Georgian Version This is one of the oldest versions of the Bible extant.
I. Name, Date, and Source of this Version. — The Georgians call their Bible by different names —
1. Bibbia, i.e., the Bible;
2. Zminda Zerili, the holy Scripture;
3. Samkto Zerili, the divine Scriptures;
4. Zighnsi Zuelisa da akalio aghlkmisa, the books of the O.T. and N.T.; and,
5. Dabadeba, Genesis, after the first book of the Bible.
The version is supposed to have been made about A.D. 570, when the Georgians, stimulated by the example of the Armenians SEE ARMENIAN VERSION, sent young men of talent to Greece to study the Greek language, who, on their return, translated the Scriptures and liturgical books of the Greek Church. The translation of the O.T. is made from the Sept., and of the N.T. from Greek MSS. of the Constantinopolitan family, and is composed in the ecclesiastical or ancient dialect. SEE GEORGIAN LANGUAGE.
II. Text and Editions of the Version. — This venerable version has shared in all the troubles to which Georgia has been subject. The entire books of Maccabees and Ecelesiasticus were lost in the many resolutions of the country, passages disappeared from different parts of the volume, and the whole text got into a state of confusion. It was only in the iseginning of the18th century that prince Vaktangh published at Tiflis the Psalms, the Prophets, and the New Testament, and split up the text into chapters and verses. Shortly after, prince Arcil, uncle of prince Vaktangh, who fled from Kartel to Russia, undertook a revision of this version, making it conformable to the Russian translation as it then was, and divided it only into chapters, because the Russian translation was divided into chapters only. But this prince only lived to carry through the revision from Genesis to the Prophets, and to translate from the Russian Bible the lost books of Maccabees and Ecclesiasticus. His son, prince Vakuset, was, however, induced by the solicitations of his brother, prince Bachar, and the Georgian clergy resident in Russia, to continue the work of revision. He made the text conform still more to the Russian translation, newly revised according to the command of Peter the Great, supplied from this translation all the passages which were wanting in the Georgian version, made also the portions which his father had published conformable to this translation, and divided the whole into chapters and verses. He had Georgian types cast at Moscow, and at once began printing in that city; the correction of the press he committed, to four native Georgians, and the first edition of the entire Georgian Bible appeared in 1743, fol., prince Bachar, brother of the editor, defraying the entire expense. From this edition the Moscow Bible "Society reprinted the N.T. in 1816, 4to, under the superintendence of the Georgian metropolitan Ion and of archbishop Pafnut, with types cast from the very matrices which had been usedd for the former edition, and which had escaped the conflagration of the city at the time of Napoleon's invasion. Another edition was published in 1818, in the civil character, 4to. It is said that there have appeared more recent editions of various portions of this version both at Tiflis and in Russia, but there is no particular account of them.
III. Critical Value of the Version. — The value of this version, in a critical point of view, has been greatly impaired by the corruptions which it has suffered during the centuries of political changes to which the country has been exposed, and especially by the endeavor of its editors to make it conform to the Russian translation. It must not, however, be supposed that its value is entirely gone. Both Tischendorf (N.T. Graec. 2d ed. praef. Page 78) and Mr. Malan regard it as a good auxiliary to the criticism of the Greek text. Indeed, Mr. Malan, who has published an English translation of the Georgian version of John's Gospel, goes so far as to say that "it differs from the Slavyonic in many places in which it might be expected to agree, it has a character of its own, is a faithful version, and valuable for criticisms" (The Gospel according to St. John, translated from the eleven oldest Versions, etc., by the Reverend S.C. Malan, M.A., Lond. 1862, page 9, note 3).
IV. Literature. — A very interesting treatise on this version, containing a brief account of its history and publication, from the preface of prince Vaktangh, was communicated by professor Adler, of Copenhagen, to Eiebborn, who published it in his Allgemeine Bibliothek der biblischen Literatur, 4:153 sq., and afterwards reprinted it in his Einleitung in das Alte Testament, volume 2, sec. 318, b, etc. Dr. Henderson, who had visited both Georgia and Russia, could do no more is his Biblical Researches and Travels in Russia (London, 1826, page 518, etc.) than to give a literal translation of this account. A valuable book has also been published by Franz Carl Alter, entitled Ueber Georgianische Literatur (Wien, 1798), in which is given an extensive collation of the various readings from both the O.T. and N.T.