Thomson's Translation

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Thomson translation of the Bible

Thomson's Translation of the Bible is a direct translation of the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament into English, rare for its time. The work took 19 years to complete and was originally published in 1808. Charles Thomson is credited with having created the work with little to no help from other scholars. Thomson was a Greek scholar, and before the American Revolution, he had been a teacher at several prominent schools. Thomson's translation of the entire Greek Bible, excluding the Apocrypha, was published in one thousand sets of four volumes each, the fourth volume being Thomson's translation of the New Testament in that same year. The printer was Jane Aitken of Philadelphia.[1]

Thomson's was the first English translation of the Septuagint published and was considered by British biblical scholars to represent the best in American scholarship. David Daniell, in his compendious work The Bible in English (2003), states that the scholars who worked on the 1881 Revised Version consulted Thomson's translations (among others, of course) during their work. Thomson's translation of the New Testament is the first translation into English that was accomplished in America.

Thomson's personal copy, containing final corrections to the manuscript, is in the Philadelphia library. Thomson also published a Synopsis of the Four Evangelists in 1815, a book which came out of the notes for this work. Charles Thomson was secretary of the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1789.


  • Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Covenant, commonly called the Old and New Testament. Translated from the Greek by Charles Thomson. Philadelphia, 1908. 4 vols. [1]
  • The Septuagint Bible: History
  • PDF's of Charles Thomson's Septuagint Translation
  • JSTOR article called "Charles Thomson, First American N. T. Translator--An Appraisal"
  • A Synopsis of the Four Evangelists - By Charles Thomson
  • Daniell, David (2003). The Bible in English: Its History and Influence. Yale University Press.
  • Read, Phyllis J.; Witlieb, Bernard L. (1992). The Book of Women's Firsts: Breakthrough Achievements of Almost 1,000 American Women. Random House Information Group. ISBN 978-0-679-40975-5.


  1. ^ Read & Witlieb 1992, p. 13 During the next ten years Jane Aitken published over sixty books, including the four-volume Thomson Bible. Translated by Charles Thomson, it was the first English translation of the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures..