 
culty when it observes that things originally uttered 
in Hebrew have not the same force in them, when 
they are translated into another tongue/ and the 
translator is quite certain that the same fault attaches 
to the Greek version of the law, and the prophets, 



ii8 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

and the rest of the books, which preceded and guided 
his own effort. Likewise the rabbis in Palestine were 
very much troubled about the difficulty of adequately 
rendering the Torah into any language, though at 
times they conceded that it might be done into 
Greek. The peculiar delicacy of the translator s task 
is emphasized by the greatest masters of style, and 
interesting is the consensus of opinion that prose is 
more difficult to translate than poetry. 

The dictionary meaning is far from exhausting 
the real meaning of a word. It is one thing to under- 

TT A i A LI stand a foreign text and quite another 

Untranslatable 

._ , to translate it into the pure and idio- 

Words. 

matic speech of free composition. At 

every turn we feel the cramping influence of foreign 
modes of expression, when pen and tongue are 
attracted by the language of the original. Moreover, 
it is altogether an erroneous notion that words of 
one tongue are immediately convertible into words 
of another. We speak of coining words, but words 
are not coins of current value, that is, of uniform 
sense. The dictionary furnishes the general mean 
ing; when we come to apply it to a specific instance 
we are thrown upon our own resources. Puns and 
plays on words can rarely be imitated, though the 
attempt was made in the Greek version (Judges 10. 
4) . Proper names are of course untranslatable. Cer- 



DIFFICULTIES IN BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 119 

tain familiar names in the Bible have passed into 
English in the form given them by the earliest Greek 
translators. We say Moses and not Mosheh ; on the 
other hand we call his successor Joshua, though in 
Greek he became Jesus. The Greek translation of 
Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah known as I Esdras de 
lights in tacking on Greek endings to Semitic names, 
and the historian Josephus goes farthest in this direc 
tion. On the other hand the literalist Aquila repro 
duces the proper names in their Hebrew form : Mose, 
Josua, Josiahu, &c. Two opposite tendencies were 
clearly operative in the dispersion and in Palestine. 
Weights, measures, and coins are 
as a rule taken over in their foreign 

nomenclature. Thus the English 
of Strangeness . , 

reader may for a moment be startled 

O"yf\")np/j 

to learn that Solomon s molten sea 
contained two thousand baths (I Kings 7. 26). Yet 
at times the Authorized Version uses the general 
word measure for the particular Hebrew measure 
in question (see for an example II Kings 7. i). The 
Jewish Publication Society Version did the same in 
Zechariah 5. 5 ff. Pound, in I Kings i. 17, and 
elsewhere, sounds rather strange in Palestine, but not 
more so than the anachronistic diaphanous garments 
of Lacedaemonian make in the Septuagint of 
Isaiah (3. 22). Where exactness is not requisite, 



120 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

translators seek to avoid the appearance of strange 
ness. The Scriptures, Oriental, Palestinian, Jewish 
in origin, have by the very agency of translation 
become a book for all peoples and places and times. 
In the vernacular the Bible must be adapted for men 
who are not concerned with the things that interest 
the student of antiquity. 

It frequently happens that the translator, vainly 
seeking an equivalent for a Hebrew word or phrase, 

~, , , realizes that translation deals not so 
Words and 

Conceptions muc ^ wlt " wor( ^s as with civilizations. 
Peculiar Words are but sounds and symbols of 

to certain thin g s > and thes e things pass away with 
Civilizations ^ e c ^ v ^^ zat i n tnat produced them. 
To transplant a definite civilization 
bounded by time, place, and race must needs mean a 
shifting and displacement and weakening of the 
original. Where the original speaks of hallowing a 
city to God, we say that it was destroyed ; where the 
sacred writers refer to war as sanctified, we call it 
declared or prepared. Even contemporary cultures 
vary, and there is give and take in the business of 
word-making. The name travels with the thing, as 
for instance kindergarten; somehow we cannot trans 
late esprit or Weltanschauung; and French and Ger 
man writers retain untranslated English terms like 
sport and gentleman, distinct products of the British 



DIFFICULTIES IN BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 121 

civilization. Every Jew knows what is meant by 
eshet hail; a pure and pious and kind and charitable 
woman indeed, but also one that possesses power and 
ability, faithfully attending to her household duties, 
rising early and toiling all day long that her husband 
and children may have their comforts. But when 
in Proverbs 31. 10 the King James Bible denomi 
nates her a virtuous woman, the adjective is certainly 
too narrow in the modern sense of the word. 

