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History Of The Bible Pdf

The Bible is an ancient book that has been used to teach, guide and comfort millions of people for thousands of years. It’s also the most-translated book in history. This article discusses a brief history of the Bible. Parts of the Hebrew Bible were written in perhaps the 10th century BCE. The final redaction and canonization of the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) most likely took place during the Babylonian Exile (6th–5th century BCE). The entire Hebrew Bible was complete by about 100 CE.

But that doesn’t mean it’s true. What if the Bible is just a collection of myths? How do we know it’s authentic? Much of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament may have been assembled in the 5th century BCE. The New Testament books were composed largely in the second half of the 1st century CE. The deuterocanonical books fall largely in between.

The Bible is an ancient book that has been used to teach, guide and comfort millions of people for thousands of years. It’s also the most-translated book in history. But that doesn’t mean it’s true. What if the Bible is just a collection of myths? How do we know it’s authentic? We’ll also see how we got the Bible pdf in this treatise.

Timeline and Brief‌ History‍ of the Bible

The Bible, a sacred text for billions of people around the world, has a rich history that spans thousands of years. From its origins in ancient times to its widespread distribution and influence today, the Bible has played a pivotal role in shaping cultures, societies, and individuals. Here is a timeline and brief history of the Bible:

1. Ancient Origins

4000 – 1400 BCE

– The earliest writings that would later become part of the Bible are believed to have been written during this time period.
– The Old Testament, which is part of the Bible used by Christians and Jews, was largely written during this time.

2. Development of the Canon

1st century CE

– In the first century CE, the books of the New Testament were written by various authors, including the apostles of Jesus Christ.
– Over the next few centuries, church leaders debated and eventually settled on which books would be included in the official canon of the Bible.

3. Translation and Distribution

4th – 16th century CE

– The Bible was translated into various languages, making it more accessible to people around the world.
– The invention of the printing press in the 15th century led to the mass production of Bibles and increased literacy rates.

4. Reformations and Divisions

16th century CE

– The Protestant Reformation in the 16th century led to the split of the Christian church into different denominations, each with their own interpretation of the Bible.
– The Catholic Church also made reforms in response to the Protestant movement.

5. Modern Influence

17th century CE – present

– The Bible continues to be a best-selling book around the world, with millions of copies sold each year.
– The Bible’s teachings and stories continue to influence art, literature, music, and culture.

Throughout history, the Bible has been a source of inspiration, guidance, and comfort for countless individuals. Its timeless messages of love, forgiveness, and redemption continue to resonate with people of all faiths and backgrounds. As we look to the future, the Bible’s influence shows no signs of waning, remaining a beacon of hope and faith for generations to come.

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History Of The Bible Pdf

The question of the reliability of the Old Testament focuses on the issues of how accurate it is about the historical people, facts, and events it recounts, and how well it gives account of the people and processes involved in its writing.


Many doubt the historical reliability of the Old Testament, but the New Testament supports it and there is a substantial body of external ancient Near Eastern historical and archaeological backing for it as well. Some of this is direct evidence for specific historical details, but even where this does not exist, there is good reason to believe the accounts are plausible. A related issue is the historical account that the Old Testament gives of its own composition: who wrote it, when they wrote it, and what were the processes involved in its writing.

New Testament passages affirm the divine inspiration and ongoing importance of the Old Testament for followers of Jesus Christ. For example, the Apostle Paul wrote,

. . . from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2Tim. 3:15b–17)

One can include both the Old Testament and New Testament in this summary, but the focus must be on the Old Testament in this passage, since the New Testament was not in existence when Timothy was a child. Nevertheless, since Paul wrote this near the end of his life and ministry, even though much of the New Testament existed by that time, the Old Testament never lost his importance to him and the church.

Similarly, Peter wrote, “ . . . no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2Pet. 1:21), referring to the Old Testament (see 2Pet. 2:1). Clearly, according to these (and related) passages, the Old Testament scriptures are reliable for guiding the believer in his or her walk with the Lord. One can also compare passages from the Old Testament itself to see similar affirmations (e.g., Jos. 1:8 Psa. 1:1–2).

