Languages Of The Deuterocanonical Books
The deuterocanonical books have a different status according to various Jewish and Christian denominations, with some considering them canonical, others apocryphal. These books, mostly written between 300 BCE and 300 CE, were written in various times, places, contexts and languages by various authors for various reasons. Scholars continue to debate as to which languages each of the deuterocanonicals was originally written. Many of the oldest surviving texts are in Koine Greek, but show features of Semitic languages usually Semitisms such as Hebrew, Aramaic or Syriac, leading some scholars to argue that the original text, even though now lost, may have been written in a Semitic language rather than Greek. In other cases, the Greek seems more fluent and may be considered original. One of the youngest of these books, 2 Esdras, has a complex composition history with a probable mix of Hebrew, Latin and Greek origins.
|c. AD 400440||Codex Alexandrinus is the oldest version. Medieval Greek, prior history unknown|
The Language Of The Old Testament
Professor of Ancient ScriptureBrigham Young University
Have you ever had trouble with a biblical phrase, wishing you knew exactly what it meant? Or have you wished there were some keys to unlock the significance you felt must be hiding in the imagery of an Old Testament expression?
Well, there are some keys! The most important ones, of course, are scriptural. As Paul, Nephi, and other scripture writers have indicated, things of the spirit are known through the Spirit, and matters of prophecy are made plain to those who are filled with the spirit of prophecy.
There are other keys to interpretation that are intellectual, involving the intricate arts of languages. In the case of the Old Testament, the need is to know something of Hebrew, for the Lord gave revelations to the prophets of old âafter the manner of their language,â just as he has given them to his servants in this dispensation.
However, it is not necessary to be fully conversant in Hebrew to become aware of some of the features, or keys, of the language. Once we recognize these keys, we are on the way to a greater appreciation of the Hebraic imagery and therefore a better understanding of the scriptures.
The writers of the Hebrew Old Testament employed all the arts of their language. Hebrew prophets prophesied in their own special symbolic manner. The recorders penned their chronicles using picturesque idioms, and the poets wrote heartfelt phrases in their special types of balanced parallelism.
How Then Should We Interpret Genesis
Christians today are strongly divided on how to read the early chapters of Genesis. For that reason, perhaps here more than almost anywhere else in the Bible, we need to become aware of our tendencies to interpret with twenty-first century ideas and questions in mind.
Scholars in the BioLogos community interpret the early chapters in Genesis in a variety of ways, and there are many articles on our website revealing this diversity of thought. Yet all share a commitment to the authority and inspiration of Genesis and a method of interpreting Genesis that tries to recover what the original audience would have understood.
BioLogos understands the early chapters of Genesis as describing real events through largely figurative language, consistent with the way other ancient Near Eastern literature described events. By faith we believe Genesis is true, though its purpose is to reveal God and his plan for humanity, not to communicate bare facts about science or history as we think of them today.
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The History Of The English Bible
One way to think about the history of the English Bible is to consider prominent movements and individuals who led to putting the Bible in the hands of the people. The history of the English Bible begins in, where else England. Dr. John Wycliffe was the priest at Saint Marys at Oxford. The very epitome of a pastor-scholar, Wycliffe not only wanted the Bible translated into the vernacular of the people he served but desired to see the Word of God preached in English throughout the Realm. So, Wycliffe published dozens of copies of the Bible in English. These Bibles were taken by his band of preachers, called Lollards, and they exposited the truths of the Word of God. This was the beginning of the English Reformation and was the precursor to John Hus and, then, Martin Luther.
The story of how the Bible was written cannot be recalled without the most important fact of all: why the Bible was written. As always, the Word of God attests to its own purpose:
But these things are written that ye might believe, that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God and that in believing ye might have life through his Name. .
What Is The Right Way To Read The Bible
The right way to read Sacred Scripture is to read it prayerfully, in other words, with the help of the Holy Spirit, under whose influence it came into being. It is Gods word and contains Gods essential communication to us.
The Bible is like a long letter written by God to each one of us. For this reason I should accept the Sacred Scriptures with great love and reverence. First of all, it is important really to read Gods letter, in other words, not to pick out details while paying no attention to the whole message. Then I must interpret the whole message with a view to its heart and mystery: Jesus Christ, of whom the whole Bible speaks, even the Old Testament. Therefore I should read the Sacred Scriptures in the faith that gave rise to them, the same living faith of the Church.
