Charles Buck's Theological Dictionary

58 Bible


The name applied by Christians by way of eminence, to the collection of sacred writings, or the holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.

I. Bible, ancient Divisions and Order of. After the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity. Ezra collected as many copies as he could of the sacred writings, and out of them all prepared a correct edition, arranging the several books in their proper order. These books he divided into three parts. I. The law. II. The prophets. III. The Hagiographia, i.e. the holy writings. I. The law, contains–1,Genesis;-2, Exodus;—3, Leviticus; -4,Numbers; -5, Deuteronomy. II. The writings of the prophets are-1, Joshua;-2, Judges, with Ruth;-3, Samuel;-4, Kings;-5, Isaiah;-6, Jeremiah, with his Lamentations;-7, Ezekiel;-8, Daniel;-9, The twelve minor prophets;-10,Job;-11, Ezra;-12, Nehemiah;-13, Esther. III. The Hagiographia consists of -1, The Psalms;-2, The Proverbs;-3, Ecclesiastes;-4,The song of Solomon. This division was made for the sake of reducing the number of the sacred books to the number of the letters in their alphabet, which amount to twenty-two. Afterwards the Jews reckoned twenty-four books in their canon of scripture; in disposing of which the law stood as in the former division, and the prophets were distributed into former and latter: the former prophets are Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings; the latter prophets are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the twelve minor prophets. And the Hagiographia consists of the Psalms, the Proverbs, Job, the Song of Solomon, Ruth, the Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, the Chronicles. Under the name of Ezra they comprehend Nehemiah: this order hath not always been observed, but the variations from it are of no moment. The five books of the law are divided into forty-five sections. This division many of the Jews hold to have been appointed by Moses himself; but others, with more probability, ascribe it to Ezra. The design of this division was that one of these sections might be read in their synagogues every sabbath day: the number was fifty-four, because, in their intercalated years, a month being then added, there were fifty-four sabbaths: in other years they reduced them to fifty-two, by twice joining together two short sections. Till the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes, they read only the law; but, the reading of it being then prohibited, they substituted in the room of it fifty-four sections out of the prophets; and when the reading of the law was restored by the Maccabees, the section which was read every sabbath out of the law served for their first lesson, and the section out of the prophets for their second. These sections were divided into verses; of which division, if Ezra was not the author, it was introduced not long after him, and seems to have been designed for the use of the Targumists, or Chaldee interpreters; for after the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, when the Hebrew language ceased to be their mother tongue, and the Chaldee grew into use instead of it, the custom was, that the law should be first read in the original Hebrew, and then interpreted to the people in the Chaldee language; for which purpose these shorter sections were very convenient.

II. Bible, History of. It is thought that Ezra published the Scriptures in the Chaldee character, for, that language being generally used among the Jews, he thought proper to change the old Hebrew character for it, which hath since that time been retained only by the Samaritans, among whom it is preserved to this day. Prideaux is of opinion that Ezra made additions in several parts of the Bible, where any thing appeared necessary for illustrating, connecting, or completing the work; in which he appears to have been assisted by the same Spirit in which they were first written. Among such additions are to be reckoned the last chapter of Deuteronomy, wherein Moses seems to give an account of his own death and burial, and the succession of Joshua after him. To the same cause our learned author thinks are to be attributed many other interpolations in the Bible, which created difficulties and objections to the authenticity of the sacred text, no ways to be solved without allowing them. Ezra changed the names of several places which were grown obsolete, and, instead of them, put their new names by which they were then called in the text. Thus it is that Abraham is said to have pursued the kings who carried Lot away captive as far as Dan; whereas that place in Moses’ time was called Laish, the name Dan being unknown till the Danites, long after the death of Moses, possessed themselves of it. The Jewish canon of Scripture was then settled by Ezra, yet not so but that several variations have been made in it. Malaachi, for instance, could not be put in the Bible by him, since that prophet is allowed to have lived after Ezra; nor could Nehemiah be there, since that book mentions (chap. 13:22) Jaddua as high priest, and Darius Codomanus as king of Persia, who were at least a hundred years later than Ezra. It may be added, that, in the first book of Chronicles, the genealogy of the sons of Zerubbabel is carried down for so many generations as must necessarily bring it to the time of Alexander; and consequently this book, or at least this part of it, could not be in the canon in Ezra’s days. It is probable the two books of Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Ester, and Malachi, were adopted into the Bible in the time of Simon the Just, the last of the men of the great synagogue. The Jews, at first, were very reserved in communicating their Scriptures to strangers; despising and shunning the Gentiles, they would not disclose to them any of the treasures concealed in the Bible. We may add, that the people bordering on the Jews, as the Egyptians, Phoenicians, Arabs, &c. were not very curious to know the laws or history of a people, whom in their turn they hated and despised. Their first acquaintance with these books was not till after the several captivities of the Jews, when the singularity of the Hebrew laws and ceremonies induced several to desire a more particular knowledge of them. Josephus seems surprised to find such slight footsteps of the Scripture history interspersed in the Egyptian, Chaldean, Phoenician, and Grecian history, and accounts for it hence; that the sacred books were not as yet translated into Greek, or other languages, and consequently not known to the writers of those nations. The first version of the Bible was that of the Septuagint into Greek, by order of that patron of literature, Ptolemy Philadelphus; though some maintain that the whole was not then translated, but only the Pentateuch; between which and the other books in the Septuagint version, the critics find a great diversity in point of style and expression, as well as of accuracy.

