Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ancient Hebrew Poetry Pt 4

The Pagnini Latin Bible was listed as a source text for not only the Coverdale Bible, but also the Bishop's Bible, the Reina-Valera Bible and the Olivétan Bible. It stands firmly at the centre of the Reformation translation tradition. Not only was it impossible for a translator at the time of the Reformation to view the Greek New Testament without also viewing Erasmus' Latin translation, but it was also unlikely that any translator did not also use an interlinear Hebrew-Pagnini Latin text.

This spring, I visited the Erasmus collection in Toronto and held a copy each of the first few editions of his New Testament. There was no way to access the Greek without reading also the Latin translation and notes of Erasmus. Then a short walk took me to the Thomas Fischer Library to read Pagnini's Latin Bible.

Pagnini also shaped the Bible for further generations by being the first to use verse annotations, and by placing the apocryphal books between the Old and New Testament.

The study of Pagnini's Bible has revised my impression of the Reformation as a time when the Bible was translated by a select group of brilliant individuals from the original Hebrew and Greek into the vernaculars of Reformation Europe. Rather two movements were afoot. On the one hand, the Greek and Hebrew originals were retranslated into Latin, the lingua franca of Europe, by scholars who were steeped in classical Greek and rabbinical Hebrew. And on the other hand, those who had some knowledge of Greek and Hebrew, but were not recognized as international scholars of these languages, men such as Luther, Tyndale, de Reyna, and Olivétan, translated the Bible into the vernacular languages of Europe.

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