Re: Rheims

Date: Wed Jun 10 1998 - 17:34:39 EDT

Ted Mann asks:

>Can anyone tell me about the Rheims NT? How is it rated as a
>translation? Thanks.

Jeffrey Gibson's memory-based reply was roughly right (but it was during
the reign of Elizabeth herself, not her Jacobean successor), but
here's more.

It was done at the English college at Rheims, France, where many Catholic
exiles from England were ensconced. The translation was instigated by the
College's president, William Allen, in 1578, to provide a text in English
for Catholics who had only "Protestant" translations available to them.
The task was taken up by Gregory Martin--who single-handedly translated the
entire Latin Vulgate into English! Preesident Allen and Richard Bristow
reviewed (and edited?) the translation, and the NT was published at Rheims
in 1582. By 1584, Martin had finished the OT also (just before his death),
but it was not published until 1609-1610 (not at Rheims but at Douay).

It is the oldest continuously-printed English-language Bible there is.

Whether it is a "good" translation is debatable. "Give us this day our
supersubstantial bread" is decidedly odd, as is "Abraham believed God,
and it was reputed to him unto justice." But most readers will be
surprised by how much it is like the King James Version, aside from
the textual base (Latin Vulgate, not the Greek). But recall that the
translators of the 1611 version had the 1582 Rheims in front of their eyes.

Edward Hobbs
Wellesley College

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