III. Bible, modern Divisions of. The division of the Scriptures into chapters, as we at present have them, is of modern date. Some attribute it to Stephen Langton, archbishop of Canterbury, in the reigns of John and Henry III. But the true author of the invention was Hugo de Sancto Caro, commonly called Hugo Cardinalis, because he was the first Dominican that ever was raised to the degree of cardinal. This Hugo flourished about A.D. 1240: he wrote a comment on the Scriptures, and projected the first concordance, which is that of the vulgar Latin Bible. The aim of this work being for the more easy finding out any word or passage in the Scriptures, he found it necessary to divide the book into sections, and the sections into subdivisions; for till that time the vulgar Latin Bibles were without any division at all. These sections are the chapters into which the Bible hath ever since been divided; but the subdivision of the chapters was not then into verses, as it is now. Hugo’s method of subdividing them was by the letters A,B,C,D,E,F,G, placed in the margin, at an equal distance from each other, according to the length of the chapters. The subdivision of the chapters into verses, as they now stand in our Bibles, had its original from a famous Jewish Rabbi, named Mordecai Nathan, about 1445. This rabbi, in imitation of Hugo Cardinalis, drew up a concordance to the Hebrew Bible, for the use of the Jews. But though he followed Hugo in his division of the books into chapters, he refined upon his inventions as to the subdivision, and contrived that by verses: this being found to be a much more convenient method, it has been every since followed. And thus, as the Jews borrowed the division of the books of the Holy Scriptures into chapters from the Christians, in like manner the Christians borrowed that of the chapters into verses from the Jews. The present order of the several books is almost the same (the Apocrypha excepted) as that made by the council of Trent.

IV. Bible, rejected Books of. The apocryphal books of the Old Testament, according to the Romanists, are the book of Enoch (see Jude 14,) the third and fourth books of Esdras, the third and fourth books of Maccabees, the prayer of Manasseh, the Testament of the twelve Patriarchs, the Psalter of Solomon, and some other pieces of this nature. The apocryphal books of the New Testament are the epistle of St. Barnabas, the pretended epistle of St.Paul to the Laodiceans, several spurious Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, and Revelations; the book of Hermas, entitled the Shepherd; Jesus Christ’s letter to Abgarus; the epistles of St.Paul to Senecca, and several other pieces of the like nature; as may be seen in the collection of the apocryphal writings of the New Testament made by Fabricius. Protestants, while they agree with the Roman Catholics in rejecting all those as uncanonical, have also justly rejected the books of Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, and 1st and 2nd Maccabees.

V. Bible, Translations of. We have already mentioned the first translation of the Old Testament by the LXX (# 2.) Both Old and New Testaments were afterwards translated into Latin by the primitive Christians; and while the Roman empire subsisted in Europe, the reading of the Scriptures in the Latin tongue, which was the universal language of that empire, prevailed every where; but since the face of affairs in Europe has been changed and so many different monarchies erected upon the ruins of the Roman empire, the Latin tongue has be degrees grown into disuse; whence has arisen a necessity of translating the Bible into the respective languages of each people; and this has produced as many different versions of the Scriptures in the modern languages as there are different nations professing the Christian religion. Of the principal of these, as well as of some other ancient translation, and the earliest and most elegant printed editions, we shall now take notice in their order.

1. Bible, Armenian. There is a very ancient Armenian version of the whole Bible, done from the Greek of the LXX. by some of their doctors, about the time of Chrysostom. This was first printed entire, 1664, by one of their bishops at Amsterdam, in quarto, with the New Testament in octavo.

2. Bible, Bohemian. The Bohemians have a Bible translated by eight of their doctors, whom they had sent to the schools of Wirtemberg, and Basil on purpose to study the original languages: it was printed in Moravia in 1539.

3. Bible, Croatian. A translation of the New Testament into the Croatian language was published by Faber Creim, and others, in 1562 and 1563.

4. Bible Gaelic. A few years ago, a version of the Bible in the Gaelic or Ersc language was published at Edinburgh, where the Gospel is preached regularly in that language in two chapels, for the benefit of the natives of the Highlands.

5. Bible, Georgian. The inhabitants of Georgia, in Asia, have long had a translation of the Bible in their ancient language; but that language having now become almost obsolete, and the Georgians in general being very ignorant, few of them can either read or understand it.

6. Bible, Gothic. It is generally said that Ulphilas, a Gothic bishop, who lived in the fourth century, made a version of the whole Bible, except the book of Kings, for the use of his countrymen; that book he omitted, because of the frequent mention of the wars therein, as fearing to inspire too much of the military genius into that people. We have nothing remaining of this version but the four Evangelists, printed in quarto, at Dort, in 1665, from a very ancient manuscript.

7. Bible, Grison. A translation of the Bible into the language of the Grisons, in Italy, was completed by Coir, and published in 1720.

8. Bible Icelandic. The inhabitants of Iceland have a version of the Bible in their language, which was translated by Thoriak, and published in 1584.

9. Bible, Indian. A Translation of the Bible into the North America Indian language, by Elliot, was published in quarto, at Cambridge, in 1685.

10. Bible, Irish. About the middle of the sixteenth century, Bedell, bishop of Kilmore, set on foot a translation of the Old Testament into the Irish language, the New Testament and the Liturgy having been before translated into that language: the bishop appointed one King to execute this work, who, not understanding the oriental languages, was obliged to translate it from the English. This work was received by Bedell, who, after having compared the Irish with the English translation, compared the latter with the Hebrew, the LXX. and the Italian version of Diodati. When it was finished, the bishop would have been himself at the charge of the impression; but his design was stopped, upon advice given to the lord lieutenant and archbishop of Canterbury, that it would seem a shameful thing for a nation to publish a Bible translated by such a despicable hand as King: however, the manuscript was not lose, for it went to press in 1685, and was afterwards published.

11. Bible, King Jame’s. See No. 24.

12. Bible, Malabrian. In 1711, Messers. Ziegenbald and Grindler, two Danish missionaries, published a translation of the New Testament in the Malabrian language, after which they proceeded to translate the Old Testament.

13. Bible, Malayan. About 1670, Sir Robert Boyle procured a translation of the New Testament into the Malayan language, which he printed, and sent the whole impression to the East Indies.

14. Bible, Rhemish. See No. 23.

15. Bible, Samaritan. At the head of the oriental versions of the Bible must be placed the Samaritan, as being the most ancient of all (though neither its age nor author have been yet ascertained,) and admitting no more for the Holy Scripture but the five books of Moses. This translation is made from the Samaritan Hebrew text, which is a little different from the Hebrew text of the Jews: this version has never been printed alone, nor any where but in the Polyglots of London and Paris.