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What Significance Does The New Testament Have For Christians
In the New Testament Gods revelation is completed. The four Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are the centerpiece of Sacred Scripture and the most precious treasure of the Church. In them the Son of God shows himself as he is and encounters us. In the Acts of the Apostles we learn about the beginnings of the Church and the working of the Holy Spirit. In the letters written by the apostles, all facets of human life are set in the light of Christ. In the Book of Revelation we foresee the end of the ages.
Jesus is everything that God would like to tell us. The entire Old Testament prepares for the Incarnation of Gods Son. All of Gods promises find their fulfillment in Jesus. To be a Christian means to unite oneself ever more deeply with the life of Christ. To do that, one must read and live the Gospels. Madeleine Delbrêl says, Through his Word God tells us what he is and what he wants he says it definitively and says it for each individual day. When we hold our Gospel book in our hands, we should reflect that in it dwells the Word that wants to become flesh in us, desires to take hold of us, so that we might begin his life anew in a new place, at a new time, in a new human setting.
The words of God, expressed in human language, are in every way like human speech, just as the word of the eternal Father, when he took on himself the weak flesh of human beings, became like them.
The Purpose Of Scripture
Scripture is not intended as a moral guide book or a collection of propositions to believe. Its purpose is to reveal Gods plan and purposes throughout human history. According to the Apostle Paul, All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work . Among the most important objectives, Scripture is able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus .
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Who Was King David
The first wave of scribes may, its been suggested, have started work during the reign of King David . Whether thats true or not, David is a monumental figure in the biblical story the slayer of Goliath, the conqueror of Jerusalem. David is also a hugely important figure in the quest to establish links between the Bible and historical fact, for he appears to be the earliest biblical figure to be confirmed by archaeology.
I killed king of the house of David. So boasts the Tel Dan Stele, an inscribed stone dating from 870750 BC and discovered in northern Israel in the 1990s. Like the Merneptah Stele before it, it documents a warlords victory over the Israelites . But it at least indicates that David was a historical figure.
The Tel Dan Stele also suggests that,no matter how capable their rulers, the people of Israel continued to be menaced by powerful, belligerent neighbours. And, in 586 BC, one of those neighbours, the Babylonians, would inflict on the Jews one of the most devastating defeats in their history: ransacking the sacred city of Jerusalem, butchering its residents, and dragging many more back to Babylonia.
Greek Dialect And Style
While Greek was considered the language of the learned, the New Testament writers did not write in elevated or classical Greek, but in the common parlance of the day. Todays scholars refer to the language of the Gospels and Epistles as koine Greek, set apart from both the Ancient Greek used by the likes of Plato and Aristotle and the Modern Greek spoken in Greece today. The term koine comes from the Greek word, , which means common. Most of the early Christian theological writings by the Church Fathers were also written in koine Greek, and it continues to be used as the liturgical language in the Greek Orthodox Church to this day.
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Here Are The Languages First Used To Write The Bible
As Wycliffe Bible Translators reports, the Bible has been translated into the worlds major first languages English, Mandarin, Spanish, etc. and so many of the worlds minor ones that, for four in five of the worlds people, the sacred text is available to them in their mother tongue. Of course, this excludes issues such as persecution and the illegality of possessing certain religious texts in select parts of the world a matter that wont be discussed here.
For centuries, however, being able to read and understand the Bible was a privilege reserved only for a select few: those who had spent years, if not decades, learning ancient languages. Bible translation into the local language didnt really begin in earnest until the middle of the second millennium, and even so, it was often done at great cost to the translator.
Meanwhile, the languages in which the Bible was originally written occupy a unique place in the study of linguistics. One of them died out, was revived, and is today spoken by millions of people one survived the centuries and is spoken by a small community and one remains an academic discipline that, centuries later, is still studied to this day.
Greek Opened The New Testament To Gentiles
When the Bible writers began to pen the gospels and epistles, they abandoned Hebrew and turned to the popular language of their time, koine or common Greek. Greek was a unifying tongue, spread during the conquests of Alexander the Great, whose desire was to Hellenize or spread Greek culture throughout the world. Alexanderâs empire covered the Mediterranean, northern Africa, and parts of India, so the use of Greek became predominant.
Greek was easier to speak and write than Hebrew because it used a complete alphabet, including vowels. It also had a rich vocabulary, allowing for precise shades of meaning. An example is Greekâs four different words for love used in the Bible.
An added benefit was that Greek opened the New Testament to Gentiles, or non-Jews. This was extremely important in evangelism because Greek allowed Gentiles to read and understand the gospels and epistles for themselves.
