The fascinating story of how we got the Bible in its present form actually starts thousands of years ago, as briefly outlined
in our Timeline of Bible Translation History. As a background study, we recommend that you first review our discussion of the Pre-Reformation History of the Bible from 1,400 B.C. to 1,400 A.D., which covers the transmission of the scripture through the original languages of Hebrew and Greek,
and the 1,000 years of the Dark & Middle Ages when the Word was trapped in only Latin. Our starting point in this discussion
of Bible history, however, is the advent of the scripture in the English language with the “Morning Star of the Reformation”,
The first hand-written English language Bible manuscripts were produced in the 1380's AD by John Wycliffe, an Oxford professor, scholar, and theologian. Wycliffe, (also spelled “Wycliff” & “Wyclif”),
was well-known throughout Europe for his opposition to the teaching of the organized Church, which he believed to be contrary
to the Bible. With the help of his followers, called the Lollards, and his assistant Purvey, and many other faithful scribes,
Wycliffe produced dozens of English language manuscript copies of the scriptures. They were translated out of the Latin Vulgate,
which was the only source text available to Wycliffe. The Pope was so infuriated by his teachings and his translation of the
Bible into English, that 44 years after Wycliffe had died, he ordered the bones to be dug-up, crushed, and scattered in the
One of Wycliffe’s followers, John Hus, actively promoted Wycliffe’s ideas: that people should be permitted to read the Bible in their own language, and they
should oppose the tyranny of the Roman church that threatened anyone possessing a non-Latin Bible with execution. Hus was
burned at the stake in 1415, with Wycliffe’s manuscript Bibles used as kindling for the fire. The last
words of John Hus were that, “in 100 years, God will raise up a man whose calls for reform cannot be suppressed.”
Almost exactly 100 years later, in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his famous 95 Theses of Contention (a list
of 95 issues of heretical theology and crimes of the Roman Catholic Church) into the church door at Wittenberg. The prophecy
of Hus had come true! Martin Luther went on to be the first person to translate and publish the Bible in the commonly-spoken
dialect of the German people; a translation more appealing than previous German Biblical translations. Foxe’s Book
of Martyrs records that in that same year, 1517, seven people were burned at the stake by the Roman Catholic
Church for the crime of teaching their children to say the Lord’s Prayer in English rather than Latin.
Johann Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 1450's, and the first book to ever be printed was
a Latin language Bible, printed in Mainz, Germany. Gutenberg’s Bibles were surprisingly beautiful, as each leaf Gutenberg printed was later colorfully hand-illuminated. Born as “Johann Gensfleisch” (John Gooseflesh), he preferred to be known
as “Johann Gutenberg” (John Beautiful Mountain). Ironically, though he had created what many believe to be the
most important invention in history, Gutenberg was a victim of unscrupulous business associates who took control of his business
and left him in poverty. Nevertheless, the invention of the movable-type printing press meant that Bibles and books could
finally be effectively produced in large quantities in a short period of time. This was essential to the success of the Reformation.
In the 1490’s another Oxford professor, and the personal physician to King Henry the 7th and 8th, Thomas Linacre, decided to learn Greek. After reading the Gospels in Greek, and comparing it to the Latin Vulgate, he wrote in his diary,
“Either this (the original Greek) is not the Gospel… or we are not Christians.” The Latin had become so
corrupt that it no longer even preserved the message of the Gospel… yet the Church still threatened to kill anyone who
read the scripture in any language other than Latin… though Latin was not an original language of the scriptures.
In 1496, John Colet, another Oxford professor and the son of the Mayor of London, started reading the New Testament in Greek and
translating it into English for his students at Oxford, and later for the public at Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London.
The people were so hungry to hear the Word of God in a language they could understand, that within six months there were 20,000
people packed in the church and at least that many outside trying to get in! (Sadly, while the enormous and beautiful Saint
Paul’s Cathedral remains the main church in London today, as of 2003, typical Sunday morning worship attendance is only
around 200 people… and most of them are tourists). Fortunately for Colet, he was a powerful man with friends in high
places, so he amazingly managed to avoid execution.
