Understanding The Bible
Part II - Introduction to MANUSCRIPTS and VERSIONS


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Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible


*1.  Wycliffe 380 OT & NT Wycliffe (used Vulgate) In handwritten form. (Nicholas de Hereford, of Oxford, did last half of O.T. First to use chapter divisions
*2.  Tyndale 1525 OT & NT
Tyndale used Hebrew O.T., Greek N.T., German N.T., and Latin Vulgate. First Printed translation of Scripture.  A significant and monumental piece of work.
*3   Coverdale 1535 OT & NT Coverdale used Swiss-German, Latin Vulgate, and Tyndale. First complete printed English Bible; licensed.
*4   Matthew's 1537 OT & NT John Rogers used:  Tyndale's Genesis - 2 Chronicles, Coverdale's Ezra - Malachi, and Tyndale's NT. First Revision of Tyndale Bible; approved
*5.  Great Bible (large size) 1539 OT & NT Coverdale - verified by Hebrew and Greek text. Second revision of Tyndale Bible; first authorized Bible
*6.  Geneva 1560 OT & NT Group of Reformers in Geneva. Based on Hebrew and Greek. Third revision of Tyndale Bible. First Bible to omit the Apocrypha. First to use division into verses. Calvinistic in its notes -- Queen Elizabeth gave consent for distribution.
*7.  Bishops' 1568 OT & NT Nine Bishops Fourth Tyndale Bible revision -- stiff, formal.
*8.  Rheims - Douay (Rom. Cath.) N.T. - 1582
O.T. - 1609
O.T. & N.T. - 1610
27 N.T. Books
50 O.T. Books
as 2 Books
William Allen used Latin Vulgate.  Greek and Hebrew consulted. Extremely literal -- still, formal, rough.  Many Romanisms (e.g., do penance for repent) and Latinisms (propitiation, etc.)
*9.  King James (A.V. or K.J.V) 1611 OT & NT 54 Translators (from all English religious parties). Fifth Tyndale Bible revision. Finest translation for beauty of English up to present.  Based on ancient MSS; Bezae and Claremontanus.
10.  Challoner's (Rom. Cath.) 1750 OT & NT Bishop Challoner (Roman Catholic) First Roman Catholic Bible printed in America
11.  A New Testament Translation (John Darby) 1881 OT & NT John N. Darby, an important man in early Plymouth Brethren movement (Writer and speaker). A careful, literal translation.  Does not flow too freely in N.T. because of word for word trend, but a sober, dependable guide.  O.T. very simolar to ASV. (Darby also translated Bible into German and French).
12.  English Revised Version (RV) (rarely ERV) N.T. - 1881
O.T. - 1885
OT & NT Many British translators (and American committee also). 1. New manuscripts consulted
2. Better knowledge of Greek & Hebrew
3. Put in modern English
4. Biblical criticismused
13.  Bible for Home Reading O.T. - 1896-99
(Mt., Mk., Lk.) - 1911
OT. & (Mt., Mk., Lk.) Claude G. Montgomery (Liber Jewish scholar). Liberal influence obvious; archaisms removed.
14.  Twentieth Century N.T. 1901
Revised - 1904
N.T. 20 English scholars (neutral). Very similar to RV. Books arranged in chronological order (James after Acts, etc.)
15.  American Standard Version (ASV); Also called American Revised Version, and rarely ARV 1901 OT & NT American translators published by Thomas Nelson & Co. originally. Probably the most trustworthy committee translation thus far.  When any objectionable reading occurs (e.g., 2 Tim. 3:16), the marginal reading may be preferred. (Committee decided readings by majority vote and minority were conservative.) Paragraphing introduced to help thought.
16. Way 1901
Paul's Epistles of NT (including Hebrews) Arthur S. Way, noted translator of Greek literary classics -- Homer, etc. (English, conservative) (Moody republished for a while). A beautiful translation, judiciously expanding the thought where needed.  Many "hymns" are seen by Way.
17.  Weymouth 1903 NT Richard F. Weymouth (English, conservative). Dignified but idiomatic; helpful. At times not precise (High Church coloring). Nots in some editions not wholly dependable doctrinally.
18.  The 1911 Bible 1911 OT & NT C.I. Scofield, published on 300th anniversary of AV by Oxford.  Represents in the main his suggested marginal readings from Scofield Reference Bible (1909) substituted in the text itself. Dr. Scofield's own comment was: "It died aborning."  An attempt to retain the literary beauty of the AV with accuracy of ASV  variants in major but not minor passages; but since AV original was not put in margin where changes were made, it was impossible to know which was old and which was new.  Didn't circulate.
19.  The Holy Scriptures (JPS) OT - 1917
NT - 1963
OT followed much later by NT A Jewish committee headed by Max L. Margolis under impreint of Jewish Publication Society. (A revised OT plus a NT were issued in 1963) Called "The Holly Scripture According to the Masoretic Text, A New Translation." A generally helpful translation without archaisms. Liberal influence evident especially in Messianic prophecies; otherwise much like the ASV.
20.  Centenary Translation of the NT (Montgomery) 1924 NT Helen Barrett Montgomery (American, conservative) celebrating 100th anniversary of American Baptist Publication Society. A very readable version in excellent English.  Careful work with verb tenses. Helpful colloquial headings. Generally dependable. Unfortunately its availability has not been advertised.
21.  Moffatt NT - 1913
OT - 1924
Revised - 1935
NT & OT James Moffatt (Scottish, liberal) N.T. based heavily on von Soden's (liberal) text (including transposition of passages). Some striking renderings in the N.T. but liberal and erratic.  O.T. very unsatisfactory; at times dangerous.
22.  Goodspeed's "The Bible: American Translation"
"The Complete Bible, An American Translation"
NT - 1923
OT & NT - 1931

OT, NT, & Apoc. - 1939


OT, NT, & Apoc.

