1. The Norse or Icelandic. — The first version into this language was made by Oddur Gotshalkson, son of a bishop of Holum, in Iceland. He attended the lectures of Luther and Melancthon, and on his return to Iceland entered upon a translation of the Scriptures. To avoid persecution, he commenced his work in a small cell in a cow house, and completed the New Test. in 1539. Finding it difficult, from the state of public opinion, to print it in Iceland, he sailed for Denmark, and published it at Copenhagen, under the patronage of Christian III. The translation, made from the Vulgate, corrected in some cases according to Luther's translation, was published in 1540. From this time on, parts of the Old Test. were published, until at length, in 1584, the entire Bible was printed in Icelandic at Holum. The work was conducted by Gudbrand Thorlakson, bishop of Holum, and has been called "a faithful mirror of Luther's German version;" and, on account of the purity of its diction, it is still held in high esteem. In 1609 a revised edition of the New Test. was published by bishop Gudbrand at Holum, with the title Thad Nyia Testamentum, a Islendsku yfersied og lesid epter theim riettustu Utleggingum, sem til hafa feingist (prentad a Holum i Hialltadal, anno 1609). In 1644 a revised edition of the entire Bible was published by Thorlak Skuleson, the grandson of Gudbrand, and his successor in the episcopate. In 1728 another edition was published, under the inspection of Stein Jonson, bishop of Holum. Following the Danish Bible too closely, this edition, on account of Danicisms, was found to be scarcely intelligible to the Icelanders, and hence never obtained much circulation. In 1747 a fourth edition, according to the text of 1644, was published at Copenhagen; a fifth in 1750; a sixth in 1807, chiefly at the expense of the British and Foreign Bible Society; and a seventh in 1813 by the same society, and often since. Since the year 1863 a revised edition of the New Test. and Psalms has been circulated by the British and Foreign Bible Society, and in 1867 the entire revised Bible, which is now in circulation, left the press at the expense of the same society.
2. Danish. — The earliest translation of any portion of the Scriptures into Danish is contained in a MS. preserved in the Royal Library of Copenhagen, supposed to have been written in the 13th or beginning of the 14th century. It proceeds no firther than the second book of Kings. In 1515, Pedersen, who is said to have been the first Lutheran clergyman in Zealand, published at Paris a Danish version of the Gospels and Epistles appointed to be read in churches. It was reprinted at Leipsic in 1518. The whole New Test., Det Nye Testamente, was translated by Hans Mikkelsen, sometimes called John Michaelis, and published at Leipsic in 1524, and reprinted at Antwerp in 1529. This version was executed by the command and under the patronage of Christian II. An improved edition of Mikkelsen's New Test. was published by Pedersen in 1529 at Antwerp, and republished, with the Psalms, in 1531. In 1550 the whole Bible was published in Danish at Copenhagen. This translation was undertaken at the suggestion of Bugenhagen, the celebrated Reformer, who had been invited to the court of Copenhagen to assist in the correction of ecclesiastical abuses. A revision of the entire version was undertaken in 1586 by the command of Frederick II, which was published in 1589, with Luther's notes, under the title Biblia det er den gantske hellige Scrift, paa Danske igen offverseet oc prentet efter salige oc Hoglofflige Ikukomelse, Kong Frederichs den II Befalning. Met Register, alle D. Lutheri Fortaler, hans Udlegning i Broedden, oc Viti Theodori Summarier (prentet i Kjöbenhavn aft Matz Vingaardt, anno 1589, fol.). In 1604 king Christian IV appointed Dr. Resen, bishop of Zealand, to superintend a fresh revision of the Scriptures, which was published in 1607, with the title Biblia paa Danske, etc. In 1633 an edition from the revised text of 1589 was published at Copenhagen — Biblia det er den gantske hellige Scrift, etc. — and in 1647 a revised edition from Resen's Bible, designated "Swaning's Bible," so called after the corrector Hans Swaning, archbishop of Zealand, was published, which was again edited in 1670. In 1714 a College of Missions was established at Copenhagen, which issued several editions of the Scriptures according to Swaning's text: one in 1717, a second in 1718, followed in 1722 by a third, and in 1728 by a fourth issue. In 1728 the mission press was destroyed by fire, and the Orphan House then obtained the exclusive