Historical Reliability in the Old Testament

What do we mean by the “reliability” of the Old Testament? How “reliable” is it, and for what? For instance, what about the historicity (i.e., historical reliability) of the Old Testament? Did the historical events to which the Hebrew Bible refers happen in real space-time history? If so, did they happen in the way the Old Testament describes them? Jesus and the apostolic writers of the New Testament consistently taught or assumed the historical reliability of the Old Testament. This includes everything from God’s creation of the world to the patriarchs, to Moses, to the conquest and occupation of the land, to the period of the kings and prophets, and to the Babylonian exile and restoration, and points along the way (see, e.g., Matt. 1:1–17; 19:3–9; John 8:39–47; Acts 7; Rom. 5:12–21; Heb. 11; 2Pet. 2:4–10). Jesus and the writers of the New Testament used all of it to teach the church about history as “His-story” and the theological significance of that story for the life of the believer.

Different Views of Old Testament Historical Reliability

For some readers of the Old Testament, the New Testament references cited above (and many others of a similar kind) settle the matter of the historical reliability of the Old Testament. Not so for others. For example, some of them argue that, in fact, historicity is not really the issue anyway, because the Old Testament’s historical claims are irrelevant to the issues of faith and practice.1 Others contend that in such passages, Jesus and the other writers of the New Testament simply accommodated the understanding of the people of that day in order to make certain theological claims.2 Still others require external historical confirmation to accept anything as historical in the Old Testament (see more on this below).

This, of course, is not the way the New Testament presents it, and many scholars, including the present writer, believe historical matters really do matter to faith.3 Of course, Old Testament history is theologically interpreted history, but it is history nevertheless. All ancient history writing had an agenda whether it be political, economic, theological, or whatever.4 In fact, the notion of “objective” history writing is an illusion even in our day. A bare list of historical events is not history writing at all, but only data for the writing of history. Just the selection to include or exclude certain pieces of historical data, and then decide how to articulate what is important in what way, shapes the writing of history.

External Support for Old Testament Historical Reliability

On the one hand, much of what the Old Testament presents as historical has no direct confirmation in external sources. This is not surprising. One should not expect, for example, that we would find the person of Abraham in the textual or archaeological record of the ancient Near East (ANE). We can only show that the biblical description of him and his way of life is plausible for the time and place in which the story is set. On the other hand, much of what we find in the Old Testament does enjoy some level of external archaeological and textual confirmation. We cannot deal with all the details in this short essay, of course, but, for example, ANE documents confirm the sequence and dating of many of the kings of Israel and Judah as the Old Testament presents them.5

The Old Testament tells us that God really did deliver ancient Israel out from slavery in Egypt, led them to Sinai, made a covenant with them there, and then led them on to conquer and occupy the land he had promised them. These and other such historical facts matter to our faith.6 As noted above, some have argued that what is important is the theological interpretation, not the historical reality of God’s actions themselves. This essentially yields a view of God as one who talks but does not take action, or at least the actions that he interprets are not important in and of themselves. Yes, the Old Testament interprets history theologically, but the fact that it is theologically oriented history does not make that history any less historically accurate. We do not have historical or archaeological data to prove each point, but, as the saying goes, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Misplaced Skepticism about Old Testament Historical Reliability

Sometimes the skepticism of scholars gets out of hand. Pharaoh Merneptah’s victory stele (ca. 1209 BC, perhaps around the time of the judge Deborah), for example, offers external verifiable evidence of the existence of a people called “Israel” in the hill country of Palestine in his day. This is the first appearance of “Israel” in extant ANE literature.7 In spite of the specific and significant implications of this small piece of historically verifiable evidence, there have been those scholars who deny it, ignore it, or somehow reinterpret it because it does not fit with their skepticism about the early existence of Israel.