In considering the experiences of Linacre and Colet, the great scholar Erasmus was so moved to correct the corrupt Latin Vulgate, that in 1516, with the help of printer John
Froben, he published a Greek-Latin Parallel New Testament. The Latin part was not the corrupt Vulgate, but his own fresh rendering
of the text from the more accurate and reliable Greek, which he had managed to collate from a half-dozen partial old Greek
New Testament manuscripts he had acquired. This milestone was the first non-Latin Vulgate text of the scripture to be produced
in a millennium… and the first ever to come off a printing press. The 1516 Greek-Latin New Testament of Erasmus further
focused attention on just how corrupt and inaccurate the Latin Vulgate had become, and how important it was to go back and
use the original Greek (New Testament) and original Hebrew (Old Testament) languages to maintain accuracy… and to translate
them faithfully into the languages of the common people, whether that be English, German, or any other tongue. No sympathy
for this “illegal activity” was to be found from Rome… even as the words of Pope Leo X's declaration that
"the fable of Christ was quite profitable to him" continued through the years to infuriate the people of
William Tyndale was the Captain of the Army of Reformers, and was their spiritual leader. Tyndale holds the distinction of being the first
man to ever print the New Testament in the English language. Tyndale was a true scholar and a genius, so fluent in eight languages
that it was said one would think any one of them to be his native tongue. He is frequently referred to as the “Architect
of the English Language”, (even more so than William Shakespeare) as so many of the phrases Tyndale coined are still
in our language today.
Martin Luther had a small head-start on Tyndale, as Luther declared his intolerance for the Roman Church’s corruption on Halloween
in 1517, by nailing his 95 Theses of Contention to the Wittenberg Church door. Luther, who would be exiled
in the months following the Diet of Worms Council in 1521 that was designed to martyr him, would translate
the New Testament into German for the first time from the 1516 Greek-Latin New Testament of Erasmus, and publish it in September
of 1522. Luther also published a German Pentateuch in 1523, and another edition of the German New Testament in 1529. In the 1530’s he would go on to publish the entire Bible in German.
William Tyndale wanted to use the same 1516 Erasmus text as a source to translate and print the New Testament in English
for the first time in history. Tyndale showed up on Luther's doorstep in Germany in 1525, and by year's end had translated
the New Testament into English. Tyndale had been forced to flee England, because of the wide-spread rumor that his English
New Testament project was underway, causing inquisitors and bounty hunters to be constantly on Tyndale's trail to arrest him
and prevent his project. God foiled their plans, and in 1525-1526 the Tyndale New Testament became the first
printed edition of the scripture in the English language. Subsequent printings of the Tyndale New Testament in the 1530's were often elaborately illustrated.
They were burned as soon as the Bishop could confiscate them, but copies trickled through and actually ended up in the
bedroom of King Henry VIII. The more the King and Bishop resisted its distribution, the more fascinated the public at large
became. The church declared it contained thousands of errors as they torched hundreds of New Testaments confiscated by the
clergy, while in fact, they burned them because they could find no errors at all. One risked death by burning if caught in
mere possession of Tyndale's forbidden books.
