These books of the Bible are accepted as the Canon of the Bible. The term Canon means Standard or guidance or rule. Translation means expression of books by words and pictures, poems and songs from one language to another. The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew, the language of the Israelites. Then between 250 – 100 BC, it was translated to the Greek language. The Greek translation of the Bible was known as Septuagint.
This term refers to 70 translators. The Jews in dispersion or Diaspora used this translation. These were the Jews living outside Palestine. Between 386 – 420 A.D. Jerome, a great Christian Scholar, translated the entire bible from Greek into Latin, the language of the Romans. This translation was called Vulgate.
Christians used the Latin translation of the Bible up to the 16th century. During the reformation in the 16th Century, Christians were encouraged to use their own native languages in worship. From that time, the Bible was translated into English and German. As Christianity spread to different parts of the world, there was the need for translations of the Holy Bible into various languages.
In 1804, the British formed the Foreign Bible Society, which translated the Bible into many languages. Johann Ludwig Krapf translated the New Testament into Kiswahili. This was the first Bible translation in East Africa. Since that time, the Bible Society of Kenya has translated the Bible into other languages such as Kikuyu in 1951, Kikamba in 1956, Kimeru in 1964, Kalenjin in 1968, and Luhya in 1974. By 1980 the Bible had been translated into 29 Kenyan languages. To date (2010) the Bible has been translated into 42 languages of Kenya.
Translation and versions used in Kenya today
Besides bible translation into several languages, there are many English translation versions, which are commonly used in Kenya.
(i) King James Version
(ii) Jerusalem Bible
(iii) New International version
(iv) English Bible
(v) The Authorized Version
(vi) Good News
(vii) Revised Standard Version
(viii) New King James Version
(ix) Amplified Bible
(x) The living Bible
(xi) The African Bible
(xii) Common Bible
(xiii) Today’s English Bible
(xiv) American version among others.
Writing of the Bible
By 2010, the Bible Society of Kenya had translated the Bible into 42 Kenyan languages.
The need to read the Bible led to writing of Bible reading materials to teach literacy in local languages.
Those who wrote the Bible used different styles, and figures of speech to make their message vivid and clear.
Several literary forms were used in the writing of the Bible.
- Poetry in Psalms
- a) Read Psalms and notice the poetry used by David when he wrote psalms
- b) Read Job. Notice the rhythm of the words
- c) Turn to your English textbook – the Integrated English. Read topic 4 on sound and pattern in poetry.
- d) Read any Psalm and any verse from Job. What do you notice?
Other literary forms that are used in the Bible are:
- i) Prose in Leviticus, which is a Legislative text
- ii) Wise sayings in Proverbs
iii) Prophetic speeches by Jeremiah
- iv) Prayers by Nehemiah
- v) Love Songs, for example, the Songs of Solomon
- vi) Letters. Here see Pauline Epistles (Romans)
vii) Gospels, for example, Mark’s Gospel
viii) Religious events, for example, Exodus
- ix) Narratives, for example, Genesis
- x) Philosophical essays, for example, the book of Job.
Here note the use of metaphors and similes in philosophical essays.
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