Beyond Words - Language Blog

The Scots Language Bible, Handwritten and Delivered

With all of the coverage about the online publication of the Codex Sinaiticus, the oldest complete copy of the New Testament (it dates to the 4th century and is written in Greek), I thought it would be fun to highlight another Biblical scholastic first: the handwritten Scots Language Bible.

First, try your hand at a little Scots to English translation:

When Jesus saw his mither an’ the disciple ‘at he loved staundin’ aside her, he said tae her, ‘This is yir son.’”

Not to hard, right? That particular verse hails from John 19. Now how about this one from John 2:

As sune as the Maister o’ the feast had pree’d the watir-wine (and kent-na whaur it cam frae ; but the servants kent), he cry’t to the bridegroom.

Ilka man wales oot his best wine to hansel the feast ; and whan folk are weel slocken’t, than feshes the second-wale ; but ye hae hained the best wine till noo!

It’s a little bit harder, no?

While this Bible is not the first Scots language translation, it is unique in that it is completely handwritten by Scottish church parishioners in Scots language. The handwritten Bible is a response to the Adventist Church’s “Follow the Bible” initiative, a two year project that aims to compile a multi-language Bible. The project began in Philippines in October 2008 and will finish at the opening of the Church’s General Conference Session in Atlanta, Georgia, in July 2010. As a finished book, the Bible will represent sixty-six languages from each of the Adventist Church’s thirteen world regions.

Contributing parishioners in Scotland say that the project heightened their understanding and love of the Bible, and organizers likened the handwritten process to writing out class notes in school, “handwriting the Bible makes passages stand out to you.”

Of course, as the folks over at Hobbits Abroad point out, “It’s a good project, yes, because it’s Holy Writ, but also because the Scottish dialects are living languages, which from a sociology point of view need to be recorded and preserved.”

Much like the scholarly revival of the Manx language, this project shows a praise-worthy attempt to preserve not only the Scots language, but also to make it accessible and pertinent to the day-to-day lives of the Scottish people. While the handwritten Bible is intended to deepen the Church members’ appreciation and understanding of their holy book, it also deepens (or even exposes) these Church members and many others through their effort to the concepts of translation, language preservation, and the cultural-historical significance of Scots language.

For the original article in the Adventist News Network, go here .