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, 2018 at 1:24
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    Doesn't looking at KJV help?
    – Jim
    Feb 27, 2018 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, 2018 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, 2018 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, 2018 at 4:13

2 Answers 2


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

Also that holy one 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 one 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, "", 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 interesting to note that several Bibles use "holy thing" instead of "holy one".

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 the MED's definition 3. An explanation of the prefix ge- can be found at What we've gelost — why doesn't English use the prefix "ge-"?.

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, 2018 at 1:36
  • Wow, what beautiful raw literature they had in Old Hibernia/Logres! And excellent translation! Thank you.
    – Conrado
    Apr 22, 2020 at 0:49
  • Excellent but I would use "the holy one" rather than "the holy thing".
    – Greybeard
    Jan 5 at 0:47
  • @Greybeard After all this time I agree, although it's worth remembering that we still use the phrase "that sweet thing" to refer to a child. Plus the KJV uses "thing" here, but that's because it's the KJV (old!).
    – Laurel
    Jan 5 at 1:13

Almost all bible translations done pre 1611 has born 'of you', this includes most KJV bibles. Almost all of these are based off of the Textus Recepticus. The Wessex Gospels are based off of 'Royal MS 1 A XIV' which is written on parchment and is also known as the Codex Evangeliorum Anglice.

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    Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Jan 4 at 20:42
  • Which part of the question does this answer?
    – livresque
    Jan 4 at 22:27
  • This does not provide an answer to the question. Once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post; instead, provide answers that don't require clarification from the asker. - From Review
    – livresque
    Jan 4 at 22:27
  • I have up-voted this in advance of its necessary improvement as I would find the information of value. Could you provide a link or a citation for me to follow up ? The Textus Receptus is not fully in agreement with 'of thee' : Stephens (1550) does not contain the words nor does Elzevir (1624) : only Beza (1598) does so. See Textus Receptus Bibles.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 4 at 22:50

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