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Missionary Spotlight-New Bible, Romania

April 2003 | by Debra Anderson

The Romanians have possessed at least part of the Scriptures in their own language since 1561. In the area of Transylvania now famous for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, deacon Coresi first translated the four Gospels for the spiritual benefit of his countrymen.

It was another 80 years before the first New Testament was complete, and 40 more before the Romanian people had the whole Bible in their own language.

At the end of 2002, the Trinitarian Bible Society (TBS) was pleased to continue this tradition by publishing a new edition of the Romanian Bible.

This was the culmination of more than 12 years’ labour, work that actually went back much further, to translations undertaken in the previous centuries.

Other editions

In the 19th century, professors from the Iasi Seminary in Bucharest prepared a Bible edition, which still bears the Seminary’s name.

This translation was textually and translationally sound, but bore heavy marks of Orthodox Church tradition; and so received less than full support from Protestant Christians.

In the next century, the former Orthodox priest, Cornilescu, published another Bible translation, which, although not as textually sound as the previous one, became the best-known and loved translation amongst Evangelical believers.

Recently, the limitations of the Cornilescu edition have led Romanian believers to work on a better translation of the Scriptures. The result is this TBS edition. This version uses the best biblical language texts and ‘formal equivalence’ principles of translation. It brings together the accuracy of the Iasi version and the acceptability of the Cornilescu version.

It also takes into account changes in the language. Hopefully, the Bible now produced will reflect an enduring, literary Romanian style.

Cultic Scriptures

Since the fall of Communism in 1989 some churches and cults have produced their own Romanian Scriptures. In 2001 the Roman Catholics reprinted the 18th century Bible of Blaj, which the Pope calls ‘an important instrument of ecumenical progress’.1

The dubious quality of these versions can be gauged from the fact that a Jehovah’s Witness was thrilled to learn from his Romanian Bible that there is no burning hell2, and a Christadelphian finds his edition of the Romanian Bible helpful in his missionary work.3

With the influx of diverse religions and cults into this opened country, it is the TBS’ prayer that their own edition of the Romanian Scriptures will be the means of bringing many to a true understanding of the Word of God.

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