Version: A translation of the holy Scriptures. This word is not found in the
Bible, nevertheless, as frequent references are made in this work to
various ancient as well as modern versions, it is fitting that some
brief account should be given of the most important of these. These
versions are important helps to the right interpretation of the Word.
(See SAMARITAN PENTATEUCH)
1. The Targums. After the return from the Captivity, the Jews, no
longer familiar with the old Hebrew, required that their
Scriptures should be translated for them into the Chaldaic or
Aramaic language and interpreted. These translations and
paraphrases were at first oral, but they were afterwards reduced
to writing, and thus targums, i.e., "versions" or
"translations", have come down to us. The chief of these are,
a. The Onkelos Targum, i.e., the targum of Akelas=Aquila, a
targum so called to give it greater popularity by
comparing it with the Greek translation of Aquila
mentioned below. This targum originated about the second
century after Christ.
b. The targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel comes next to that of
Onkelos in respect of age and value. It is more a
paraphrase on the Prophets, however, than a translation.
Both of these targums issued from the Jewish school which
then flourished at Babylon.
2. The Greek Versions.
a. The oldest of these is the Septuagint, usually quoted as
the LXX. The origin of this the most important of all the
versions is involved in much obscurity. It derives its
name from the popular notion that seventy-two translators
were employed on it by the direction of Ptolemy
Philadelphus, king of Egypt, and that it was accomplished
in seventy-two days, for the use of the Jews residing in
that country. There is no historical warrant for this
notion. It is, however, an established fact that this
version was made at Alexandria; that it was begun about
280 B.C., and finished about 200 or 150 B.C.; that it was
the work of a number of translators who differed greatly
both in their knowledge of Hebrew and of Greek; and that
from the earliest times it has borne the name of "The
Septuagint", i.e., The Seventy. "This version, with all
its defects, must be of the greatest interest,
1. as preserving evidence for the text far more ancient
than the oldest Hebrew manuscripts;
2. as the means by which the Greek Language was wedded
to Hebrew thought;
3. as the source of the great majority of quotations
from the Old Testament by writers of the New Testament.
b. The New Testament manuscripts fall into two divisions,
Uncials, written in Greek capitals, with no distinction at
all between the different words, and very little even
between the different lines; and Cursives, in small Greek
letters, and with divisions of words and lines. The change
between the two kinds of Greek writing took place about
the tenth century. Only five manuscripts of the New
Testament approaching to completeness are more ancient
than this dividing date.
1. The first, numbered A, is the Alexandrian manuscript.
Though brought to this country by Cyril Lucar,
patriarch of Constantinople, as a present to Charles
I., it is believed that it was written, not in that
capital, but in Alexandria; whence its title. It is
now dated in the fifth century A.D.
2. The second, known as B, is the Vatican manuscript.
(See CODEX VATICANUS)
3. The Third, C, or the Ephraem manuscript, was so
called because it was written over the writings of
Ephraem, a Syrian theological author, a practice very
common in the days when writing materials were scarce
and dear. It is believed that it belongs to the fifth
century, and perhaps a slightly earlier period of it
than the manuscript A.
4. The fourth, D, or the manuscript of Beza, was so
called because it belonged to the reformer Beza, who
found it in the monastery of St. Irenaeus at Lyons in
1562 A.D. It is imperfect, and is dated in the sixth
5. The fifth (called Aleph) is the Sinaitic manuscript.
(See CODEX SINAITICUS)
3. The Syriac Versions.
4. The Latin Versions. A Latin version of the Scriptures, called
the "Old Latin," which originated in North Africa, was in common
use in the time of Tertullian (A.D. 150) Of this there appear to
have been various copies or recensions made. That made in Italy,
and called the Itala, was reckoned the most accurate. This
translation of the Old Testament seems to have been made not
from the original Hebrew but from the LXX. This version became
greatly corrupted by repeated transcription, and to remedy the
evil Jerome (A.D. 329) was requested by Damasus, the bishop of
Rome, to undertake a complete revision of it. It met with
opposition at first, but was at length, in the seventh century,
recognized as the "Vulgate" version. It appeared in a printed
from about A.D. 1455 the first book that ever issued from the
press. The Council of Trent (1546) declared it "authentic." It
subsequently underwent various revisions, but that which was
executed (1592) under the sanction of Pope Clement VIII. was
adopted as the basis of all subsequent editions. It is regarded
as the sacred original in the Roman Catholic Church. All modern
European versions have been more or less influenced by the
Vulgate. This version reads ipsa instead of ipse in
"She shall bruise thy head."
5. There are several other ancient versions which are of importance
for Biblical critics, but which we need not mention
particularly, such as
a. the Ethiopic, in the fourth century, from the LXX.;
b. two Egyptian versions, about the fourth century,
1. the Memphitic, circulated in Lower Egypt
2. the Thebaic, designed for Upper Egypt,
both from the Greek;
c. the Gothic, written in the German language, but with the
Greek alphabet, by Ulphilas (died A.D. 388) of which only
fragments of the Old Testament remain;
d. the Armenian, about A.D. 400
e. the Slavonic, in the ninth century, for ancient Moravia.
Other ancient versions, as the Arabic, the Persian, and the
Anglo-Saxon, may be mentioned.
6. The history of the English versions begins properly with
Wyckliffe. Portions, however, of the Scriptures were rendered
into Saxon (as the Gospel according to John, by Bede, A.D. 735
and also into English (by Orme, called the "Ormulum," a portion
of the Gospels and of the Acts in the form of a metrical
paraphrase, toward the close of the seventh century), long
a. but it is to him that the honour belongs of having first
rendered the whole Bible into English (A.D. 1380) This
version was made from the Vulgate, and renders
after that Version, "She shall trede thy head."
b. This was followed by Tyndale's translation (1525-1531)
c. Miles Coverdale's (1535-1553)
d. Thomas Matthew's (1537) really, however, the work of John
Rogers, the first martyr under the reign of Queen Mary.
This was properly the first Authorized Version, Henry
VIII. having ordered a copy of it to be got for every
church. This took place in less than a year after Tyndale
was martyred for the crime of translating the Scriptures.
e. In 1539 Richard Taverner published a revised edition of
f. The Great Bible, so called from its great size, called
also Cranmer's Bible, was published in 1539 and 1568 In
the strict sense, the "Great Bible" is "the only
authorized version; for the Bishops' Bible and the present
Bible [the A.V.] never had the formal sanction of royal
g. Next in order was the Geneva version (1557-1560)
h. The Bishops' Bible (1568)
i. The Rheims and Douai versions, under Roman Catholic
auspices (1582, 1609)
j. The Authorized Version (1611)
k. The Revised Version of the New Testament in 1880 and of
the Old Testament in 1884