Friday, May 6, 2011

19th Century Poole Translation Project

Robert Young (1822-1888), was a successful bookseller, and self-taught Biblical scholar and master of oriental languages. A member of the Free Church, and most famous perhaps for publishing Young's Literal Translation of the Bible and his Analytical Concordance of the Bible, he was prolific as a publisher, and both visionary and energetic as a translator. He was the first to translate the Westminster Shorter Catechism into Hebrew (he also translated it into Syriac and 10 other languages), and he did so with a view towards supporting ongoing Free Church missionary outreach to the Jews. He himself served as a missionary in India.

Among his many translation efforts, was a project that he conceived to translate Matthew Poole's Latin Synopsis Criticorum into English for the first time. He prepared a prospectus which outlined his plan not only to translate the Synopsis itself but to append his own critical exegetical and grammatical notes (which he estimated would amount to new matter that would "be equal to one-fifth of the whole work"). Additionally, the plan was to translate fresh each chapter of Scripture preceding Poole's notes, along with an original analysis of each chapter. The 1850 prospectus, which I obtained from the New College Library in Edinburgh (Sherman Isbell graciously provided helpful assistance), contains a translation of Poole's preface to the whole work, and a translation of the summary and initial summary analysis and notes on the book of Matthew. Elsewhere, I have located translations that were prepared by his team of scholars of Poole's prefaces to the New Testament (both the Gospels-Acts and Romans-Revelation), which were published in 1869 (available to read online here, starting on p. 294).

To the best of my knowledge, Young's translation project never progressed further than the translation of these prefaces and a small introductory portion from the book of Matthew. If anyone has information to the contrary, please let me know. It is an encouragement to the current Matthew Poole Project to know that this work was deemed worthy of translation into English in the 19th century as well. The vision of Robert Young is shared by those who desire to unlock valuable Biblical scholarship and make it available to readers in their own tongue, and it is hoped that we will, by God's grace, carry on to complete the task for the edification of the church in the present age and in ages to come.

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