I would be grateful if someone could translate the following text as I am doing some research on Luke 1:35 and the various historical readings of the text in English :

for þan þt halig þe of þe akenned byð; byð godes sune ge-nemned.

Luke 1:35 - The Wessex Gospels - 1175

EDIT : I am particularly interested in whether the Wessex translation contains the words 'of thee' after the words 'be born' or 'be begotten'. The Stephanus, Erasmus (1519) and Elzevir Greek texts do not have 'of thee' yet Beza does. I am uncertain what text the Wessex translates (it may be from the Vulgate) and this is part of my enquiry.

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    for þan þt halig þe=for then the Holy (?)..............of þe akenned byð= of thee akinned is( (is of thee akinned)............ byð godes sune ge-nemned.= is God's son named (is named God's son). i can't attempt a modern translation.. – J. Taylor Feb 27 '18 at 1:24
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    Doesn't looking at KJV help? – Jim Feb 27 '18 at 1:53
  • NIV - The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. – Hot Licks Feb 27 '18 at 3:21
  • KJV - And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. – Hot Licks Feb 27 '18 at 3:22
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    Here's another West Saxon translation: forðam þæt halige ðe of þe acenned byð byþ godes sunu genemned. – Laurel Feb 27 '18 at 4:13

Here's my translation (something idiomatic in Modern English while being as faithful to the original as possible):

Also that holy thing that is born of thee, will be called God's son.

To see why I translated it this way, let's start with a rough word by word translation, one for each half:


for þan | þt   | halig      | þe   | of | þe   | akenned | byð
forthe  | that | holy thing | that | of | thee | akenned | be


byð | godes | sune | ge-nemned
be  | god's | son  | called

Now I'll refine the translation word by word:

for þan: The first two "words", "for þan", should be considered one word, "forthe(n)" because this other OE version of the text writes it as a single word "forðam". According to the OED, the word means "even", but I think Wiktionary gives a more apt translation: "also".

þt: Quite clearly "that". This book makes me think it was written as one character, "ꝥ", which only ever refers to "that".

halig: Only a noun really makes sense here. The relevant OED definition of holy (noun) is: "That which is holy; a holy thing." It's relevant to note that several Bibles use "holy thing" here as well.

þe: I also translate this as "that", because it makes sense. (If you have a better suggestion, leave a comment).

At this point, it makes sense to move some words...

byð: This is by+ð, or the verb be plus the archaic third person singular ending (written at various points in time as -ð, -þ, -th). According to Wiktionary "the present tense is used for the future, with context determining which tense is meant", and context says we should use the future tense in the translation: "will be".

akenned: born.

of þe: I think this should be translated as "of thee". Nothing else makes much sense, and "of þe" is certainly translated as "of thee".

OK, second part now... I moved a word here too:

byð: As I said above, "will be" is the best translation.

ge-nemned: The verb here is "nemnen", which I translate as "called" because it matches definition 3 here. An explanation of the prefix ge- can be found here.

godes: This is a pretty clear cut possessive. While Old English didn't usually capitalize words mid-sentence, Modern English would definitely capitalize it: "God's".

sune: This is an old spelling of "son", used in OE and ME.

  • Excellent. Thank you. Up-voted and accepted. – Nigel J Mar 8 '18 at 1:36

i think it is this: The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God.

  • I need a word by word translation and, as the Questions says, particular reference to whether 'of thee' is present (or not) after 'born' or 'begotten'. – Nigel J Mar 7 '18 at 23:01
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    This is just the New International Version (you MUST cite your source), which is not a translation of the Old English passage (the NIV is a translation of the original source text). – Laurel Mar 7 '18 at 23:01

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