One of my favourite books in my personal library is Nelsons New Illustrated Bible Dictionary © 1995.
This dictionary is often the first book I reach for when I want to research a topic. In the past it has served me well and until now I have not found any omissions in it. That is until today, when I picked it up to do some research on Zechariah the father of John the Baptist. In looking up his name I found there were 31 Zechariahs in the Old Testament and none listed for the New.
I normally use the NIV or TNIV for devotional purposes and I double checked the spelling. I then opened up my E Sword program to do a comparable check on the spelling of his name and found that the ESV, ISV and the RV also spell Zechariah as Zechariah. But then I noticed that the KJV spell Zechariah as Zachariah. So I open my trust worthy 1958 interlinear and find that Zechariah is spelt Ζαχαριασ. And now I find that Zechariah is spelt as Zacharias in the KJV. Here the translators of the KJV have it wrong in translating him as Zacharias. Their translation is based on the Greek nominative (subjective) case whereas the stem word is Ζαχαρια. (Zacharia)
However I digress. This interlinear is based on the same text of the KJV and through looking into the copyright page of the Nelsons Dictionary, I find that unless otherwise noted, the articles are based on the KJV. And so I find him listed in the dictionary as Zachariah and not Zechariah.
Ηmmm the plot thickens. What is the right spelling. So I go to my current Greek Bible printed in 2007 and find it also spells Zechariah in the Greek as Ζαχαριασ. Ouch! The Greek clearly says its spelt with an “A” and not an “E”. How frustrating is this.
Now this has raised my curiosity some what. I love a good diversion. I love going down the rabbit trails and so I do a Google search and cannot find out why he is spelt differently in the various versions, particularly in our more modern translations. What ever the answer is, I think there has to be a reason why our modern translations use the “E” spelling and not the “A”.
I think the father of John the Baptist is an important key person in the Scriptures. His story is integral to the foundation of Luke and indeed the Gospel story. Keeping in mind that the majority of Christians now use modern versions of the Bible, and those same readers would know little of the KJV, I wonder how many would miss finding him in this dictionary. Therefore I believe this shows a need for Thomas Nelson to update their otherwise very handy dictionary, using the modern text as its basis….or our modern translators go back to using the traditional format to spell his name.
But… in the mean time…..can someone please fill me in on the whys of the different spellings”?