Ελληνικά / Greek: Modern Bible History (3)
**List: Greek: Modern Ministry
Holy Bible ( ἁγίαις γραφαῖς, Αγιας Γραφης )
MODERN GREEK. "I.--GEOGRAPHICAL EXTENT AND STATISTICS.
MODERN Greek, or Romaic, is the vernacular language of about 2,000,000 descendants of the ancient
Greeks, dispersed throughout the Turkish empire. The modern kingdom of Greece, the original seat
of the language, is bounded, as of old, on three sides by....
II.--CHARACTERISTICS OF THE LANGUAGE.
III.--VERSIONS OF THE SCRIPTURES IN THIS LANGUAGE.
Three versions of the New Testament exist in Modern Greek. Of these, the earliest was printed
at Geneva, in 1638, in parallel columns with the inspired text: it was executed by Maximus Calliergi
(or Callipoli, as he is sometimes called), at the solicitation of Haga, the ambassador of the then United
Provinces at Constantinople. The translation is remarkable for its close and literal adherence to the
Greek original text.
The expense of this work was borne by the United Provinces. It is preceded by two prefaces,
the one by the translator, and the other by Cyrillus Lucaris, patriarch of Constantinople, who, having
spent his youth at Geneva, had imbibed the principles of Calvinism: both prefaces treat on the
necessity of presenting the Scriptures in a language intelligible to the people. This version was
reprinted, with corrections, in 1703, in London, by the Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign
Parts; and another edition was issued by the same Society in 1705. A reprint of this version, in
12mo., was published at Halle, in 1710, at the expense of Sophia Louisa, queen of Prussia.
From this edition, the British and Foreign Bible Society published an impression, under the
superintendence of the Rev. J. F. Usko, in 1808, with the Ancient and Modern Greek in parallel
columns. This edition was so favourably received, that, in 1812, it was found necessary to undertake
another edition, for the supply of the urgent demands in the Levant, the isles of the Archipelago, and
certain other Greek stations. A strict and thorough revision of the text being deemed requisite, the
Rev. C. Williamson, and, afterwards, Dr. Pilkington, were directed by the British and Foreign Bible
Committee to enquire among the learned Greeks at Constantinople for an individual properly qualified
for so important an undertaking. The Archimandrite Hilarion (subsequently archbishop of Ternovo),
with two assistants, both ecclesiastics, was accordingly appointed, in 1819, to execute a revision, or
rather a new version, of the Testament; and as a great desire had been expressed for a version of the
entire Scriptures in Modern Greek, arrangements were at the same time made for the translation of
the Old Testament. Father Simon, in his "Critical History," speaks of a version of the Bible in this
language having been printed at Constantinople in the sixteenth century; but this statement has
been doubted, and it is generally believed that the translation of the Old Testament undertaken
by Hilarion, for the British and Foreign Bible Society, is the first that has ever been executed in
In 1827, Hilarions version of the New Testament was completed; and, after having been
submitted to the inspection of Constantius, archbishop of Mount Sinai, it was printed at the national
printing-office in the patriarchate, under the eye of the Greek Church. This version was made from
the inspired text; but though faithful and accurate as a translation, the diction is considered rather
stiff, and the forms of the ancient language are too frequently imitated. About the same time,
Hilarion executed a translation of the Old Testament from the Septuagint; and, in 1829, the whole of
his MS. was submitted to the Committee of the British and Foreign Bible Society, in London. After
mature and anxious deliberation, however, the Committee came to the conclusion that it would be
more desirable to circulate a version prepared from the Hebrew text itself, than a mere translation
of the Septuagint. The Rev. H. D. Leeves was therefore appointed to reside in Corfu, where, with
the assistance of natives, he commenced a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Modern Greek.
In conjunction with the Rev. I. Lowndes (an agent of the London My. Society), he engaged
the services of Professors Bambas and Tipaldo, to which, for a short period, were added those of
Professor Joannides; and the plan pursued was the following: "A certain portion of the books of the
Old Testament was allotted to each of the Greek translators, who with the English authorised version, the
French of Martin, and the Italian of Diodati, before them, consulting also the Septuagint, the Vulgate,
and other versions and aids where necessary, made as good a translation as they were able into the
Modern Greek. It was then the office of Mr. Leeves and Mr. Lowndes to compare this translation
with the Hebrew, calling in the aid of other versions and critical commentaries, and to make their
observations and proposed corrections in the margin of the manuscript. The manuscript, thus prepared,
was brought before the united body of translators, at their regular sittings, where the whole was read
over; and every word and phrase being regularly weighed and discussed, the final corrections were
made with general consent. A fair copy was then taken, the comparison of which with its original
gave occasion to a last consideration of doubtful points; and afterwards it was sent to England for the
press. This process was twice repeated in some parts of the work."
