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Building the Bible

Early Translations and Transcriptions

Was language a barrier to the spread of the Bible?

Yes, but not for long. In a few European cultures, written language did not exist. Because it was thought important that these cultures have access to the Bible, alphabets were invented. For instance, a bishop named Ulfilas (c. 310 C.E.–?) was committed to spreading Christianity among his people, the Visigoths (the Visigoths lived in the area of what is present-day Romania). As part of his mission, Ulfilas set about to produce a Gothic Bible in 350 C.E., but Ulfilas ran into three problems. First, there was no written component to the Gothic language. It was only spoken. Not one to be discouraged by the lack of an alphabet, Ulfilas set about to invent one. Second, the Goth language did not have words to express some Christian concepts such as Holy Spirit. So Ulfilas set about to remedy that, as well. Third, the Goths had a reputation of being warmongers. Consequently, Ulfilas excluded I and II Kings from the Goth Bible because he did not think it would behoove them to read about a bunch of wars and killings. Because none of his manuscripts exist today, no one is sure how much of his ambitious project Ulfilas accomplished. What is certain is that Ulfilas linked the ancient and medieval worlds by his steady efforts to introduce Christianity to the people of central Europe.



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