James Moffatt

1870-1944. Bible translator. Born and educated in Glasgow, he was ordained in the Free Church of Scotland in 1896. In 1911 he left parish work and became professor of Greek and NT exegesis at Mansfield College, Oxford. In 1915 he transferred to the United Free Church college in Glasgow to teach church history, and after twelve years went to Union Theological Seminary, New York, as Washburn professor of church history, where he took a leading part in the preparation of the Revised Standard Version. He was a prolific writer of books reflecting biblical criticism.

His fame rests on his single-handed translation of the entire Bible. His NT was published in 1913, the Old in 1924, and the whole revised and reissued in 1935, known popularly as the “Moffatt Bible.” It was the first unofficial translation to acquire widespread readership, although regarded as somewhat literary. His OT relied overmuch on critical theories which were subsequently disproved by archaeological or philological discovery; this weakness prevented acceptance by evangelicals on either side of the Atlantic. He was also prone to alter the order of verses or chapters when the Hebrew seemed to him unintelligible; here too he jumped to hasty conclusions which are no longer tenable. His translation was nevertheless a great achievement which still led its field at the time of his death, and was not finally superseded until the New English Bible was completed.