One group of scholars of this sort rose to prominence in the 1990s. These historical “minimalists” as they came to be known, consider the Old Testament to be fictional literature written in the late Persian and early Hellenistic period to support the agenda of Israel’s leaders at that time with no real basis in historical fact (ca. 400 down to 250 BC). The scholarly rhetoric led to “exasperation” between such scholars and those committed to historical veracity of the Old Testament, sometimes leading to personal attacks.8 Others simply stayed the course with the actual historical data. Gabriel Barkai, a well-known Israeli archaeologist, cleverly remarked at a conference the present author participated in almost twenty years ago, “minimalism is less than that.” His point was that the minimalist brand of scholarship resists accepting even that which our extant data confirms as historical in the Old Testament.

The minimalist agenda is an extreme position that, in the opinion of the present writer, will play its way out and eventually defeat itself. It cannot stand up to the accumulating data against it. In the meantime, those of us who are serious about the historical reliability of the Old Testament need to concern ourselves with the ongoing search for relevant data, and the careful examination and evaluation of it. In these matters, it is important to distinguish what we believe to be true from what we can show to be true. We need to continue to do good, honest historical work. Some of it will show the historical reliability of the Old Testament, and some of it will not provide the perspective we might expect. We need not press the evidence. In some cases, we have previously misunderstood what the Old Testament intends to say about the event or the people involved because we have not understood the conventions of ancient Israelite history writing in its ANE context. The Bible is inspired, but our understanding of it is not.

Composition of the Old Testament

The Old Testament, like the Bible as a whole, has three main dimensions: literary, historical, and theological. It refers to events and claims they happened in historical time and space. Moreover, it recounts this history theologically and claims to do so in a historically and theologically reliable way (see the discussion above). Another whole set of controversies over the reliability of the Old Testament surrounds the question of its literary composition. Who were the human writers, how did they write the Old Testament, and when did they write it? How reliable is the information the Old Testament gives us about its own composition? Yes, there was a divine author too, but he revealed himself and inspired the writing of scripture through humans: “… men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2Pet. 1:21).

Historical Critical Approaches to Old Testament Composition

The larger field of Old Testament scholarship is just as divided over this as it is over the historical reliability of the Old Testament. Among non-conservative scholars, methodological pluralism abounds in the forms of source, form, tradition, redaction, canonical, and modern literary criticisms, which sometimes compete, but some scholars use them in combination to give an account of how the Bible was composed. Some features of these methods are of significant value to biblical scholars.

To one degree or another, however, conservative scholars have always pushed back against the accumulated effect of these historical critical schemes, which arose in force under the influence of Baruch Spinoza (ca. 1670 AD) and Richard Simon (ca. 1678). This outlook worked its way into the academy through the efforts of Johann David Michaelis (1717–1791) and others during the period of the so-called “Enlightenment” (ca. 1680–1799). They led eventually to a summation in the form of the “New Documentary Hypothesis” put forward by Julius Wellhausen in the 1870s in his Prolegomena to the History of Israel (the so-called JEDP theory).

This theory continues to have significant influence in the discussion even today, especially in the form of the “Neo-Documentary Hypothesis.” Others today take a more redaction critical approach based in a combination of form, tradition, and redaction criticism since the time of Hermann Gunkel at the beginning of the 20th century.

There is no room, of course, in this short essay give the details and a full conservative critique of these historical critical developments since Spinoza to the present day. As non-conservative scholars press forward with their various agendas, conservatives increasingly push back. The discussion naturally begins with the Pentateuch, where conservatives largely hold to some kind of Mosaic authorship. Non-conservatives take it to be “a mosaic” of literature authored by various writers and redactors over many centuries. Many doubt that Moses ever existed.

Internal Data for Old Testament Composition

The Pentateuch itself tells us that Moses himself wrote down at least some parts of it (see, e.g., Exod. 24:4; 34:27; Num. 33:2; Deut. 31:9). Other Old Testament passages also assign the origin of the Torah to Moses (see, e.g., Ezra 7:6, “the Law of Moses that the Lord, the God of Israel, had given”), and the New Testament supports this as well (e.g., Luke 24:44). Unfortunately, some push the issue too far. The Pentateuch also indicates that there are post-Mosaic elements within it. For example, Deuteronomy 34:1–8 recounts the death of Moses and verse 10 tells us “there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face,” obviously written from a later historical point of view. Genesis 14:14 refers to “Dan” before it was named Dan in the period of the Judges (Judg. 18:29; cf. also the perspective of later writing, e.g., in Gen. 31:31, Deut. 2:12, etc.).

