Dr. Stephen Nichols (SN):
I am joined by a good friend, Pastor Sugel Michelén, all the way from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Pastor Michelén, welcome to 5 Minutes in Church History.
Pastor Sugel Michelén (SM):
It is a privilege to be with you on the program once again. This is a fascinating topic that we will be speaking about today.
Yes. I am anxious to get into this with you. I want to say, too, that not only are you joining us from the Dominican Republic, but also you currently have a sinus infection. We know about Saharan winds that blow annually, and you are currently suffering from that. So we appreciate that you’re here with us to talk about a fascinating story, the story of the Bible in the Spanish language. Could you please tell us a bit about the earliest attempts to translate portions of the Bible into the Spanish language? Who are some of the people that were involved in that story?
Beginning in the thirteenth century, several translations began to appear both in Spanish and Catalan. But the most well-known versions come out of the sixteenth century, despite the considerable opposition of the Spanish Inquisition. The first was that of Juan de Valdés, a disciple of Erasmo de Rotterdam. Valdés had to flee Spain around 1529 after publication of his work on Christian doctrine. While in refuge at the court of Naples, he translated Matthew and Luke, the Epistles, and the Psalms. A few years later in 1543 at just twenty years old, Francisco de Enzinas published his translation of the whole New Testament in the city of Antwerp. Sadly, he died of the plague in late 1552, at thirty-four years old. At the time of his death he was working on the translation of the whole Bible. In 1553, one year after the death of Enzinas, a version of the Old Testament, whose translators were two Jews, Abraham Usque and Yom-Tob Athias, was published in Spanish. This version is known as the Bible of Ferrara, as it was dedicated to the duke of that city. They are the first known versions of the Bible in the Spanish language.
I think we’re going to have you back sometime to talk about Enzinas. That’s a fascinating story. After Enzinas, a Spanish New Testament was published in Geneva, Calvin’s city, in 1556. Could you tell us a little bit about that?
Juan Pérez de Pineda’s New Testament was published at Jean Crespin’s printing press in 1556. It is considered the best of the earliest Spanish versions of the New Testament. An important fact to emphasize is that this version of the New Testament was introduced as contraband in Spain, promoted the Reformation movement amongst Spaniards, and would play an important role in the history of the most widely used Bible among Spanish speaking evangelicals, the Reina-Valera version. A storage warehouse that was used in Spain to hide the Bibles translated by Juan Pérez was the monastery of San Isidoro del Campo in Santiponce, near Sevilla. Forty monks lived there, many of whom were led to Christ and embraced their Protestant Reformation. Among these monks were Casiodoro de Reina and Cipriano de Valera as well as Antonio del Corro, the other person who later figured very important to the history of the gospel in Spain.
We are just getting started with the story of the Bible and the Spanish language, and we will continue hearing about Reina and Valera next time.