Translations have been likened to 
Due Regard to . 

... . the reverse-side of Dutch tapestries : 
the Genius of 

,, T the threads are the same, but so 

the Language 

. . . , , twisted as to produce almost a can- 
mto which the 

_ . ,. cature. The translator finds himself 

Translation 

, face to face with the dilemma, how to 

is made. , . _ . .. 

combine fidelity to the original with 

due regard for the genius of his own language. Some 
languages, like the German, are pliable. French and 
English, on the other hand, are more rigid. Trans 
lation, according to Maimonides, is a species of 
original composition, and the translator a companion 
to the author. Bible translations of ancient and 
modern times run the whole gamut from the inter 
linear, which translates not words, but syllables, to 
the free reproductions, which read more like com 
mentaries than translations. Among the ancients, 
Theodotion, and in modern times the Anglican Ver- 



122 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

sion of 1611, may be singled out as avoiding the 
two extremes. The diction of the original is pre 
served; in every line the peculiar scriptural style 
reveals itself in all the simplicity of Hebrew prose, in 
all the grandeur of sacred poetry ; not a word seems 
to be lost; yet frequently the Hebrew expression is 
recast, where a crude literalness would fail to pro 
duce on the English ear the effect of the original. 
The right kind of a translation must not turn itself 
into a diffuse commentary, but an abbreviated com 
mentary every translation must necessarily become. 

Where the original admits of more 
Tlip 

than one interpretation, the translator 
Uncertainty ^, , . f 

must choose one to the exclusion of 
of the Sense. T . . . . 

the others. It is for this very reason 

that the rabbis frown upon all translations. With 
them the multiple sense of the scriptural word is an 
accepted fact. There is not a verse, they maintain, 
which may not be understood in two or three differ 
ent manners, and the children in king David s time 
knew how to interpret the Torah according to forty- 
nine faces. The rabbinical varieties probably refer 
to the legal deductions or moral lessons ; nevertheless 
it could not have escaped them that the simple sense 
itself was a matter on which experts were divided. 
Any reader of the Bible in Hebrew, so wrote Dr. 
Schechter, knows only too well how many passages 



DIFFICULTIES IN BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 123 

there are that have been from time immemorial the 
despair of the commentators and have defied all their 
attempts at elucidation, and yet read smoothly enough 
in our versions. Take, for instance, the " Song of 
Deborah," or the sixty-eighth psalm, or innumerable 
passages in Job which are still the subject of contro 
versy by scholars but which do not rouse the slightest 
suspicion in the man who relies upon his English 
Bible. The poet Immanuel of Rome (about 1300) 
makes king David in heaven summon all the com 
mentators of the Psalter, headed by David Kimhi, 
and their worth is to be tested by the staggering task 
of expounding the eighth and sixtieth psalm. Of 
the two concluding verses of the thirty-sixth chap 
ter of Job commentators enumerate some thirty dif 
ferent explications. But the simplest passages in any 
book of the Bible are often a source of perplexity to 
the commentator and translator. The fourth verse 
of the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy, which under 
the name of the Shema is repeated by every devout 
Jew twice daily and has been on the lips of dying 
Jews for centuries, has been rendered in half a dozen 
different ways. There are examples in the Bible 
where a deeper, more spiritual, or more widely appli 
cable (universalistic) meaning has superseded the 
original sense in the consciousness of the Jewish 
people. The Bible is and was at all times a Word 
9 



124 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

full of fresh life, not a dead book belonging- to a par 
ticular age and dependent for its meaning on the time 
when it was written, but replete with new truths and 
keeping pace with the national spirit as it impressed 
its own stamp upon the sacred text (Geiger). 

