Catalogue of English Bible Translations

by Chamberlin, William J.

New York

Greenwood Press. 1992. 898 pp. $125.00

This book is subtitled: A Classified Bibliography of Versions, and Editions Including Books, Parts, and Old and New Testament Apocrypha and Apocryphal Books. The last attempt to catalogue the English Bible was in turn a revision and expansion of the edition of Darlow and Moule in 1903 and was that of A. S. Herbert published in 1968 jointly by the British & Foreign and the American Bible Societies.

Any attempt to compile a comprehensive bibliography of a book printed in as many editions and in as large editions as the Bible is a courageous endeavor and a massive undertaking. To dare to attempt to improve upon the efforts of bibliographers who are recognized widely for their expertise is either foolhardy or done by one willing to take a high risk because he staunchly believes he can improve on the work of his predecessors. The estimate of his contemporaries is now awaited by this author who has dared to put his conviction “on the line.” Compiler Chamberlin was in the process of gathering the information for this book for 23 years. He, along with Herbert before him, has expressed his awareness that a work of this kind cannot be effectively done by one person, however much he must accept final responsibility. Both benefitted from the work of Margaret T. Hills, late librarian of the American Bible Society, for her attempt to include all English editions of the Bible published in the New World in her bibliography published in 1962.

Chamberlin’s work is more comprehensive than any previous bibliography for several reasons: 1. Previous attempts have depended upon notable libraries while Chamberlin has utilized also private libraries and collections; and 2. Herbert and Hills have included only the entire Bible, either Testament, or a major portion while Chamberlin has included smaller portions also. He has given special attention also to recording all revisions and reprintings. This is to be noted in addition to the fact that he has included the Apocrypha of both Testaments as well, something no previous bibliographer has done.

Chamberlin has also included many valuable annotations but has said in a private letter to this reviewer that he had to delete “many, many things” due to the space limitations of the publisher.

Chamberlin’s accomplishment is all the more remarkable when it is known that he has carried full-time secular positions throughout his years of research and preparation of this volume. In addition he has pursued theological training and expects ordination next year to the diaconate of the Roman Catholic Church. He has been a pastoral minister at St. Joseph of Lake Orion, MI and a chaplain at Pontiac General Hospital of Pontiac, MI since 1986. He is Director of the Bible Museum and Biblical Research Foundation that operates out of his home address at 6413 Snow Apple Dr., Clarkston, MI 48346.

This bibliography attempts to include all translations published in British, American, Australian, Irish, Anglo-Saxon and other variations of the English language. Unlike previous bibliographies of the Bible, this one includes recognition of single books, single chapters, even single verses, along with commentaries that include the author’s own translations of biblical quotations, children’s Bibles when they are a new translation or a close paraphrase, and theological books which contain the author’s own translation of the Bible. The author states that “No judgment was made relative to what properly belongs in the scriptural canon, but includes that which at one time or another was fairly regarded as part of it, or at least was felt to be important in early history and in the development of Christianity and Judaism.”

This work would provide much data for one studying the historical patterns of translations, and the free versus literal mode of translation.

All entries have been categorized into one hundred and fifty one different categories and are listed in chronological order. Those that are undated or whose publishing data is unknown are listed first. The name of the translator(s) is printed next to the date. If the translator’s name is not given in the original title, then it is listed as “Anonymous.” If the translator(s) has been identified at a later date, the name is given in brackets within the text.

A criticism to which this book may be subject concerns the binding of this rather expensive book which I fear may prove inadequate. A book of over 800 pages calls for a binding of more than usual durability.

Both the author and this reviewer cannot request too earnestly that the users of this work submit to Chamberlin all corrections and additions that they become aware of. Only by such assistance from the users of this book can we look forward to future editions becoming ever more comprehensive and accurate.

The compiler of this volume has long been a member of ISBC. Congratulations, Bill, on the appearance of your bibliography. As you submit your near — lifelong work to the scrutiny of others, may it bring all of us who are students of the many versions and editions of the English Bible a significant step closer to the comprehensiveness that many of us desire!