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Rotherham Version


New Testament, 1872. Joseph Bryant Rotherham, The New Testament: newly translated from the Greek text of Tregelles and critically emphasised, according to the logical idiom of the original; with an introduction and occasional notes. London: Samuel Bagster and Sons, 1872.


This is a very peculiar "literal" translation of the text of Tregelles 1857, with special markings to indicate untranslatable rhetorical emphasis. A portion of the work, The Gospel according to Matthew with Notes, had been published as a tentative issue in 1868. A revised second edition was published by Bagster in 1878. At least twelve printings of the complete New Testament were issued by Bagster between 1872 and 1893. A substantially revised edition of this version (commonly called "The Emphasised New Testament") was published by H.R. Allenson of London in 1897, as volume 4 of the complete Bible (see below).


Bible, 1897-1902. The Emphasised Bible: a new translation, designed to set forth the exact meaning, the proper terminology and the graphic style of the sacred originals: arranged to show at a glance narrative, speech, parallelism, and logical analysis, also to enable the student readily to distinguish the several divine names: and emphasised throughout after the idioms of the Hebrew and Greek tongues: with expository introduction, select references & appendices of notes. 4 volumes. London: H.R. Allenson, 1897-1902.


This edition was published beginning with the New Testament in volume 4 (1897), followed by the Old Testament in volumes 1-3 (1901-1902). An American edition of the New Testament portion was published by John Wiley & Sons of New York in 1897; and a one-volume American edition of the complete work was published in 1916 and thereafter by the Standard Publishing Company of Cincinnati. The New Testament translation in this edition is based on the text of Westcott and Hort instead of Tregelles.


Rotherham (1828-1910) was an Englishman and the son of a Methodist preacher. As a young man he began to follow in his father's path, and preached in various Methodist congregations, but he soon left the Methodists to join the Baptists, and then he departed from the Baptists also, to join the fellowship of congregations belonging to the "Restoration Movement" led by Alexander Campbell in the 1850's. He became an evangelist for the Campbellite Churches of Christ in 1854. In his Preface he states that his purpose was to aid a certain "class of Bible readers who were anxious above all things to get as near as possible to the simple, Apostolic (as distinguished from the mediaeval or modern) point of view from which to study the Christian Scriptures." The persons referred to here were the disciples of Campbell, who constantly emphasized the idea that true Christianity could be restored by rejecting all "traditions" of interpretation and studying the Bible alone.


The story of Rotherham's version is told in Reminiscences Extending Over a Period of More than Seventy Years, 1828-1906, by Joseph Bryant Rotherham, compiled with additional notes by his son, J. [Joseph] George Rotherham (London: H. R. Allenson, 1922).


The version takes its name from the marks of emphasis that Rotherham added to the text, showing the rhetorical emphasis belonging to various words, based upon the word order and other features of the Greek text. Below we reproduce a page from the second edition of the New Testament (1878), showing his method in the first two editions.