The Holy Bible In Modern English, hardcover, translated direct from the original Hebrew, Chaldee and Greek languages by Ferrar Fenton. Hard Cover edition. 1271 pages plus introductory notes. Type size: approximately 12 point. A fascinating translation by a scholar with a good understanding of the Two Houses of Israel in Bible history and prophecy. In addition, as explained below, we believe that the valuable footnotes in this work by themselves are worth the price of the book!
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 feature s of this Bible translation are not to be found in any other Christian Bible of which we are aware. We will briefly list just a few fascinating aspects.
The order of books is set out in the proper Hebrew arrangement:
1. The books of Moses or Torah,
2. The “early reciters” or historians, called in Hebrew, “Nebiim Rishonim,”
3. The major prophets, or “Nebiim Akheronim”
4. 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. It is thought by some that the Apostle John’s writing style and word usage evolved over time, which would make sense if the Gospel was written soon after the crucifixion, and the Book of Revelation written about 90 A.D.
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” (of time), instead of singular as in most other English translations. Therefore, Fenton has “By periods…” instead of “In the beginning…”
Many years ago I was especially intrigued by the 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.” 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), and arrived in the Plain of Shinar, or Mesopotamia. 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, Fenton often gives this information. For example, he translates “Masah and Meribah” by its English equivalent, “Trial and Strife.” (Num. 17:7) Similarly, “Urim and Thumim” is translated, not transliterated, as “Light and Truth.” (Exodus 28:30) Many other such examples from the 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 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.
So much more could be related about the fascinating footnotes throughout this version, but one more will suffice. 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 translation. More information about this translation may be read on the softcover product details, and information about author and scholar Ferrar Fenton will be found in the article, “Wisdom From The Past,” on the Two-House Information Center website.