Saturday, September 1, 2012

410 Years of the Reina-Valera!

September marks the 410th anniversary of the publication of the 1602 Reina-Valera Bible.

At the end of Cipriano de Valera’s revision to his friend Casiodoro de Reina’s 1569 Spanish translation of the Bible, he wrote:

For the glory of God and the good of the Spanish Church, this Bible was finished in September.

Year M. DC. II.

Some 33 years after the original publication, and some 20 years after Valera began his revision, the Reina-Valera Bible was published in 1602. Even today, the most popular Spanish version of the Bible bears the title “Reina-Valera” and bears testimony to the work of these two latecomers to the Protestant Reformation. Thus, the Reina-Valera predates and has outlasted even its English cousin, the King James Version of the Bible.

Cipriano de Valera (c.1532 – c.1602) was one of the last of the Reformers, born late in time and in a land that would never embrace the Protestant Reformation. When Valera was born in 1532, Martin Luther was already 49 years old and would die before Valera turned 15. The Counter-Reformation had already begun and the Council of Trent was well under way when Valera and his companions at the monastery of San Isidoro in Seville were converted after reading the Scriptures and Protestant literature. He was 25 when he and the others fled Spain to escape persecution. He studied for a short time under John Calvin in Geneva before relocating to England. This short overlap with these pillars of the Reformation, combined with his determination and zeal to see the true light of the gospel take root in his home country of Spain, made him a man out of place and out of time, an exile who would never return to his homeland except through his writings. He was the last of his contemporaries, outliving his good friend Casiodoro de Reina who died in 1594. Indeed, in his Exhortation at the beginning of his 1602 revision Valera allows himself a moment of personal reflection concerning his fellow Spaniards and Bible translators who had all since passed on, saying, “I knew Juan Perez, Casiodoro, and Julian [Hernandez] and considered them friends.”

To date I’ve not been able to find any record of his death. A letter from Jacobus Arminius in 1602 mentions Valera’s new Bible and asks that Maurice of Nassau be petitioned to provide passage for Valera to return to England. Many biographies I’ve read suggest he died near the end of 1602 at the age of 70.

Though Valera’s efforts to see the Protestant Reformation catch on in Spain were never realized, his revision of the Bible has played the part in the conversion of countless millions across the globe, both Spanish-speakers and the converts of Protestant Spanish-speaking missionaries.

It is significant that the last words printed in Valera’s 1602 revision of the Bible could just as easily sum up his life and ministry:

For the glory of God and the good of the Spanish Church, this Bible was finished in September.

Year M. DC. II.

May we continue his legacy, living and ministering for the glory of God and the good of His Church.

No comments: