Scripture and Its Interpretation

A Global, Ecumenical Introduction to the Bible


7. From There to Here: The Transmission and Translation of the Bible

Reviewing the Chapter

  1. What are some aspects of the oral character of the biblical traditions that eventually became part of the Old Testament? of the New Testament?
  2. What was the role of scribes in passing on the written text of the Bible?
  3. What is the importance of the Masoretic Text, the Septuagint, and the Vulgate for understanding the production and transmission of the Bible?
  4. What is textual criticism, and what is a critical edition of the biblical text?
  5. What were some of the major translations of the Bible in the Middle Ages, during the Renaissance, and after the Renaissance, and what were some of the major reasons for these translations?
  6. During the last century, what have been some of the principal translations of the Bible into English, and what major issues have surrounded these translations?
  7. How would you characterize the current state of Bible translation globally?

Engaging a Central Issue

Respond to the following claim Michael Barré makes in this chapter (p. 147):

In this chapter we have briefly explored the processes, operative within both Judaism and Christianity, of transmitting sacred traditions and of translating sacred texts so that people of later generations and of different languages (including our own) could hear and read them. Many readers or hearers of Scripture may not fully appreciate the complexity of this process, even though they benefit from it on a regular basis.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. What is the significance of the oral character of ancient cultures for our understanding of how the Bible came to be?
  2. How do you account for the large number of translations available in English? From what you see in this chapter, and from good educated guessing, what do you think are the elements of a good Bible translation?
  3. Why are the ongoing tasks of textual criticism and Bible translation important?
  4. What additional new insights and what new questions have emerged for you while reading this chapter?