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Junia in the Vamva Bible

July 6, 2012

I realised that there is no link to the Vamva Bible on my home blog, and want to make sure I don’t lose this. Kurk found it a while ago. The Vamva Bible is a 19th century revision of the original Greek. Here is Junia in the Vamva Bible,

Ασπάσθητε τον Ανδρόνικον και Ιουνίαν,
τους συγγενείς μου και συναιχμαλώτους μου,
οίτινες είναι επίσημοι μεταξύ των αποστόλων,
οίτινες και προ εμού ήσαν εις τον Χριστόν

While others were masculinizing Junia, the Archbishop Vamva simply assumed that she was a female among the apostles. It seems obvious to me to check Greek scholarship on basic linguistic issues. Naturally there are some things that have been lost to antiquity, but I assume that Greek commentary is worth referencing. However, I seem to be alone on this. Not that I can read modern Greek fluently – I can’t. But one can always ask. Anyway, here is the link for the Vamva Bible.

I would be interested in hearing theories from others on why this Bible is not usually mentioned in English scholarship. I think Bible software should include this one along with the Pagninus, Erasmus Latin and Vulgate.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 7, 2012 8:25 am

    I would be interested in hearing theories from others on why this Bible is not usually mentioned in English scholarship.

    Thanks for this post! You raise important questions, again. I remember once elsewhere at a different blog you noted how there’s a recent Mormon history on Vamva. I believe that can be found here now:

    A Courageous Translator

    Against this backdrop of fierce opposition and earnest yearning for Bible knowledge, there emerged a prominent figure who would play a key role in the translation of the Bible into modern Greek. This courageous person was Neofitos Vamvas, a distinguished linguist and noted Bible scholar, generally regarded as one of the “Teachers of the Nation.”

    Vamvas clearly saw that the Orthodox Church was to blame for the spiritual illiteracy of the people. He strongly believed that in order to awaken the people spiritually, the Bible needed to be translated into the spoken Greek of the day. In 1831, with the help of other scholars, he began translating the Bible into literary Greek. His complete translation was published in 1850. Since the Greek Orthodox Church would not support him, he collaborated with the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS) on the publication and circulation of his translation. The church labeled him “a Protestant,” and soon he found himself an outcast.

    And there’s this:

    Neophytos Vamvas

    Neophytos Vamvas (Νεόφυτος Βάμβας) (1770-1856) was a Greek cleric and educator of the 19th century.

    Vamvas was born on the island of Chios in 1770. His secular name was Nikolaos. He was ordained a deacon at age 20 and in 1804 went to study in France where he met Adamantios Korais.

    On his return to Greece, he taught in Chios, at the Ionian Academy of Corfu, at the first Gymnasium of Syros and later in the newly-founded University of Athens.

    His main contribution to Greek literature is his translation of the Bible into modern Greek, an endeavour that was opposed at that time by ultraconservative circles within the Greek Orthodox Church. His version was allowed in 1924.

    He died at Athens in 1856.

    From Wikipedia,

    Sounds as if the opposition to Vamvas by the Orthodox Church in his day effectively silenced him and has affected how the rest of us are willing to read his translation today.

  2. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    July 7, 2012 12:56 pm


    Thanks for reminding me of that article! Its JW not Mormon, but useful information. If the British Bible Society published it, then it was accessible to Greek scholars in England. Why has nobody every mentioned it? I am going to ask if there is a certain sense of superiority that British classical scholars had that meant they felt that they could not be informed by the Vamvas translation. Or they had never heard of it. Either way – it shows the limitations of scholarship, in my view.

  3. July 8, 2012 3:33 pm

    I fear that this Bible has suffered by virtue of having been written in Modern Greek. Serious students, of course, want to study the New Testament in Koine; less serious readers want to read more contemporary Modern Greek (or other vernacular) translations. Vamva gets stuck in the forgotten middle.

    I could make similar remarks about a wide swathe of literature written in Modern Greek, which is largely ignored by non-Greek readers compared with the treasures available in English, French, German, Russian, Spanish, and Nordic languages.


  1. July 2012 Biblical Studies Carnival « Reading Acts

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