So many bible translations in the modern world but was this always the case?
Why is there so many translations?
Why are there stark differences in verses and what they actually say?
Which translation do you use?
Does it matter which translation you use?
These are just some of the questions I faced as a believer. I always say if truth is absolute then it does matter because words and proper understanding of words matter.
Example; There have been times when my children have done things that have gotten me angry. I have blurted out things like “I’m going to kill him”. Obviously I don’t mean that literally it’s just a figure of speech. But what if someone writes down my words and then someone reads those words hundreds or even thousands of years later. They could easily misinterpret what I said and think I meant it literally. How would they know my true intent and know that I really wasn’t speaking literally? Even worse what if someone along the line changed my words or added to them or omitted them? Now we have a situation were no one knows my true intention, falsehoods and out right lies can creep in. In other words my words could easily be misinterpreted.
Now here is a Biblical example of words written down thousands of years ago..
Here are two verses from Gen 3:15. One is from the Douay Rheims Bible and the other from the New King James Bible;
Douay Rheims Gen 3:15 “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.”
NKJV Gen 3:15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”
Now at first glance they seem practically the same. But they are radically different. The major difference is in God’s use of gender. In the DR bible its says “she shall crush thy head” but in the NKJ it says “He shall bruise your head”. It also differs by using her and his. Some may call this trivial but I say it’s anything but trivial. We are not speaking about changing the words of Paul or even one of the apostles, which is serious enough, we are talking about completely changing the words of God himself. I personally don’t consider this a small matter. We are talking about changing the words of God himself to mean the complete opposite of what God intended. The difference between he and she is crucial to understanding salvation history and what roles certain individuals will play on the stage of salvation history. In my humble opinion this was no simple typo, but deliberately changed for a sinister reason. The Lord God either uttered the word he or she, the question is which one is the absolute truth. You can be sure that at some point in history God did not change his mind and correct Himself by changing the word he to she. If not who changed this?
So which Bible do you use and why? Obviously you can’t give me the answer since this is a one-way conversation but I will share my answer for those who care to listen.
With so many Bible translations in the world how did I settle on one specific translation? The simple answer, reason, logic and history (and not least, prayer). By combining all four it was not that difficult to find my answer. I basically started from the beginning.
The four Gospels and the letters of Paul and the other Apostles were written in Greek. Although Christ spoke Aramaic the universal language of his time was Greek and would remain so for several hundred years. But that universal language would soon be replaced by Latin. In the year of our Lord 392 a Catholic priest by the name of St. Jerome took on the tedious task of the first official translation of the original manuscripts of the New Testament. He not only translated the original documents of the New Testament from Greek to Latin but also the Old Testament from Greek to Latin better-known as a Septuagint. Once St. Jerome completed his work, Latin would remain the official language of the Holy Word of God for 1100 years. In fact to this day Latin is still the official language of the Catholic Church, it has not changed for over 1600 years. If you were to understand Latin and were to read the Latin Vulgate today you would be reading the very first ever translation of the word the New Testament into another language. But since most people including myself do not have a full understanding of the Latin language I searched the historical records and found the next best thing, The Douay-Rheims Bible. When one reads the Douay-Rheims Bible you are just two translations away from the official language of the New Testament. It is a fact, and not an opinion, that every translation of the word of God in our modern world stems directly from St. Jerome and the Latin Vulgate which is the official Bible of the Catholic Church.
This is also a fact and not an opinion, no Catholic Church no Bible. To deny this statement would be to deny truth itself. In fact a better statement would be “no Catholic Church no Bible, Know the Catholic Church Know the Bible.
A little history goes a long way.
Historical records will point to John Wycliffe as the first man to translate the Bible from the Latin Vulgate to English in the year 1384 but this is not entirely true. There were, in fact, many translations of large parts of the Bible centuries before Wycliffe’s work. The English Bible was first translated from the Latin Vulgate into Old English by a few select Catholic monks and scholars in the 8th and 9th century. Such translations were generally in the form of prose or as interlinear glosses (literal translations above the Latin words). No complete translations existed during that time. Wycliffe Still had to rely on the Latin Vulgate for his translation as this was the only official translation of the Bible (and still is to this day).
The History of the Douay-Rheims Bible
The Douay-Rheims Bible, which is also sometimes called merely the Douay Bible or abbreviated as the D-R Bible, is the oldest full Roman Catholic Bible translation in English. It is sometimes written with the spelling of Douai-Rheims, or referred to as the Rheims-Douai Bible. The spelling of “Rhemes” has also been used. The name is based on the fact that the translation was produced at the English College at Douay; the college had migrated to the area of Rheims and editions were printed there as well. Douay and Rheims, as well as Rhemes, are English spellings of the French towns of Douai and Riems, which explains the different spellings used in publishing. Douay-Rheims is the most common spelling used in publishing the translation today.
The Douay Bible dates to 1582 for the New Testament and 1609-10 for the Old Testament, and thus the Bible in its entirety. The reasons for the translation and publication were two-fold. First, given the circumstances in England and Europe at the time, it was deemed pertinent that the faithful have access to a Bible they could read and understand, for pious use. This was especially true of the New Testament, which Catholics wanted to be able to read easily.
The second reason, which is connected to the first, was to respond to controversial editions translated by Protestant reformers. Around the end of the 16th century, there were about nine complete English Bibles and a few other New Testament translations in English. Many of the Protestant translations of scripture included controversial and biased translation, and were presented and used in polemical ways to support the Protestant schism. The publishing of the Douay-Rheims version of the Bible sought to provide an accurate, faithful English translation of the Holy Bible. After all it was the Catholic Church that translated the four Gospels and the written letters form Greek to Latin in the 4th century.