16. Bible, Swedish. In 1534, Olaus and Laurence published a Swedish Bible from the German version of Martin Luther: it was revised in 1617 by order of king Gustavus Adolphus, and was afterwards almost universally received.

17. Bible, Anglo-Saxon.–If we enquire into the versions of the Bible of our own country, we shall find that Adelm, bishop of Sherburn, who lived in 709, made an English Saxon version of the Psalms; and that Edfrid, or Ecbert, bishop of Lindisferne, who lived about 730, translated several of the books of Scripture into the same language. It is said, likewise, the venerable Bede, who died in 785, translated the whole Bible into Saxon.–But Cuthbert, Bede’s disciple, in the enumeration of his master’s works, speaks only of his translation of the Gospel, and says nothing of the rest of the Bible. Some say that king Alfred, who lived about 890, translated a great part of the Scriptures. We find an old version in the Anglo Saxon of several books of the Bible, made by Elfric, abbot of Maimesbury: it was published at Oxford in 1699. There is an old Anglo Saxon version of the four Gospels, published by Matthew Parker, archbishop of Canterbury, in 1571, the author whereof is unknown. Mr. Mill observes, that this version was made from a Latin copy of the old Vulgate. The whole Scripture is said by some to have been translated into the Anglo-Saxon by Bede, about 701, though others contend he only translated the Gospels. We have certain books or parts of the Bible b several other translators; as, first, the Psalms, by Adeim, bishop of Sherburn, cotemporary with Bede, though by others this version is attributed to king Alfred, who lived two hundred years later. Another version of the Psalms, in Anglo-Saxon, was published by Spelman in 1640.–2. The evangelists, still extant, done from the ancient Vulgate, before it was revised by St. Jerome, by an author unknown, and published by Matthew Parker in 1571. An old Saxon version of several books of the Bible made by Elfric, abbot of Malmesbury, several fragments of which were published by Will. Lilly, 1638; the genuine copy by Edm. Thwaites, in 1699, at Oxford.

18. Bibles, Arabic. In 1516, Aug. Justinian, bishop of Nebio, printed at Genoa an Arabic version of the Psalter, with the Hebrew text and Chaldee paraphrase, adding Latin interpretations: there are also Arabic versions of the whole Scripture in the Polyglots of London and Paris; and we have an edition of the Old Testament entire, printed at Rome, in 1671, by order of the congregation de propaganda fide; but it is of little esteem, as having been altered agreeably to the Vulgate edition. The Arabic Bibles among us are not the same with those used with the Christians in the East. Some learned men take the Arabic version of the Old Testament printed in the Polyglots to be that of Saadias’s, who lived about A.D. 900: their reason is, that dias, quotes some passages of his version, which are the same with those in the Arabic version of the Polyglots; yet others are of opinion that Saadias’s version is not extant. In 1622, Erpenius printed an Arabic Pentateuch called also the Pentateuch of Mauritania, as being made by the Jews of Barbary, and for their use. This version is very literal, and esteemed very exact. The four evangelists have also been published in Arabic, with a Latin version, at Rome, in 1591, folio. These have been since reprinted in the Polyglots of London and Paris, with some little alteration of Gabriel Sionita. Expenius published an Arabic New Testament entire, as he found it in his manuscript copy, at Leyden, 1616. There are some other Arabic versions of later date mentioned by Walton in his Prolegomena, particularly a version of the Psalms, preserved at Sion College, Loudon, and another of the prophets at Oxford; neither of which have been published. Proposals were issued for printing a new edition of the Arabic Bible, by Mr. Carlyle, chancellor of the diocese of Carlisle, and professor of Arabic in the university of Cambridge; but I am sorry to add that he has been called away by death, without finishing it.

19. Bibles, Chaldee, are only the losses or expositions made by the Jews at the time when they spoke the Chaldee tongue: these they call by the name of targumim, or paraphrases, as not being any strict version of the Scripture. They have been inserted entire in the large Hebrew Bibles of Venice and Basil; but are read more commodiously in the Polyglots, being there attended with a Latin translation.

20. Bibles, Coptic. There are several manuscript copies of the Coptic Bible in some of the great libraries, especially in that of the late French king. Dr. Wilkins published the Coptic New Testament, in quarto, in 1716; and the Pentateuch also in quarto, in 1731, with Latin translations. He reckons these versions to have been made in the end of the second or the beginning of the third century.

21. Bibles, Danish. The first Danish Bible was published by Peter Palladus, Olaus Chrysostom, John Synningius, and John Maccabxus, in 1550, in which they followed Luther’s first German version. There are two other versions, the one by John Paul Resenius, bishop of Zealand, in 1605; the other of the New Testament only, by John Michel, in 1524.

