Chapter II:33: The Propriety and Necessity of Bible Translation, Part 2

γ. From the gift of Tongues soon granted with the extension of the Church to the Nations, so that each nation τῇ ἰδίᾳ διαλέκτῳ, in its own language, might be able to hear τὰ μεγαλεῖα τοῦ Θεοῦ, the wonderful works of God, as in Acts 2:6, 8, 11; so that what was written might be fulfilled, πᾶσα γλῶσσα ἐξομολογήσεται τῷ Θεῷ, every tongue shall confess to God, according to Romans 14:11.[1]  But, if therefore God Himself miraculously granted the gift of Tongues to the Apostles and first Teachers of the New Testament, so that they might proclaim the Gospel in the Vernacular Tongue to each nation; the duty is incumbent upon faithful overseers of the Church, that to the Church they deliver the Gospel, which Men of God, as universal Teachers, wrote in the most common Language of the time, translated together with the Books of the Old Testament into the Vernacular Tongue of each nation, for the purposes of reading.

δ. From this necessity and utility of Versions of the Scripture, acknowledged already from the infancy of the Church, which brought it to pass that the Sacred Books were soon enough read by many nations in the Vernacular Tongue, with the benevolent Providence of God smiling upon this pious undertaking of the Chuch in the translation of the Original text.  Hence CHRYSOSTOM, homily II, or I, on John, opera, tome 8, page 10, says of the Gospel of John:  καὶ Σύροι, καὶ Αἰγύπτιοι, καὶ Ἰνδοὶ, καὶ Πέρσαι, καὶ Αἰθίοπες, καὶ μυρία ἕτερα ἔθνη, εἰς τὴν αὐτῶν μεταβαλόντες γλῶτταν τὰ παρὰ τούτου δόγματα εἰσαχθέντα, ἔμαθον ἄνθρωποι βάρβαροι φιλοσοφεῖν, Syrians, and Egyptians, and Indians, and Persians, and Ethiopians, and countless other nations, translating into their own tongues the doctrines introduced by him, although barbarians, have learned to philosophize.  THEODORET also, in Curatione Græcarum affectionum, book V, opera, tome 4, pages 555, 556, affirms that the Hebrew books or speech of the Hebrews was not only translated into Greek idiom, but also in the Roman Language, and Egyptian, Persian, Indian, Armenian, Scythian, and Sarmatian; and quickly into all Languages, of which the nations were making use unto that day:  Ἡμεῖς δὲ, τῶν ἀποστολικῶν καὶ προφητικῶν δογμάτων τὸ κράτος ἐναργῶς ἐπιδείκνυμεν· πᾶσα γὰρ ἡ ὑφήλιος τῶν δε τῶν λόγων ἀνάπλεως· καὶ ἡ Ἑβραίων φωνὴ οὐ μόνον εἰς Ἑλλήνων μετεβλήθη, ἀλλὰ καὶ εἰς τὴν Ῥωμαίων καὶ Αἰγυπτίων καὶ Περσῶν καὶ Ἰνδῶν καὶ Ἀρμενίων καὶ Σκυθῶν καὶ Σαυροματῶν, καὶ συλλήβδην εἰπεῖν, εἰς πάσας τὰς γλώττας αἷς ἅπαντα τὰ ἔθνη κεχρημένα διατελεῖ, but we visibly display the power of the apostolic and prophetic doctrines: for every language under the sun has full need of the words:  and the Hebrew language was translated, not only into that of the Greeks, but also into that of the Romans, Egyptians, Persians, Indians, Armenians, Scythians, and Samartians, and, to say it in brief, into all the languages of which at this day all the nations make use.  And speaking of Lucian and Hesychius publishing a corrected Version of the Old Testament, JEROME in his preface to the Gospels, opera, tome 3, page 30, writes, that the Scripture had already previously been translated into the languages of many nations.  It does not belong to this Compendium to speak on behalf of the worth of the various Versions reviewed by our AUTHOR, and the great many others that could be enumerated in addition.  This requires a whole and proper Commentary.  Concerning these Ecclesiastical History is to be consulted; and BRIAN WALTON’S Apparatus Biblicus; HOTTINGER’S Thesaurus Philologicus; LEUSDEN’S Philologi; CARPZOV’S Critica Sacra in Vetus Testamentum; RUMPÆUS’ Commentatio Critica ad Novi Testamenti Libros, § L, pages 344-443; BINGMAN’S Origines Ecclesiasticæ, book XIV, chapter III, § 17, volume 6, pages 97-104, in which there is a brief narration of the Versions of Scripture used in the ancient Church.

We shall discharge the few things that are able to make for the illustration of our AUTHOR.

[1] See also Isaiah 45:23.

1 thought on “Chapter II:33: The Propriety and Necessity of Bible Translation, Part 2

  1. Westminster Confession of Faith 1:8: “The Old Testament in Hebrew [which was the native language of the people of God of old] , and the New Testament in Greek [which, at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations], being immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical;1 so as, in all controversies of religion, the Church is finally to appeal unto them. But, because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have right unto and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them, therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come, that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship Him in an acceptable manner; and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope.”

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