Saturday, August 02, 2008

Julia Evelina Smith

Update: Here is a longish article about Julia Smith in French that I will take time to finish reading soon.

I'm fine so I am going to post a few passages on women and Bible translation. About time, eh? Here is Julia E. Smith,

    Julia Smith's translation of the Bible stands out unique among all translations. It is the only one ever made by a woman, and the only one, it appears, ever made by man or woman without help.

    Wyclif, "the morning star of the Reformation," made a translation from the Vulgate, assisted by Nicholas of Hereford. He was not sufficiently familiar with Hebrew and Greek to translate from those tongues.

    Coverdale's translation was not done alone. In his dedication to the king he says he has humbly followed his interpreters and that under correction. Tyndale, in his translation, had the assistance of Frye, of William Roye, and also of Miles Coverdale.

    Julia Smith translated the whole Bible absolutely alone, without consultation with any one. And this not once, but five times--twice from the Hebrew, twice from the Greek and once from the Latin. Literalness was one end she kept constantly in view, though this does not work so well with the Hebrew tenses. But she did not mind that. Frequently her wording is an improvement, or brings one closer to the original than the common translation.

    Thus in I. Corinthians viii, 1, of the King James translation, we have: "Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth." Julia Smith version: "Knowledge puffs up and love builds the house." She uses "love" in place of "charity" every time. And her translation was made nearly forty years before the revised version of our day, which also does the same.

    Tyndale, in his translation nearly three hundred and seventy-five years ago, made the same translation of this word; but Julia Smith did not know that and never saw his translation. This word "charity" was one of the words that Sir Thomas More, Lord Chancellor of England, charged Tyndale with mistranslating.

    The other two words were "priest'' and "church," Tyndale calling priests "seniors," and church, "congregation." Both Julia Smith and the revised version call them priests and church. And he gives the word, "Life" for "Eve" "And Adam will call his wife's name Life, for she was the mother of all living."
And here is a book about her,
    Working in isolation on a Connecticut farm, Julia Smith (1792–1886) translated the Bible into English. She was the only woman to translate the entire Bible, but her work has been alternately ignored or disparaged by subsequent biblical scholars. This is in part because no English translation other than the King James Version attracted significant attention until the appearance of the Revised Standard Version in 1952.

    In With Her Own Eyes, Emily Sampson argues that Smith’s work anticipated trends followed by later, usually male, translators and that she deserves recognition as a pioneering and influential biblical scholar in her own right. Smith was the daughter of a preacher and lawyer and a mother who wrote poetry and studied linguistics, mathematics, and astronomy.

    When William Miller’s predictions of the end of the world failed, she began translating for herself from the original languages. Trained in Greek and Latin, Smith taught herself Hebrew and ultimately produced five translations. In 1876 Smith published a very literal translation at her own expense. She hoped not only that her Bible would reveal additions made to the King James Version but that her work would help bolster the case that women were, in many respects, the equal of men.

    Sampson also details Smith’s striking personal history. She and her four sisters were seen as eccentrics in the small town of Glastonbury. They were active in the abolitionist movement in the decades before the Civil War and later in the temperance and women’s suffrage movements. Smith attended the first meeting of the Association of the Advancement of Women, and she and her sister Abby became famous in Connecticut for their refusal to pay taxes until given the right to vote in town meetings.

    A comprehensive look at the intellectual, social, and political circles of Julia Smith, With Her Own Eyes is a singular portrait of one of the most remarkable autodidacts in the history of American intellectual life.

    Emily Sampson teaches in the Humanities Department at Cuyamaca College in California.


believer333 said...

Julia Smith was an amazing woman. Thank you for this info. I get a chuckle at the fact that she married when she was 87. :)

So, did you find any copies of her Bible, or an excerpts from it?

Suzanne McCarthy said...

I don't know any more about her than can be found online.

ElShaddai Edwards said...

Thanks for this series of posts, Suzanne. Do you have any more information on Frances Siewert (Amplified Bible), other than what's available on the Lockman Foundation's website?

Suzanne McCarthy said...

I am absolutely going to post about Frances Siewert and link to you on this. Thank you for your inspirtation! However, I have no inside information, but am just blogging about this to bring attention to the number of women who have contributed to Bible translation and then look at them to see if one can make generalizations about women and Bible translation. Probably not, but it is interesting. I will continue this series very soon.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...


Your french article is very good, But sone points could be debated!

See Above ref. GOOGLE BOOKS:

Key words:

The Holy Bible Julia E. Smith

Anonymous said...

The above 2 comments are the entire PDF Holy Bible on GOOGLE BOOKS (NOTE: Edit my 3 posts into one or rewright) J Mark Huntemann IXOYC

Anonymous said...

Copy the JPEG Pics!

Very good

Post 4


Unknown said...

Julia E. Smith Bible auction ending today

Rabbi David Jonathan Cooper said...

My Daughter, Talia Cooper became Bat Mitzvah on July 18, 1998, which was the day preceding the 150th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Women's Rights Convention. In honor of this anniversary, we used Julia E. Smith's translation of the Torah segment she chanted which on this date was from Parashat Pinchas, specifically Numbers 27:1-11 the story of the five daughters of Zelophehad. Coincidentally Julia E. Smith's family also had five daughters and no sons and like the daughters in the story, they also had to go to court to secure their property

= Rabbi David J. Cooper

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Thank you so much for your comment. Stories like this are so important to share. Two Jewish women in my workplace have been very influential in my thinking.