The Ferrar Fenton Bible Translation has many interesting and unique features, including the Hebrew arrangement of books, sections translated into Hebrew-style metre, valuable and insightful textual notes, and much more. The author was a language scholar and prestigious member of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain, and was aided in his task by other notable scholars. Its many unique features are explained more fully in two separate articles on each of the product pages. (Click on the cover pictures below) This fascinating translation is available in either hard or soft binding.
We will review today a fascinating Bible translation: The Holy Bible In Modern English, available in both soft and hardcover, 1271 pages plus introductory notes, translated direct from the original Hebrew, Chaldee and Greek languages by Biblical language scholar Ferrar Fenton.
The Hard Cover edition measures 6 ¼ x 9 ½ inches, and type size is approximately 12 point…
…while the lighter and more compact vinyl cover edition is approximately 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 inches in size. Please note that the type used is somewhat smaller (about 10 point), compared to the approximately 12 point type of the hard-cover edition. Although the cover is not genuine leather, the attractive black vinyl produces a lighter Bible and is nice looking.
This is a fascinating translation by a scholar with a good understanding of Scripture, including the distinction between the Two Houses of Israel in Bible history and prophecy. In addition, we believe that the valuable footnotes in this work by themselves are worth the price of the book!
Some background on this Bible translation: The outstanding late 19th century scholar, Ferrar Merricmac Fenton, began in 1853 a half-century of earnest labor on this translation of the Scriptures, finally publishing it complete in 1903. He was a child prodigy who from the age of seven read the Bible only in its original languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. This alone helped to eliminate any translator bias toward other popular English versions.
Many unique and interesting features of this Bible translation are not to be found in any other Christian Bible of which we are aware. I will briefly list just a few fascinating aspects.
The order of books is set out in the proper Hebrew arrangement:
1st. The books of Moses or Torah,
2nd. The “early reciters” or historians, called in Hebrew, “Nebiim Rishonim,”
3rd. The major prophets, or “Nebiim Akheronim”
4th. The sacred writings, or “Kithobim,” being the Psalms, Solomon and Sacred Writers.
As Jews and Messianic Christians are well aware, these early divisions give us the Hebrew name of the Old Testament, called the TaNaKh, an abbreviation for Torah, Nebiim, and Kithobim. Fenton stated that he “decided to follow this order of the books rather than that of the wild muddle in which the European translators of the Dark Ages had mixed them in the Latin and Greek versions.”
In the New Testament the usual standard order found in our Christian Bibles is preserved, except that the Gospel of John has been moved to the first position in the Gospels. The reason for this is that Fenton’s own research into the text led him to the conclusion that it was the first Gospel to be written, and is to be dated as one of the earliest books of the New Testament. Today scholars are still divided on that subject, but it is at least interesting that Fenton’s conclusion would explain the subtle differences in Greek word usage between John’s Gospel and his Apocalypse, the Book of Revelation.
One of the most valuable features of this work is the scholarly footnotes scattered throughout its many pages. From the very first verse, Genesis 1:1, where Fenton advises that he correctly translates the Hebrew, “b’reshith”, as the plural, “periods” (as of time), instead of singular as in most other English translations. Therefore, Ferrar Fenton has “By periods…” instead of “In the beginning…”
Many years ago I was especially intrigued by Fenton’s footnote accompanying Genesis 3:4 concerning the final resting place of Noah’s Ark, which the King James Version (and all others of which I am aware) transliterate as “Ararat.” Ferrar Fenton instead translated the Hebrew as, “the peaks of the High Hills.” His footnote stated, “I translate the compound Hebrew word “Ararat,” as, by leaving it in the Hebrew as the current versions do, it misleads the reader to fancy Ararat in Armenia, is meant, but the real resting place of the Ark, as the Sacred Record clearly proves, was upon the Peaks of the Hymalayah Mountains in the Hindoo Koosh in the region of Kashgar, or Northern Afghanistan.”
