The Bible

Versions and translations

The original texts of the Tanakh were mainly in Hebrew, with some portions in Aramaic. In addition to the authoritative Masoretic Text, Jews still refer to the Septuagint, the translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, and the Targum Onkelos, an Aramaic version of the Bible. There are several different ancient versions of the Tanakh in Hebrew, mostly differing by spelling, and the traditional Jewish version is based on the version known as Aleppo Codex. Even in this version there are words which are traditionally read differently from written, because the oral tradition is considered more fundamental than the written one, and presumably mistakes had been made in copying the text over the generations.

The primary biblical text for early Christians was the Septuagint. In addition, they translated the Hebrew Bible into several other languages. Translations were made into Syriac, Coptic, Ethiopic, and Latin, among other languages. The Latin translations were historically the most important for the Church in the West, while the Greek-speaking East continued to use the Septuagint translations of the Old Testament and had no need to translate the New Testament.

The earliest Latin translation was the Old Latin text, or Vetus Latina, which, from internal evidence, seems to have been made by several authors over a period of time. It was based on the Septuagint, and thus included books not in the Hebrew Bible.

Pope Damasus I assembled the first list of books of the Bible at the Council of Rome in 382 CE. He commissioned Saint Jerome to produce a reliable and consistent text by translating the original Greek and Hebrew texts into Latin. This translation became known as the Latin Vulgate Bible and in 1546 at the Council of Trent was declared by the Roman Catholic Church to be the only authentic and official Bible in the Latin Church.

Since the Protestant Reformation, Bible translations for many languages have been made. The Bible continues to be translated to new languages, largely by Christian organisations such as Wycliffe Bible Translators, New Tribes Mission and Bible societies.

Bible translations, worldwide (as of November 2014)[105]
Number Statistic
7,000 Approximate number of languages spoken in the world today
2,195 Number of translations into new languages currently in progress
1,329 Number of languages with a translation of the New Testament
531 Number of languages with a translation of the Bible (Protestant Canon)

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