Having God's Word available to the public in the language of the common man, English, would have meant disaster to the
church. No longer would they control access to the scriptures. If people were able to read the Bible in their own tongue,
the church's income and power would crumble. They could not possibly continue to get away with selling indulgences (the forgiveness
of sins) or selling the release of loved ones from a church-manufactured "Purgatory". People would begin to challenge the
church's authority if the church were exposed as frauds and thieves. The contradictions between what God's Word said, and
what the priests taught, would open the public's eyes and the truth would set them free from the grip of fear that the institutional
church held. Salvation through faith, not works or donations, would be understood. The need for priests would vanish through
the priesthood of all believers. The veneration of church-canonized Saints and Mary would be called into question. The availability
of the scriptures in English was the biggest threat imaginable to the wicked church. Neither side would give up without a
Today, there are only two known copies left of Tyndale’s 1525-26 First Edition. Any copies printed prior to 1570
are extremely valuable. Tyndale's flight was an inspiration to freedom-loving Englishmen who drew courage from the 11 years
that he was hunted. Books and Bibles flowed into England in bales of cotton and sacks of flour. Ironically, Tyndale’s
biggest customer was the King’s men, who would buy up every copy available to burn them… and Tyndale used their
money to print even more! In the end, Tyndale was caught: betrayed by an Englishman that he had befriended. Tyndale was incarcerated
for 500 days before he was strangled and burned at the stake in 1536. Tyndale’s last words were, "Oh
Lord, open the King of England’s eyes". This prayer would be answered just three years later in 1539,
when King Henry VIII finally allowed, and even funded, the printing of an English Bible known as the “Great Bible”.
But before that could happen…
Myles Coverdale and John “Thomas Matthew” Rogers had remained loyal disciples the last six years of Tyndale's life, and they
carried the English Bible project forward and even accelerated it. Coverdale finished translating the Old Testament, and in
1535 he printed the first complete Bible in the English language, making use of Luther's German text and
the Latin as sources. Thus, the first complete English Bible was printed on October 4, 1535, and is known
as the Coverdale Bible.
John Rogers went on to print the second complete English Bible in 1537. It was, however, the first English Bible translated
from the original Biblical languages of Hebrew & Greek. He printed it under the pseudonym "Thomas Matthew",
(an assumed name that had actually been used by Tyndale at one time) as a considerable part of this Bible was the translation
of Tyndale, whose writings had been condemned by the English authorities. It is a composite made up of Tyndale's Pentateuch
and New Testament (1534-1535 edition) and Coverdale's Bible and some of Roger's own translation of the text. It remains known
most commonly as the Matthew-Tyndale Bible. It went through a nearly identical second-edition printing in 1549.
In 1539, Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, hired Myles Coverdale at the bequest of King Henry VIII to publish the "Great Bible". It became the first English Bible authorized for public use, as it was distributed
to every church, chained to the pulpit, and a reader was even provided so that the illiterate could hear the Word of God in
plain English. It would seem that William Tyndale's last wish had been granted...just three years after his martyrdom. Cranmer's
Bible, published by Coverdale, was known as the Great Bible due to its great size: a large pulpit folio measuring over 14 inches tall. Seven editions of this version were printed between
April of 1539 and December of 1541.
King Henry VIII
It was not that King Henry VIII had a change of conscience regarding publishing the Bible in English. His motives were more sinister… but the Lord
sometimes uses the evil intentions of men to bring about His glory. King Henry VIII had in fact, requested that the Pope permit
him to divorce his wife and marry his mistress. The Pope refused. King Henry responded by marrying his mistress anyway, (later
having two of his many wives executed), and thumbing his nose at the Pope by renouncing Roman Catholicism, taking England
out from under Rome’s religious control, and declaring himself as the reigning head of State to also be the new head
of the Church. This new branch of the Christian Church, neither Roman Catholic nor truly Protestant, became known as the Anglican
Church or the Church of England. King Henry acted essentially as its “Pope”. His first act was to further defy
the wishes of Rome by funding the printing of the scriptures in English… the first legal English Bible… just for
The ebb and flow of freedom continued through the 1540's...and into the 1550's. After King Henry VIII, King Edward VI took
the throne, and after his death, the reign of Queen “Bloody” Mary was the next obstacle to the printing of the Bible in English. She was possessed in her quest to return England to the Roman
Church. In 1555, John "Thomas Matthew" Rogers and Thomas Cranmer were both burned at the stake. Mary went
on to burn reformers at the stake by the hundreds for the "crime" of being a Protestant. This era was known as the Marian
Exile, and the refugees fled from England with little hope of ever seeing their home or friends again.
