THE BIBLE OR HOLY SCRIPTURE: THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT.
The Bible or Holy Scripture is, without a doubt, the most translated and read book in the world. The Bible or Holy Scripture has been translated into many languages from the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek biblical languages. The Holy Scripture consists of a total of 66 books, the Old Testament consisting of 39 books, and the New Testament consisting of 27 books.
The Old and New Testament together were translated into 698 languages. According to the latest statistics, the New Testament was translated into 1548 languages, and other parts of the Bible were translated into 1138 languages.
The Old Testament has three categories of holy books:
- The "Law" (Torah), which designates the "Pentateuch," the five books of the Holy Prophet Moses, the first biblical author, who recounted the events before him not only on the basis of written documents but also on the basis of oral traditions passed down from generation to generation;
- The "Prophets", which means the prophetic books;
- The "Scriptures," as the other writings of the Old Testament are called.
The books of the Old Testament were written over a period of 12 centuries (it is estimated that the Holy Prophet Moses received the tablets of the Law from Mount Sinai in the year 1250 BC). The New Testament was written over a period of 50 years and includes the 4 Gospels, the Acts of the Holy Apostles, the Apocalypse written by Saint John the Evangelist and 21 books, called Epistles, written by the Holy Apostles Peter, Paul, James, Judas and John.
To the question, "Which came first, the Bible or the Church?" the answer is very clear. The Church precedes the Bible (the New Testament), as the Church founded by Jesus Christ was not "based on the Bible," but the Bible was later written by the four Holy Apostles and Evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. At the moment of the descent of the Holy Spirit, at Pentecost, in the Vault of the Last Supper in Jerusalem, the Church established by Christ is formed, and the Holy Apostles, receiving power from the Holy Spirit, begin to preach and write the Word of God.
THE BIBLE (THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT) AND THE LANGUAGES IN WHICH IT WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN.
As mentioned above, most of the canonical holy texts in the Old Testament were written in biblical Hebrew. The books were written, of course, mainly for the Jews, but they scattered over time losing even their mother tongue, and with their return from Babylonian captivity (538 BC) biblical Hebrew was replaced by Aramaic. As for the books of the New Testament, they were all written in Greek, and only the Gospel of Matthew was written in Aramaic.
It should be noted that the Greek language in which the books of the New Testament were written was not the classical one, but the „common dialect“ used by Plato or Aristotle. The vast empire of Alexander the Great ushered in the Hellenistic era, when Greek had become the cult language and enjoyed a wide spread at that time.
- The Bible - The Gospel of Matthew: the original form in Aramaic and Greek
- The Bible - The Gospel of Mark: the original form in Greek
- The Bible - The Gospel of Luke: the original form in Greek
- The Bible - The Gospel of John: the original form in Greek
The Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew wrote his Gospel in two languages: first in Hebrew, that is, in Aramaic (the language spoken by the Saviour and spoken by all the people), and the second time in the years 62-63, in Greek, that is, the language spoken at that time in the whole Roman kingdom. In his Holy Gospel, blessed Matthew describes the childhood and deeds of the Lord above nature, His divine teaching, His saving passions and His glorious Resurrection. At the same time, it is worth mentioning that, in his Gospel, Saint Matthew cannot forget the moment when, sitting at the customs in Capernaum, he first met face to face with the Saviour and heard the Lord saying to him: ‘’Come, follow Me! ’’ (Matthew 9: 9-13); he cannot forget how he immediately left everything, and how, since then, the Lord has made him worthy to be numbered with His twelve Apostles.
The Holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark was of Jewish descent and was from Jerusalem. In the house of his mother, Mary, the first Christians in Jerusalem gathered for teaching, communion and prayer. He was one of the 70 disciples of the Lord. The tradition of the Holy Fathers tells us that Mark accompanied Saint Peter to Rome. There, the Christian Romans, listening to the sermon of the Apostle Peter, asked Saint Mark to write them a Gospel, with the sermon of the Apostle. Thus, Saint Mark wrote his Gospel following the sermon of Saint Peter the Apostle, whose disciple he was.
The Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke was of Greek descent and was born in the great Antioch of Syria, being baptized at a young age. In his search, he became the disciple of the Holy Apostle Paul, who was his "light" on the way of the Lord and his incomparable teacher. His meeting with Saint Paul took place in Troas, about the year 50. Saint Luke was the one who accompanied him and took notes from the great evangelical journeys of his teacher. As a confession of his faith in Christ, Saint Luke left us a Gospel and the book called the Acts of the Apostles.
As for the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John it is known that he was one of the Lord's closest and most chosen disciples. Following the Savior's passions, he was exiled to the island of Patmos, where he had that divine revelation called the "Apocalypse," about the end of the world and the afterlife. It is the deepest and most difficult book to understand of the whole Bible. After the exile, he returned to Ephesus, where he was urged by his disciples to write his Gospel, at the age of 90. The depth of the teachings of the Gospel of John prompted Christians to call him a "speaker of God." In his Gospel it is written that In the beginning - that is, before the world was - was the Word (John 1: 1). The greatest teaching of Saint John is that he establishes the dogma of the Most Holy Trinity: There are three witnesses in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these Three are One. The second great teaching shown in his Gospel is the duty to love God and people. Christ says in the Gospel of John: A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another (John 13:34). By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35).
