Charles Thomson Translates the Bible
After retiring as Secretary of the Continental Congress in 1789, Charles Thomson began translating the Bible from Greek into English. After 19 years of work on it, he published the first translation of the Septuagint, the version of the Old Testament in use at the time of Jesus, whose references to the Old Testament are from the Septuagint. Thomson also published a translation of the New Testament.
A biblical historian commented in 1936: "For clearness, force and felicitous language, it would be difficult to surpass Thomson's translation, especially of the New Testament."
"This solitary and unaided scholar... has yet produced a work which may well challenge comparison with the best results of the united labors, during the last ten years, of two companies containing thirty or forty of the best scholars in England and America." Dr. Francis Bowen, Harvard College, 1890
Excerpts from the Thomson Bible
In the beginning God made the heavens and the earth. And the earth was invisible and unfurnished and there was darkness over this abyss, and a breath of God was brought on above the water.
The 23rd Psalm:
The Lord is my shepherd. I shall want nothing. In a verdant pasture he hath fixed my abode. He hath fed me by gently flowing water and restored my soul. He hath led me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. For though I walk amidst the shades of death: I will fear no ills, because thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff have been my comfort. Thou hast spread a table before me; in the presence of them who afflict me. With oil thou hast anointed my head; and thine exhilarating cup is the very best. Thy mercy will surely follow me all the days of my life; and my dwelling shall be in the house of the Lord to the length of days.
Endeavoring for "truth with the utmost ingenuity," for nearly two decades Thomson applied his considerable scholarship and penchant for accuracy to creating the most precise translation of this book whose language is so vital.
Dr. Bruce M. Metzger, a biblical scholar at Princeton Theological Seminary said in 1993: "When one considers the limited research tools that were available to Thomson, as well as the extent of the entire Bible, his diligence in producing a translation of the entire Bible is remarkable. Furthermore, his sensitivity to English style and such matters means that, on the whole, his rendering of the New Testament is, in some passages, superior to that of the King James version."
Few copies remain of the original one thousand published editions of Thomson's four-volume 1808 translation.