Twenty years ago today, the International Federation of Translators (whose acronym in English comes out, amusingly) as FIT) suggested that the Feast of St Jerome should be marked as International Translation Day. Of course in some ways the work of a good translator, a bit like that of a good plumber or electrician, is hidden. When a translation is good it slips effortlessly in through the back door of our own heart language, and we read the final text without a second thought. Like the plumbing and wiring above – we only notice it when it goes wrong.
In this Biblefresh year many have been thinking especially about the work of Bible translation. Bishop Miles Smith wrote in the preface of the original King James Version that “translation it is that openeth the window to let in the light’. That is just the way it should be.
On this International Translation Day, though, let’s remember some of the rather less successful Bible translations, courtesy of the United Bible Societies:
The Vinegar Bible 1717
The parable of the vinegar (instead of vineyard) in the headline about Luke 20
The Printers Bible 1702
Printers (instead of Princes) have persecuted me.
The Place-Makers Bible 1562
Blessed are the place-makers (instead of the peace-makers). Matthew 5.9
The Bug Bible 1551
Thou shalt not be afraid for the bugges (bogies) by night (instead of terror). Psalm 91.5
The Treacle Bible 1568
Is there no treacle (instead of balm) in Gilead? Jeremiah 7.22
The Unrighteous Bible
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall inherit (instead of not inherit) the kingdom or God. 1 Corinthians 6.9
The Wicked Bible 1631
Do commit adultery (instead of do not). Exodus 20.14. The printer was fined £300 for omitting the word not. All copies were ordered to be destroyed by Charles 1.
The Murderers Bible 1801
There are murderers (instead of murmerers). Jude 16
Let the children first be killed (instead of filled).
God bless ’em, every one.