한글 성경이 한국어 발달에 미친 영향


Effects of Bible Translation into Korean on Korean Language


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It is generally said that one of the most important effects of the Reformation in Germany was Bible translation into German. The Bible translation made a huge influence upon the development of German language. The Bible translation into Korean also had a significant effects on the spread and the development of Korean language, called Han-geul. Han-geul is a spoken language of Korean people but King Se-jong invented Korean scripts for written language of Han-geul in 1443. Han-geul had been almost used by lower class and women but the Bible translation into Han-geul was a watershed. Explaining the brief history of the Bible translation into Korean language, this paper deals with the major effects of Bible translation into Han-geul on the development of Hangeul. Let¡¯s start with the brief history of the Bible translation into Korean. First of all, two excerpt Bibles in Korean, called Seong-Gyeong-Gik-Hae and Seong-Gyeong-Gik-Hae-Gwang-Ik, were translated from Chinese excerpt Bible between 1790-1800. The first complete New Testament in Korean, Holy Teaching by Jesus, called Je-Su-Seong-Gyo-Geon-Se, was published by John Ross and his colleagues and Korean helpers in 1887. And then, the first complete Holy Bible including the Old and the New Testaments, called Seong-Gyeong-Jeon-Se, was published by the Bible translation committee including H. G. Underwood, J. S. Gale, H. G. Appenzeller, W. B. Scranton, M. N. Trollop, and W. D. Reynolds in 1911. When the committee translated the Bible, they used Hebrew and Greek Bible as their original scripts and made it a rule to translate literally, as possible as they could. And the Holy Bible was revised in 1938. The Seong-Gyeong-Jeon-Se in 1911, above all, made a huge contribution to the development of Han-geul. The Bible translation into Korean had five significant effects. First, the committee made it rule to adopt exclusive use of Hangeul which contributed to the development of Han-geul and spread Hangeul throughout the whole region. Although other major religions such as Buddhism and Confucianism in Korea did not try to translate their sacred books in Chinese into Korean in active way, Christians were eager to render the Holy Bible into Han-geul. The exclusive use of Hangeul caused Han-geul to develop in the course of the translation. Second, the complete Bible translated in 1911 used spacing words with consistency so that spacing words took root in Han-geul. At that time, East Asian cultural sphere did not use spacing words. The spacing words in Korean was revolutionary in the East Asia. And the spacing words have been still used in Korean language. Third, the unity of speech and writing was established. When the committee translated the Bible, they delved deeply into Korean spoken language and applied the spoken language to translating the Bible into Han-geul. The Bible translation into Han-geul, in a large amount, was the change from written language into spoken language in the development of Han-geul. As a result, the Bible translation into Han-geul had a significant influence upon the establishment of unification of the spoken language and the written language in Han-geul. Fourth, Korean lexicon was expanded. Translation expands lexicon of a target language. Buddhism in Korea provided the Korean lexical inventory with a vast variety of technical terminology. The meaning of technical terminology from Buddhism was bleached later. And the words were used among everyday words. Confucianism supplied a large amount of religious terms to Korean language as well and they were used as everyday words nowadays. The Bible translation into Hangeul also offered religious terms for the Korean lexicon. As a matter of fact, when the committee translated the Bible into Han-geul, they felt difficulty in translating religious concepts because Han-geul was usually used as oral language and the scholarly concepts were discussed in Chinese letter. They adopted Han-geul words in translation and coined words. When J. S. Gale published A Korean-English Dictionary in the first edition in 1897, the total number of the entry words was 35,000 words. But it increased to 50,000 words in the second edition in 1911. The increase of entry words in the dictionary implies that the committee coined considerable new words. Fifth, illiteracy rate decreased. The illiteracy rate of Korea in those days was 90 percent. Korean colporteur sold the Bible pushfully. It is interesting that they often exchanged eggs or rice or straw sandals for the copies when the buyer had no money. The copies of Korean Bible were widely circulated in Korea. According to the report of British Bible society, ¡°[F]rom 50,000 copies in 1904, the total rose to 660,000 in 1910, ... with a maximum of 827,000 copies circulated in 1915, and though the annual totals gradually decline to 483,000 in 1920, these sales, averaging half a million yearly, were probably the highest in the world in proportion to the population concerned.¡± The distribution of the Korean Bible was usually made by colporteurs. The colporteur ¡°carries printed copies of the Korean alphabet to give away among illiterate purchasers, many are induced to learn to read by this means – which in itself proves a great asset to Christian progress.¡± The active distribution of the Korean Bible and their teaching of Korean language had a significant effect on the development of Han-geul. In summary, it is said that one of the most significant effects made by the Reformation by Martin Luther in 1517 is to translate Latin Bible into German. The Bible translated by Luther exerted a strong and wide influence on the development of German language. It is not only the Lutheran Bible, but also Korean Bibles had huge influence upon the vernacular language in various ways. The Bible translation into Han-geul made huge effects on the development of Han-geul.


1. 한글 번역성경 약사
 2. 한글 전용 번역의 성경
 3. 띄어쓰기 정착
 4. 언문일치체
 5. 한글 어휘의 확장
 6. 문맹률을 낮춤
 7. 결론


  • 이상일 Lee, SANG-IL. 총신대학교, 신학과


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