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Knox Translation


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The Knox Translation

It is difficult for us today to understand the Christians of the 16th century who were willing, not only to die, but to kill for their faith. Yet this was the climate in which William Tyndale translated the Bible into English for the Protestants. For this, he paid with his life.

Semantics were important, particularly in a time when churches held political power. Battles were fought over the words in the translation, and over the notes appended to it. What couldn't be written in the translation was often written into the footnotes.

The first translation of the Bible into English was a Protestant effort. This placed the Catholics at a disadvantage. In a dispute, the Protestant could simply turn to a passage in the Bible and read it, while the Catholic had to translate it on the spot.

The Doway/Rheims version of the entire Bible was published in 1609. Unlike the Protestant version, which was based on the Greek and Hebrew, this version was based on the Latin Vulgate. It continued to be the Bible for Catholics through the years.

The revised form of the Doway/Rheims version was the official Catholic Bible until the translation of Monsignor Knox's New Testament in 1945. Although the Knox Version of the NT did not displace the Doway/Rheims Bible, but they were both approved versions for Great Britain. The Knox Version of the OT was published in 1948 but was not approved as an official version.

Ronald Knox was not born a Catholic. He was born into the home of an Anglican priest, and educated at Eton and Oxford. He converted to Catholicism at the age of 29.

Thought to be a major flaw in his translation of the Bible is his use of the Latin Vulgate as a source, particularly the edition authorized by Pope Clement VIII in 1592. He felt bound to this edition even when he knew it to be wrong.

The many poetic passages of the Old Testament were translated as prose rather than as poetry, as there was a paper shortage at the time and this would take up less space. He also wanted to make it easier for people to carry the Bible around with them.

In a contemporary translation, it is also strange that quotation marks are not used to set off direct speech, and that such archaic terms as "thou" and "thee" are retained throughout the text.

Knox broke ground with this new translation. His version of the NT was officially approved by the Catholic Church, opening the door to other new translations of the Catholic Bible.



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