Reviews Of Books -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 28:2 (May 1966)
Article: Reviews Of Books
Author: Anonymous

Reviews Of Books

John H. P. Reumann: The Romance of Bible Scripts and Scholars: Chapters in the History of Bible Transmission and Translation. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc. 1965. viii, 248. $5.95.

Having already written a work on the broad sweep of the history of Bible translation (Four Centuries of the English Bible, Philadelphia, Muhlenberg Press, 1961), Dr. Reumann, Professor of New Testament and Greek at The Lutheran Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, aims in this present volume “to enrich the broad outline of how the Bible has come to us, by recounting certain chapters which deserve to be better known” (p. 3).

That Origen, Jerome and Luther pass in review might have been anticipated; the line of march also displays J. J. Wettstein, an eighteenth century manuscript researcher, whose annotated text is more than a good substitute for Strack-Billerbeck; Charles Thompson, Philadelphia’s patriot-scholar (secretary of the Continental Congress) who, in his retirement, produced the first English translation of the Septuagint; and Monsignor Ronald Knox, educator, detective story writer and translator of the Vulgate into “timeless English”!

The stories selected show why, what and how men translate. In evaluating the account of the translation of the Septuagint found in The Letter of Aristeas, Reumann discovers four aims which, now as then, inspire Bible translators: liturgical, literary, educational and evangelistic. What text is to be followed, what principles used in determining the correct reading — these “what” questions, initial hurdles for any serious translator—receive special attention in chapter two: “The Crucial Second Century after Christ”. The Luther chapter focuses on the “how” of translation; the other sections give glimpses of who some of the translators have been.

The author has succeeded in presenting a most readable account of the purposes, problems and personalities associated with biblical translation. At times, however, the style approaches flamboyance: “Aquila, the World’s Most Unusual Translator”, “Monsignor ‘Ronnie’ Knox”, and the introductory paragraph to chapter seven: “Take a telegraph engineer, a

crusading journalist, and the wife of a Congregationalist minister who has lost his church. Add some Church of England clergymen who can’t decide whether they want to remain in holy orders; a twenty-year-old boy, a socialist-minded school teacher who has disowned the doctrines of classical Christianity; an ex-cowboy, and a housewife, the mother of six, who knows not a word of Greek. Put them together with some two dozen other people …” (p. 163).

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