The Bible from Aramaic to English and beyond!
New Testament authors likely spoke Aramaic at home, Hebrew in “church,” and Greek at work. While the OT books were written in Hebrew, the NT books were written in Greek to reach the whole Roman Empire, beyond the Hebrew-speaking Jews, “but some populations in the Empire knew no Greek,” Christianity Today reported. “Thus, early translations appeared in various languages, notably Latin (becoming the standard language of the Western Empire), Syriac, and Coptic. Despite the early translators’ zeal, they didn’t always possess a good command of Greek. Soon many Old Latin manuscripts, poor in quality and often differing from each other, were in circulation.”
Saint Jerome, who had a great command of the Biblical Greek and Hebrew languages, finished his Latin translation in 405 A.D. That translation is called the Vulgate, and it made the Bible more accessible to literate people in the Roman Empire. Liturgy and art helped share the Bible’s message and themes to the illiterate. After the Roman Empire fell and English began to replace Latin as a standard language in the West, this Latin translation played a huge role in keeping the Bible accessible to as many people as possible.
“The influence of Jerome’s scholarly work is felt today,” Cary Summers, President of the Museum of the Bible said in this video. “When the Bible was first translated into English, it was based in large part on Jerome’s Latin Vulgate.”
Wycliffe Global Alliance reported that by the end of 2017, the complete Bible has been translated into 670 languages, and at least some of the Bible has been translated into 3,312 languages. Still, there is work to be done. “Over 114 million people, speaking 1,636 languages, are likely to need some form of Bible translation to begin,” they reported.
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