It is unavoidable, of course, that the 
Points 

, . , Scriptures which are held in veneration by 

on "\X7rnPri 

Jews and Christians should occasionallv 
Christians ; 

. _ become the battle-ground of the two rehg- 
and Jews 

_. ions. Fortunately with the greater num- 

Disagree. 

ber of instances the translator is not con 
cerned at all, the Christian application to the life 
and death of Jesus being a matter of interpretation 
solely, while the wording is and remains neutral. 
Such in particular is the case with the Servant s Tri 
umph through Martyrdom in Isaiah 52. 13-53. I2 - 
But a few passages there are on which the versions 
of the Church and the translations of the Synagogue 
must differ, and modern Christian commentators are 
forced to acknowledge that the Jews are right. The 
three most notable examples are found in Isaiah 7. 
14; 9. 5; and Zechariah 12. 10. A further instance 
might be afforded by Psalm 22. 1 6 (17), but there the 
question turns about a disputed reading of the origi 
nal. Jewish scholars of the type of Heidenheim are 
free to confess that the uncertainty is of ancient 
times antedating the schism which led to the rise of 



DIFFICULTIES IN BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 125 

Christianity ; of a deliberate alteration from an anti- 
Christian motive there is not the least trace what 
soever. 

A Christian scholar, recently pleading for a new 
edition of the received Hebrew text of the Scriptures, 
expressed his conviction that its makers did the very 
best they could with the material at their disposal. 
Th T t f ^ e fi xm " f tne text coincided with 

,. ~ . the admission of a writing into the 

the Original. 

_ , ,. collection consigned to the keeping of 

Emendations. 

the synagogue as Holy Writ. In the 

case of the Torah we have it on the authority of the 
rabbis that a model copy kept in the Temple court 
was the standard after which new transcripts were 
corrected and that there existed a guild of correctors 
in the pay of the Temple treasury. Other books, in 
particular those belonging to the third division (the 
Ketubim, or Writings), must have circulated pri 
vately, uncared for by the watchful official eye, and 
when they were transferred to the synagogue their 
text had suffered under the hands of careless coypists. 
When it is remembered how, for example, in the 
persecution under Antiochus Epiphaness the- sacred 
scrolls were ruthlessly destroyed, the marvel is that 
the condition of the text is not much worse than it is. 
That the received text is in need of correction, or, 
as the technical term goes, emendation, is recognized 



126 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

by the medieval Jewish students of the Bible. None 
perhaps went so far as Ibn Janah and his admiring 
follower Tanhum of Jerusalem, who have frequently 
anticipated the suggestions now going by the name 
of modern emendations. In the nineteenth century, 
Krochmal and Luzzatto fearlessly emended the re 
ceived text. The tendency among modern scholars, 
Jews and Christians, lightly to distrust the text of 
the Synagogue is discountenanced by more serious 
students. A judicious handling of the ancient ver 
sions often brings to light superior readings. But 
whether by the aid of the versions or by mere con 
jecture, the business of textual emendation requires 
a sure tact which few possess. 

The translator is not called upon to re-write the 
original. A translation destined for the people can 
only follow the traditional text. Never 
theless a translator is not a transcriber. 
Translators TT , TT , 

. . He must endeavor to make the Hebrew 

intelligible. He is therefore frequently 
forced to use circumlocution, to add a word or two, to 
alter the sequence of words, and so on. When he 
is confronted with a textual difficulty of the lighter 
order, he will, if he can, avoid the obscurity by deft 
manipulation and sometimes by the addition of a 
few words. Such are the translator s exigencies 
which have been faced by the ancient and modern 
versions frequently in the same manner. Where a 



