New Additions in Literature of the Sacred – Translations of the Bible and the Quran – and The Present State of the Jews (Synagoga Judaica or Juden Schul)

  • Pentateuch and the First New Testament, printed by William Tyndale (1526)
  • The prophete Ionas with an introduccion, translated by William Tyndale (1531)
  • The Coverdale Bible (1535)
  • The Great Bible (1539)
  • The Geneva Bible (1557)
  • The Bishops’ Bible (1568)
  • The Douay–Rheims Bible, the Douay portion (1610)
  • The Alcoran of Mahomet, translated out of Arabick into French, by the Sieur Du Ryer… And newly Englished (1649)
  • Quran, Translation by G. Sale (1734)
  • Quran, Translation by J. M Rodwell (1861)
  • Quran, Three Parallel Translations: Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Marmaduke Pickthall, Mohammad Habib Shakir (around 1930)
  • The present state of the Jews (more particularly relating to those in Barbary) and Synagoga Judaica or Juden Schul (1675)
  • Selections from the Sacred Texts of the East (1900)
  • Clitophon and Leucippe, Translation 1637, Achilles Tatius
  • Clitophon and Leucippe, Translation 1855, Achilles Tatius

Note the new additions to our library. It is now possible to explore some of the Bible translations that preceded the King Jame Version, which you can also find in our library. (See our earlier post for an example of comparison of the same verse in different editions.) We also now include a number of English translations of the Quran. (We explore the content word spectra for some of the translations in this post.)

The present state of the Jews (more particularly relating to those in Barbary) wherein is contained an exact account of their customs, secular and religious: to which is annexed a summary discourse of the Misna, Talmud, and Gemara, written by Lancelot Addison and published in 1675, is a fascinating example of a “Christian ethnography of the Jews”.

As one scholar comments (see below), Christian ethnographers “were not disinterested ethnographers who sought to provide a balanced and fair appraisal of Jewish life and religion, but were Christians who were violently opposed to Judaism, and their descriptions were to some degree skewed by their theological and social agendas.” Similarly, the earlier translations of the Quran may have been done not by “disinterested”, impartial translators who simply “sought to provide” an accurate translation but by scholars who were influenced by the political and intellectual climate of their times. The forces of “theological and social agendas” did not spare the Bible translations either, as is well known. Tyndale’s Bible translations were condemned. Copies of his editions – destroyed. Tyndale – defrocked and executed. It seems that his crime was that, in his translation, he replaced the words “church“, “priest“, “do penance” and “charity” with words “congregation“, “senior” (changed to “elder” in the revised edition of 1534), “repent” and “love“, challenging the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. Try reading Corinthians 13 first using the word Charity and, then, using the word Love (see our post) – the meaning changes considerably; church and congregation, priest and elder carry very different connotations.

We are also including a small (for now) Selection from the Sacred Texts of the East.

See our post on Achilles Tatius and his Clitophon and Leucippe.

Some interesting resources:

Scholars on Lancelot Addison and his work:

English clergyman Addison served seven years as chaplain of the army garrison at Tangiers, where he became fascinated by both Judaism and Islam. He wrote several studies of the customs and rites of foreign cultures, inflected by a sympathetic and liberal-minded perspective uncommon for his time. He was later appointed chaplain to King Charles II.

Hopler, Jay, and Kimberly Johnson, editors. “Lancelot Addison: (1632–1703).” Before the Door of God: An Anthology of Devotional Poetry, Yale University Press, 2013, pp. 188–191. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5vm3mm.71. Accessed 9 July 2021.

In Spectator 495: Addison and “The Race of People Called Jews”, an article on the life of Joseph Addison, a son of Lancelot Addison, Richard Braverman writes:

Braverman, Richard. “Spectator 495: Addison and ‘The Race of People Called Jews.’” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, vol. 34, no. 3, 1994, pp. 537–552. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/450881. Accessed 9 July 2021.

However, in The Idea of the Restoration of the Jews in English Protestant Thought, 1661-1701, an exploraion of the complex relationship between the Protestant and the Jewish cultures in the 17th century Britain, N. I. Matar comments:

Matar, N. I. “The Idea of the Restoration of the Jews in English Protestant Thought, 1661-1701.” The Harvard Theological Review, vol. 78, no. 1/2, 1985, pp. 115–148. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/1509596. Accessed 9 July 2021.