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Is King James The Most Accurate Bible
That venerable old standard the King James Version also shows up very high on the list of most accurate Bibles. The KJV was made before some of the best texts were found like the Textus Siniaticus. But in spite of the outdated language- the KJV remains the most popular Bible in the English-speaking world.
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Was The New Testament Written In Hebrew
Many people assume that the New Testament was written in Hebrew as well, but by the time the gospels were being written, many Jews didnt even speak Hebrew anymore. Rome had conquered Greece, and the influence of Greek culture had saturated the empire. Whats interesting about Biblical Greek is that it didnt use a high-class or complicated style it was written in koine , a language that could be understood by almost anyone, educated or not.
Its amazing to see how the Word of God has traveled through languages and cultures. It began in the language of his chosen people, adopted the language of the Roman world, and now exists in over 2,000 different languages. Far from being a static, one-language text, the Bible actually embraces translation and cross-language accessibility by its very nature. Whether you read the Bible in its original languages or in one of thousands of modern tongues, its a blessing to be able to read Gods word today just as it was read thousands of years ago.
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Where Is The Original Bible
First editions of famous books are carefully kept by collectors or displayed in museums. So, where is the first edition of the Bible? Where is the original handwritten version of the various Bible books kept? Unfortunately, we dont have any originals. The Bible books were written on materials like papyrus, leather and parchment. These materials do not last very long. Therefore, the Bible books were copied by hand to preserve and multiply them. This was a lot of work, and every now and then copyists made a mistake which would then be corrected or taken over by the next copyist. That way, some small differences developed. Sometimes we cant be sure which version is original and which one has been changed over the centuries. The vast majority of these variations are just linguistic, they dont influence the meaning of the text.
Although the original Bible books have been lost, we do have almost 6000 very old manuscripts of the New Testament alone, dating from the 2nd to the 16th century.
Some cover entire Bible books, others just snippets. Carefully studying these manuscripts has helped scholars to establish the original wording of all Bible texts with great certainty. For more detailed information on the question whether our modern Bibles resemble the original Bible text, read our article about this topic. With this background information in mind, lets move on to the main question of this article.
The Greek New Testament
Luke 23:8-23, 25 from Miniscule 28, 12th century
This is a miniscule of Luke 23:8-23,25 from a late Byzantine codex of the Gospels. The majority of the codex is now in Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris. The manuscript was used for many important printed Greek New Testaments. Catalogued as Codex 28.78 in Gregory Alands catalog.
Lectionary Reading from John 13:31-38. 1500
A Lectionary is a book with Scriptures organized for reading on specific days. This lectionary was used in the Orthodox church for Passion Week. It is the first lesson of the Twelve Accounts of the Passion which was read on Holy Friday. The lesson begins with a title and illuminations made with brown ink: The reading is from the according to John.
Nouum Iesu Christi D.N. Testamentum. Ex Bibliotheca Regia . Robert Estienne , Paris, 1550
Printer Robert Estienne, known by his Latin name Stephanus, printed four editions of the Greek New Testament. This third edition became normative for most biblical translations into the twentieth century.
Stephanus fourth edition of the Greek New Testament, printed in 1551, was the first New Testament with verse numbers.
. Jacob Wettstein, Amsterdam, 1751
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What Language Was The Bible First Written In
The Bible was not written in one language, but three!
The Old Testament is written in Hebrew, and a few passages in Aramaic. There are minor language differences between the first books of the Old Testament and the last ones, because every language develops over time, and there is some variation in language use by different authors and literal genres.
The New Testament, however, is written in a completely different language: Greek. In Jesus days, this had become the language of the common people in the region around Israel, primarily due to the conquests of Alexander the Great. Therefore, Greek would be a language that many people could understand at that time.
First English Translation Of The Bible
Early Modern English Bible translations date back to the period of Early Modern English, between about 1500 and 1800. This was the first major period of Bible translation in the English language.
The period started with the publication of The Tyndale Bible. The first fully-fledged version of the New Testament was in 1526. William Tyndale used the Greek and Hebrew text of his New Testament and Old Testament and Jeromes Latin translation. The translator was among the very first who used the printing press. This allowed the distribution of thousands of duplicates of his New Testament translation throughout England. Tyndale didnt finish the work of his Old Testament translation.
The first printed English edition of the complete Bible was published in 1535 by Miles Coverdale, using the German text and translations of Tyndales work and his Latin Vulgate. After much scholarly debate, it is conclusively established that the book was published in Antwerp and that Colophon gives the date of 4 October 1535. Coverdale replaced this version for his second authorized edition, known as the Great Bible of 1539.
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