What you are about to read, is a dream that I have had for over 10 years (since 2003). I have searched, and studied the background of the translation and publishing of the Irish Bible, and have come away totally amazed by all of the labours that went into it originally, but the scarcity of the results. Those few resulting copies of the Bible in Irish are almost non-existent. The more I delved into the reasons for this, the more driven I was to fulfilling my original dream - that of republishing the Original 1602 version of the New Testament, and the 1648 version of the Old Testament.
The Goal/Mission of the Irish Bible Republication Project
To faithfully reproduce a parallel edition of the New Testament in both old Irish and English, with a dictionary of hard to understand words for both Irish and English, and a possible complimentary Bible Study in Irish and English that refers only to the portion of Scripture published. This booklet must be small and yet readable, informative, and yet beautiful.
The Actual Work Process...
The first thing I did was obtain various texts of the Bible in Irish, cataloguing them, and collating differences, and uses of each text in Irish history.
I then collated all research into the histories of each Bible, and its distribution in Ireland.
The, I prepared our office computers to work in IrishThat meant obtaining the necessary Celtic fonts, keyboard layouts, and Irish dictionaries for both Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac systems. This step currently is still in progress.I then sought volunteers who would begin the long, tedious task of entering in the Irish text from a multitude of Irish Bible PDF's readily available on the internet.
We started with the Gospel of Luke, and then proofread every word and every verse twice just to become familier with what probloems we would encounter during the entire process.
We all reviewed our work on the following basis:
Proof-reading – making sure the Irish is exactly the same as the source documents
Consistency – placement of paragraph markings, verse numberings (including verse 1), coinciding chapter summaries
And Readability - making sure word spaces were adeaquate.
I then gathered the entire 1769 edition King James Bible text for placement alongside the irish text in parallel.
We made everything in the Gospels, Acts, and Revelation that Jesus spoke Red Letter
We analysed the text, book by book...
Stripping Word files of extra spaces, and summaries and place in .txt file formatted files;
Inserting chapter:verse identification in front of every verse;
Listing, and counting all words and punctuation in each book;
Any obvious errors were corrected.
Why include the King James Bible text alongside?
The English King James Bible is included in this edition of the Irish Bible to allow for easier understanding of very old Irish words in the Irish text. Each chapter and verse is linked, side-by-side on each page of this edition allowing for direct comparisons and better understanding of the meanings of the texts.In much the same way as the Irish Bible, the King James Version of the English Bible comes from a long-time effort to get the words of Scripture into the hands of English speaking people.
The first time the Bible was translated into English was in the 1380’s by John Wycliffe. His translation was hand copied and passed around all of England during a time when it was fiercely forbidden to translate or even personally own a Bible.
The next big effort was made by William Tyndale in 1526. Tyndale was a genius and a true scholar. William Tyndale could speak seven languages and was proficient in ancient Hebrew and Greek. He is frequently referred to as the “Architect of the English Language”, (even more so than William Shakespeare) as so many of the phrases Tyndale coined are still in our language today. His New Testament became the first printed edition of the scripture in the English language. The official opposition was intense though. Tyndale’s New Testaments were burned as soon as the Catholic Bishops could confiscate them. But copies survived, and actually ended up in the bedroom of a surprised King Henry VIII. And the more the King and the Bishops resisted its distribution, the more fascinated the public became with this Bible. In the end, Tyndale was caught, incarcerated for 500 days, and then strangled and burned at the stake in 1536. Tyndale’s last words were, "Oh Lord, open the King of England’s eyes." This prayer would be answered just three years later in 1539, when King Henry VIII finally allowed, and even funded, the printing of an English Bible known as the “Great Bible” in 1539.
William Tyndale was only able to complete the New Testament, and the first five books of the Old Testament. The rest of the translation work of the Old Testament fell upon two men: Myles Coverdale and John “Thomas Matthew” Rogers, who were loyal disciples of Tyndale's life, and they carried the English Bible project forward and even accelerated it. Coverdale finished translating the Old Testament, and in 1535 he printed the first complete Bible in the English language. Thus, the first complete English Bible was printed on October 4, 1535, and is known as the Coverdale Bible.