privilege of printing the Danish Bible; and several editions were published by that institution between the years 1732 and 1745. In the meantime efforts were made to obtain a more correct and faithful edition of the Scriptures, and in 1748 the committee appointed by royal authority published a revised New Test.; and since that time numerous other editions were printed before the formation of the Danish Bible Society in 1814. In the year 1810 the British and Foreign Bible Society printed all edition of the Danish New Test. from the Copenhagen edition of 1799, the press being superintended by the Rev. W.F. Rosing, minister of the Danish church in London. A second edition was published in 1814. In the following year another revision of the Bible was commenced at Copenhagen by royal authority. Bishop Muenter, together with five learned professors, constituted the commission of revisal; and in 1819 all edition of the New Test., as corrected and revised by them, was published, followed by a fourth edition of the entire Bible in 1824. The committee of the Danish Bible Society has been engaged for several years past in the task of revising the Danish Old Test., and in 1871 a thoroughly revised text of the Danish Bible was published, which has also been adopted by the British and Foreign Bible Society. The facilities for the circulation of the Protestant Bible in the kingdom of Denmark have within recent years been greatly increased by an arrangement happily come to between the British and Foreign Bible Society of London and the Orphan Institution at Copenhagen, which latter body possesses by law the exclusive right to print the Scriptures within the Danish realm. Prior to 1855 all editions of the Scriptures produced at Copenhagen were accompanied by the Apocrypha and explanatory notes, and hence the Bible Society was by its rules precluded from taking any part in their circulation. In that year, however, at the instance of the London society, the directors of the Orphan House agreed to produce the New Test. free from all notes and Apocryphal references. The concession thus happily obtained was at once acted on, and an edition of 10,000 Danish New Testaments was produced for the London society under the auspices of the Copenhagen Orphan Institution, and passed into rapid circulation. In 1859 a subsequent edition of 5000 was found necessary to meet the demands made upon the society's agency, which increase from year to year. As to the circulation of the entire Bible, without Apocrypha and explanatory notes, the society was prevented from doing so until 1872, when, after nmany negotiations, permission was obtained to circulate Bibles according to the rules laid down by the society, but with the conditions:
1. That the summaries and the references to parallel passages (with the exception of those which relate to the Apocryphal books) which are found in the editions of the Orphan House be also inserted in the editions published by the society in Denmark.
2. That the title page of these editions be as follows: Bibelen eller den Hellige Skrift, indeholdende det Gamle og det Nye Testamentes
Kanoniske Böger ("The Bible, or the Holy Scriptures, containing the Canonical Books of the Old and New Testaments").
3. The fee to be paid to the Orphan House is provisionally fixed at one mark for each copy. We have stated above that the revised Danish text which was published in 1871 has also been adopted by the British and Foreign Bible Society. This was done after those marginal renderings which savor of "note or comment" had been stricken out. The annual report of 1874 stated the fact that "the first edition of the revised Danish Bible has left the press, the proofs having been read by the Rev. J. Plenge. This is the first edition of the complete Bible printed by the Orphan House at Copenhagen directly for the society."
3. Norwegian. — Although the Norwegian and Danish Bibles were originally the same, yet the revisions of later times have made them different. Since about 1860 the Norwegian Bible, with slightly revised text, was published both by the Norwegian and the British Bible Society. A revision of the New Test. was begun about the year 1871, at the expense and by the authority of the Norwegian Bible Society, with the sanction of the chief of the Royal Church and Education departments. The changes introduced rarely touch the interpretation of the text, but are chiefly intended to express the same sense as before, only in language more conformed to the requirements of modern usage. Of the Old. Test., the Pentateuch, in a revised form, was published in 1876.