In the 1550's, the Church at Geneva, Switzerland, was very sympathetic to the reformer refugees and was one of only a few
safe havens for a desperate people. Many of them met in Geneva, led by Myles Coverdale and John Foxe (publisher of the famous Foxe's Book of Martyrs, which is to this day the only exhaustive reference work on the persecution and martyrdom of Early Christians and Protestants
from the first century up to the mid-16th century), as well as Thomas Sampson and William Whittingham. There, with the protection
of the great theologian John Calvin (author of the most famous theological book ever published, Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion)and John Knox, the great Reformer of the Scottish Church, the Church of Geneva determined to produce a Bible that would educate their
families while they continued in exile.
The New Testament was completed in 1557, and the complete Bible was first published in 1560.
It became known as the Geneva Bible. Due to a passage in Genesis describing the clothing that God fashioned for Adam and Eve upon expulsion from
the Garden of Eden as "Breeches" (an antiquated form of "Britches"), some people referred to the Geneva Bible as the Breeches
The Geneva Bible was the first Bible to add numbered verses to the chapters, so that referencing specific passages would
be easier. Every chapter was also accompanied by extensive marginal notes and references so thorough and complete that the
Geneva Bible is also considered the first English "Study Bible". William Shakespeare quotes hundreds of times in his plays
from the Geneva translation of the Bible. The Geneva Bible became the Bible of choice for over 100 years of English speaking
Christians. Between 1560 and 1644 at least 144 editions of this Bible were published. Examination
of the 1611 King James Bible shows clearly that its translators were influenced much more by the Geneva Bible,
than by any other source. The Geneva Bible itself retains over 90% of William Tyndale's original English
translation. The Geneva in fact, remained more popular than the King James Version until decades after its
original release in 1611! The Geneva holds the honor of being the first Bible taken to America, and the Bible
of the Puritans and Pilgrims. It is truly the “Bible of the Protestant Reformation.” Strangely, the famous Geneva
Bible has been out-of-print since 1644, so the only way to obtain one is to either purchase an original printing of the Geneva Bible, or a less costly facsimile reproduction of the original 1560 Geneva Bible.
With the end of Queen Mary's bloody reign, the reformers could safely return to England. The Anglican Church, now under
Queen Elizabeth I, reluctantly tolerated the printing and distribution of Geneva version Bibles in England. The marginal notes,
which were vehemently against the institutional Church of the day, did not rest well with the rulers of the day. Another version,
one with a less inflammatory tone was desired, and the copies of the Great Bible were getting to be decades old. In 1568,
a revision of the Great Bible known as the Bishop's Bible was introduced. Despite 19 editions being printed between 1568 and 1606, this Bible, referred
to as the “rough draft of the King James Version”, never gained much of a foothold of popularity among the people.
The Geneva may have simply been too much to compete with.
By the 1580's, the Roman Catholic Church saw that it had lost the battle to suppress the will of God:
that His Holy Word be available in the English language. In 1582, the Church of Rome surrendered their fight
for "Latin only" and decided that if the Bible was to be available in English, they would at least have an official Roman
Catholic English translation. And so, using the corrupt and inaccurate Latin Vulgate as the only source text, they went on
to publish an English Bible with all the distortions and corruptions that Erasmus had revealed and warned of 75 years earlier.
Because it was translated at the Roman Catholic College in the city of Rheims, it was known as the Rheims New Testament (also spelled Rhemes). The Douay Old Testament was translated by the Church of Rome in 1609
at the College in the city of Douay (also spelled Doway & Douai). The combined product is commonly referred to as the
"Doway/Rheims" Version. In 1589, Dr. William Fulke of Cambridge published the "Fulke's Refutation",
in which he printed in parallel columns the Bishops Version along side the Rheims Version, attempting to show the error and
distortion of the Roman Church's corrupt compromise of an English version of the Bible.
