Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The First Written Translation of the Gospel

The original written Gospel in Greek is a translation from Aramaic.

The Gospel in Aramaic
Jesus preached the Gospel in Aramaic, and his followers translated the Gospel into Greek. As a result, the books and epistles in the New Testament, including the four versions of the Gospel, were all written in Greek during the first century AD. Throughout the ages, these original biblical scripts have been carefully copied in order to maintain their authors’ exact words.

The New Testament's historical authority is based on the grounds that it was written during the first century and is a translation of Jesus' spoken Gospel. As the New Testament does not contain any teachings from later periods, it does not deviate from the Gospel of Jesus.

The Four Evangelists
The English term Gospel is a translation from the Greek word Evangelion, which means the good message. The authors of the four versions of the Gospel are called Evangelists. The four Evangelists are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

The Evangelist Matthew
Saint Matthew may be one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, but he could also be another person with the same name as the Matthew known in the Gospel, one with access to the apostolic testimony of his time. It has been suggested that he originally wrote his gospel in Aramaic, but this theory is without historic foundation, as no such script has ever been known to the Church.

The Evangelist Mark, Son of Peter
Saint Mark is not among the original twelve disciples, but he had close contacts with the other Apostles. The Apostle Peter, in his first Epistle, states that Mark is his son. The meaning of this title is that of disciple, and also adjutant, and so it can be reasonably assumed that the Evangelist Mark wrote his version of the Gospel following Peter’s direct account of the Word of Jesus.

The Evangelist Luke
Saint Luke, author of the third written gospel, is also the author of the book of Acts of the Apostles. He is not mentioned among the twelve disciples, yet his written testimony is of fundamental importance within the Church. In his book of Acts, he describes how the Church was founded in Jerusalem and subsequently spread to many towns and regions far and wide. There can be no doubt that Luke had close contacts with Saint Peter, as he is the main narrator of Peter’s apostolic mission.

The Evangelist John
Saint John is the youngest of the twelve disciples of Jesus, as he himself states in his gospel. Apart from being the author of one of the four written gospels, he is also the author of the book of Revelations and of three epistles. It was towards the end of the first century when he put ink to paper and presented his accounts as they are revealed in the New Testament.

Successive Written Translations of the Gospel
Over the centuries, disputes arose concerning ecclesiastic authority. From the fourteenth century onwards, reformists in England and Western Europe began to question the position of papal Rome with regards to doctrines within the Church, arguing that the Word of Jesus must be made known as it is written in the New Testament and translated into the spoken languages of different peoples. A law from the Vatican in fact prohibited the use of the Bible other than in Latin.

The English and European reformists started translating the Bible in the common tongues of the people, thus making the Gospel of Jesus comprehensible. Many papal doctrines that did not derive from Jesus' original preaching of the Reign of God were challenged, for they were found to be contrary to the Gospel.

Long before the Reformation, the Orthodox Church had already challenged Roman papal supremacy, dedicating time and effort to render translations of the original New Testament in different languages. During the ninth century, the two Orthodox missionaries Cyril and Methodius of Thessalonica preached the Word to the Slavs who inhabited the Balkans. In order to translate the Holy Scriptures from Greek into Slavonic they formed the Cyrillic alphabet, ascribing a letter to each phonetic sound in the Slavic language.

Jesus preached the Gospel in Aramaic, which was the common language in Galilee and Judea during the first century, and his spoken words were written by the Evangelists in Greek. These writings are the first written translation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Article written by D. Alexander.

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