First Complete Translation of the Bible by a Woman
English Bible. The Holy Bible Translated Literally from the Original Tongues.
Hartford: American Publishing Company, 1876. (00211)
Julia Evelina Smith (1792–1886), raised on a wealthy farmstead in Glastonbury, Connecticut, was exceptionally successful both as a linguist and as an activist for women’s suffrage. She began to study biblical Greek in 1843 to evaluate the prediction by William Miller (1782–1849), founder of the Adventist movement, that Christ’s return would occur in 1844. Smith and her sisters also desired a more literal translation for their weekly Bible study than the King James Version provided. She utilized her knowledge of Greek and Hebrew to produce a concordant Bible translation, “endeavoring to put the same English word for the same Greek or Hebrew word, everywhere.” Published at her own expense in 1876, Smith’s edition was the first complete translation of the Bible by a woman. Smith’s preface begins, “It may seem presumptuous for an ordinary woman with no particular advantages of education to translate and publish alone, the most wonderful book that has ever appeared in the world, and thought to be the most difficult to translate.” This statement anticipated the charges of “presumptuousness” made by numerous dismissive reviewers of her Bible.