Again, this is not surprising, if one remembers that each time the scribes made a new copy of one of the many scrolls that made up what we know as the Old Testament, they had to recopy the whole scroll by hand. They were careful copyists, but since the Old Testament grew over a 1000-year period (ca. 1400–400 BC) they might naturally update it to make it understandable to the people in their own day. In any case, the Old Testament does not assign many of its component scrolls (i.e., what we refer to as “books”) to any particular author (e.g., Joshua through Chronicles), although it often refers to sources used for the writing of history (e.g., the Book of Jashar in Josh 10:13, and many more).

There is much more to say about the reliability of the Old Testament historically and compositionally. God did not just drop the Old Testament down out of heaven at one time in one piece. He revealed it to human authors in history who wrote it down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, also using their own mind, language, and experience. It is evident from the Old Testament text itself that he revealed some of it directly to the writers, for other parts he guided them in using sources, whether oral or written. As with other ancient texts, we should also consider textual criticism, but there is no space to deal with it here. Yes, the Old Testament is reliable, but it only tells us so much about the history it recounts, the means by which the various authors composed it, and how it was passed down to us so that we have it today. The rest we leave in God’s hands, as we seek to live faithfully for him in our world (Deut. 29:29).

Brief History Of The Bible

Do you know where the Bible came from?

The Bible’s 66 books were penned by more than 40 different authors over a period of 1,500 years. The book is split in half, like two testaments. We refer to them as the “Old Testament” and “New Testament,” respectively. These different parts come together to tell one larger story about how sin is a problem for humanity and how God’s solution is to send His Son to save them.

Justification for a Book’s Inclusion in the Holy Scriptures
Hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth, the Jewish people had already accepted the Old Testament books we have today as the Word of God. Jesus taught from and cited many of these same books, attesting to their divine origin. After Jesus’ death, His apostles (the people Jesus handpicked and sent as His representatives) and others began spreading the Christian faith and writing about its tenets. As false teachers disrupted the early church, leaders had to decide which books should be considered divinely inspired.

For canonization, they relied on two criteria:

Was it written by an apostle or someone closely associated with one? This is the apostle test.
Had the early church accepted these books as divine revelation to humanity?
It was in a letter written by the bishop of Alexandria, Athanasius, in the year 367 AD that the first list of New Testament books was compiled that is identical to the New Testament we use today. These books were approved as Scripture by three separate councils. From this point forward until the present day, there has been universal agreement on which books make up the New Testament.

Overview of the Old Testament’s Plot
Moses recounts the world’s creation, corruption’s initial wreaking of havoc, and God’s promises to right the wrongs in the first five books of the Bible. For God’s purposes, He will select a people to whom He will impart His blessing and repair for the whole of creation.

According to recorded history, when God’s chosen people finally reach Canaan, they enjoy a brief period of tranquility before they succumb to the temptation to worship the false gods of the local people. God sends His people into exile after patiently pleading with them to come back to Him for many years. A smattering of God’s chosen people have returned to their homeland and have begun restoring the ruined city.

In the poetic literature, both positive and negative events are predicted through poetry.

There is a final push in the Major and Minor Prophets to get people back on track with God. They confidently proclaim the good news of God’s plan to save the world through His Son.

New Testament plot summary
The New Testament reveals Jesus Christ in full clarity, whereas the Old Testament merely hints at Him through prophecies.

Jesus of Nazareth is the long-awaited and promised Savior, as is made clear in the Gospels. They emphasize His death on the cross and subsequent resurrection as the means by which He saves people from the effects of sin and death. The early church and the worldwide spread of the gospel are chronicled in the Book of Acts. Letters written to teach, encourage, and correct wrong beliefs and behaviors make up the rest of the New Testament. At its conclusion, it foretells future events associated with Jesus’ second coming.

