English Translations Of The Bible -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 015:58 (Apr 1858)
Article: English Translations Of The Bible
Author: Anonymous


English Translations Of The Bible

The history of the English Bible has a two-fold interest. It is associated with the history of the English Church and with that of the English language and literature. In one aspect it is therefore a religious, in another a literary, history.

A peculiar and unique connection existed between the English Reformation and the translation and circulation of the Scriptures in the vulgar tongue of England. In no other country can the Reformation be said to have been so intimately associated with the Word of God. On the continent the great question which severed the Protestant Churches from the Church of Rome, was the doctrine of justification by Faith. At the perversions of this doctrine by the Papal Church, Luther aimed his theses. It was because he substituted the righteousness of Christ in the place of indulgences and penance and saintly intercessions, that the thunders of the Vatican were hurled at the Monk of Wittenberg. In England, however, the great question, — paramount even to the supremacy of the English king in matters ecclesiastical, — was the translation and circulation

of the Scriptures. The history of the English prisoners and martyrs for the Faith, is the history of the translators and the readers of the Word of God in their native tongue. The Englishman who, in the 14th century, — nearly 200 years before Luther, — provoked the wrath of the Pope and called forth the persecuting zeal of papal Bishops, was a Bible translator. The Christian scholar whom Henry VIII: drove to the continent and there finally allowed to be burned at the stake, was a Bible translator. The first man for whom the fires of Smithfield were kindled by the “Bloody Mary,” was a Bible translator. The time would fail us to tell of the multitudes who for the sole crime of printing, or possessing, or perusing an English Bible, “had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonments, being destitute, afflicted, tormented.” When Great Babylon shall come in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath, not the least of her crimes will be found to be her persecutions of the translators and the readers of the English Bible.

The relation between the language and literature of England, and the translation of the Scriptures, though different from that between the English Reformation and the English Bible, is scarcely less intimate. One of the earliest uses to which the written speech of our Saxon ancestors was put, was Bible translation. English prose has but one work earlier than the first English Bible. The gradual progress and improvement of our noble tongue may be studied with advantage in the successive versions ...

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