King James I
With the death of Queen Elizabeth I, Prince James VI of Scotland became King James I of England. The Protestant clergy approached the new King in 1604 and announced their desire for a new translation
to replace the Bishop's Bible first printed in 1568. They knew that the Geneva Version had won the hearts
of the people because of its excellent scholarship, accuracy, and exhaustive commentary. However, they did not want the controversial
marginal notes (proclaiming the Pope an Anti-Christ, etc.) Essentially, the leaders of the church desired a Bible for the
people, with scriptural references only for word clarification or cross-references.
This "translation to end all translations" (for a while at least) was the result of the combined effort of about fifty
scholars. They took into consideration: The Tyndale New Testament, The Coverdale Bible, The Matthews Bible, The Great Bible,
The Geneva Bible, and even the Rheims New Testament. The great revision of the Bishop's Bible had begun. From 1605
to 1606 the scholars engaged in private research. From 1607 to 1609 the
work was assembled. In 1610 the work went to press, and in 1611 the first of the huge (16
inch tall) pulpit folios known today as "The 1611 King James Bible" came off the printing press. A typographical discrepancy in Ruth 3:15 rendered a pronoun "He" instead of "She" in that
verse in some printings. This caused some of the 1611 First Editions to be known by collectors as "He"
Bibles, and others as "She" Bibles. Starting just one year after the huge 1611 pulpit-size King
James Bibles were printed and chained to every church pulpit in England; printing then began on the earliest normal-size printings of the King James Bible. These were produced so individuals could have their own personal copy of the Bible.
The Anglican Church’s King James Bible took decades to overcome the more popular Protestant Church’s Geneva
Bible. One of the greatest ironies of history, is that many Protestant Christian churches today embrace the King James Bible
exclusively as the “only” legitimate English language translation… yet it is not even a Protestant translation!
It was printed to compete with the Protestant Geneva Bible, by authorities who throughout most of history were hostile to
Protestants… and killed them. While many Protestants are quick to assign the full blame of persecution to the Roman
Catholic Church, it should be noted that even after England broke from Roman Catholicism in the 1500’s, the Church of
England (The Anglican Church) continued to persecute Protestants throughout the 1600’s. One famous example of this is John Bunyan, who while in prison for the crime of preaching the Gospel, wrote one of Christian history’s greatest
books, Pilgrim’s Progress. Throughout the 1600’s, as the Puritans and the Pilgrims fled the religious persecution
of England to cross the Atlantic and start a new free nation in America, they took with them their precious Geneva Bible,
and rejected the King’s Bible. America was founded upon the Geneva Bible, not the King James Bible.
Protestants today are largely unaware of their own history, and unaware of the Geneva Bible (which is textually 95% the
same as the King James Version, but 50 years older than the King James Version, and not influenced by the Roman Catholic Rheims
New Testament that the King James translators admittedly took into consideration). Nevertheless, the King James Bible turned
out to be an excellent and accurate translation, and it became the most printed book in the history of the world, and the
only book with one billion copies in print. In fact, for over 250 years...until the appearance of the English Revised Version
of 1881-1885...the King James Version reigned without much of a rival. One little-known fact, is that for
the past 200 years, all King James Bibles published in America are actually the 1769 Baskerville spelling and wording revision
of the 1611. The original “1611” preface is deceivingly included by the publishers, and no mention of the fact
that it is really the 1769 version is to be found, because that might hurt sales. The only way to obtain a true, unaltered,
1611 version is to either purchase an original pre-1769 printing of the King James Bible, or a less costly facsimile reproduction of the original 1611 King James Bible.