Even though the Bible is divided into the Old and New Testaments, it is still one grand story with Christ at its center.

How We Got The Bible PDF

The apostle Paul writes in Romans 3:2 that the Old Testament was entrusted to the Jews, who copied their holy Hebrew Scriptures by hand with great care. To ensure that no mistakes had been made, their scribes devised elaborate systems for counting words and letters. The oldest scrolls of the Old Testament were discovered to be virtually identical to copies made a thousand years later.

Scholars generally agree that the entire New Testament was written in Greek, but there is evidence from early Christians that two books may have been written in Hebrew or Aramaic and then translated into Greek.

According to Papias (circa 130 C.E. ):

Matthew wrote his book in a Hebrew dialect and everyone did their best to translate it (Quoted by Eusebius in Ecclesiastical History, 3.39).

To cite Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History, Chapter Sixteen, Section Fourteen

Clement of Alexandria (c. 185 AD) wrote, “In the work called Hypotyposes, to sum up the matter briefly, he has given abridged accounts of all the canonical Scriptures…

He claims that Paul originally composed the Epistle to the Hebrews in Hebrew and then had Luke do a careful translation before it was distributed among the Greeks.

The word “Hebrew” is probably a reference to the related language of Aramaic in these passages.

New Testament manuscripts were available in Greek, Aramaic, Latin, and Coptic within a few centuries of Jesus Christ’s ministry (Egypt).

There is a fragment of a Greek manuscript that has been dated to between 110 and 130 AD. The Vatican Codex and Sinaitic Codex are two complete New Testament codices (books) that date back to around 325–350 A.D.

The Peshitta, the primary collection of Aramaic manuscripts, is a collection of 360 New Testament manuscripts written between the 4th and 9th centuries AD that were copied with the same care and attention to detail as the Hebrew Scriptures that the Jews used for the Old Testament.

The western church in Rome adopted an Old Latin translation sometime around 150 CE. When compared to the renowned Vatican and Sinaitic Manuscripts, the age of some of the Old Latin copies is on par. Since it dates back to a period when the New Testament’s final books were being written, Old Latin is the most significant of the Latin translations (How We Got the Bible, Neil Lightfoot, p. 54).

Between 410 and 435 AD, Jerome composed another Latin translation, the Latin Vulgate. For over a millennium, up until the Reformation, it was the primary Bible for Western Christians and the official Bible of the Roman Catholic Church.

The early Christian writers, also known as the early church fathers, produced a large body of literature. Many New Testament passages are cited in them. If all other sources for our knowledge of the New Testament text were destroyed, these citations, according to Bruce Metzger, “would be sufficient alone in reconstructing practically the entire New Testament” (How We Got the Bible, Neil Lightfoot, p. 56).

Around the year 500 A.D., Old English began to emerge as a separate language from the Germanic family of tongues. Multiple incomplete Bible translations into Old English were completed in the centuries following the Norman invasion.

Caemon (c. 680). (c. 680).

From the creation to the spread of the gospel, Caedmon retells biblical stories and verses on a wide variety of topics.
Aldhelm (c. 700). (c. 700).
Aldhelm made an Old English version of the Psalms.

Egbert (c. 710). (c. 710).
Into English, Egbert of Northumbria brought the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

Bede (c. 735). (c. 735).
St. Bede adapted the Gospel of John into English.

Wessex’s King Alfred the Great (871-901).
Parts of the books of Exodus, Psalms, and Acts were translated into English by Alfred.

Aldred (c. 950). (c. 950).
In order to create an interlinear translation, the Bishop of Durham, Aldred, inserts a word-for-word translation of the New Testament into the Northumbrian dialect of Old English in between the lines of a Latin manuscript.

Aelfric (c. 955-1020) (c. 955-1020)
The first seven books of the Hebrew Bible are translated into Old English by Aelfric.