DIFFICULTIES IN BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 127 

divergence occurs in the traditional text itself, as 
between the reading in the body of the text (ketib) 
and the alternate reading or correction on the margin 
(kere), a Jewish translator must necessarily follow 
the latter which has become authoritative in the Syna 
gogue. There are cases in which the marginal read 
ing is clearly the inferior, and sometimes both are 
unacceptable. The traditional accents, marking stops 
according to sense, are naturally a great help. Ibn 
Ezra laid down the principle that no interpretation 
running counter to the accents should be followed. 
Yet he frequently enough sinned against them. Here 
the translator, if he chooses to be a sinner, will find 
himself in good company. 

The margin in the King James Bible, retained with 
modifications in the Revised Version, is really a rem- 
The Margin nant ^ ^ e annotate d editions. It serves 
in the a fourfold purpose. It gives the literal 

Anglican meani ng of the Hebrew where in the 
Versions. text in obedience to the genius of the 
English language, a freer rendering 
has been adopted; alternate renderings implying a 
different interpretation (sometimes the information 
is added that the meaning of the Hebrew word or 
phrase is obscure or unknown) ; references to diver 
gent readings from Hebrew manuscripts or ancient 
authorities ; and lastly, explanations without which 
the purport immediately intelligible in Hebrew would 



128 STORY OF BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 

be lost in translation. The wise words on the sub 
ject found in the preface to the King James Bible 
have been quoted above (chapter V). A modern 
scholar maintains that there are four hundred words 
in the Hebrew Scriptures the meaning of which 
cannot be ascertained. Yet in none of the four 
aspects is the margin of the two Anglican versions 
exhaustive. Such matters must be left to the com 
mentary; in a translation which has respect to the 
needs of the people they are bewildering. After all, 
to quote again from the preface to the Authorized 
Version, we must not weary the unlearned, who 
need not know so much ; and trouble the learned, who 
know it already. 

It will have become clear to the reader by this time 
why it is that Bible translations do and must differ. 

The modern man will not find solace 
The Differences ;n ^ rabbinica , doctrine o{ the 

of Translations fe ^^ Thefe can bg ^ 

do not touch . , , f * 

one meaning to the word of law- 

" giver, prophet, historian, psalmist, 
or teacher of wisdom; unless it be that here and 
there, of a set purpose, the sacred writer plays, as 
in riddle and parable, with the double meaning. But 
even there the business of the translator is to express 
the surface meaning, the proximate sense. The Bible, 
of course, is literature, and literature of a high order, 



DIFFICULTIES IN BIBLE TRANSLATIONS 129 

which to be enjoyed requires utmost clarity in the 
most trifling particulars. But the Bible is first and 
foremost a religious book; it is read by the devout 
that they may be confirmed in their faith, and for 
that faith the Word of God as contained in the 
Scriptures, dealing as it does with the eternal verities 
of God and Providence and the destinies of His elect 
people in this its larger meaning the Word of God 
is one and the same. According to the Jewish 
mystics, the heavenly Torah was written in black 
fire upon white fire ; the Torah which was committed 
to the care of mortals must needs have been written 
in ink upon skins or parchment. The ink may have 
faded, and the parchment may have become brittle, 
but withal the fiery Word still speaks to us through 
letters and dots, and with unimpaired force the faith 
that was implanted in the heart of the Jew is trans 
lated to untold millions in the diverse tongues of 
humankind. 



INDEX 



Abu Said, 63 

Achaemenian inscriptions, 81 

Adam, Michael, 63 

Adler, Cyrus, 100, 102 

Akiba, Rabbi, 17 

Aldine edition of the Septuagint, 66 

Alexander the Great, 27 

Alexandrian version, 84, 89; see 

also Septuagint 
Alting, 80, 85 

American Bible Society, 109 
American Revised Version, 97 
Anglican versions; see Authorized 

Version; Revised Version 
Antiochus Epiphanes, 125 
Aquila, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 119 
Arabic versions, 48, 53, 54, 55, 63 
Aramaic version; see Targum 
Aristeas, Epistle of, 29, 84 
Armenian version, 48 
Arnheim, 88 