Although the first Bible printed in America was done in the native Algonquin Indian Language by John Eliot in 1663; the first English language Bible to be printed in America by Robert Aitken
in 1782 was a King James Version. Robert Aitken’s 1782 Bible was also the only Bible ever authorized by the United States Congress. He was commended by President George
Washington for providing Americans with Bibles during the embargo of imported English goods due to the Revolutionary War.
In 1808, Robert’s daughter, Jane Aitken, would become the first woman to ever print a Bible…
and to do so in America, of course. In 1791, Isaac Collins vastly improved upon the quality and size of the
typesetting of American Bibles and produced the first "Family Bible" printed in America... also a King James Version. Also in 1791, Isaiah Thomas published the first Illustrated Bible printed
in America...in the King James Version. For more information on the earliest Bibles printed in America from the 1600’s
through the early 1800’s, you may wish to review our more detailed discussion of The Bibles of Colonial America.
While Noah Webster, just a few years after producing his famous Dictionary of the English Language, would produce his own modern
translation of the English Bible in 1833; the public remained too loyal to the King James Version for Webster’s
version to have much impact. It was not really until the 1880’s that England’s own planned replacement
for their King James Bible, the English Revised Version(E.R.V.) would become the first English language Bible
to gain popular acceptance as a post-King James Version modern-English Bible. The widespread popularity of this modern-English
translation brought with it another curious characteristic: the absence of the 14 Apocryphal books.
Up until the 1880’s every Protestant Bible (not just Catholic Bibles) had 80 books, not 66! The
inter-testamental books written hundreds of years before Christ called “The Apocrypha” were part of virtually
every printing of the Tyndale-Matthews Bible, the Great Bible, the Bishops Bible, the Protestant Geneva Bible, and the King
James Bible until their removal in the 1880’s! The original 1611 King James contained
the Apocrypha, and King James threatened anyone who dared to print the Bible without the Apocrypha with heavy fines and a
year in jail. Only for the last 120 years has the Protestant Church rejected these books, and removed them
from their Bibles. This has left most modern-day Christians believing the popular myth that there is something “Roman
Catholic” about the Apocrypha. There is, however, no truth in that myth, and no widely-accepted reason for the removal
of the Apocrypha in the 1880’s has ever been officially issued by a mainline Protestant denomination.
The Americans responded to England’s E.R.V. Bible by publishing the nearly-identical American Standard Version
(A.S.V.) in 1901. It was also widely-accepted and embraced by churches throughout America for many
decades as the leading modern-English version of the Bible. In the 1971, it was again revised and called New American
Standard Version Bible (often referred to as the N.A.S.V. or N.A.S.B. or N.A.S.).
This New American Standard Bible is considered by nearly all evangelical Christian scholars and translators today, to be the
most accurate, word-for-word translation of the original Greek and Hebrew scriptures into the modern English language that
has ever been produced. It remains the most popular version among theologians, professors, scholars, and seminary students
today. Some, however, have taken issue with it because it is so direct and literal a translation (focused on accuracy), that
it does not flow as easily in conversational English.
For this reason, in 1973, the New International Version (N.I.V.) was produced, which
was offered as a “dynamic equivalent” translation into modern English. The N.I.V. was designed not for “word-for-word”
accuracy, but rather, for “phrase-for-phrase” accuracy, and ease of reading even at a Junior High-School reading
level. It was meant to appeal to a broader (and in some instances less-educated) cross-section of the general public. Critics
of the N.I.V. often jokingly refer to it as the “Nearly Inspired Version”,
but that has not stopped it from becoming the best-selling modern-English translation of the Bible ever published.
In 1982, Thomas Nelson Publishers produced what they called the “New King James Version”.