The present state of the Jews may have been in part based on the English translation of Synagoga Judaica by Johannes Buxtorf. Synagoga Judaica was first published in German (in 1603), as Juden Schul, and subsequently in Latin. Here is the original German edition; find Latin editions in Post-Reformation Digital Library and in Gallica/Bibliothèque nationale de France.

1911 Encyclopædia Britannica:

BUXTORF, or Buxtorff, JOHANNES (1564–1629), German Hebrew and Rabbinic scholar, was born at Kamen in Westphalia on the 25th of December 1564. The original form of the name was Bockstrop, or Boxtrop, from which was derived the family crest, which bore the figure of a goat (Ger. Bock, he-goat). After the death of his father, who was minister of Kamen, Buxtorf studied at Marburg and the newly-founded university of Herborn, at the latter of which C. Olevian (1536–1587) and J.P. Piscator (1546–1625) had been appointed professors of theology. At a later date Piscator received the assistance of Buxtorf in the preparation of his Latin translation of the Old Testament, published at Herborn in 1602–1603. From Herborn Buxtorf went to Heidelberg, and thence to Basel, attracted by the reputation of J. J. Grynaeus and J. G. Hospinian (1515–1575). After a short residence at Basel he studied successively under H. B. Bullinger (1504–1575) at Zürich and Th. Beza at Geneva. On his return to Basel, Grynaeus, desirous that the services of so promising a scholar should be secured to the university, procured him a situation as tutor in the family of Leo Curio, son of Coelius Secundus Curio, well-known for his sufferings on account of the Reformed faith. At the instance of Grynaeus, Buxtorf undertook the duties of the Hebrew chair in the university, and discharged them for two years with such ability that at the end of that time he was unanimously appointed to the vacant office. From this date (1591) to his death in 1629 he remained in Basel, and devoted himself with remarkable zeal to the study of Hebrew and rabbinic literature. He received into his house many learned Jews, that he might discuss his difficulties with them, and he was frequently consulted by Jews themselves on matters relating to their ceremonial law. He seems to have well deserved the title which was conferred upon him of “Master of the Rabbins.” His partiality for Jewish society brought him, indeed, on one occasion into trouble with the authorities of the city, the laws against the Jews being very strict. Nevertheless, on the whole, his relations with the city of Basel were friendly. He remained firmly attached to the university which first recognized his merits, and declined two invitations from Leiden and Saumur successively. His correspondence with the most distinguished scholars of the day was very extensive; the library of the university of Basel contains a rich collection of letters, which are valuable for a literary history of the time.

1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Buxtorf, Johannes (1564-1629)

However, note the comments of Stephen G. Burnett in Margaritha, Antonius, et al. “Distorted Mirrors: Antonius Margaritha, Johann Buxtorf and Christian Ethnographies of the Jews.” The Sixteenth Century Journal, vol. 25, no. 2, 1994, pp. 275–287. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/2542881:

Antonius Margaritha’s Entire Jewish Faith (1530) and Johann Buxtorf’s Jewish Synagogue (1603) were the two most influential Christian ethnographies of the Jews written during the early modern period. Margaritha and Buxtorf were not disinterested ethnographers who sought to provide a balanced and fair appraisal of Jewish life and religion, but were Christians who were violently opposed to Judaism, and their descriptions were to some degree skewed by their theological and social agendas. They criticized Judaism and the Jews from three different perspectives: Judaism as a biblical theology, the social interaction of ordinary Jews and Christians, and Jewry as an order within the political world of the German empire. These portrayals of the Jews and their religion together with the responses of Jewish leaders and intellectuals shed light upon the most important lines of Jewish-Christian theological conflict in early modern Germany.

From the abstract, Margaritha, Antonius, et al. “Distorted Mirrors: Antonius Margaritha, Johann Buxtorf and Christian Ethnographies of the Jews.” The Sixteenth Century Journal, vol. 25, no. 2, 1994, pp. 275–287. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/2542881. Accessed 9 July 2021.

After the Expulsion: An Excerpt from “Jewish Literature: A Very Short Introduction”

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