Bible translations into Japanese
There are two main translations of the Bible into Japanese widely in use today—the New Interconfessional Version (新共同訳聖書) and the New Japanese Bible (新改訳聖書). Both are published by the Japan Bible Society but with different translation goals. The New Japanese Version aims to be used as a literal translation using modern Japanese while the New Interconfessional Version aims to be ecumenically used by all Christian denominations and must therefore conform to various theologies. Protestant Evangelicals most often use the New Japanese Version but the most widely distributed Bible and the one used by the Catholic Church, the United Church of Christ, Lutheran Church factions and many Anglicans in Japan is the New Interconfessional Version.
- 1 Jesuit missions
- 2 Protestant missionaries
- 3 Catholic versions
- 4 Orthodox versions
- 5 Other translators
- 6 Comparison
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Japanese Bible translation began when Catholic missionaries (Kirishitan) entered Japan in 1549, and Jesuits published portions of the New Testament in Kyoto, in 1613, though no copy survives. Exactly how much was translated by the Jesuit Mission is not confirmed. It would seem that at least Gospels for the Sundays of the year and other Bible pericopes were translated. Shortly afterwards, however, Christianity was banned and all the missionaries were exiled. That translation of the Bible is now lost.
Work on translation started outside Japan in the 19th century by Protestant missionaries interested in Japan. Karl Gutzlaff of the London Missionary Society translated the Gospel of John in Macau in 1837, referring to the Chinese version of Robert Morrison (Chinese Shentian Shengshu 神天聖書). Bernard Jean Bettelheim, who had been a missionary in the Ryūkyū Kingdom (Okinawa) and who had been exiled, translated the Bible to Ryūkyūan and published the Gospel of Luke and John, Acts of the Apostles and the Epistle to the Romans in Hong Kong in 1855. Japan re-opened in 1858, and many missionaries came into the country. They found that intellectuals could read Chinese texts easily, so they used Chinese Bibles at first. However, the proportion of intellectuals was only in the region of 2% and in order to spread their religion across the country more effectively, a Japanese Bible became necessary. Incidentally, a second reversion of Bettelheim's Luke was published in 1858, intercolumnated with the Chinese Delegates' version, and designed for missionary use in Japan. This version, with its heavy Ryūkyūan flavor, proved just as unsuitable as Chinese-only Bibles. After leaving Asia and immigrating to the United States, Bettelheim continued work on his translations, and newly revised editions of Luke, John, and the Acts, now closer to Japanese than Ryūkyūan, were published posthumously in Vienna in 1873-1874 with the assistance of August Pfizmaier.
Meiji Version, 1887
A translation was done by James Curtis Hepburn, of the Presbyterian Mission, and Samuel Robbins Brown, of the Reformed Church of America. It is presumed that Japanese intellectual assistants helped translate Bridgman and Culbertson's Chinese Bible (1861) into Japanese, and Hepburn and Brown adjusted the phrases. The Gospels of Mark, Matthew and John were published in 1872. Hepburn's project was taken over by a Missionary Committee, sponsored by the American Bible Society, British and Foreign Bible Society and the Scottish Bible Society in Tokyo. Their New Testament and Old Testament, called the Meiji Version (明治元訳 meiji genyaku, "Meiji era Original Translation"), was published in 1880 and 1887 respectively. They translated from a Greek text as well as the King James version.
Taisho Revised Version, 1917
A revision of the New Testament, the Taisho Revised Version (大正改訳聖書 taisho kaiyaku seisho, "Taisho era Revised Translation of Scripture") appeared in 1917 during the Taishō period. This version was widely read even outside of Christian society. Its phrases are pre-modern style, but became popular in Japan. This was based on the Nestle-Aland Greek Text and the English Revised Version (RV).
Bible, Japanese Colloquial, 1954
After World War II, the Japan Bible Society (日本聖書協会 nihon seisho kyōkai?) translated the "Bible, Japanese Colloquial (口語訳聖書 kōgoyaku seisho?)". The New Testament being ready in 1954 and the Old Testament in 1955. It was adopted by certain Protestant churches but never became really popular, perhaps because of its poor literary style. This translation was based on the Revised Standard Version (RSV).
Japanese Living Bible, 1977, 2016
Based on the New Living Translation this translation has an informal literary style which attempts to capture the meaning of the original texts in modern Japanese. Revised version released in 2016 by Word of Life press.
New Japanese Bible, 1970; 1978; 2003; 2017
In 1970 the NSK (日本聖書刊行会 nihon seisho kankōkai?) - different from the Japan Bible Society (日本聖書協会 nihon seisho kyōkai?) - released the first edition of the New Japanese Bible (新改訳聖書 shin kaiyaku seisho?, "New Revised Version of the Bible") which was translated from Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek (Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia and Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece). The Shin Kaiyaku endeavors to translate theologically difficult passages in a way that is linguistically accurate to the source texts, to strike a balance between word-for-word and thought-for-thought but erring toward a literal translation.
