the evolution of Biblical translation

What language was the Old Testament originally written in? The New Testament? Am I right in thinking that both were originally written in Hebrew?

I’m trying to figure out that languages translations came from. As in, what languages were gone through to get to the Revised Standard edition that I have by my bed?

(Aramaic?)-> Hebrew-> Greek-> Latin-> Elizabethan English-> Modern English

Can anyone fill in the blanks for me?

Most of the Old Testament is in Hebrew. A few parts are in Aramaic (namely, one verse of Jeremiah and several chapters each of Ezra and Daniel). The New Testament is written entirely in a dialect of Greek called Koine. Koine was a simplified form of Attic Greek that became the lingua franca of the eastern Mediterranean. The important Latin translation was St. Jerome’s Vulgate. In general, the many English translations are based on the original languages (Hebrew and Greek), but were undoubtedly influenced by the Vulgate. source: Encyclopedia Americana.

I believe the OT was written in Hebrew. Much if not all of the NT was written in Greek.

The gospels and other NT books were written +50 years after the death of Christ primarily for a non-Jewish audience. Stories of Christ before that were mostly oral traditions spread among Jews living in Palestine. These were probably told in Aramaic, which was the every day language used by the Jewish people. As Christianity spread out of Palestine and into other parts of west asia and east europe the converts wanted stories about Christ. The lacked the oral history that existed among Jesus’s Jewish followers. The converts mostly spoke Greek, which had been the language of business and commerce in that part of the world since Alexander the Great came through 300 years before. So the gospels were written down orginally in Greek.

I’m not sure when the OT made it into the Christian bible, but they were probably translated into Greek before making into Latin versions of the Bible. I’m no biblical scholar, this is just what I remember from one semester of the history of the Mediterranean rom 1000 BCE to 1000 CE.

It is a mistake to assume, however, that the composers of one translation only looked at the last language the text was translate into. They were well aware that they would be playing a cosmic game of telephone if they did that. Writers of KJV looked at older texts in Greek and Hebrew whenever possible, but had to rely on the Latin translation when previous translations couldn’t be found. Newer translations are even more heavily infulenced by orginal writings. My brother had an anntated New International Version. It often cites words and explains the orginal Hebrew or Greek word used, and what that word can also means.

From what I’m reading here, the Revised Standard is essentially a modernization of the KJV. It probably relies more on the Elizabethan English translation than most modern versions.

The Old Testament was written in Hebrew.

The Apocrypha of the Old Testament was mostly written in Greek.

(There are a few disputed sections of some books (such as Daniel) that some scholars believe were originally written in Aramaic or Greek and translated to Hebrew, but those are not large passages and the conjectured original language is disputed).

The New Testament was written entirely in Greek.
(There is an ancient story that Matthew was originally written in Aramaic and later translated or re-written in Greek. Most scholars today do not support that story.)

The entire bible was translated into Latin (in what was then called the common, or vulgar, tongue and is now referred to as the vulgate).

The Authorized Version (aka the King James Version) was translated directly from the original Hebrew and Greek–except for a couple of sections for which King James’ scholars did not have good original sources, those were translated from the vulgate.

The Revised Standard Version is based upon the KJV, but since all the sources were available by the mid 1940’s, when it was written, it can be considered a translation directly from the original. Later translations such as the New International Version are all translated directly from the original languages.

The copies we have in original languages have a few possibly corrupted passages. However, the Jewish Masoretes attempted a complete correction of the text in the 9th and 10th (?) centuries. When copies of the Jewish testament were found at Qumran (the Dead Sea Scrolls), the Masoretes’ efforts turned out to have been amazingly good.

Similarly, the oldest complete texts of the New Testament date to the fourth century, but fragments dating to the second century have generally matched the later texts.

While it is possible that a few phrases has become lost or corrupted over time, the odds are pretty good that a modern translation is taken from a pretty accurate copy of the originals.

t&d is pretty well correct. Note that altho the words have not changed much over the centuries, the connotations/ meanings have, sometimes.

Actually, altho we now think that Matthew was pbssibly not written in Aramaic, “Q”, likely was. Scholars have worked out that there was a “book” of the sayings of Jesus, likely written when He was alive, or very soon after, written in Aramaic, ie “Q” (for quelle=source). The finding of a copy of this would be a milestone in Biblical studies.

The 1st major translation of the OT was the Septuagint, in Alexandria, into Greek, in about BC 250.

So nicely done. Thank you one and all, for simply answering the question, with the best information available.

Tris