Revista Studii Teologice


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"Tradiţia biblică românească. O prezentare succintă din perspectiva principalelor versiuni româneşti ale Sfintei Scripturi"

The Romanian Biblical Tradition: A Survey from the Perspective of the Most Important Romanian Versions of the Holy Scripture

Autor(i): Emanuel Conţac

Summary: The Romanian Biblical Tradition: A Survey from the Perspective of the Most Important Romanian Versions of the Holy Scripture
The present article surveys the Romanian biblical tradition, understood as the totality of Romanian versions, partial or complete, in manuscript or printed form, regardless of the cultural, political and denominational milieu in which they have been produced. Given the scarcity of studies on this generous topic, this article aims at sparking the interest for similar or more in-depth presentations. Given the constraints incumbent upon studies of this kind, the author omits the manuscript versions or the partial versions circulated prior to the publishing of the first Romanian edition of the New Testament, printed at Bălgrad (modern-day Alba Iulia) in 1648. The paper begins with this particular edition, which is given ample treatment, especially with regard to the Calvinist ideas contained in the prefaces. Although typically Romanian historians have held that the 23 prefaces appended to the biblical books are thoroughly Eastern Orthodox in character, the author of this paper identifies important features which bespeak a theology informed by Calvinist precepts, such as the definition of faith as “the hand of the soul” (a commonplace of Reformed and Puritan theology), the emphasis on justification, the definition of the ministries of Christ according to the threefold classification first set out by Calvin, and attacks against the “papists” and “jesuits” in a manner typical of Reformed anti-Catholic polemics.
Considerable space is given to the Bucharest Bible, printed in 1688 by Prince Şerban Cantacuzene and published lately as a critical edition in 25 volumes, by a team of biblical scholars and philologists led by professor Eugen Munteanu of Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iaşi. Another important Romanian version is the Bible translated by the Uniate monk Samuil Micu and printed in Blaj, in 1795. This edition has been reprinted many times by Orthodox ecclesiastical authorities and thus has exerted a considerable influence on the Romanian biblical tradition. It has been called, without exaggeration, “the mother of Romanian Bibles”, being reprinted in Saint Petersburg (1819) and Buzău (1854-1856). The 1819 version, in turn, has been reprinted in Sibiu (1856-1858) by bishop Andrei Şaguna. The last “descendant” of Micu’s Bible is the first Synodal version, the text of which was prepared by members of the Holy Synod during 1908-1914. This is the last Romanian Bible which is thoroughly based on the text of the Septuagint. Beginning with the 1936 Synodal version (translated by bishop Nicodim Munteanu, Gala Galaction and Vasile Radu), the Romanian Bibles have used dual sources: both the Septuagint and the Masoretic Text. Revisions and reprints of the 1936 Bible, in 1944, 1968, 1975, 1982, etc. (up to 2008) have not greatly improved its text. In fact, it can be shown that errors which first made their way into the 1936 edition persist to this day, calling urgently for a careful revision (or for a translation from scratch) which has been long overdue.
A significant step towards remedying the plight of the Romanian Orthodox Bible has been taken by the late Bartolomeu Anania (metropolitan of Cluj in 2006-2011), who embarked on a long and complex process of revising the 1975 Bible by taking the Septuagint as reference text. His edition, published in 2001, after 14 years of intense efforts, has been hailed as a great literary achievement, though biblical scholars who have scrutinized the fruits of Anania’s labour have been more reserved in their commendations.
In the meantime, decisive action has come from beyond the ecclesiastical quarters, from a group of lay scholars supervised by Cristian Bădiliţă, a classical and patristic scholar. Under the auspices of the NEC College (led by Romanian essayist Andrei Pleşu), the 21 –member group has translated the Septuagint in a period of roughly eight years. The 8 tomes which resulted were published in the period 2004–2011. Upon completion of the Septuagint project, Cristian Bădiliţă has embarked on another one: the translation of the New Testament in 7 volumes, each with important notes and commentaries. Up to now only two volumes have been published: Matthew and John.
In the Protestant camp, a notable version has been printed in Iassy (1874) by the British and Foreign Bible Society, followed by the Nitzulescu’s New Testament version (1897). Although Nitzulescu himself was teaching at the Orthodox Faculty of Theology in Bucharest, he seems to have had Protestant leanings, as evidenced in his translation, circulated almost exclusively in Protestant circles. Radical innovations were introduced by the hierodeacon Dumitru Cornilescu, who seems to have embraced Evangelical convictions while working on a translation for “the common people”, in 1916–1920. His version, more paraphrastic than any other before him or many that came after him, was first published in 1921. Three years later, upon considerable revision (in the NT text), it was accepted by the BFBS. It has been reprinted countless times ever since (sometimes with updated orthography) and has established itself as the Textus Receptus of the Romanian Evangelicals. The most recent Protestant translation, the New Romanian Version (2007) is no match for the Cornilescu one, which will probably lose its constituency only gradually, in the next decades.
A third branch of the Romanian biblical tradition is comprised of Catholic ver-sions. So far, it has boasted only three versions (New Testament editions): one published in 1935, another one published by father Emil Pascal in 1975 (with many reprints) and, more recently, one translated by fathers Alois Bulai and Anton Budău. While none of these versions is without its specific failings, the latter is a considerable improvement on the previous two.
In closing, mention should be made of two very peculiar versions translated from English into Romanian. One is the New World Translation made by a team of Jehovah’s Witnesses (2006) and the other is the Fidela version, a rendering of the KJV, produced by a group of independent Baptist believers from Cluj who felt that they could not deprive the Romanian people of the enduring beauty and consummate artistry of the text penned by the company of translators which stands behind this world-famous version. Unfortunately, due to the lack of proper knowledge, both of 17th century English and of modern-day Romanian, the resultant Romanian version is marred by countless barbarisms, atrocious calques and infelicities of style, and can be safely classified as a translation experiment gone awry, a waste of money, time and energy.

Dialog teologic
Pagini: 159-245