Their original intent was to keep the basic wording of the King James to appeal to King James Version loyalists, while only
changing the most obscure words and the Elizabethan “thee, thy, thou” pronouns. This was an interesting marketing
ploy, however, upon discovering that this was not enough of a change for them to be able to legally copyright the result,
they had to make more significant revisions, which defeated their purpose in the first place. It was never taken seriously
by scholars, but it has enjoyed some degree of public acceptance, simply because of its clever “New King James Version”
In 2002, a major attempt was made to bridge the gap between the simple readability of the N.I.V., and
the extremely precise accuracy of the N.A.S.B. This translation is called the English Standard Version (E.S.V.)
and is rapidly gaining popularity for its readability and accuracy. The 21st Century will certainly continue to bring new
translations of God’s Word in the modern English language.
As Christians, we must be very careful to make intelligent and informed decisions about what translations of the Bible
we choose to read. On the liberal extreme, we have people who would give us heretical new translations that attempt to change
God’s Word to make it politically correct. One example of this, which has made headlines recently is the Today’s
New International Version (T.N.I.V.) which seeks to remove all gender-specific references in the Bible whenever possible!
Not all new translations are good… and some are very bad.
But equally dangerous, is the other extreme… of blindly rejecting ANY English translation that was produced in the
four centuries that have come after the 1611 King James. We must remember that the main purpose of the Protestant Reformation
was to get the Bible out of the chains of being trapped in an ancient language that few could understand, and into the modern,
spoken, conversational language of the present day. William Tyndale fought and died for the right to print the Bible in the
common, spoken, modern English tongue of his day… as he boldly told one official who criticized his efforts, “If
God spare my life, I will see to it that the boy who drives the plowshare knows more of the scripture than you, Sir!”
Will we now go backwards, and seek to imprison God’s Word once again exclusively in ancient translations? Clearly
it is not God’s will that we over-react to SOME of the bad modern translations, by rejecting ALL new translations and
“throwing the baby out with the bathwater”. The Word of God is unchanging from generation to generation, but language
is a dynamic and ever-changing form of communication. We therefore have a responsibility before God as Christians to make
sure that each generation has a modern translation that they can easily understand, yet that does not sacrifice accuracy in
any way. Let’s be ever mindful that we are not called to worship the Bible. That is called idolatry. We are called to
worship the God who gave us the Bible, and who preserved it through the centuries of people who sought to destroy it.
We are also called to preserve the ancient, original English translations of the Bible… and that is what we do here
Consider the following textual comparison of the earliest English translations of John 3:16, as shown in
the English Hexapla Parallel New Testament:
- 1st Ed. King James (1611): "For God so loued the world, that he gaue his only begotten Sonne:
that whosoeuer beleeueth in him, should not perish, but haue euerlasting life."
- Rheims (1582): "For so God loued the vvorld, that he gaue his only-begotten sonne: that euery
one that beleeueth in him, perish not, but may haue life euerlasting"
- Geneva (1560): "For God so loueth the world, that he hath geuen his only begotten Sonne: that
none that beleue in him, should peryshe, but haue euerlasting lyfe."
- Great Bible (1539): "For God so loued the worlde, that he gaue his only begotten sonne, that
whosoeuer beleueth in him, shulde not perisshe, but haue euerlasting lyfe."
- Tyndale (1534): "For God so loveth the worlde, that he hath geven his only sonne, that none that
beleve in him, shuld perisshe: but shuld have everlastinge lyfe."
- Wycliff (1380): "for god loued so the world; that he gaf his oon bigetun sone, that eche man
that bileueth in him perisch not: but haue euerlastynge liif,"
- Anglo-Saxon Proto-English Manuscripts (995 AD): “God lufode middan-eard swa, dat he seade
his an-cennedan sunu, dat nan ne forweorde de on hine gely ac habbe dat ece lif."
1,400 BC: The first written Word of God: The Ten Commandments delivered to Moses.
500 BC: Completion of All Original Hebrew Manuscripts which make up The 39 Books of the Old
200 BC: Completion of the Septuagint Greek Manuscripts which contain The 39 Old Testament Books
AND 14 Apocrypha Books.
1st Century AD: Completion of All Original Greek Manuscripts which make up The 27 Books of
the New Testament.
