Scottish Bible translator
James Moffatt (1870-1944) was a theologian and graduate of Glasgow University. Moffatt trained at the Free Church College, Glasgow, and was a practising minister before becoming Professor of Greek and New Testament Exegesis at Mansfield College, Oxford in 1911. He returned to Glasgow in 1915 as Professor of Church History at the United Free Church College. From 1927-1939 he was Washburn Professor of Church History at the Union Theological Seminary, New York.
Born in Glasgow, Moffatt was educated at the University and the Free Church College in that city. After ordination in 1896, he spent fifteen years in parish work for the Free Church of Scotland. He then lectured at Mansfield College, Oxford, for four years, and Glasgow for twelve, before being appointed Washburn professor of church history at Union Theological Seminary, New York, in 1927. He retired in 1939.
Among his many books on biblical criticism, An Introduction to the Literature of the New Testament (1911), which is a wide-ranging survey of modem critical scholarship, reveals his own very liberal standpoint. But his most widely known work was the popular "Moffatt Bible", a single-handed and somewhat colloquial translation of the entire Scriptures (New Testament, 1913; Old Testament, 1924). This was a remarkable achievement for one man, even though he attracted much criticism from other scholars for trying to overcome literary difficulties by freely rearranging verses and even chapters. He also depended far too heavily on critical theories for his rendering of the Old Testament in particular. Subsequent findings in the fields of archeology and philology have shown his theories to be untenable.
Moffatt also edited a series of commentaries covering all the books of the New Testament (seventeen volumes, 1928-1949), which were all based on his translation. He himself contributed the volumes on 1 Corinthians and the general Epistles. In addition to theological and biblical works, Moffatt wrote several books on English literature.
Works by James Moffat
This commentary by James Moffat takes a different form than many. Rather than analzying the text verse-by-verse, Moffat has created more of a "running" commentary. He takes generally three verses at a time, and writes a paragraph of investigaion of the original Greek, cultural notes, ect. Though Moffat's commentaries and Bible translations are often debated because of his reliance on inaccurate archeological sources, his volumes are still worth reading by those concerned with having a diverse set of commentaries.
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