Published by liberal University of Chigago.)
NT - Edgar J. Goodspeed (American liberal)
OT - J.M. Powis Smith and others (American and Canadian liberals)

OT - T.J. Meek's stylistic revision
Apoc - Edgar J. Goodspeed
NT - Edgar J. Godspeed (1931)
O.T. - Very readable modern speech VS, but numerous variations from Masoretic Text.
N.T. - extremely objectionable liberal tinge characteristic of some of Goodspeed's work.

O.T. - Not too different from American Translation.
N.T. - same as above.

23.  Williams (Contrast with no. 34) 1937 NT Charles B. Williams (American, conservative)
Moody now publishes
The New Testament, A Translation in the Language of the People.  Particular attention to verbs, but occasionally over-translates them. Centenary does it better.
24.  Westminster Version of Sacred Scriptures (Rom. Cath.) 1935 NT & OT (parts) Cuthbert Lattey, S.J., general editor (begun 1913) (Roman Catholic) Good translation from Greek and Hebrew.
25.  Spencer N.T. (Rom. Cath.) 1937 NT Francis A. Spencer (American, Roman Catholic) Free translation from Greek. Variations of Vulgate noted.
26.  Confraternity NT - 1941

OT - 1948-1965



Roman Catholic Church (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine). Uses Greek and Hebrew texts. Approved by Pope for Romanists. A careful and a generally reliable piece of translating. The notes are of limited value because of Roman Catholic dogma.
27.  N.T. in Basic English

O.T. in Basic English

NT - 1941

OT - 1950



S.H. Hooke, etc. (English, liberal)


Basic English has vocabulary of 950 words plus 50 special biblical words, and 100 others listed as giving most help in reading English verse.  Very interesting but necessarily constricted by limited vocabulary.
28.  Knox (Rom. Cath.) NT - 1944
OT - 1949
Monsignor Ronald A. Knox (English, Roman Catholic) A very skillful translating job. Some choice renderings.
29.  Berkeley VS in Modern English NT - 1945

OT - 1959

NT N.T. - Gerrit Verkuyl, general editor and translator (American, conservative).

O.T. - Verkuyl, assisted by a number of conservative scholars.

N.T. - generally good. Notes are amillennial and often personally slanted. His aim: "A translation less interpretative than Moffatt's, more cultured in language than Goodspeed's; more American than Weymouth's, and freer from the King Jams Version than even the ASV."

O.T. - Conservative, but heavily individualistic in result. Not done by committee cooperation. Hence, amillennial renderings occur right in the text, though some premillennialists are listed with the committee.

*30.  Revised Standard Version (RSV) NT - 1946
OT - 1952
NT & OT National Council of Churches of Christ in America (hence, official Protestant translation). A fluent, readable translation in modern speech. Marred in places by liberal theological intrusion. See objections and advantages in syllabus.
31.  New Testament in Modern English 1948-1958 NT J.B. Phillips (Anglican). This work appeared successively as independent volumes with different titles. A readable translation in flowing vrnacular English. Some brilliant renderings; but very free and should not be used to establish doctrine. Author flatly states he does not receive verbal inspiration.
32.  New World Translation NT - 1950

OT - 1953



Unannounced committee (Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, i.e., Jehovah Witness). A more or less faithful rendering of Westcott and Hort Greek NT text into vernacular English. Some strongly slanted renderings (Jn. 1:1, "a god). Footnotes unreliable (mixed with irrevelant information about translations into Hebvrew to give authority for translation of 237 pasages of NT by "Jehovah"). OT follows Robert Young's idiosyncrasy in ignoring an important Hebrew language law (waw conversive) which completely changes "tense" of passage.
33.  The Gospels 1951 Gospels only E.V. Rieu, editor of Penguin Classics. A very readable version characterized by dignified simplicity.
34.  The New Testament, a New Translation in Plain English 1952 NT Charles Kingsley Williams (English, conservative) (contra no. 23). Society for Promotion of Christian Knowledge (SPCK) in 1937 asked Williams to prepare a translation based on a vocabulary of 2000 common words listed by a group of educators in Interim Report on Vocabulary Selection (1936). A dignified and very readable VS.
35.  New English Bible NT - 1961

OT - 1968



British committee (who felt England should not depend upon an American RSV). An exceedingly readable version with some extra careful and some extra careless renderings. Choice English which flows. Same liberal tendencies as RSV.
36.  Anchor Bible 1964 First Unit of OT First four volumes of an ultimate 30 when completed. International and interreligious committee. For first time, an attempt to have Romanists, Protestants, and Jewish translators collaborate on a Bible translation. Liberal with no distinctive flavor.
37.  New American Bible
(added to these notes by the Editor as part of Dr. Mason's update in his 1970 class materials)
1970 NT & OT Approved Rom. Cath. Offsets RSV for Roman Catholic.  Not a revision, but a new edition of Duey-Rehimes.  Translated from the Greek and Hebrew not the Latin. A good translation.
38.  Editor's note:  The New American Standard Bible was just being released in its completed form in when Dr. Mason's Notes were in their last publication. 1963 first editions of New Testament




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