In 1836, the translation of the Old Testament was completed; but in consequence of the great
demand, portions had previously been committed to the press. As early as 1831, 5000 copies of the
Psalms had been printed in London, under the care of Mr. Greenfield, after having been revised by
the original, and corrected by Mr. T. P. Platt; and this edition was so greatly approved, that another
edition, also of 5000 copies, had followed in 1832, of which the Rev. W. Jowett was the editor.
Mr. Leeves died in 1845, and the revision of the Old Testament, translated under his superintendence,
then devolved upon Mr. Lowndes. He availed himself of the continued services of Professors Bambas
and Nicolaides in this revision; and each sheet, when completed, was examined by the Rev. J. W. Mellor,
vicar of Woodbridge. An edition of 3000 copies was printed at Oxford, in 1847, under the superinten-
dence of the Rev. J. Jowett, assisted by Mr. Mellor.
While engaged in the translation of the Old Testament, Professor Bambas devoted part of his
time to the production of another version, or rather revision, of the New Testament in Modern Greek.
This work was revised by Mr. Leeves and Mr. Lowndes; and 2000 copies of the Gospels and Acts were
printed at Athens before the year 1839. An edition of 10,000 copies of the entire New Testament
was printed at Athens, in 1848, by the British and Foreign Bible Society; and this revision is con-
sidered so correct and idiomatic, that it has now completely superseded that of Archbishop Hilarion.
A further revision of the Old Testament was undertaken by Mr. Lowndes, with the aid of
Messrs. Bambas and Nicolaides, in 1846, and was completed early in 1849, after an arduous labour of
three years duration. The remaining portion of the year 1849 was devoted to a similar revision of
the New Testament. Editions of these revised versions, embracing the entire Scriptures, have since been
printed in England by the British and Foreign Bible Society; and an edition of 5000 New Testa-
ments in Modern Greek was printed at Athens in 1854, concomitantly with one of 10,000 copies
in London."--1860 S. Bagster [Info only]
MODERN GREEK. MAXIMUS CALLIOPOLITANS VERSION.--1860 S. Bagster [Info only: "1638" John 1:1-14 unknown. col. #1.]
MODERN GREEK. HILARIONS VERSION.--1860 S. Bagster [Info only: n.d. John 1:1-14 unknown. col. #2.]
"IV.--RESULTS OF THE DISSEMINATION OF THIS VERSION.
It is a well known fact, and attested by native writers, that, before the efforts made by the
British and Foreign Bible Society in Greece, nearly the whole Greek nation, though making an out-
ward profession of Christianity, "knew only by hearsay of the existence of the Holy Scriptures."
Hence it may well be considered as a manifestation of the merciful intentions of Divine Providence
towards the Greeks, that, at the very commencement of their political career as a free people, this
Society was induced to place before them the long-forgotten word of God in their own vernacular
language. No less than 45,294 copies of the New Testament, in Ancient and Modern Greek, had,
up to the end of 1858, been issued by the Society, besides 232,738 copies of smaller portions of the
Scriptures in Modern Greek.
The Greeks, as a nation, have received and valued the heavenly gift. The government encourages
the reading of the Scriptures in the schools, and has charged the teachers of primary schools to
communicate scriptural instruction to their pupils every Sunday after church. The good thus done
is not confined to the children alone, for many of the parents have declared that "they have learnt
much of the truths of the Gospel by hearing their children repeating their lessons." The school
appears, indeed, to be the chief medium through which a knowledge of the word of God is becoming disseminated in Modern Greece. "I was pleased to find (writes Mr. Lowndes in a recent communi-
cation addressed to the British and Foreign Bible Society, and dated from Athens) on my arrival here,
a confirmation of what Mr. Nicolaides had stated by letter, viz.: that the Director of Government
schools now distributes the New Testament to these establishments. Four thousand copies of the
edition of 1844 were presented to the Government by Mr. Leeves, for this purpose, and they remained
undisturbed in their magazine till lately; but now a large portion of them have been issued, and
the remainder are to be thus disposed of." The Scriptures are now exposed for sale, without
hindrance, in one of the most public streets of Athens. All who choose to avail themselves of it, have
free access to the word of God. Concerning the spiritual results of this extensive circulation and
perusal of the Scriptures, we are not without satisfactory evidence. One my. writes: "It hath
pleased Him who hath said, my word...shall not return unto me void, to grant us, in addition, many
interesting proofs that The Lord is not slack concerning his promises[.] We know many who are even now
walking in the light of Gods word. They are as suns in the centre of their respective circles, and
their influence attracts others to come and seek at its source the light which they are distributing.""--The Bible of Every Land. (1860, Second Edition) Samuel Bagster [Info only]
[Christian Helps Ministry (USA)] [Christian Home Bible Course]