I recently picked up the book “The Bible in Translation” by Bruce M. Metzger, and it is a very interesting read. It covers a history of the translation of the Bible and while only half way through it, I have learned some very amazing things about the journey God’s words have taken to the versions we have today.
One of the translations mentioned is Charles Thomson’s Bible. Charles Thomson has the distinction of creating and printing the first translation of the Bible into English in America. While this may be in itself an interesting factoid, I found the story of his life quite fascinating.
Childhood & Schooling
Charles was a native of Ireland and boarded a boat for the New World with his father and siblings in 1739. Within sight of their new home, Charles’ father died. Since their mother had died back in Europe, Charles and his siblings were now orphans. The ship’s captain seized the family assets and distributed the children to acquaintances in Delaware willing to raise them. Unwilling to become a blacksmith’s endentured apprentice, Charles ran away. He fell upon a kind family who were impressed with his desire to learn and study. Thus began his scholarly pursuits of the classics.
After his education in Pennsylvania, he moved back to Delaware to open his own school. Eventually he became a Greek and Latin tutor at Benjamin Franklin’s Philadelphia Academy (later to become the University of Philadelphia).
Thomson also served as a liason for the Native Americans of Delaware seeking to protect them from predatory practices on the part of the settlers. His reputation for honesty and credibility earned him a special moniker from the Indians: “The Man Who Speaks the Truth”.
The American Revolution
After some lackluster business endeavors, Charles threw himself headlong into politics at the crest of the American Revolution. He was unanimously selected as the secretary of the Continental Congress and dutifully took notes and minutes as the United States of America were forged. The first draft of the Declaration of Independance was penned and signed by Charles, and his last act as secretary was to ride from Pennsylvania to Mt. Vernon to notify George Washington of his election to the position of President and escort him to the inaugaration in New York. Throughout his political career, Charles was regarded as possessing the utmost level of character, honesty, and faithfulness.