Why do we need modern translations of the Bible?
Many people ask us about why revisions are necessary for Bible translation projects. The truth is that language evolves over time. A language that was translated 100 years ago may not be able to be understood by speakers today.
Did you know that, before John Wycliffe’s translation of the Bible into English, some Scripture was translated into Old English as early as the 7th century?
There are translations of the Psalms and John’s Gospel accredited to Aldhelm, Bishop of Sherborne and Saint Bede some time between the 7th and 8th centuries but these have since been lost.
The oldest surviving translation into Old English translation of Scripture is a series of notes about the gospels written by a monk: ‘Aldred the Scribe’ around 970AD. Aldred was a teacher and respected religious leader who made annotations of the gospels from Latin into Old English in a monastery in London. His annotated translations were included in what is referred to as ‘The Lindisfarne Gospels’ in the local Northumbrian dialect.
However, the Old English language was very different to the English we speak and write today. It also differed considerably from Middle English which John Wycliffe translated around 1384.
Aldred translated some parts of Scripture into Old English, like the passage below. What part of Scripture do you think the following is from?
Suae ðonne iuih gie bidde fader urer ðu arð ðu bist in heofnum & in heofnas; sie gehalgad noma ðin; to-cymeð ric ðin. sie willo ðin suae is in heofne & in eorðo. hlaf userne oferwistlic sel us to dæg. & forgef us scylda usra suae uoe forgefon scyldgum usum. & ne inlæd usih in costunge ah gefrig usich from yfle.
Give up? It is actually The Lord’s Prayer (Matt 6:9-13). Can you imagine if this was the only version of the Bible we had access to today?