The Bible in translation: ancient and English versions

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Baker Academic, Oct 1, 2001 - Bibles - 200 pages
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The Bible has been translated more often than any other piece of literature and is currently available in over two thousand languages, with several languages having numerous versions. Outlined here is the history of Bible translation, including a careful analysis of more than fifty versions of the Bible.
One of the most respected living biblical scholars, Bruce Metzger begins this engaging survey with the earliest translations of the Old and New Testaments, before proceeding to English versions dating from the eleventh century to the present. Metzger explores the circumstances under which each translation was produced and offers insights into its underlying objectives, characteristics, and strengths. Since the author has served on a number of Bible translation committees, his knowledge of the evolution of Bible translation flows not only from careful research but also from personal experience.
"A highly informative and interesting account of the history of the English Bible. Professor Metzger has pointed out the qualities-good and bad-of all the versions, from that of John Wycliffe to the New Revised Standard Version of 1990. He has not neglected the Jewish translations of the twentieth century or the simplified, easy-to-read versions, and even includes the various paraphrases of the English Bible. All of this is done with clarity, humor, and sound judgment. His book will be a valuable vade mecum for all pastors, students, scholars, and general readers."
-Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J., Catholic University of America
Bruce M. Metzger (Ph.D., Princeton University) is George L. Collord Professor of New Testament Language and Literature Emeritus at Princeton Theological Seminary. An expert in ancient biblical manuscripts, he has participated in three major Bible translation projects and was chairman of the NRSV translation committee.

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User Review  - temsmail - LibraryThing

Not the Textual Commentary, this work is an explanation of how the Bible in our homes and studies came into our hands. Coupled with his *The Text of the New Testament: It's transmission, Corruption and Restoration*, this is an excellent book on it's topic for those who need this knowledge. Read full review

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TITLE: " 'Tradutore ... Traditore !' - simply put, a Fascinating and Titillating Read" December 7, 2006
The famous Italian adage (translated "Translator ... Traitor!") is the
first thing that came to mind as I was reading through "the Bible in Translation" by well known New Testament and biblical canon scholar Bruce M. Metzger. This 200 pager offers a fast read (and a good introduction) of the history of ancient biblical manuscripts, and the progression of english translations across the middle ages into our modern times. I whole heartily recommend "the Bible in Translation - ancient and English versions" to any clergy member, seminarian/theology student (if they haven't had it in their courses), and any God-fearing Christian who wants to understand why and how come we have various english translations in our modern times (KJV, ASB, JB, RSV, NIV, etc. and their newer revisions).
Bruce M. Metzger is best known for his classic "The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance," Oxford University Press.
When it comes to the topic of biblical canon, history of the New Testament, and New Testament studies all put in one, there are only two names that come to mind: F.F. Bruce and Bruce M. Metzger. These authors are often required material for many Protestant and sometimes Catholic and Orthodox seminarians.
I think the other reviewers did an excellent job at giving you an outline of the content of the book. The value of this book is that the author includes the evidence from antiquity to show the continuity of the English translations with the original Hebrew and Greek texts. As such, Metzger presents with precision but in a concise manner, the history of the Septuagint, the Jewish Targums, and the ancient Bibles known as:
Syriac, Latin, Coptic, Gothic, Armenian, Georgian, Ethiopic, Arabic, Sogdian, old church Slavonic, and Nubian versions. Part 2 of the book deals exclusively with the English versions (British and American). Also, included are modern Jewish translations and paraphrase versions of the English Bible. All in all, a very good introduction into the times, history, and culture of how each of these translations came to be.
Here are some excerpts about the SEPTUAGINT:
* "The Septuagint is the traditional term for the Old Greek translation of the Hebrew Scritpures. The word means 'seventy' and is often abbreviated by using the Roman numeral LXX, referring (with some rounding off of the figure) to the seventy-two translations reputed to have produced the version in the time of Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285-246 B.C.)."
* "The translation is not only the earliest but also one of the most valuable of ancient biblical verions. Whether oen considers its general fidelity to the original, its influence over the Jews for whom it was prepared, its relationship to the Greek New Testament, or its place in the Christian church, the Septuagint stands preeminent in the light it casts on the study of the Scriptures."
* "The importance of the Septuagint as a translation is obvious. Besides beign the first translation ever made of the Hebrew Scriptures, it was the medium through which the religious ideas of the Hebrews were brought to the attention of the world. It was the Bible of the early Christian church, and when the Bible is quoted in the New Testament, it is almost always fromt he Septuagint version."
* "By the end of the first century of the Christian era, more and more Jews ceased using the Septuagint because the early Christians had adopted it as their own translation."
As a conservative Protestant, I have a lot of reverence and respect for God's Word - the Bible. As a result of reading this book (and others), I have come to realize the importance of using many translations for a better understanding of the original biblical texts. Since I do not speak, old Hebrew, Koine Greek, or ancient Aramaic


Ancient Versions Intended Chiefly for Christians
English Bibles before the King James Version

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About the author (2001)

Bruce M. Metzger (Ph.D., Princeton University) is George L. Collord Professor of New Testament Language and Literature Emeritus at Princeton Theological Seminary. An expert in ancient biblical manuscripts, he has participated in three major Bible translation projects and was chairman of the NRSV translation committee.

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