John Rogers went on to print the second complete English Bible in 1537, called the Matthew Bible. It was, however, the first English Bible translated from the original Biblical languages of Hebrew & Greek. Most of the other translations were limited to only having the Roman Catholic Latin Vulgate to translate from instead of the actual Hebrew and Greek of the Bible as originally written. In 1539, Myles Coverdale was hired by King Henry VIII to publish the "Great Bible". It became the first English Bible authorized for public use, as it was distributed to every church, chained to the pulpit (so that it would not be stolen), and a reader was even provided so that the illiterate could hear the Word of God in plain English. William Tyndale's last wish had been marvelously granted... just three years after his martyrdom. This Bible was known as the Great Bible because of its great size: measuring over 14 inches tall.
In 1560, renewed religious persecution against the Bible drove the work of translation to Geneva, Switzerland, where in 1560, a new Bible known as the Geneva Bible was produced and published. This was the first Bible to add numbered verses to all the chapters, so that referencing specific passages would be easier. William Shakespeare quotes hundreds of times in his plays from the Geneva translation of the Bible.
In 1568, a revision of the Great Bible, known as the Bishop's Bible was produced in England, but was written more for the clergy, and therefore was hard for the common person to read.When the Roman Catholic Church saw that it had lost the battle to suppress and control the publications of the Scriptures in the English language, the Roman Church decided that if the Bible was to be available in English, they should at least have an official Roman Catholic English translation. This translation was principally the work of Gregory Martin, using only the discredited Latin Vulgate as the only source text (instead of the actual Hebrew and Greek that the Scriptures were originally written in). It was published as the Rheims New Testament together with the Douay Old Testament in 1609 at the College in the city of Douay, France. The combined product is commonly referred to as the Douay/Rheims Version.
So, all the previous effort has brought us to the ascension of King James I to the throne of England, and his involvement with promoting a new translation and its wide-ranging publication of the Bible into the English language.When Prince James VI of Scotland became King James I of England, he was approached by a large portion of the protestant religious leaders in 1604 with their desire for a thoroughly accurate new translation that would be made for the common people. This translation would be the result of the combined effort of 47 scholars. They used all the combined efforts of: The Tyndale New Testament, The Coverdale Bible, The Matthews Bible, The Great Bible, The Geneva Bible, and even the Rheims New Testament as they carefully translated directly from the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures.
King James gave directions and funded the project, and the translation work began in 1604. The effort continued almost tirelessly for 6 years until 1610, when it went to press. And in 1611 the first of the huge 16 inch tall pulpit folios known today as "The 1611 King James Bible" started arriving in churches. Smaller editions were soon produced so that individuals could have their own personal copy of the Bible.
The King James Bible became the most printed book in the history of the world, and the only book with over one billion copies in print (there have actually been over 5 billion copies of the King James Bible printed).
One note. The King James text referred to in this edition is the 1769 edition of the King James Bible because all King James Version Bibles published today are actually Benjamin Blayney’s 1769 Revised Oxford Edition of the 1611 King James Bible. Francis Sawyer Parris, along with Benjamin Blayney undertook the mammoth task of standardizing the wide variation in punctuation and spelling of the current editions of the King James Bibles in print at the time, making many thousands of minor changes to the text. They also thoroughly revised and greatly extended the italicization of "supplied" words not found in the original languages. This work has remained the standard text of the King James Bible for 250 years now.Below are the words of one of the most well-known Scriptures from the Bible, found in the Gospel of John, chapter 3 and verse 16, and spelled in the English Bibles from early on, until the time modern King James Bible of 1769:
Wycliff (1380) “for god loued so the world; that he gaf his oon bigetun sone, that eche man that bileueth in him perisch not: but haue euerlastynge liif,”
Tyndale (1534) “For God so loveth the worlde, that he hath geven his only sonne, that none that beleve in him, shuld perisshe: but shuld have everlastinge lyfe.”
Great Bible (1539) “For God so loued the worlde, that he gaue his only begotten sonne, that whosoeuer beleueth in him, shulde not perisshe, but haue euerlasting lyfe.”
Geneva (1560) “For God so loueth the world, that he hath geuen his only begotten Sonne: that none that beleue in him, should peryshe, but haue euerlasting lyfe.”
Rheims (1582) “For so God loued the vvorld, that he gaue his only-begotten sonne: that euery one that beleeueth in him, perish not, but may haue life euerlasting”
King James (1611) “For God so loued the world, that he gaue his only begotten Sonne: that whosoeuer beleeueth in him, should not perish, but haue euerlasting life.”
King James (1769) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
You should note that Latin influenced much of the English language, so the ‘v’ was originally in the form of a ‘u’, and many of the words can be quickly understood by sounding out the words without worrying about perfect spelling. The English language, like all languages, took time to develop to the way it is today.