Arragel, Rabbi Moses, 62 
Assemani, 79 
Astruc, Jean, 82 
Atias, Yom Tob, 62 
Augustine, 45 
Authorized Version, 48, 68, 77, 93, 

96, 104, 105, 109, 110, 119, 

121, 127, 128; see also King 

James Version 

Bacher, 89, 93 
Baer, S., 95 
Banoczi, Jozsef, 93 
Barannina, 41 
Harrington, Shute, 93 



Ben Asher, 51 

Benisch, 93 

Benjoin, 94 

Ben Naphtali, 51 

Benseeb, Judah Loeb, 87 

Beza, 72 

Bible Societies, 109, no, 114 

Bible translations in various lan 
guages and dialects, 110-113 

Bishops Bible, 73 

Biurists, 87, 94 

Blayney, 94 

Blitz, Jekuthiel, 63 

Borrow, George Henry, 114 

Boudinot, Elias, 109 

Breeches Bible; see Geneva Bible 

British and Foreign Bible Society, 
109 

Broughton, Hugh, 77 

Burgon, Dean, 97 

Buxtorf, 80 

Cahen, S., 92 

Cahen s Bible, 92 

Calvin, 72 

Cambyses, 12, 29 

Cannstein Bible Institute, 109 

Capellus, 80 

Carey, William, 113 

Castle, Edmund, 80 

Chateillon, 67 

Cheyne, 95, 99 

Chwolson, 114 

Complutensian, 66 

Constantine, 108 

Coptic version, 27, 48, 49 



132 



INDEX 



Council of Trent, 47 
Coverdale, Miles, 70, 71 
Cranmer, 72 
Cromwell, 84 
Cromwell, Thomas, 70 
Cyrillus, 64 

Damascus, Roman bishop, 46 

Danz, 80 

Davidson, 95 

dei Rossi, Azariah, 84 

Delgado, Isaac, 93 

Delitzsch, Franz, 82, gi 

de Lyra, Nicholas, 56; see also 

Lyranus 

Demetrius of Phalerum, 30 
de Rossi, 81 

de Vargas, Jeronimo, 62 
Dillmann, 82 
Dieu, 80 
Douai Bible, 48 
Driver, 95, 99 
Dubno, Solomon, 86 
du Jon, 68 
Dukes, Leopold, 92 
Dunash, 55, 60 
Dutch version, 98 

Ehrlich, Arnold B., 91 

Eichhorn, 81 

Eliezer, Rabbi, 17, 39 

Erasmus, 70 

Ethiopic version, 48, 49 

Eusebius, 108 

Ewald, 82 

Ezra, ii, 12, 24 

Fagius, Paul, 61 
Faro Pentateuch, 108 
Ferrara Bible, 62 
Field, 95 

Fischer, Gyula, 93 
Francke, 109 
Frankel, Zechariah, 89 



French version, 56, 65; see also 

Cahen s Bible 
Frensdorff, 95 
Friedlander, David, 87 
Friedlander, Michael, 93 
Fiirst, 88, 92 