The next edition is planned to be released in 2017.
New Interconfessional Translation, 1987
The Second Vatican Council decided to promote ecumenism and emphasized respect for the Bible. Consortia between the Catholic and the Protestant churches were organized and translation projects started in many countries, including Japan. The collaboration committee published the Interconfessional Translation Bible (共同訳聖書 kyōdō yaku seisho?) of the New Testament in 1978, but it was not widely supported by both congregations, Catholic and Protestant. The committee then published a revised version in 1987, the New Interconfessional Translation Bible (新共同訳聖書 shin kyōdō yaku seisho?), which included the Old Testament. It has been distributed well by various organisations such as Gideons International, the next edition is planned to be released in 2016.
In the Catholic Church, Emile Raguet of the MEP translated the New Testament from the Vulgate Latin version and published it in 1910. It was treated as the standard text by Japanese Catholics. Federico Barbaro colloquialized it (published in 1957). He went on to translate the Old Testament in 1964.
There are many other Japanese translations of the Bible by various organizations and individuals.
The Watch Tower Society published its Japanese translation of the New Testament in 1973 and the full New World Translation (NWT) in Japanese in 1982; by the end of that year, tens of thousands of copies had been printed in Japan. Japanese was among the first eight languages into which NWT was translated, and a Japanese References edition of NWT was published in 1985. A 2004 report states that the Watch Tower Society printed 48,000 copies of the NWT in Japan during the first three months with a new press.
The New World Translation in Japanese uses the name Ehoba, a Japanized form of Jehovah (itself a translation of the Hebrew name represented by the Tetragrammaton). The Watch Tower Society refers to the use of the proper name Ehoba in the 1800s among Christians in Japan and in certain 19th-century Japanese Bibles.
|Translation||John 1 (verses vary)|
|Gutzlaff (1837)||John 1:1-2
ハジマリニ カシコイモノゴザル、コノカシコイモノ ゴクラクトトモニゴザル、コノカシコイモノワゴクラク。ハジマリニ コノカシコイモノ ゴクラクトトモニゴザル。
|Bettelheim "Loochooan" version (Hong Kong, 1855)||John 1:1-2
ハジマリニ カシコイモノ ヲテ， コノカシコイモノヤ シヤウテイトトモニヲタン。 コノ カシコイモノ ハジマリニ シヤウテイト トモニ ヲタン。
|Hepburn (1872)||John 1:1-4
元始(はじめ)に言霊(ことだま)あり 言霊は神とともにあり 言霊ハ神なり。この言霊ハはじめに神とともにあり。よろづのものこれにてなれり なりしものハこれにあらでひとつとしてなりしものハなし。これに生(いのち)ありし いのちは人のひかりなりし。
|Bettelheim revised (hiragana) version (Vienna, 1873)||John 1:1-2
はじめに かしこいものあり かしこいものハ 神と ともにいます かしこいものハすなわち神
|Meiji version (1880)||John 1:3
|Taisho Revised Version (1917)||John 1:1-3
|Shinkeiyaku(Nagai)version (1928)||John 1:1-4
初に言(ことば)ありき、また言は神と偕(とも)にありき、また言は神なりき。 此の者は初に神と偕にありき。 すべての物、彼によりて刱(はじ)まれり、また刱まりたる物に、一つとして彼を離れて刱まりしはなし。 彼に生(いのち)ありき、また此の生は人の光なりき。
|Colloquial version (1954)||John 1:1-3
|Barbaro (1957)||John 1:1-3
|Shinkaiyaku Seisho (1973)||John 1:1-3
|Franciscan (1978)||John 1:1-3
|New World Translation (1985)||John 1:1-4
1 初めに言葉がおり，言葉は神と共におり，言葉は神であった。 2 この方は初めに神と共にいた。 3 すべてのものは彼を通して存在するようになり，彼を離れて存在するようになったものは一つもない。 彼によって存在するようになったもの 4 は命であり，命は人の光であった。
|The New Interconfessional Translation (1987)||John 1:1-3
- 日本福音同盟 - Japan Evangelical Association
- 日本福音同盟『日本の福音派』Japan Evangelical Association
- 中村敏『日本における福音派の歴史』ISBN 4264018269
- Handbook of Christianity in Japan: Mark Mullins - 2003 Among these writings were the Gospels for the Sundays of the year and other Bible pericopes, such as Passion ... Captain John Saris, an English adventurer who spent about two years in Japan, made the following entry in his diary while in Kyoto on 9 October 1613: In this cittie of Meaco, the Portingall Jesuitts haue a verie statelie Colledge
- The Bible translator 18 United Bible Societies - 1967 "In his diary for October 9th, when he visited Miako (Kyoto), we find the entry : In this cittie of Meaco, the Portingall Iesuitts ... which identifies one volume as 'A Japanese New Testament printed in Miako by the Jesuits in 1613'."