315 AD: Athenasius, the Bishop of Alexandria, identifies the 27 books of the New Testament
which are today recognized as the canon of scripture.
382 AD: Jerome's Latin Vulgate Manuscripts Produced which contain All 80 Books (39 Old Test.
+ 14 Apocrypha + 27 New Test).
500 AD: Scriptures have been Translated into Over 500 Languages.
600 AD: LATIN was the Only Language Allowed for Scripture.
995 AD: Anglo-Saxon (Early Roots of English Language) Translations of The New Testament Produced.
1384 AD: Wycliffe is the First Person to Produce a (Hand-Written) manuscript Copy of the Complete
Bible; All 80 Books.
1455 AD: Gutenberg Invents the Printing Press; Books May Now be mass-Produced Instead of Individually
Hand-Written. The First Book Ever Printed is Gutenberg's Bible in Latin.
1516 AD: Erasmus Produces a Greek/Latin Parallel New Testament.
1522 AD: Martin Luther's German New Testament.
1526 AD: William Tyndale's New Testament; The First New Testament printed in the English Language.
1535 AD: Myles Coverdale's Bible; The First Complete Bible printed in the English Language
(80 Books: O.T. & N.T. & Apocrypha).
1537 AD: Tyndale-Matthews Bible; The Second Complete Bible printed in English. Done by John
"Thomas Matthew" Rogers (80 Books).
1539 AD: The "Great Bible" Printed; The First English Language Bible Authorized for Public
Use (80 Books).
1560 AD: The Geneva Bible Printed; The First English Language Bible to add Numbered Verses
to Each Chapter (80 Books).
1568 AD: The Bishops Bible Printed; The Bible of which the King James was a Revision (80 Books).
1609 AD: The Douay Old Testament is added to the Rheims New Testament (of 1582) Making the
First Complete English Catholic Bible; Translated from the Latin Vulgate (80 Books).
1611 AD: The King James Bible Printed; Originally with All 80 Books. The Apocrypha was Officially
Removed in 1885 Leaving Only 66 Books.
1782 AD: Robert Aitken's Bible; The First English Language Bible (KJV) Printed in America.
1791 AD: Isaac Collins and Isaiah Thomas Respectively Produce the First Family Bible and First
Illustrated Bible Printed in America. Both were King James Versions, with All 80 Books.
1808 AD: Jane Aitken's Bible (Daughter of Robert Aitken); The First Bible to be Printed by
1833 AD: Noah Webster's Bible; After Producing his Famous Dictionary, Webster Printed his Own
Revision of the King James Bible.
1841 AD: English Hexapla New Testament; an Early Textual Comparison showing the Greek and
6 Famous English Translations in Parallel Columns.
1846 AD: The Illuminated Bible; The Most Lavishly Illustrated Bible printed in America. A King
James Version, with All 80 Books.
1885 AD: The "English Revised Version" Bible; The First Major English Revision of the KJV.
1901 AD: The "American Standard Version"; The First Major American Revision of the KJV.
1971 AD: The "New American Standard Bible" (NASB) is Published as a "Modern and Accurate Word
for Word English Translation" of the Bible.
1973 AD: The "New International Version" (NIV) is Published as a "Modern and Accurate Phrase
for Phrase English Translation" of the Bible.
1982 AD: The "New King James Version" (NKJV) is Published as a "Modern English Version Maintaining
the Original Style of the King James."
2002 AD: The English Standard Version (ESV) is Published as a translation to bridge the gap
between the accuracy of the NASB and the readability of the NIV.
This English Bible History Article & Timeline is ©2002 by author & editor:
John L. Jeffcoat III. Special thanks is also given to Dr. Craig H. Lampe for his valuable contributions to the text. This
page may be freely reproduced or quoted, in whole or in part, in print or electronically, under the one condition that prominent
credit must be given to “WWW.GREATSITE.COM” as the source.