The Baptist Page.net, Bible Translation Info
And He said to them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men (Mat 4:19, MKJV).

There are several hundred translations of the Holy Bible, which could be good or bad depending on how you look at it. Have you ever wondered why so many translations and what the difference between them is? We did, so we decided to see what we could find out. There are four general types of Biblical translations; literal (actually there's virtually no such thing, but those that are as close as possible are in this category), paraphrase, thought-for-thought, and those that are a combination of these or just don't fit any particular category. Below you will find many of the terms you'll see on other pages in the Bible Translations sub-domain and what they refer to, including the various texts used in the translation process and their background. Other information is included simply because we have it available. Let us know if you have any comments, but please, keep it civil. Please understand that we did not gather most of this information, and that it came from a variety of sources (with permission). Please let us know if you feel anything here is incorrect so we can check it out.

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Aleppo Codex – The oldest complete manuscript of the Hebrew Bible, written by Rabbi Aaron Ben Asher around 920 A.D., approximately one-third of it has been missing since the middle of the twentieth century.

Alexandrian Text-Type – A type of textual character of Biblical manuscripts. The Alexandrian type is on the earliest manuscripts, with the Byzantine type replacing it around the 9th century.

Byzantine Text-Type – A type of textual character of Biblical manuscripts. The Alexandrian type is on the earliest manuscripts, with the Byzantine type replacing it around the 9th century.

Chester Beatty Papyri – Chester Beatty acquired numerous papyri of both Old and New Testament books of the Bible, primarily from around Memphis, Egypt. His collection is known as the "Chester Beatty Papyri."

Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus – The Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus received its name from the writings of Saint Ephraemi the Syrian over the original New Testament Greek text. The original text appears to have been rubbed off so the newer writings could be written on the parchment.

Codex Sinaiticus – Believed to be from the 4th century and containing books of both the Old and New Testament, the Codex Sinaiticus had the effect of confirming the legitimacy of the Codex Vaticanus (which is older). This Codex was found in a convent near Mount Sinai.

Codex Vaticanus – So named because it is in the possession of the Vatican library, the Codex Vaticanus dates from the 4th century and is believed to be the oldest Greek Bible still in existence. While missing parts of several books of the Bible, it is still highly respected.

Dynamic Equivalence Translation - This method of translation intends to keep the meaning of the text, although not necessarily the words or grammar. See thought-for-thought and paraphrase translations.

Formal Equivalence Translation - This method of translation seeks to translate the scripture as close to the original wording as possible. The main issue with this type of translation is that sometimes the meaning of words change. Translators using this method have to be aware of this and adjust accordingly. See literal translation.

Gregory-Aland – This refers to a numbering system to keep track of the many copies of the Old and New Testaments that have been found.

Leningrad Codex – The oldest complete Hebrew Bible still in existence, the Leningrad Codex dates from around 1,000 A. D. It is also considered to be an excellent example of the Masoretic Text.

Literal Translation - In reality there are actually very few true literal translations. This is because a true "word-for-word" translation is almost impossible from Greek or Hebrew to English. In Biblical translations the word "literal" is in a comparative sense to that of the other types of translations.

Majority Text – Not really a manuscript in and of itself, the Majority Text is simply a compilation of all known texts, with the parts that are similar in the "Majority" versions of each section used.

Masoretic Text – The Masoretic Text is the Hebrew, or Jewish, Bible, and includes the pronunciation of the words. Hebrew was becoming extinct as a spoken language (obviously it has since recovered), and the writers were concerned that the text would eventually become unreadable.

New Testament Uncial – Greek text in the scriptures was written in entirely upper-case letters, or uncials, until approximately the 9th century A.D. Lower-case writing, or minuscules, began to slowly replace it at this point.

Paraphrase Translation -A paraphrase translation is a translation that first translates the scriptures, then rewords them. This can be very useful, but can also open the door to heresy.

Septuagint – The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible and was translated between 200-300 B.C. As the Jewish people spread throughout the Mediteranean they began to lose touch with the Hebrew language. Translating the Old Testament into Greek allowed these Jewish people to read it.

Textual Criticism – A method of determining what the original texts contained by comparing the copies that have been made.

Textus Receptus – Also known as the Traditional Received Text, Received Text, and the Byzantine Text, the Textus Receptus is a printed translation of the New Testament in Greek that was used in the translation of the Luther Bible and the King James translation of the Bible.

The Bodmer Papyri – The Bodmer Papyri are so named since they come from a collection by Martin Bodmer. Collected in Egypt in the 1950's, they are comprised of 22 papryi from both the Old and New Testaments and other ancient documents.

The Oxyrhynchus Papyri - The Oxyrhynchus Papyri is named for a city in Northern Egypt, and refers to various ancient documents that have been recovered there. Of note are fragments of the "Gospel of Thomas," a Gnostic Gospel that originated some time after the birth of Christianity. While generally known to be a work of fiction (it's unlikely that Thomas could write a book three centuries after his death), it is of interest from a historical viewpoint none-the-less.

Thought-For-Thought Translation - Given that a true literal translation is almost impossible to achieve, in almost all translations there is at least some thought-for-thought work done in the translating process. The idea behind a thought-for-thought translation is to try to make what you're reading mean the same thing it meant in the original scriptures. This is because meanings of words change, etc. For example, "meek" in Biblical times was good, meaning obedient among other things. A good Roman soldier would be called meek. Obviously there is a different meaning today.

Vulgate – The Vulgate, also known as the Latin Vulgate, is a 5th century translation of the Bible into Latin. Used by the Catholic Church for 1,500 years, it contains the Apocrypha. Attempts to translate into English, French, and German before and during the Reformation were met with strong resistance by the Catholic Church.

Westcott & Hort Text – Also known as The New Testament in the Original Greek, Westcott & Hort took the available manuscripts (which were mostly only fragments) and put them together to come up with a complete New Testament in the original Greek.

Western Text-Type - A type of textual character of Biblical manuscripts. What is referred to as the Western Text-Type is what can be found on the first texts translated into Latin from Greek.


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