of the first commands that Jesus gave to His disciples was to go
into all the world to preach the gospel to every nation teaching
them to observe all that had been commanded. (Matthew 28:19) This
of course would make it necessary for the gospels and the teachings
of the Apostles to be translated into the language of the people
who were being visited. Therefore quite naturally there appeared
a number of early translation of the New Testament into various
other languages. The existing copies of these early translations
or version is of great value in continuing to verify the accuracy
and trustworthiness of the New Testament documents.
Latin translations are the most important of the early versions.
Latin as it has been stated before was the official language of
the Roman Empire. As time went on Latin become the predominant language
of the west. Because of this the Latin versions soon became the
only version to be used by the Church in these regions. There are
two Latin versions to be examined.
The Old Latin: The first Latin translations are believed to have
been made prior to 200AD. This version survives today in some thirty
ancient manuscripts. This "Old Latin" translation was
not of a high quality and was characterized by many variations in
the text. Early church leaders of that time recognized the need
to correct and revise this translation to make it accurate and trustworthy.
The result is what is known today as the Latin Vulgate.
The Latin Vulgate: In 382 Pope Damascus commissioned Jerome an outstanding
Bible scholar of his day to begin a revised Latin version which
would correct and standardize the numerous Old Latin translations.
Jerome was well suited for this task having been trained in the
original biblical languages of Greek and Hebrew. When completed
this new Latin version became the Bible that was used in the western
world for the next 1000 years. It is estimated that there are presently
some eight thousand copies of the Latin Vulgate still in existence
important early translation was the Syriac version. Syrian which
was the chief language spoken in the land of Syria and Mesopotamia
was almost identical to Aramaic which was the language spoken by
Jesus and his disciples. The first translation known as the "Old
Syriac" version dates somewhere towards the end of the second
century and is survived by two known manuscripts. In contrast the
second Syriac version know as the "Peshitta" or "simple"
most likely dates to the early fifth century and is represented
by some 350 manuscripts.
addition to these two early versions the Christian scriptures were
translated into other languages. Some examples of these other versions
are as follows: The Coptic version of Egypt, The Ethiopic of Ethiopia,
The Gothic of the Germanic tribes, The Armenian version of the eastern
church, the Georgian of Georgia north of Armenia, the Nestorian
versions of central and east Asia, and the Arabic and Slavonic versions.
There are also several other less important versions which are not