Readings from St B's: August 2016

Welcome to the first monthly blog for the Library at St Barnabas Church:
Readings from St B.! Here’s hoping you find some titles discussed here that will prompt you to go looking for them in our recently established and furnished library.

Christians, as well as Jews and Muslims, have been referred to as “people of the book.” The book, of course, is Scripture, a revelation from God that was written down. Torah, the Bible, and the Qur’an all have their basis in the Abrahamic faith.

English Bible translations have a rich and varied history of more than a millennium. The Venerable Bede produced a translation of the Gospel of John into Old English, which he is said to have prepared shortly before his death in 734. This translation is lost; we know of its existence from Cuthbert of Jarrow's account of Bede's death. In 1066, the Norman Conquest of England marked the beginning of the end of the Old English language. The project of translating the Bible into Old English gradually ended with the movement from Old English to Middle English (though evidence is very scanty), and eventually there were attempts to provide Bible translations in that language. The most notable Middle English translation was Wycliffe's Bible in 1383, and was based on the Latin “Vulgate” translation. Attempts at an "authoritative" English Bible for the Church of England would include Myles Coverdale’s first complete English “Great Bible” in 1535, the “Bishops' Bible” of 1568, and the Authorized Version (the King James Version) of 1611, which would become a standard for English speaking Christians for several centuries. (1)

If one went looking for Bibles in St B’s library, there are several translations that are available. Every church likely has somewhere in it a copy of the King James’ Version, or KJV. The KJV has been called "the most influential version of the most influential book in the world, in what is now its most influential language", "the most important book in English religion and culture", and "the most celebrated book in the English-speaking world". It has contributed 257 idioms to English, more than any other single source, including Shakespeare; examples include “feet of clay” and “reap the whirlwind.” Although its former monopoly in the English-speaking world has diminished, it is still the most popular translation in the United States, especially among Evangelicals. (2) The King James Version is also one of the versions authorized to be used in the services of the Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion, as it is the historical Bible of our Church.
Library location: BIBL (Bibles). Look for the Bronze dots.

The KJV maintained its dominance throughout the first half of the 20th century. New translations in the second half of the 20th century displaced its 250 years of dominance (roughly 1700 to 1950). St Barnabas Library has three of the mid-twentieth century translations that came to prominence. The Jerusalem Bible was first introduced to the English-speaking public in 1966. As a Catholic Bible, it includes the traditional 73 books found in most English translations until the mid-19th century: the 39 books shared with the Hebrew Bible, along with the seven deuterocanonical books as the Old Testament, and the 27 books shared by all Christians as the New Testament. It also contains copious footnotes and introductions. In 1943 Pope Pius XII encouraged Roman Catholics to translate the Scriptures from the Hebrew and Greek texts, rather than from Jerome's Latin Vulgate. As a result, a number of Dominicans and other scholars at the École Biblique in Jerusalem translated the scriptures into French in 1956; this French translation served as the impetus for an English one. (3) Its most famous contributor is J.R.R. Tolkien, who contributed the translation of the book of Jonah.
Library location: BIBL (Bibles). Look for the Bronze dots.

The New English Bible, 1970, (NEB) is a translation of the Bible into modern English directly from the original Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic texts. The New Testament was published in 1961. The Old Testament (along with the Apocrypha) was published in 1970. The translators of the New English Bible chose to render their translation using a principle of translation called dynamic equivalence, where the translators saw their task to be that “of understanding the original as precisely as we could... and then saying again in our own native idiom what we believed the author to be saying in his." Because of its scholarly translators, the New English Bible has been considered one of the more important translations of the Bible to be produced following the Second World War. The NEB was produced before a time when gender-inclusive language was introduced into Bible translations. It rendered pronouns using the traditional literary method followed by many previous translations in which the generic use of "he" is translated faithfully from the original manuscripts. However, using this traditional literary method has become recently controversial, among some Christian circles, and a revision of the New English Bible titled the Revised English Bible was undertaken that included gender-inclusive language. (4)
Library location: BIBL (Bibles). Look for the Bronze dots.

The New International Version, 1978, began in 1956 with the formation of a small committee to study the value of producing a translation in the common language of the American people. The core translation group consisted of fifteen evangelical Biblical scholars using Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts whose goal was to produce a more modern English language text than the King James Version. The NIV is a balance between word-for-word and thought-for-thought (or literal and phrase by phrase) translations. (5) The NIV, almost the universally favored translation among evangelical Christians, has been controversial for some years for its refusal to consider the use of inclusive language; a new version of the NIV, planned for 2011, was scrapped over this issue.
Library location: BIBL (Bibles). Look for the Bronze dots.

Readers may find it interesting or enlightening to examine several translations of the Bible. These four are owned by the Library; perhaps you have one or two others to which you may compare.

As you go looking for Library items, if you have any library-related questions, please feel free to contact the librarian, Marion V.

August 2016

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bible_translations
(2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_James_Version
(3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerusalem_Bible
(4) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_English_Bible
(5) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_International_Version