Today (9/30) the church remembers Jerome, “Priest, and Monk of Jerusalem,” who died in 420 CE. Among his many accomplishments was the translation of the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into the common (vulgar) language of Latin. The Vulgate version of the Bible remains a standard text in the Roman Catholic Church and has a respected place among contemporary biblical scholars and church historians. Thus, the question, “What would Jerome think?”
Yesterday (9/29) the Episcopal News Service posted an article about a new English translation of the Bible (from Hebrew and Greek). This newest Bible is the Common English Bible (CEB). What Jerome did in his study in the early 5th century was today accomplished by “120 scholars drawn from 24 denominations” at the cost of $3.5 million over the course of 4 years. In addition, “More than 500 readers in 77 groups later field-tested their work” according to the article. Read the entire post here: New Common English Bible translation draws on expertise of 17 Anglican, Episcopal scholars.
So what would Jerome think about the choices made? What do you think? How did some of your favorite verses fare in the new translation?
Probably most of us “know” that Genesis 1:1 begins like this “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth …” (KJV) The Common English translation? “When God began to create the heavens and the earth—”
One more example, a favorite of many, Psalm 23. The final verse, which is the most powerful to me when this Psalm is used in a Memorial Service (Ps 23:6): “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” (KJV) and “Yes, goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the LORD’s house as long as I live. ” (CEB) You can read the entire Psalm here: King James Version and Common English Bible
Thank you for being part of the Sunday Morning Forum (in real time or online). Like Jerome, we take seriously our study of the Word of God. Whether you like or appreciate the newest translation of the Bible, I do hope you appreciate how the Live Word of the Living God continues to demand our study and our best efforts to know and apply its God inspired wisdom. Leave a comment or two (below) to continue this conversation. What do you think about all this?
For further reflection and study
- Common English Bible — official website of the Common English Bible. You will find many options to fully explore this new bible and to learn more about how it was produced.
- Bible Gateway — a site with many different translations of the Bible including the Common English Bible; you can compare translations pretty easily.
- Bible Study Tools — another site with an assembly of different versions of the Bible including the version we use in worship: the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible.
One thought on “What would Jerome think? St. Jerome, that is.”
God’s Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible by Adam Nicolson tells that after the various teams of scholars had completed their individual section translations, the team leaders met for one final verse by verse edit.
Their criteria? How did it read aloud! Remember the KJV was intended as a pulpit edition, to be read out in every church in the land. No wonder it still sounds good.