Joseph Bryant Rotherham, 1828-1910

[Mentioned in Miscellaneous Writings, p. 373]

Joseph B. Rotherham, scholar and translator, was born in a small village near Norwich, England. His father was the local Wesloyan preacher there. Joseph was in his teens when he first felt that he had received a divine call to preach. His text for this first sermon was Philippians 3:8. He became an itinerant evangelist and preached in Methodist churches. But in 1853 he changed to the Baptist faith, and later, because he placed more importance on immersion than even Baptist ministers, he joined "The Disciples." During these early years, he studied both Greek and Hebrew earnestly.

A fresh translation of the New Testament by the American Bible Union inspired Rotherham with the desire to translate the New Testament himself, and in 1868 this desire began to take shape. That year he became a publisher's editor, and his work as a full-time evangelist ended. However, he continued to preach and teach occasionally all the rest of his life. His aim in translating the New Testament was to give "a very literal version, both as to words and their order," and to place "the reader of the present time in as good a position as that occupied by the reader of the first century for understanding the Apostolic Writings."

The first edition of "The New Testament Critically Emphasised" appeared in 1872. Between then and the appearing of the second edition in 1878, Rotherham began to work on a rendering of the Old Testament. Not until 1895 was this translation completed, since he had to do his work after his long daily labors.

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Signs of the Times
September 12, 1959

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