Geneva Bible (1599)
The English language has changed in the past four centuries or so (well 411 years to be precise).
For the past three weeks, I’ve been reading (or trying to read and make sense of) the Bible brought to the Americas by the Pilgrims — the Geneva Bible of 1599 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geneva_Bible). It all started as a comment from a minister when we were talking about the different translations of the Bible and all the possible errors that these translations might have as the result of erroneous interpretations. As usual, I got curious.
For this little project that I decided to take, I installed the Geneva1599 module (http://www.crosswire.org/sword/modules/ModInfo.jsp?modName=Geneva1599) on Xiphos (the Bible study program that I currently use; http://www.xiphos.org/). This way I can read this version of the Bible side-by-side with other versions — like KJV (1759) and WEB — in order to have a guideline to the language used then — many differences in the spelling of words (like “euill” instead of “evil”).
For a better idea of what I mean regarding the possible errors in translations or interpretations, I’m including one of my favorite quotes of the Bible — Psalms 23:1-6.
1 A Psalme of David. The Lord is my shepheard, I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to rest in greene pasture, and leadeth me by the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soule, and leadeth me in the paths of righteousnesse for his Names sake.
4 Yea, though I should walke through the valley of the shadowe of death, I will feare no euill: for thou art with me: thy rod and thy staffe, they comfort me.
5 Thou doest prepare a table before me in the sight of mine aduersaries: thou doest anoynt mine head with oyle, and my cuppe runneth ouer.
6 Doubtlesse kindnesse and mercie shall follow me all the dayes of my life, and I shall remaine a long season in the house of the Lord.
– Psalms 23:1-6 (Geneva Bible, 1599)
Without a doubt, the language used then is beautiful. It delivers the word of God with the proper drama and visuals.
Of course, the comparison between versions makes me wonder how mutilated, mutated, wrong and changed the original Word of God — written in Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek; translated to Latin then to German — is in comparison to the Word that we currently have and hold as true. Perhaps this is the reason why we have many translations of the Bible in English — not to mention the whole lot of translations and interpretations in all other languages worldwide.