Plymouth Brethren elderly member reading Bible

What do I learn from Scripture?

In the following gospel tract, J N. Darby helpfully outlines what he has learnt from scripture which forms the basis of his beliefs.

The role of the Holy Bible as part of the PBCC life

For the PBCC member, the Holy Bible is an essential companion and authoritative guide throughout life. From the earliest age, young members are read and taught the Bible stories that have inspired millions down through the ages.

The Bible is no ordinary book. It is a book provided by God for man. It is the absolute, infallible, inspired Word of God.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God

2 Timothy 3 V 16

Children in the PBCC grow up owning and cherishing their own copy of the Bible and are encouraged to read it daily. Many would have read through the entire Bible by the time they are teenagers and have established their own appreciation and reliance on Scripture’s timeless words of comfort, guidance and encouragement as they move through life.

The Holy Bible is central to our Church life, being the only book read and discussed during our Church Services.

An account of John Nelson Darby’s Bible translation

The Plymouth Brethren Christian Church (PBCC) believes that the Holy Bible is the Word of God: inspired, absolute and final.

While they piously respect the King James Authorized Version, and any other decent translation, they believe that the translations made by John Nelson Darby (JND) (1800-1882) are more accurate.

They believe that every true believer on the Lord Jesus Christ, that is every genuinely converted person no matter where he or she worships, will be in heaven eternally and while on earth deserves to have as good a translation of the Holy Bible as possible.

Thus JND himself wrote in regard of the New Testament in English:

“It has been in no way my object to produce a learned work: but as I had access to books, and various sources of information, to which of course the great mass of readers, to whom the word of God was equally precious, had not, I desired to furnish them as far as I was able with the fruit of my own study, and of all I could gather from those sources, that they might have the word of God in English in as perfect a representation of it in that language as possible.”

John Nelson Darby graduated in 1818 from Trinity College, Dublin, with Honours and the University Medal in Classics. He was converted in his twenties and laboured extensively in Christian ministry, pastoral care and Bible translation in England, Ireland, France, Germany, Switzerland and elsewhere. He was an accomplished linguist, learned in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French and German.

For the New Testament, he translated from the texts agreed by the great nineteenth century Editors of the Greek text: Griesbach, Lachmann, Tischendorf and Tregelles. Where the editors differed in their judgement as to the correct reading in a particular passage, JND consulted the texts of the original Greek manuscripts: Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, Ephraemi, Bezae etc.

For the Old Testament he translated from the standard Masoretic Hebrew text then available.

The first edition of the English New Testament was issued in 1856-66 and the second in 1871. The third edition was issued after the death of JND (1882) in 1884, but his own notes for this edition have been published in 2013 from a copy, recently rediscovered, of the 1871 edition with his autograph additions and corrections.

The whole Bible was translated into German and published in 1871 and original printings have survived.

The New Testament was translated into French with a first edition in 1859 through to a fourth edition in 1878 and original printings of each have survived.

The Old Testament was translated into French and first issued in parts (Livraisons) commencing around 1881. The PBCC does not know where examples of this original printing reside and readers are invited to inform us where a copy could be viewed. The whole French Old Testament was included in the French Bible published in 1885.

The JND Bible Notes Team.