22. Bibles, Dutch. See No. 26.

23. Bibles, East Indian. See No. 12,13,44.

24. Bibles, English. The first English Bible we read of was that translated by J. Wickliffe, about the year 1360, but never printed,though there are manuscript copies of it in several of the public libraries. A translation, however, of the New Testament by Wickliffe was printed by Mr. Lewis, about 1731. J. de Trevisa, who died about 1398, is also said to have translated the whole Bible; but whether any copies of it are remaining does not appear. The first printed Bible in our language was that translated by W. Tindal, assisted by Miles Coverdale, printed abroad in 1526; but most of the copies were bought up and burnt by bishop Tunstal and Sir Thomas More. It only contained the New Testament, and was revised and republished by the same person in 1530. The prologues and prefaces added to it, reflect on the bishops and clergy; but this edition was also suppressed, and the copies burnt. In 1532, Tindal and his associates finished the whole Bible, except the Apocrypha, and printed it abroad: but, while he was afterwards preparing a second edition, he was taken up and burnt for heresy in Flanders. On Tindal’s death, his work was carried on by Coverdale, and John Rogers, superintendant of an English church in Germany, and the first Martyr, in the reign of queen Mary, who translated the Apocrypha, and revised Tindal’s translation, comparing it with the Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and German, and adding prefaces and notes from Luther’s Bible. He dedicated the whole to Henry VIII, in 1537, under the borrowed name of Thomas Matthews; whence this has been usually called Matthew’s Bible. It was printed at Hamburgh, and license obtained for publishing it in England, by the favour of archbishop Cranmer, and the bishops Latimer and Shaxton. The first Bible printed by authority in England, and publicly set up in churches, was the same Tindal’s version, revised and compared with the Hebrew, and in many places amended by Miles Coverdale, afterwards bishop of Exeter; and examined after him by archbishop Cranmer, who added a preface to it; whence this was called Cranmer’s Bible. It was printed by Grafton, of the largest volume, and published in 1540; and, by a royal proclamation, every parish was obliged to set one of the copies in their church, under the penalty of forty shillings a month; yet, two years after, the popish bishops obtained its suppression by the king. It was restored under Edward VI., suppressed again under queen Mary’s reign, and restored again in the first year of queen Elizabeth, and a new edition of it given in 1562. Some English exiles at Geneva, in queen Mary’s reign, viz. Coverdale, Goodman, Gilbie, Sampson, Cole, Wittingham, and Knox, made a new translation, printed there in 1560, the New Testament having been printed in 1557; hence called the Geneva Bible, containing the variations of readings, marginal annotations, &c. on account of which it was much valued by the purital party in that and the following reigns. Abp. Parker resolved on a new translation for the public use of the church; and engaged the bishops, and other learned men, to take each a share or portion: these, being afterwards joined together and printed, with short annotations, in 1568, in large folio, made what was afterwards called the Great English Bible, and commonly the Bishops’ Bible. In 1589, it was also published in octavo, in a small but fine black letter; and here the chapters were divided into verses, but without any breaks for them, in which the method of the Geneva Bible was followed, which was the first English Bible where any distinction of verses was made. It was afterwards printed in large folio, with corrections, and several prolegomena in 1572: this is called Matthew Parker’s Bible. The initial letters of each translator’s name were put at the end of his part; e. gr. at the end of the Pentateuch, W.E. for William Exon; that is, William, bishop of Exeter, whose allotment ended there: at the end of Samuel,R. M. for Richard Menevensis; or bishop of St. David’s, to whom the second allotment fell: and the like of the rest. The archbishop oversaw, directed, examined, and finished the whole. This translation was used in the churches for forty years, though the Geneva Bible was more read in private houses, being printed above twenty times in as many years. King James bore it an inveterate hatred, on account of the notes, which, at the Hampton Court conference, he charged as partial, untrue, seditious, &c. The Bishops’ Bible, too, had its faults. The king frankly owned that he had seen no good translation of the Bible in English; but he thought that of Geneva the worst of all. After the translation of the Bible by the bishops, two of the New Testament; the first by Laurence Thompson, from Beza’s Latin edition, with the notes of Beza, published in 1582, in quarto, and afterwards in 1589, varying very little from the Geneva Bible; the second by the Papists at Rheims, in 1584, called the Rhemish Bible, or Rhemish translation. These, finding it impossible to keep the people from having the Scriptures in their vulgar tongue, resolved to give a version of their own, as favourable to their cause as might be. It was printed on a large paper, with a fair letter and margin: one complaint against it was, its retaining a multitude of Hebrew and Greek words untranslated, for want, as the editors express it, of proper and adequate terms in the English to render them by; as the words azymes, tunike, holocaust, prepuce, pasche, &c..: however, many of the copies were seized by the queen’s searchers, and confiscated; and Thomas Cartwright was solicited by secretary Walsingham to refute it; but, after a good progress made therein, archbishop Whitgift prohibited his further proceeding, as judging it improper that the doctrine of the church of England should be committed to the defence of a puritan; and appointed Dr. Fulke in his place, who refuted the Rhemists with great spirit and learning. Cartwright’s refutation was also afterwards published in 1618, under archbishop Abbot. About thirty years after their New Testament, the Roman Catholics published a translation of the Old at Douay, 1609, and 1610, from the Vulgate, with annotations, so that the English Roman Catholics have now the whole Bible in their mother tongue; though, it is to be observed, they are forbidden to read it without a license from their superiors. the last English Bible was that which proceeded from the Hampton Court conference, in 1603; where, many exceptions being made to the Bishops’ Bible, king James gave order for a new one; not, as the preface expresses it, for a translation altogether new, nor yet to make a good one better; or, of many good ones, one best. Fifty-four learned men were appointed to this office by the king, as appears by his letter to the archbishop, dated 1604; which being three years before the translation was entered upon, it is probable seven of them were either dead, or had declined the task; since Fuller’s list of the translators makes but forty-seven, who, being ranged under six divisions, entered on their province in 1607. It was published in 1613, with a dedication to James, and a learned preface; and is commonly called king James’ Bible. After this all the other versions dropped, and fell into disuse, except the epistles and Gospels in the Common Prayer Book, which were still continued according to the Bishops’ translation till the alteration of the liturgy, in 1661, and the psalms and hymns, which are to this day continued as in the old version. The judicious Selden, in his Tabletalk, speaking of the Bible, says, “The best translation in the world, and renders the sense of the original best; taking in for the English translation the Bishops’ Bible, as well as king James’s. The translators in king James’s time took an excellent way. That part of the Bible was given to him who was most excellent in such a tongue (as the Apocrypha to Andrew Downs:) and then they met together, and one read the translation, the rest holding in their hands some Bible, either of the learned tongues, or French, or Spanish, or Italian, &c. If they found any fault, they spoke; if not, he read on.” (King James’s Bible is that now read by authority in all the churches in Britain.) Notwithstanding, however, the excellency of this translation, it must be acknowledged that our increasing acquaintance with oriental customs and manners, and the changes our language has undergone since king James’s time, are very powerful arguments for a new translation, or at least a correction of the old one. There have been various English Bibles with marginal references by Canne, Hayes, Barker, Scattergood, Field, Tennison, Lloyd, Blayney, Wilson, &c.; but the best we have, perhaps, of this kind, are Brown’s and Scott’s.

25. Bibles, Ethiopic. The Ethiopians have also translated the Bible into their language. There have been printed separately the Psalms, Canticles, some chapters of Genesis, Ruth, Joel, Jonah, Zephaniah, Malachi, and the New Testament, all which have been since reprinted in the Polyglot of London. As to the Ethiopic New Testament, which was first printed at Rome in 1548, it is a very inaccurate work, and is reprinted in the English Polyglot with all its faults.

26. Bibles, Flemish. The Flemish Bibles of the Romanists are very numerous, and for the most part have no author’s name prefixed to them, till that of Nicholas Vinck, printed at Louvain in 1548. The Flemish versions made use of by the Calvinists till 1637, were copied principally from that of Luther. But the Synod of Dort having, in 1618, appointed a new translation of the Bible into Flemish, deputies were named for the work, which was not finished till 1637.

27. Bibles, French. The oldest French Bible we hear of is the version of Peter di Vaux, chief of the Waldenses, who lived about the year 1160. Raoul de Preste translated the Bible into French in the reign of king Charles V. of France, about A.D. 1383. Besides these, there are several old French translations of particular parts of the Scripture. The doctors of Louvain published the Bible in French at Louvain, by order of the emperor Charles V. in 1550. There is a version by Isaac leMaitre de Sacy, published in 1672, with explanations of the literal and spiritual meaning of the text; which was received with wonderful applause, and has often been reprinted. Of the New Testaments in French, which have been printed separately, one of the most remarkable is that of F. Amelotte, of the Oratory, composed by the direction of some French prelates, and printed with annotations in 1666, 1667, and 1670. The author pretends he had searched all the libraries in Europe, and collated the oldest manuscripts: but, in examining his work, it appears that he has produced no considerable various readings which had not before been taken notice of either in the London Polyglot, or elsewhere. The New Testament on Mons, printed in 1665, with the archbishop of Cambray’s permission, and the king of Spain’s license, made great noise in the world. It was condemned by pope Clement IX, in 1668; by pope Innocent XI, in 1669; and in several bishoprics of France at several times. The New Testament, published at Trevoux, in 1702, by M. Simon, with literal and critical annotations upon difficult passages, was condemned by the bishops of Paris and Meaux in 1702. F. Bohours, a Jesuit, with the assistance of F.F. Michael Tellier and Peter Bernier, Jesuits, likewise published a translation of the New Testament in 1697; but this translation is for the most part harsh and obscure, which was owing to the author’s adhering to strictly to the Latin text. There are likewise French translations published by Protestant authors; one by Robert Peter Olivetan, printed in 1535, and often reprinted with the corrections of John Calvin and others; another by Sebastian Castalio, remarkable for particular ways of expression never used by good judges of the language. John Diodati likewise published a French Bible at Geneva in 1644; but some find fault with his method, in that he rather paraphrases the text than translates it. Faber Stapalenis translated the New Testament into French, which was revised and accommodated to the use of the reformed churches in Piedmont, and printed in 1534. Lastly, John le Clerc published a New Testament in French at Amsterdam, in 1703, with annotations taken chiefly from Grotius and Hammond; but the use of this version was prohibited by order of the states-general, as tending to revive the errors of Sabellius and Socinus.

28. Bibles, German. The first and most ancient translation of the Bible in the German language is that of Ulphilas, bishop of the Goths, in the year 360. An imperfect manuscript of this version was found in the abbey of Verden, near Cologne, written in letters of silver, for which reason it is called Codex Argenteus; and it was published by Francis Junius in 1665. The oldest German printed Bible extant is that of Nuremburg, in 1447; but who was the author of it is uncertain. John Emzer, chaplain to George duke of Saxony, published a version of the New Testament in opposition to Luther. There is a German Bible of John Ekeus in 1537, with Emzer’s New Testament added to it; and one by Ulemburgius of Westphalia, procured by Ferdinand duke of Bavaria, and printed in 1630. Martin Luther having employed eleven years intranslating the Old and New Testaments, published the Pentateuch and the
New Testament in 1522, the historical books and the Psalms in 1524, the books of Solomon in 1527, Isaiah in 1529, the Prophets in 1531, and the other books in 1530. The learned agree that his language is pure, and the version clear and free from intricacies. It was revised by several persons of quality; who were masters of all the delicacies of the German language. The German Bibles which have been printed at Saxony, Switzerland, and elsewhere, are, for the most part, the same as that of Luther, with little variation. In 1604, John Piscator published a version of the Bible in German taken from that of Junius and Tremellius; but his turn of expression is purely Latin, and not at all agreeable to the genius of the German language. The Anabaptists have a German Bible printed at Worms in 1529. John Crellius published his version of the New Testament at Racovia in 1630, and Felbinger his at Amsterdam in 1660.