Gacon, Samuel, 108 

Gallican Psalter, 46 

Gamaliel the Elder, 16 

Geiger, Abraham, 88, 90, 124 

Gemara, 16 

Geneva Bible, 72, 73, 75, 77, J0 8 

Genizah, 42 

Georgian version, 48 

German Bible, 66 

German revision, 98 

Gershom, Rabbenu, 55 

Gesenius, 58, 82 

Ginsburg, Christian David, 95, no 

Gothic version, 48, 49 

Graetz, Heinrich, 89 

Great Bible, 71, 72 

Greek translation, 10, 49, 61, 117, 

118, 119; see also Septuagint 
Gutzlaff, Karl Friedrich August, 

114 

Hai Gaon, 58 

Hanau, Solomon, 85 

Hasdai Ibn Shaprut, 55 

Hayyuj, Judah, 57 

Heidenheim, Wolf, 87, 88, 124 

Herder, 81 

Herxheimer, 92 

Hexapla, 42, 46 

Hillel, 20 

Hillel, Rabbi, 41 

Hirsch, Samson Raphael, 91 

Hoffmann, D., 91 

Hooykas, 99 

Hopkins, 94 

Hungarian translation, 92 

Huss, John, 66 



INDEX 



133 



Ibn Adonijah, Jacob son of Haim, 

67 
Ibn Ezra, Abraham, 58, 59, 60, 90, 

127 

Ibn Gabirol, 58 - 
Ibn Janah, Jonah, 57, 58, 126 
Immanuel of Rome, 123 
Isaac, son of Saul, 57 
Italian version, 65 
Ixar Pentateuch, 108 

Jacob, son of Isaac of Janow, 63 

Jacob, son of Meir; see Tain 

Jacobs, Joseph, 102, 103 

Jastrow, Marcus, 100 

Jeitteles, Ignaz, 87 

Jerome, 14, 41, 4 2 , 46, 47, 4^, 49, 

56, 61, 64, 76 

Jesus son of Sirach; see Sirach 
Jewish Publication Society of Am 
erica, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 
115, 1 1 6, 119; see also New 
Translation 

Jewish-Spanish version, 62 

Jonathan son of Uziel, 20 

Joseph, Rab, 18, 20 

Josephus, 119 

Joshua, Rabbi, 17, 39 

Juda, Leo, 67, 71 

Judah II, Rabbi, the Patriarch 41 

Judah ha-Levi, 58 

Judas Maccabeus, 38 

Judeo-German version, 63 

Juliana, 42 

Justinian, 40 

Kahn, Zadok, 92 

Kalir, 52 

Kalisch, 93 

Karaite versions, 63 

Kautzsch, Emil, 98 

Kennicott, 81 

Kimhi, David, 60, 61, 62, 123 

Kimhi, Joseph, 60 

Kimhi, Moses, 60 



King James Version, 31, 68, 72, 
73, 78, 79, 93, 94, 95, 99, 101, 
127, 128; see also Authorized 
Version 

Knox, John, 72 

Kohler, K., 100, 102 

Koran, 52 

Kosters, 99 

Krochmal, 126 

Kuenen, 98 

Lagarde, 61 

Lagi; see Ptolemy 

Latin Version, 44, 45, 47, 48, 56 

Leeser, Isaac, 94, 99, io, IOI IO 4 

Leo X, Pope, 67 

Lessing, 86 

Levinsohn, 114 

Levita, Elias, 61, 63 

Levita, Isaac, 85 

Lisbon Pentateuch, 108 

Loans, Jacob Jehiel, 61 

Lonzano, Menahem, 84 

Low, Immanuel, 93 

Lowth, 8 1, 94 

Luther, 56, 64, 66, 68, 69, 70, 75, 

79, 82, 98 
Luzzatto, Samuel David, 89, 90, 9 1 , 

92, 126 
Lyranus, Nicholas, 69; see also 

de Lyra 

Maimonides, 10, 21, 90, 93, 121 
Malbim, Meir Leibush, 91 
Manasseh ben Israel, 84 
Mandelstamm, L. I., 92 
Marlowe, 78 
Marshman, Joshua, 114 
Masorah, 51, 54, 67, 84, 87 
Masoretes, 54 
Matthew s Bible, 71 
Menahem ben Saruk, 55, 56, 60 
Mendelssohn, Moses, 86, 87 
Mendelssohn s translation, 32 
Methodius, 64 



134 



INDEX 



Michaelis, 80 

Midrash, 50 

Mishnah, 14, 16, 50, 53 

Moffat, Robert, 114 

Mohammed, wives of, 19 

Molech worship, 14 

Morinus, 80 

Morrison, Robert, 114 

Mulder, S. I., 92 

Munk, Solomon, 92 

Mtinster, Sebastian, 61, 67, 68, 71 

Nehemiah, 12 

Neo-Greek version, 62 

Newcome, 94 

Newman, Selig, 93 

New Translation, 99, 104, 115, 116, 
119; see also Jewish Publica 
tion Society of America 