- Arimichi Ebizawa, "Bible in Japan --A History of Japanese Bible Translation,"(In Japanese) Kodansha, 1989, ISBN 4-06-158906-7, Section 1
- Norihisa Suzuki, Japanese in the Bible: A History of Translation (In Japanese). Iwanamishoten, 2006, ISBN 4-00-023664-4, Section 1
- Arimichi Ebizawa, "Bible in Japan --A History of Japanese Bible Translation,"(In Japanese) Kodansha, 1989, ISBN 4-06-158906-7, Section 3
- Arimichi Ebizawa, "Bible in Japan --A History of Japanese Bible Translation,"(In Japanese) Kodansha, 1989, ISBN 4-06-158906-7, Section 4
- Arimichi Ebizawa, "Bible in Japan --A History of Japanese Bible Translation,"(In Japanese) Kodansha, 1989, ISBN 4-06-158906-7, Section 6,7
- Norihisa Suzuki, Japanese in the Bible: A History of Translation, (In Japanese) Iwanamishoten, 2006, ISBN 4-00-023664-4, Section 4
- Kenzo Tagawa, "New Tastement as a Text," (In Japanese) Keisoshobou, 1997, ISBN 4-326-10113-X,pp.620-621
- Arimichi Ebizawa, "Bible in Japan --A History of Japanese Bible Translation,"(In Japanese) Kodansha, 1989, ISBN 4-06-158906-7, Section 12
- Norihisa Suzuki, Japanese in the Bible: A History of Translation, (In Japanese) Iwanamishoten, 2006, ISBN 4-00-023664-4, Section 5
- Kenzo Tagawa, "New Tastement as a Text," (In Japanese) Keisoshobou, 1997, ISBN 4-326-10113-X,p.622
- Norihisa Suzuki, Japanese in the Bible: A History of Translation, (In Japanese) Iwanamishoten, 2006, ISBN 4-00-023664-4, Section 6
- Kenzo Tagawa, "New Testament as a Text," (In Japanese) Keisoshobou, 1997, ISBN 4-326-10113-X,p.623-633
新約はネストレの校訂本二四版、旧約はキッテルの三版以後のものに基づき、訳業を進めたが、— The New Japanese Bible Postscript
- Norihisa Suzuki, Japanese in the Bible: A History of Translation, (In Japanese) Iwanamishoten, 2006, ISBN 4-00-023664-4, pp.148-168
- Kenzo Tagawa, "New Tastement as a Text," (In Japanese) Keisoshobou, 1997, ISBN 4-326-10113-X,pp.651-661
- Norihisa Suzuki, Japanese in the Bible: A History of Translation, (In Japanese) Iwanamishoten, 2006, ISBN 4-00-023664-4, pp.168-177
- Kenzo Tagawa, "New Testament as a Text," (In Japanese) Keisoshobou, 1997, ISBN 4-326-10113-X,pp.661-692
- Arimichi Ebizawa, "Bible in Japan --A History of Japanese Bible Translation,"(In Japanese) Kodansha, 1989, ISBN 4-06-158906-7, Section 10
- Kenzo Tagawa, "New Testament as a Text," (In Japanese) Keisoshobou, 1997, ISBN 4-326-10113-X,pp.648-649
- Kenzo Tagawa, "New Tastement as a Text," (In Japanese) Keisoshobou, 1997, ISBN 4-326-10113-X,pp.649-650
- Arimichi Ebizawa, "Bible in Japan --A History of Japanese Bible Translation,"(In Japanese) Kodansha, 1989, ISBN 4-06-158906-7, Section 11
- Handbook of Christianity in Japan, Part 5 by Mark Mullins, Brill, 2003, page 216
- "‘Lengthening the Tent Cords’ in Japan", The Watchtower, 15 June 1985, page 25
- "Do You Seek Hidden Treasures?", The Watchtower, 1 December 1989, page 17
- "A Happy Day for Japan’s Missionaries", The Watchtower, 1 November 1985, page 15
- "Highlights of the Past Year", 2005 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, ©2004 Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, page 25
- "Loyally Advocating the Word of God", The Watchtower, 15 March 1982, page 27
- Quoted in Kazamasa Iha's "Gutslaff and Bettelheim : A Contrastive Study of Translations of St. John : Material I (Chapters I-V)"
- Japanese Bible Download 日本のバイブル, at Downloadbibles/Japanese