This certainly makes sense, because after the Ark landed, the eight survivors traveled westward, “marching from the East” (Genesis 11:2, Fenton Version), and arrived in the Plain of Shinar, or Mesopotamia. It should be obvious that they could not have traveled west from Mt. Ararat in Armenia and arrived in Mesopotamia! Historians, however, tell us that the mountain of that name in Armenia received its designation only in the Middle Ages. Yet how many books have been written in recent years claiming to have seen Noah’s Ark in Armenia!
If you read our English versions and wonder what the Hebrew place-names mean, Ferrar Fenton often gives this information. For example, he translates “Masah and Meribah” by its English equivalent, “Trial and Strife.” (Numbers 17:7) Similarly, “Urim and Thumim” is translated, not transliterated, as “Light and Truth.” (Exodus 28:30) Many other such examples from the Ferrar Fenton Bible could be given, and the importance of an English rendering of proper names cannot be over stressed. It is not surprising that the meaning of the Hebrew words adds understanding to the Biblical text!
Christians today debate the matter of the Biblical food laws, but their importance is made much clearer in Fenton’s rendering of a number of texts such as Leviticus 3:17, “It is an Institution for ever, for your descendants, in all your dwelling places…” That the laws of God were not given as mere religious ritual is clear in Fenton’s translation of Leviticus 11:44, “I am your Ever-Living God, Who sanctifies you, and you shall be healthy, for I am Holy, and you shall not defile yourselves or your lives…” Such passages make it clear that God intended for His law-principles to be kept today for our health and well-being!
The Ferrar Fenton Bible is also quite fascinating in how it corrects a number of misunderstandings from the ancient Hebrew text. In Leviticus 14:39, it translates “walls of the house” as “drains of the house,” and a footnote remarks, “Literally ‘ditch’ or ‘runnings’; in root [the] Hebrew [means] to run towards, improperly translated ‘walls’ in the current versions.” Such notes may seem minor, but in sum, they give us a better understanding of the culture of that day as well as a better understanding of the text itself.
So much more could be related about the fascinating footnotes throughout this version, but I will give just one more. In I Kings 5:9-14 is a wonderful rendering of Solomon’s famous ancient wisdom. Fenton headed this section with the title, “Solomon as a Scientist.” The Fenton translation reads, “And God gave to Solomon very great wisdom and understanding, and wide intelligence, like the sand on the sea shore. For Solomon’s scientific knowledge was more extensive than the science of all the Beni-Kedem, and than all the science of the Mitzeraim. He knew more than all men of the orbits of the planets, of the origination of light, and fixed sustaining systems, and the results of the revolving spheres, and his fame was spread among all the nations around. He also wrote three thousand proverbs, and his songs were one thousand and five. And he wrote about botany as well, from the Cedar upon Lebanon, to the mosses that grow upon walls; and studied the zoology of beasts, and birds, and reptiles, and fish. So that persons came from all the nations to listen to the sciences of Solomon, from all the kingdoms of the earth who heard of his scientific knowledge.”
This only touches on the wonderful nuggets of knowledge found in this remarkable volume. We believe that you will be fascinated as you grow in knowledge of the Scriptures through your reading of this important Ferrar Fenton translation. More information about this Bible version may be read by clicking on the product pictures on our booksite for product details.
Further information about author and scholar Ferrar Fenton will be found in the article, “Wisdom From The Past,” on the Two-House Information Center website at israelite.info.
Ferrar Fenton lived from 1832 to 1920, and was a child prodigy who read the Bible in the original Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic from the age of seven, spending a half-century producing his translation, “The Holy Bible In Modern English,” first published complete in 1903. Wikipedia says of him, “Fenton had acquired a great learning and understanding of ancient Sanskrit, Greek, Hebrew and Latin through being a distinguished member of the Royal Asiatic Society, [whose members on the RAS website are said to be “highly accomplished and notable scholars”-ed.] As a tradesman he also had access to numerous ancient Septuagint and Masoretic manuscripts to aid in his translation, and he also used [Protestant Reformation scholar] Brian Walton’s .” Bible (of 1657) for minimal referencing
This Bible has remained in print ever since, and copies can be purchased from our book site, where you can find more information about this Bible and its author.
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