THE BIBLE OR HOLY SCRIPTURE: TRANSLATIONS IN DIFFERENT FOREIGN LANGUAGES.
The translations of the Bible are very necessary, but they are not enough to formulate the dogmas and doctrines of the Church, which require reference to the original languages. Translations depend on the translator's knowledge in selecting the right words and phrases to bring the translation as close as possible to the original language text. Many translations into the same language are justified by the fact that the new renderings are different from the previous ones or improvements to the first translation have been made.
It is hard to render the unique character of the original text in a translation, but there are certainly translations very close to the original text, these being made by experienced, God-loving translators with solid theological knowledge.
Although only the original language is "God's inspired word," we must say that Bible translations are necessary so that the good news to be known by as many people as possible. This is the great commandment of God and the mission of His Church, since Jesus Christ Himself commissioned the Apostles to deliver the message to all nations.
Therefore, in the second half of the 3rd century BC, Ptolemy II Philadelphus patronized and financed the first translation of the Bible into Greek. This was done in the city of Alexandria by 72 Jewish scholars, brought from Palestine, the reason for which the new version was called the Septuagint. The 72 scholars worked separately, under the assistance of the Holy Spirit, their versions ultimately proving identical.
With the expansion of the civilization of the Roman Empire, the spread of biblical texts experienced a new stage, reaching today’s translations, in all languages of the world. More than six hundred years later, in the 4th century, Blessed Jerome translated the Bible into Latin, a version known as the Vulgate.
In the 4th century, Bishop Ulfilas of the Goths translated the Holy Scriptures into their language and by the end of the 5th century the Bible was already translated into Armenian. After the schism of 1054, Western Christians harshly criticized any attempt to translate the Bible into a language other than Latin: the only official version was the Vulgate of Blessed Jerome. However, there have been initiatives and since 1170 the Bible was translated into French, German or English.
Also in the 9th century, Saints Cyril and Methodius translated the Bible into the Slavic language. In preparation for preaching among the Slavs, they invented the Glagolitic alphabet so that they could translate Holy Scripture and other Christian works into Old Slavonic. Later, the Glagolitic alphabet developed into the Cyrillic alphabet which is still used today in some Slavic languages.
As part of the Orthodox world, the Romanians also had their Bible translated following the Septuagint. Thus, the first complete translation of the Holy Scripture into Romanian appeared as a result of the constant preoccupations of the Romanian rulers, hierarchs and scholars to have the Word of God in the language spoken by the believers. Also known as the "Bucharest Bible" or "Serban Cantacuzino's Bible", the Bible of 1688 is a point of reference for all later translations of Holy Scripture, being given to the "Romanian people". Translated entirely into Romanian and based on the previous writings of scholars, the Bible of 1688 will contribute to the unity of faith, language and nation.
The acute need to translate the Scripture into Romanian was motivated, moreover, by the special situation of Orthodox Christians in the Romanian Lands, compared to other Orthodox peoples: the cult used the Slavonic language (later the Greek language), and ordinary people, who attended church services, knowing only the Romanian language, did not understand what was being read or said. That is why Romanians began to be concerned of the Bible translation into their language, while the Slavic or Greek people did this much later (for example, in modern Greek, the Bible was translated only in the 19th century, being printed in 1840, and in Russian this work was done in 1876).
The words and parables stated in the Bible have been the subject of controversial discussions and debates over the centuries, both in the original language and in the translations. The correction and restoration of the Holy Scripture (both of the Old and New Testament) took place over the course of 20 centuries from the beginning of the Christian era. Thus, the Bible is stronger today than ever before, despite the "effort" to replace it with science or technology. The Bible or Holy Scripture is not only the most widespread, the most printed, the most read, the most translated or the best-selling book in the world, but it is an important landmark of the spiritual life, which constantly reminds us that man is created in the image and likeness of God and has an immortal soul.
- Biblia sau Sfânta Scriptură, versiune diortosită după septuaginta, redactată, adnotată şi tipărită de Bartolomeu Valeriu Anania, Editura Renaşterea, Bacău, Anul 2009, (The Bible or Holy Scripture in Romanian by Bartolomeu Valeriu Anania);
- Proloagele Vol. I si II, Editura Bunavestire, Cluj-Napoca, Anul 1999, (The Prologues Vol. I and II in Romanian);
- Predici la praznice împărăteşti şi la sfinţi de peste an, Arhimandrit Cleopa Ilie, Editura Mănăstirea Sihăstria, Anul 2010, (Sermons on Religious Feasts and Saints Over the Year in Romanian by Archimandrite Cleopa Ilie);
- Ziarul Lumina