Friday, October 30, 2015


βιβλος γενεσεως ιησου χριστου υιου δαυιδ υιου αβρααμ

Յիսուս Քրիստոսի՝ Դաւիթի որդիին, Աբրահամի որդիին ծնունդի գիրքը:

liber generationis Iesu Christi filii David filii Abraham

Geslachtsregister van Jezus Christus, de zoon van David, de zoon van Abraham.

Tabla genealógica de Jesucristo, hijo de David, hijo de Abraham:

Généalogie de Jésus-Christ, fils de David, fils d’Abraham.

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Вот родословие Исы Масиха[a], потомка Давуда, потомка Ибрахима.

Okay, that's Matthew 1:1 in Greek, Armenian, Latin, Dutch, Spanish, French, English and Russian. I wanted to include the verse in some other languages too, some of the ones into which it was translated earliest, such as Coptic and Syriac and Ethiopic, but, because of a combination of my linguistic limitation and the issue of browsers reading fonts -- it was hard. Hard work made me quit.

The title of the post is "Matthew 1:1" in Armenian.

Why did I make this post? Because I've listened to a lot of people, some expert, most not, talking and debating and arguing and screaming at each other about the transmission of the Bible, and it occurred to me that most of the discussion had to do with the bible in its original form, and in English. And then a little bit about the Latin Vulgate, because Catholicism.

And the Bible has been translated into -- how many languages? According to Wikipedia, 539 languages for the complete bible and 1329 languages for the New Testament. Who knows how accurate or out of date those figures might be. Not me, that's who.

So anyway, there's all this screaming back and forth which I've encountered, about the problems of corruption and translation and deliberate and accidental distortion of the Bible text, back and forth, between all of these people who rarely mention any languages others than Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Latin and English.

So, what are the features of the Armenian, Dutch, Spanish, French and Russian translations I've given above, how many of them are the most popular and/or familiar versions in the given language, how many are the versions most highly regarded by scholars, most widely esteemed by them to be good and accurate translations of the original Greek? That's a really good question. I don't have the slightest idea. I also don't have the slightest idea what sort of discussions and debates and screaming matches are going on about the text of Bible in Armenia or Holland or Flanders or Spanish-speaking areas or France or Russia, how much those screaming matches in other languages might resemble the ones I've seen in English, how much the histories of Bible translation in each of those languages might effect those screaming matches. Absolutely no clue. It has just now only begun to occur to me to wonder about such things.

Actually, I remember now, I do have a little bit of a clue: I've seen such screaming matches in German as well as in English. Disappointingly, the German dust-ups weren't much different than the English ones. But one can always hope. The bible was first translated into Armenian long before the English or German languages even existed. Maybe that makes a difference. Is the Armenian Matthew 1:1 I copied and pasted above the same as the Matthew 1:1 in the first Armenian translation? I don't know. How many Greeks read the original Koine New Testament and/or the original Septuagint, how many read versions which are substantially different?

It may surprise you to learn that I don't know.

It's a big world. I left out Chinese and Portugese and Arabic and Japanese and Korean and Italian and Hindi versions of Matthew 1:1. Just to name a few of the biggies I left out. Biggies in terms of numbers, not necessarily in terms of interesting issues they might raise for scholars of the Bible.

What sort of issues? Yeah. Again: Excellent question.

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