Translation and Style of the Douay-Rheims
The translation type of the Douay-Rheims is a literal translation of the Latin Vulgate Bible, initially translated by St. Jerome, which had been reaffirmed as authoritative by the Council of Trent. This is also called “word for Word” translation. Therefore it did not bend word meanings in order to fit biases. A great amount of time was spent ensuring the Bible was translated exactly. Some of the Latin words did not have an exact English equivalent. In these cases, the word was either kept in its original form or “anglicized.” Some words were not changed at all; for example with amen, which passed unchanged from Greek, into Latin, into English, or the word pasch.
In other cases the Latin word was rewritten, not as a true English word, but an English adaptation of a word. For example, the Latin version of Philippians 2:7 reads: “sed semet ipsum exinanivit formam servi accipiens in similitudinem hominum factus et habitu inventus ut homo” With no exact English word for exinanivit, the 1582 version of the D-R Bible began the verse with “He exinanited himself,” an anglicized version of the word exinanivit.
Conferring with and comparing to the Greek and Hebrew was also done to ensure accuracy.
The Douay-Rheims Bible Today
The Douay-Rheims Bible in its present form is not the exact translation of the 1582 and 1610 versions, but the Challoner revision of 1749-1752. The revisions by Bishop Challoner were minor in terms of meaning and theology.
Basically the revisions included two aspects.
First of all, Challoner changed the bulk of the anglicized words to actual English words. The anglicized version of the Latin words were a barrier to popular use by Catholics, if they did not understand the Latin term itself. For example the verse from Philippians mentioned above was changed to begin, “He emptied himself…” as opposed to “exinanited.” The other main change was to update archaic language and spelling. For example, the 16th/17th century spelling of “bloud” was changed to the modern “blood.” This did not however remove the use of words such as thee, thy, hath, etc, which the Douay-Rheims preserved. These revisions gave the translation great popularity and it remained the standard Catholic Bible until the mid-20th century and is still the favorite of many Catholics (including myself) due to its eloquent language and clear, faithful rendering of scripture. The Douay-Rheims Bible is available in a variety of forms, from basic personal editions to the elegant, heirloom quality large-sized Haydock Bible with commentary. It is also available in a pocket-sized New Testament and Psalms edition as well as the unique Latin and English side-by-side Bible. The New Testament of the Douay Bible is even available on audio CD.
I can only say this, words and their translations are extremely important especially when it comes to what God said or did not say. I can also say this, no man is infallible when he reads and interprets the word of God. The Bible is not always self interpreting, if it were we would not have the division that we see in the body of Christ in today’s world. Over 30,000 denominations and counting. Not only do biblical translations matter, but more importantly, the proper understanding when reading the word of God is vital. No man is infallible with his personal interpretation with regards to the word of God. There is only one infallible man in the history of creation and it isn’t you or I. It is also a fact and not an opinion that the Catholic Church is the church that gave us the New Testament as we have it today, no other church or denomination can lay claim to this historical fact. To deny this is to deny history and truth itself. I mentioned when I started off that three things led me to this conclusion. Reason, logic, history and prayer. To deny that the Catholic Church not only gave us the New Testament but protected it from corruption and distortion through the centuries, one would have to deny reason, logic and history. Especially history.
Over the years I have listened countless people bash the Catholic Church. Calling Her such things as the whore of Babylon or the Pope is an anti-christ and many other derogatory statements. But when I hear such talk I quietly say to myself the prayer of Christ on the Cross, “forgive them Father for they know not what they say”.
Bishop Fulton Sheen said it best in this quote:
“There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”
― Fulton J. Sheen
Amen Fulton Sheen Amen.`
I have this to say to those who call the Catholic Church the whore of Babylon.
“Thank God for the whore of Babylon for without Her you would have no New Testament to quote and thus no one to call the whore of Babylon.”
― Gary Downey
Be very careful who you put labels on.
I have decided that my next blog post will be on the topic of reason and faith and how they are intertwined. The most dangerous faith in the world is a faith without reason. This logic is true regardless of your religious belief. Islam practices a faith without reason but so do millions upon millions of Christians. The ability for men to reason is a God-given gift. It’s a quality unique to the human race. Reason is a precious gift of God especially when it coincides with prayer. Many many men never find the fullness of truth because they have abandoned their God-given gift to reason. They become blinded by their own egos and spiritual pride and refuse to look at the facts because the facts are a contradiction to their personal interpretation of the word of God. In order to reach this level of thinking one has no choice but to throw out his ability to use reason and logic. When this happens division of the Body of Christ is the natural result. Disunity and division sets in. I have always said that unity is the sign of the Holy Spirit and disunity is the sign of the devil. Where you have disunity and division you can be sure Satan’s fingerprints are all over it.
One last note. I actually purchased a copy of the very first ever Douay Rheims Bible printed in English. It currently sits in a museum in France. Every page was photocopied and republished in a book that I was fortunate to acquire. I photocopied the opening page to the Gospel of John as you can see below. What you are reading is old English as it was spoken in the 16th century.
We are fortunate to live in the age of amazing technology. This technology can be used for good or evil like anything. Technology more than any other time in history gives as all the ability to find the Truth about almost anything. Seek and you will find the truth. I used reason, logic, technology and prayer, and God lead me to the doors of His true Church. Through this Church I am assured of the proper interpretation and understanding of all of Scripture. How good God has been to me!
Check out the copy write of this Bible.