29. Bibles, Greek. There are many editions of the Bible in Greek, but they may be all reduced to three or four principal ones; viz. that of Complutum, or Alcala de Henares; that of Venice, that of Rome, and that of Oxford. The first was published in 1515 by cardinal Ximenes, and inserted in the Polyglot Bible, usually called the Complutension Bible: this edition is not just, the Greek of the LXX being altered in many places according to the Hebrew text. It has, however, been reprinted in the Polyglot Bible of Antwerp, in that of Paris, and in the quarto Bible commonly called Vatablus’s Bible. The second Greek Bible is that of Venice, printed by Aldus in 1518. Here the Greek text of the Septuagint is reprinted just as it stood in the manuscript, full of faults of the copyists, but easily amended. This edition was reprinted at Strasburg in 1526, at Basil in 1545, at Frankfort in 1597, and other places, with some alterations, to bring it nearer the Hebrew. The most commodious is that of Frankfort, there being added to this little scholia, which shew the different interpretations of the old Greek translators. The author of this collection has not added his name, but it is commonly ascribed to Junius. The third Greek Bible is that of Rome, or the Vatican, in 1587, with Greek scholia, collected from the manuscripts in the Roman libraries by Peter Morin. It was first set on foot by cardinal Montalbo, afterwards pope Sixtus V. This fine edition has been reprinted at Paris in 1628, by J. Morin, priest of the Oratory, who has added the Latin translation, which in the Roman was printed separately with scholia. The Greek edition of Rome has been printed in the Polyglot Bible of London, to which are added at the bottom the various readings of the Alexandrian manuscript. This has been also reprinted in England, in 4to. and 12mo. with some alterations. It was again published at Franeker, in 1709, by Bos, who has added all the various readings he could find. The fourth Greek Bible is that done from the Alexandrian manuscript begun at Oxford by Grabe in 1707. In this the Alexandrian manuscript is not printed such as it is, but such as it was thought it should be, i.e. it is altered wherever there appeared any fault of the copyists, or any word inserted from any particular dialect: this some think an excellence, but others a fault, urging that the manuscript should have been given absolutely and entirely of itself, and all conjectures as to the readings should have been thrown into the notes. We have many editions of the Greek Testament by Eramus, Stephens, Beza; that in the Complutensian Polyglot, the Elzevirs, &c.; and with various readings by Mill, Bengelius, Wetstein, &c. Those of Wetstein and Griesbach, are thought by some to exceed all the rest.

30. Bibles, Hebrew, are either manuscript or printed. The best manuscript Bibles are those copied by the Jews of Spain: those copied by the Jews of Germany are less exact, but more common. The two kinds are easily distinguished from each other; the former being in beautiful characters, like the Hebrew Bibles of Bomberg, Stevens, and Plantin: the latter in characters like those of Munster and Gryphius. F. Simon observes that the oldest manuscript Hebrew Bibles are not above six or seven hundred years old; nor does Rabbi Menaham, who quotes a vast number of them, pretend that any one of them exceeds 600 years. Dr. Kennicott, in his Dissertatio Generalis, prefixed to his Hebrew Bible, p. 21, observes, that the most ancient manuscripts were written between the years 900 and 1100; but though those that are the most ancient are not more than 800 or 900 years old, they were transcribed from others of a much more ancient date. The manuscript preserved in the Bodleian Library is not less than 800 years old. Another manuscript not less ancient, is preserved in the Caesarian Library at Vienna. The most ancient printed Hebrew Bibles are those published by the Jews of Italy, especially of Pesaro and Bresse. Those of Portugal also printed some parts of the Bible at Lisbon before their expulsion. This may be observed in general, that the best Hebrew Bibles are those printed under the inspection of the Jews; there being so many minutae to be observed in the Hebrew language, that it is scarcely possible for any other to succeed in it. In the beginning of the 16th century, Dan. Bomberg printed several Hebrew Bibles in folio and quarto at Venice, most of which were esteemed both by the Jews and Christians: the first in 1517, which is the least exact, and generally goes by the name of Felix Pratensis, the person who revised it: this edition contains the Hebrew text, the Targum, and the commentaries of several rabbins. In 1528, Bomberg printed the folio Bible of rabbi Benchajim, with his preface, the masoretical divisions, a preface of Aben Ezra, a double masora, and several various readings. The third edition was printed, 1618; which, though there are many faults in it, is more correct than any of the former. In 1623, appeared at Venice a new edition of the rabbinical Bible, by Leo of Modena, a rabbin of that city, who pretended to have corrected a great number of faults in the former edition; but, besides that, it is much inferior to the other Hebrew Bibles of Venice, with regard to paper and print: it has passed through the hands of the Inquisitors, who have altered many passages in the commentaries of the Rabbins. Of Hebrew Bibles in quarto, that of R. Stephens is esteemed for the beauty of the characters: but it is very incorrect. Plantin also printed several beautiful Hebrew Bibles at Antwerp; one in eight columns, with a preface by Arius Montanus, in 1571, which far exceeds the Complutensian in paper, print, and contents: this is called the Royal Bible, because it was printed at the expense of Philip II. king of Spain: another at Geneva, 1619, besides many more of different sizes, with and without points. Manasseh Ben Israel, a learned Portuguese Jew, published two editions of the Hebrew Bible at Amsterdam; one in quarto, in 1635; the other in octavo, in 1639: the first has two columns, and for that reason is more commodious for the reader. In 1639, R. Jac. Lombroso published a new edition in quarto at Venice, with small literal notes at the bottom of each page, where he explains the Hebrew words by Spanish words. This Bible is much esteemed by the Jews at Constantinople: in the text they have distinguished between words where the point camets is to be read with a camets katuph; that is, by o, and not an a. Of all the editions of the Hebrew Bible in octavo, the most beautiful and correct are the two of J. Athias, a Jew, of Amsterdam. The first, of 1661, is the best paper; but that of 1667 is the most exact. That, however, published since at Amsterdam, by Vander Hooght, in 1705, is preferable to both. After Athias, three Hebraizing Protestants engaged in revising and publishing the Hebrew Bible, viz. Clodius, Jablonski, and Opitius. Clodius’s edition was published at Frankfort, in 1677, in quarto: at the bottom of the pages it has the various readings of the former editions; but the author does not appear sufficiently versed in the accenting, especially in the poetical books; besides, as it was not published under his eye, many faults have crept in. That of Jablonski, in 1699, in quarto, at Berlin, is very beautiful as to letter and print; but, though the editor pretends he made use of the editions of Athias and Clodius, some critics find it scarcely in any thing different from the quarto edition of Bomberg. That of Opitius is also in quarto, at Keil, in 1709: the character is large and good, but the paper bad: it is done with a great deal of care; but the editor made use of no manuscripts but those of the German libraries, neglecting the French ones, which is an omission common to all the three. They have this advantage, however, that, besides the divisions used by the Jews, both general and particular, into paraskes and pesukim, they have also those of the Christians, or of the Latin Bibles, into chapters and verses; the keri ketib, or various readings, Latin summaries, &c. which made them of considerable use with respect to the Latin editions and the concordances. The little Bible of R. Stevens, in 16mo. is very much prized for the beauty of the character. Care, however, must be taken, there being another edition of Geneva exceedingly like it, excepting that the print is worse, and the text less correct. To these may be added some other Hebrew Bibles without points, in 8vo. and 24mo. which are much coveted by the Jews; not that they are more exact, but more portable than the rest,and are used in their synagogues and schools. Of these there are two beautiful editions; the one of Plantin, in 8vo. with two columns, and the other in 24mo. reprinted by Raphalengius, at Leyden, in 1610. There is also an edition of them by Laurens, at Amsterdam, in 1631, in a larger character; and another in 12mo. at Frankfort, in 1694, full of faults, with a preface of Mr. Leusden at the head of it. Houbigant published an elegant edition of the Hebrew Bible at Paris, in 1753, in 4 vols. folio: the text is that of Vander Hooght, without points; to which he has added marginal notes, supplying the variations of the Samaritan copy. Dr. Kennicott, after almost twenty years laborious collation of near 600 copies, manuscripts and printed, either of the whole or particular parts of the Bible, published the Hebrew Bible in 2 vols. folio: the text is that of Everard Vander Hooght, already mentioned, differing from it only in the disposition of the poetical parts, which Dr. Kennicott has printed in hemistichs, into which they naturally divide themselves; however, the words follow one another in the same order as they do in the edition of Vander Hooght. This edition is printed on an excellent type: the Samaritan text, according to the copy in the London Polyglot, is exhibited in a column parallel with the Hebrew text; those parts of it only being introduced in which it differs from the Hebrew. The numerous variations, both of the Samaritan manuscript from the printed copy of the Samaritan texts, and of the Hebrew manuscripts from the printed text of Vander Hooght, are placed separately at the bottom of the page, and marked with numbers referring to the copies from which they are taken. Four quarto volumes of various readings have also been published by De Rossi, of Parma, from more than 400 manuscripts (some of which are said to be of the seventh or eighth century,) as well as from a considerable number of rare and unnoticed editions. An edition of Reineccius’s Hebrew Bible, with readings from Kennicott and De Rossi, has been published by Dodderlein, and will be found a useful work to the Hebrew student.

31. Bibles, Italian. The first Italian Bible published by the Romanists is that of Nicholas Malerne, a Benedictine monk, printed at Venice in 1471. It was translated from the Vulgate. The version of Anthony Brucioli, published at Venice in 1532, was prohibited by the council of Trent. The Calvinists likewise have their Italian Bibles. There is one of John Diodati in 1607 and 1641; and another of Maximus Theophilus, in 1551, dedicated to Francis de Medicis, duke of Tuscany. The Jews of Italy have no entire version of the Bible in Italian; the Inquisition constantly refusing to allow them the liberty of printing one.

32. Bibles, Latin, however numerous, may be all reduced to three classes; the ancient Vulgate, called also Italica, translated from the Greek Septuagint; the modern Vulgate, the greatest part of which is done from the Hebrew text; and the new Latin translations, done also from the Hebrew text, in the sixteenth century. We have nothing remaining of the ancient Vulgate, used in the primitive times in the western churches, but the Psalms, Wisdom, and Ecclesiastes. Nobilius was endeavoured to retrieve it from the works of the ancient Latin fathers; but it was impossible to do it exactly, because most of the fathers did not keep close to it in their citations. As to the modern Vulgate, there are a vast number of editions very different from each other. Cardinal Ximenes has inserted one in the Bible of Complutum, corrected and altered in many places. R. Stevens, and the doctors of Louvain, have taken great pains in correcting the modern Vulgate. The best edition of Stevens’s Latin Bible is that of 1540, reprinted 1545, in which are added on the margin the various readings of several Latin manuscripts which he had consulted. The doctors of Louvain revised the modern Vulgate after R. Stevens, and added the various readings of several Latin manuscripts. The best of the Louvain editions are those in which are added the critical notes of Francis Lucas, of Bruges. All these reformations of the Latin Bible were made before the time of pope Sixtus V. and Clement VIII.; since which people have not presumed to make any alterations, excepting the comments and separate notes. The correction of Clement VIII, in 1592, is now the standard throughout all the Romish churches: that pontiff made two reformations; but it is the first of them that is followed. From this the Bibles of Plantin were done, and from those of Plantin all the rest; so that the common Bibles have none of the after-corrections of the same Clement VIII. It is a heavy charge that lies on the editions of pope Clement, viz. that they have some new texts added, and many old ones altered, to countenance and confirm what they call the catholic doctrine. There are a great number of Latin Bibles of the third class, comprehending the versions from the originals of the sacred books made with these 200 years. The first is that of Santes Pagninus, a Dominican, under the patronage of Leo X. printed at Lyons, in quarto, in 1527, much exteemed by the Jews. This the author improved in a second edition. In 1542 there was a beautiful edition of the same at Lyons, in folio, with scholia published under the name of Michael Villanovanus, i.e. Michal Servetus, author of the scholia. Those of Zurich, have likewise published an edition of Pagninus’s Bible in quarto; and R. Stevens reprinted it in folio, with the Vulgate, in 1557, pretending to give it more correct than in the former editions. There is also another edition of 1586, in four columns, under the name of Vatablus; and we find it again, in the Hamburg edition of the Bible, in four languages. In the number of Latin Bibles is also usually ranked the version of the same Pagninus, corrected or rather rendered literal, by Arias Montanus; which correction being approved of by the doctors of Louvain, &c. was inserted in the Polyglot Bible of Philip II. and since in that of London. There have been various editions of this in folio, quarto, and octavo; to which have been added the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, and the Greek of the New. The best of them all is the first, which is in folio, 1571. Since the reformation, there have been several Latin versions of the Bible from the originals by Protestants. The most esteemed are those of Munster, Leo Juda, Castalio, and Tremellius; the three last of which have been reprinted various times. Munster published his version at Basil in 1534, which he afterwards revised: he published a correct edition in 1546. Castalio’s fine Latin pleases most people; but there are some who think it affected: the best edition is that in 1573. Leo Juda’s version, altered a little by the divines of Salamanca, was added to the ancient Latin editions, as published by R. Stevens, with notes, under the name of Vatablus’s Bible, in 1545. It was condemned by the Parisian divines, but printed, with some alterations, by the Spanish divines of Salamanca. Those of Junius, Tremellius, and Beza, are considerably exact, and have undergone a great number of editions. We may add a fourth class of Latin Bibles, comprehending the Vulgate edition, corrected from the originals. The Bible of Isidorus Clarus is of this number; that author, not contented with restoring the ancient Latin copy, has corrected the translator in a great number of places which he thought ill rendered. Some Protestants have followed the same method; and, among others, Andrew and Luke Osiander, who have each published a new edition of the Vulgate, corrected from the originals.

