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Essay: The Translation of the Bible

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  • Subject area(s): History essays
  • Reading time: 3 minutes
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  • Published: February 20, 2020*
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  • The Translation of the Bible
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There is no evidence on how the Bible was written, the only knowledge we have on it comes from it itself. It was rewritten many times throughout centuries just based off of what was written before then. There is a three-step process that you must follow to see if something is truly history. The first step is to obtain all of the information you can on the specific event, second every little piece of information has to be examined to be considered a fact, and lastly an academic historian uses all of the information that has been proven to recreate the event for others to learn from. When looking at the Bible in terms of history you have to exam it the same way you would with other history even though religions look at it as a sacred text.

When using the Hebrew Bible as historical data two questions must be answers, how were the books composed and who wrote them? and the second question is how did we come to have these books? The Hebrew Bible was passed down for centuries, throughout it being passed down many people would work on them and write new things. Most of it is written in Hebrew while there is a small amount written in Aramaic. One of the oldest translations is called Septuagint it was written in the fourth century CE. At the beginning the Bible was a bunch of scrolls. Once the Christian Church included the Jewish Bible as part of their own they split it up into the Old Testament and the New Testament and they started using the codex to present the Testaments. Tanakh is an acronym for the three sections of the Hebrew Bible, the Torah, Neviim, and Ketuvim. The Torah is considered to be God’s revelations to Moses. Neviim is translated to Prophets which describe experiences from the people of Israel. Ketuvim is translated to writings but it is more depicted as miscellaneous as it includes songs prayers, poems and psalms. There is no evidence of canonization there are only writings that tell of times where works were recognized as canonical.

During the early stages of the Bible it could only be copied by hand which made the distribution of it incredibly slow, also there were many mistakes made that were never corrected. In order to find out what are mistakes there is a process called text criticism, where all of the scripts are compared to each other using the older texts as the guide to get the most accurate text possible. The Masoretic Text was recognized as the main authoritative text because it was the only complete text until 1947 where part of it was destroyed during riots. It was written without the usage of vowels which led to different translations that do not fit in the text.

Septuagint was the first translation of the Hebrew Bible and it was in Greek. The king of Egypt ordered for a translation of the Bible into Greek Around 285 BCE. There were concerns that the translation is not accurate because of the huge difference in languages. Even with this concern it has the highest Greek authority possible because it was inspected by the King himself. Only the highest of authorities at the time worked on this translation so there would be as little mistranslations as possible. The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1946, years following more scripts and fragments were found. Some of the scrolls contain whole works and date back as far as the mid third century BCE. Ever since the findings of the Dead Sea Scrolls the Hebrew text has been more thoroughly understood.

Julius Wellhausen created the Documentary Hypothesis, which was the beginning of deep research of the Torah and Bible. He confirmed many things with thorough research allowing for all of his work to be considered the firm ground for further research. Another person who had a large impact on everyone’s research was William F. Albright. He came after Julius who mostly used texts to prove things while William used archaeology to back his findings. He did not like how Julius left out ancient oral traditions which led him to believe that he had beaten Julius with his own research.

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