4. Swedish. — A version of the Scriptures into Swedish is said to have been made in the 14th century by order of St. Brigit, or Bridget, who, about the year 1344, founded the religious order called, from her, the Brigittines. A translation of the New Test., according to Luther's German version (the first Swedish version of which we have any definite account), was undertaken, by command of Gustavus Vasa, in 1523, by Laurentius Andreas, and printed in 1526, in folio, at Stockholm, with the title Thet Nyia Testamentit pa Swensko. The first Swedish version of the entire Bible was published at Upsala in 1541, with the Apocrypha, the Old Test. being translated by Laurentius and Olaus Petri from Luther's German version of 1534, and the New Test. was that of Laurentius Andreas, printed in 1526. Another version of the New Test., prepared by Amund Laurent, was published at Stockholm in 1550, and again in 1601 and 1621; and in the course of subsequent years several editions of the Psalms were printed. At the commencement of the 17th century, Charles IX ordered Jonas Petri, bishop of Stregnaes, and other learned men, to collate Luther's editions of 1534 and 1545, noting such discrepancies as appeared to them of any importance, with the view of producing an improved edition of the Swedish translation. These notes, when completed, were called Observationes Stregnenses; and it was decreed in the Synod of Stockholm, in 1602, that they should be incorporated with the old version in a new edition of the Bible. From various causes, this new edition was not published until 1618, when it was printed in folio at Stockholm, with the following title: Biblia thet aer all then Helgha Scrifft pa Swensko. Effter förre Bibliens Text, oförandrat medh Forsprak pa the Boeker ther förr inge woro, medh Sumsarier för Capitelen, Marginalier, flere Concordantier, samt nytlighe Förklaringar och Register, etc., förmerat och efter then stormächtigeste högborne Förstes och Herres, Herr Gustaff Adolfs, Swerikes Göthes och Wendes Konungs, Befalning (tryckt i Stockholm, anno 1618). In 1622 not a copy of this edition remained on sale, and a reprint was therefore issued at Lubeck, followed by several successive editions at Leyden, and by two editions (in 1636 and 1646) at Stockholm. In 1650 the Stregnaes Bible was printed under the care of bishop Matthia, which was executed very negligently. The edition of 1618 was also reprinted several times, but with many deviations from the text. A revised edition of the entire Bible was undertaken under the reign of Charles XII, which was published in 1703, with the title Biblia thet är all then Heliga Scrifft pa Swensko, effter Konung Carl then Tolftes Befalning (Stockholm, 1703). Another revised edition appeared in 1709 at the same place. The preparation for this edition was begun by John Gezel, bishop of Abo, who died in 1690, but the work was completed and published by his son. In the course of the 18th century so many editions of the Danish Scriptures appeared that the country was generally considered well supplied with Bibles. When, however, in 1808, Dr. Paterson visited the country, the fact was ascertained that the poorer inhabitants, on account of the high price of Bibles, were almost destitute of the Word of God. The consequence was the formation of the Evangelical Society, which issued several editions for the poor, aided by grants from the British and Foreign Bible Society. In 1815 the Swedish Bible Society was formed, which, with its numerous auxiliary societies, continues the important work of printing and disseminating the Scriptures. Till 1826 it received much assistance from the British and Foreign Bible Society, when the decision of the Apocryphal question in London severed the connection between the two societies. In order to maintain the circulation of Bibles in Sweden without the Apocrypha, several editions of the Old and New Testaments have been issued by the British and Foreign Bible Society. Their first edition, which was stereotyped, was published in 1828. The text adopted was that of the last edition of the Swedish Bible Society. Several editions from the same text have since been printed by the same society in London, and likewise at Stockholm, through the medium of their agency maintained there. A revision of the old text is now under preparation. The total number of copies of Swedish Scriptures issued by the British and Foreign Bible Society up to March 31, 1877, amounted to 2,599,261, of which 452,879 were Bibles, 1,912,782 New Testaments and New Testaments with the Psalms, 218,650 portions of the Old Test., and 14,950 portions of the New Test.
5. Faroese. — Into this dialect only the Gospel of St. Matthew has been translated, about the year 1817, by the Rev. Mr. Schroeter, rector of one of the churches in the Faroe Isles. It was corrected by Mr. Lyngbye, of Jutland, who also superintended the printing of St. Matthew's Gospel, of which 1500 copies were issued. This is the only book of the New Test. that has ever been printed or translated into Faroese.
See Lorck, Bibelgeschichte, 1, 203 sq., 208 sq., 399 sq.; Göze, Sammlung merkwürdiger Bibeln, p. 277 sq.; Index Bibliorum, in Christiano- Ernestina Bibliotheca, p. 13, 42, 66; Bibliotheca Biblica, oder Verzeichniss der Bibel-Sammlung der Herzogin von Braunschweig, etc., p. 182 sq.; The Bible of Every Land, p. 214 sq.; Schinmeyer, Versuch einer Geschichte der schwedischen Bibel-Uebersetzungen und Ausgaben (Flensburg, 1777). (B.P.)