33. Bibles, Muscovite. See Nos. 38 and 39.

34. Bibles, Oriental. See Nos 12, 13,15,19,20,23,35,41,42.

35. Bibles, Persian. Some of the fathers seem to say that all the Scripture was formerly translated into the language of the Persians; but we have nothing now remaining of the ancient version, which was certainly done from the Septuagint. The Persian Pentateuch, printed in the London Polglot, is without doubt, the work of rabbi Jacob, a Persian Jew. It was published by the Jews at Constantinople in 1551. In the same Polyglot we have likewise the four evangelists in Persian, with a Latin translation; but this appears very modern, incorrect, and of little use. Walton says, this version was written above four hundred years ago. Another version of the Gospels was published at Cambridge by Wheloc, in the seventeenth century. There are also two Persian versions of the Psalms made from the vulgar Latin.

36. Bibles, Polish. The first Polish version of the Bible, it is said, was that composed by Hadewich, wife of Jagellon, duke of Lithuania, who embraced Christianity in the year 1390. In 1599 there was a Polish translation of the Bible published at Cracow, which was the work of several divines of that nation, and in which James Wieck, a Sesuit, had a principal share. The Protestants, in 1596, published a Polish Bible from Luther’s German version, and dedicated it to Uladislaus, fourth king of Poland.

37. Bibles, Polyglot. See Nos. 29,31.

38. Bibles, Russian; or,

39. Bibles, Sclavonian. The Russians or Muscovites, published the Bible in their language in 1581. It was translated from the Greek by St. Cyril, the apostle of the Sclavonians: but this old version being too obscure, Ernest Gliik, who had been carried prisoner to Moscow after the taking of Narva, undertook a new translation of the Bible into Sclavonian; who dying in 1705, the Czar Peter appointed some particular divines to finish the translation; but whether it was ever printed we cannot say.

40. Bibles, Spanish. The first Spanish Bible that we hear of, is that mentioned by Cyprian de Valera, which he says was published about 1500. The epistles and Gospels were published in that language by Ambrose de Montesian in 1512; the whole Bible by Cassiodore de Reyna, a Calvinist, in 1569; and the New Testament dedicated to the emperor Charles V., by Francis Enzina, otherwise called Driander, in 1543. The first Bible which was printed in Spanish for the use of the Jews was that printed at Ferrara in 1553, in Gothic characters, and dedicated to Hercules D’Este, duke of Ferrara. This version is very ancient, and was probably in use among the Jews of Spain before Ferdinand and Isabella expelled them out of their dominions in 1492. After very violent opposition from the catholic clergy, the court of Spain ordered Spanish Bibles to be printed by royal authority in 1796, and put into the hands of people of all ranks, as well as to be used in public worship.

41. Bibles, Syriac. There are extant two versions of the Old Testament in the Syriac language; one from the Septuagint, which is ancient, and made probably about the time of Constantine: the other called antiqua et simplex, made from the Hebrew, as some suppose, about the time of the apostles. This version is printed in the Polyglots of London and Paris. In 1562, Wedmanstadius printed the whole New Testament in Syriac, at Vienna, in a beautiful character: and since his time there have been several other editions. Gabriel Sionita published a beautiful Syriac edition of the Psalms at Paris in 1526, with a Latin interpretation. There is a Syriac copy of the Bible written in the Estrangelo character, and was brought from the Christians of Travancore, being a present from Mar Dionysius, the resident bishop at Cadenatte to Dr. Buchanan. The size is large folio in parchment: the pages are written in three columns, each column containing sixty lines. It is supposed to have been written about the seventh century. Dr. White, it is said, has for some time been engaged in reprinting the Syriac Old Testament.

42. Bibles, Turkish. In 1666 a Turkish New Testament was printed in London to be dispersed in the East. In 1721, it is said, the grand Seignor ordered an impression of Bibles at Constantinople, that they might be contrasted with Mahomet’s oracle, the Alcoran. The modern Greeks in Turkey have also a translation of the Bible in their language.

43. Bibles, Welch. There was a Welch translation of the Bible made from the original in the time of queen Elizabeth, in consequence of a bill brought into the House of Commons for this purpose in 1563: it was printed in folio in 1588. Another version, which is the standard translation for that language, was printed in 1620: it is called Parry’s Bible. An impression of this was printed in 1690, called Bishop Lloyd’s Bible: these were in folio. The first octavo impression of the Welch Bible was made in 1630.

44. Bibles, Bengalee. It is with pleasure we add to all the above accounts, that a translation of the New Testament into the Shanscrit, and the last volume of the Bengalee Bible are now completed, by the missionaries resident in that part.
Much has been done by the British and Foreign Bible Society, in printing new editions of the Scriptures in various languages. The reader will find much pleasing information of the subject, in the Annual Reports of that Society.

Charles Buck (1771-1815) was an English Independent minister, best known for the publication of his “Theological Dictionary”. According to the “Dictionary of National Biography”, a Particular Baptist minister named John C. Ryland (1723-1792) assisted Buck by writing many of the articles for the aforementioned publication. One may conclude, based not only Buck’s admiration for his friend Ryland, but also on the entries in his Theological Dictionary, that he stood head and shoulders with the High-Calvinists of his day.

Charles Buck on the Biblical Covenants (Complete)
Charles Buck's Theological Dictionary