Niebuhr, Carsten, 80 

Noldeke, 82, 90 

Norzi, Solomon Jedidiah, 85 

Nott, Henry, 114 

Old-Bulgarian version, 64 
Onderwijser, 92 
Onkelos, 16, 17, 18, 90 
Oort, 99 
Origen, 41, 42, 46 

Pagninus, Sanctes, 67 
Pappenheim, Solomon, 87 
Parker, Archbishop, 73 
Paton, John Gibson, 114 
Perkins, 44 

Persian version, 48, 6r 
Peshitta, 45, 49 
Philadelphus; see Ptolemy 
Philippson, 92 

Philipson, David, 94, 101, 102 
Pilkington, George Leonard, 114 
Pinel, Duarte, 62 
Pococke, Edward, 79 
Polyglot, 61, 79; see also Walton 
Port Royal version of the Gospels, 
108 



Pratensis, Felix, 67 
Psammetich II, 29 
Pseudo-Jonathan, 19 
Ptolemy, 29, 32, 35 

Rabbinic Bible, 66 

Rafaravavy, a Malagasy woman, 

114 

Rapoport, Solomon Judah, 87 
Rashi, 55, 56, 59, 60, 62, 69 
Reggio, Isaac Samuel, 89 
Reuchlin, 61 
Reuss, Edward, 98 
Revised Version, 94, 97, 101, 104, 

127, 128 

Robinson, Canon, 114 
Rogers, 72 
Rosenmiiller, 82 
Russian translation, 92 

Saadya Gaon, 53, 54, 55, 58, 59, 

63 

Sachs, 88 
Salmati, Solomon, sen of Maimon, 

108 

Samaritan Targum, 20 
Samuel, son of Meir, 56 
Sayce, 95 
Schechter, Solomon, 42, 100, 102, 

103, 122 

Schiff, Jacob H., 103 
Schulman, Samuel, 102 
Schultens, Albert, 80 
Septuagint, 26-38, 41, 45, 76; see 

also Greek translation 
Sforno, Obadiah, 61 
Shakespeare, 78 
Shereshewski, Bishop, 114 
Sidney, 78 
Sirach, 35, 37, 117 
Siracid, 37 
Smith, Payne, 95 
Smith, W. Robertson, 58, 95 
Sofer, Moses, 86 

Solomon son of Isaac; see Rashi 
Spenser, 78 



INDEX 



135 



Spinoza, 59 

Symmachus, 40, 41, 42 
Syriac Version, 44 

Talmud, 13, 16, 17, 18, 19. 33, So, 
5i, 52, S3, 85 

Tarn, 60 

Tanhum of Jerusalem, 126 

Targeman, 13 

Targum, 9-25, 26, 35, 45, 52, 54, 
62 

Targum of Jerusalem, 19 

Targum Jonathan; see Pseudo- 
Jonathan 

Tartaric version, 63 

Tawos, Rabbi Jacob, 61 

Teutsch-Homesh, 63 

Theodotion, 40, 41, 42, 121 

Tremellius, Immanuel, 68 

Tyndale, William, 70, 71 



Usque, Abraham, 62 

Vulgate, 46, 47, 48, 67, 68 
Variorum Bible, 99 

Waldus, Peter, 65 
Walton, Brian, 61, 79 
Wellhausen, 82, 91 
Wessely, Hartwig, 86 
Williams, John, 114 
Wintle, 94 

Witzenhausen, Joseph, 63 
Wogue, Lazare, 92 
Wycliffe, 65, 72 

Zeenah u-reenah; see Teutsch- 
Homesh 

Zunz, Leopold, 87, 88, 94 
Zunz Bible, 88 
Zwingli, 67, 70