Translating the Word in the Reformation

Wednesday, 13 April 2011 - Friday, 15 April 2011
Location: Westminster College, Madingley Road, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Organisation: Society for Reformation Studies
Topic: History


A conference to commemorate 400 years of the Authorized Version of the Bible

Keynote speakers:

  • Professor John Flood (Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies, School of Advanced Studies, London): 'The Bible in Germany, 1456-1546'
  • Professor Brian Cummings (University of Sussex): 'The Bible in English'
  • Professor Ellie Bagley (Middlebury College, Vermont): 'Catholic Attacks on the King James Bible'

At the heart of the Protestant Reformation, in all its varieties, was the intention to restore the Bible to the people in its pristine purity, free from centuries of magisterial interpretation. For this to happen, the biblical books had to be translated afresh from their original languages. But a translation is itself an interpretation, and Bible translations therefore became a key battlefield of the Reformation. Even the Authorized Version, now so revered in the English-speaking world and celebrating its quatercentenary in 2011, was a storm-centre of controversy for the first hundred years of its existence. And so it is appropriate that our conference theme for this year should be the translators and translations of the Reformation period.

We invite papers (25 minutes maximum) addressing the many facets of this theme, which will focus on translations of the Bible, both Protestant and Catholic, but not be restricted to them. What motivated translators to translate and how did they set about their work? What considerations determined the choice of the source text (e.g. the 'Jewish' Masoretic or the 'Christian' Septuagint and Vulgate)? What linguistic or theological difficulties presented themselves and how were they resolved? Why did some translations succeed and others fail? And what effect did context have upon text - both the immediate physical framework of chapter divisions, marginalia, prefaces, and illustrations, and the wider context of patrons, publishers, distributors, and readers? These and many other questions are raised by the theme of Translating the Word in the Reformation.

Museums, Libraries, Archives - London Society of Biblical Literature Historic Royal Palaces The Scottish Bible Society The City of London