Sunday, August 24, 2008

A History of the Scots Bible

Tulloch, Graham. A History of the Scots Bible: With Selected Texts. Aberdeen University Press, 1989. 184 pp. ISBN 0-08-037721-1.

     This book was a delightful read. Not only will it serve notice of several different Scots renditions of the Scriptures, but also provides samples of many. Tulloch goes beyond just providing a simple history and bibliography. He also shows the struggle of Scots to be more than just a "corruption" of English. (He mentions that Waddell stated Scots was "not a mere dialect... but a tongue cognate with English").

     This examination of Scots as a language unto itself was new for me. The author discusses the difference between a literary and spoken language appearing in print. He also shows how certain ways of a writing Scots either benefit or detract from its legitimacy as a separate cognate language. The way each Scots Bible contributed to that is discussed at length. Another interesting thread is the comparison of formal and colloquial language in the translations.

     Tulloch covers the Scots Bible revisers/translators from Murdoch Nisbet to William Lorimer and even the recent works by Jamie Stuart. He provides both an analysis of their texts and of their presentation of Scots. Many of the topics and ideas apply to Bible translation in general - not just Scots Bibles.

     I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the history of the Scots language, dialect Bibles or obviously Scots Bibles. It was a bit expensive. I was able to order a copy through a used book dealer on Find this in a library and give it a read. Then, next time you're giving a Scripture reading you can read "Whan Jesus gaed back til the ither side o the loch, a grete thrang of folk gaithert aboot him" (Mark 5:21, Jamie Stuart's version).

     One work referred to often in this book is James A. H. Murray's The Dialect of the Southern Counties of Scotland. I was quite happy to find a copy on Google.

     Some of the Scots versions are available online as well:

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