After the Norman invasion, the French language became the de facto state language of England, and it wasn’t until the 1300s that any further translation work into English was documented.

The Venerable Wycliffe, John (c. 1320-84)

John Wycliffe, while alive, fought for the distribution of Bibles to the common people. “Christ’s law is best learned by Englishmen in English,” Wycliffe declared. After the completion of the Latin Vulgate Bible in 1382, Wycliffe and a group of students began translating it into English. A complete Bible translation had never been made available in English before this.

The Roman Catholic Church, which wished to maintain its control over the religious life of the common people, despised John Wycliffe and his translation, and they fought against any efforts to make the Bible available in western European languages. In their view at the time, only priests should have access to the Bible in its original Latin form for study. Even the Catholic service was conducted exclusively in Latin rather than the local tongue.

Wycliffe was labeled a heretic and the Catholic Church issued five papal bulls calling for his death. Several Bibles were destroyed because of him. The Pope ordered Wycliffe’s body to be exhumed and burned before being thrown into the River Swift, and this happened more than 40 years after his death. About 170 copies of Wycliffe’s Bible translation survive today, despite the Catholic Church’s efforts to destroy them after his death. Following his death in 1408, it was forbidden in England to translate or read the Bible in common English without the approval of a bishop.

The First Printing Press (1455)
It was in 1455 that Johannes Gutenberg created the printing press. A printed version of the Latin Vulgate, known as the Gutenberg Bible, was released by him in the same year. In 1488, the first Hebrew Bible appeared in print.

In 1522, Martin Luther translated the New Testament from the Greek into German. Luther’s Protestant Reformation and the advent of the printing press led to a surge in the demand for Bibles and translations into languages other than Latin.

No chapters or verses are marked in the earliest Bibles. In 1227, Stephen Langton, a professor at the University of Paris, was the first to use chapters to organize the Bible. Around 1550, Robert Stephanus, a printer from Paris, added to the Bible.

William Tyndale (c. 1492-1536) (c. 1492-1536)

William Tyndale was an exceptional student at Oxford, fluent in seven languages. He also had a firm grasp of Hebrew and Greek. His goal was to produce an English Bible translation that stayed true to the Hebrew and Greek texts rather than the Latin version that had been used previously. It was said to Tyndale by a member of the clergy that the English people were better off “without God’s Law than without the Pope’s.” I defy the Pope and all his laws; if God spares my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Scriptures than thou dost,” Tyndale retorted.

In 1525, Tyndale adapted the New Testament from the original Greek. He attempted to have it published in England, but was unsuccessful. Tyndale moved to Germany in 1526 and began printing the New Testament with the backing of wealthy merchants. Approximately 6,000 New Testaments had been printed and were being sold in England, with many being smuggled in with shipments of grain and flour.

The London bishop, Tunstall, bought a bunch of them, and then had them all destroyed. Tyndale printed a new revised edition using the profits from the print run, which included a payment from Tunstall, to settle his debts. Five books of the Old Testament were added to his translation by 1530. Before he was imprisoned and eventually executed by church authorities, Tyndale translated roughly half of the Old Testament.

There is a common belief that Tyndale is the “father of the English Bible” because of his work translating the Scriptures directly from the Hebrew and Greek. Nearly all of his translated words were incorporated into the King James Version. Before his arrest in 1535, Tyndale shared an apartment with English merchants in Antwerp. A judge sentenced him to a year and a half in prison. On Oct. 6, 1536, he was burned at the stake in Brussels. The man’s last words before he was burned at the stake were “Lord, Open the King of England’s eyes” (Tony Lane, “The Crown of English Bibles,” in Christian History, Issue 43, pages 8-9).

Cover of the first edition of the English Bible by William Tyndale, printed by Peter Schöffer in 1526. This edition contains the Gospel of John.

Coverdale Bible, or the Coverdale Bible (1535)

While William Tyndale was in prison, his friend Miles Coverdale finished his translation of the Old Testament. In 1535, he printed the first complete Bible in English. Coverdale, in contrast to Tyndale, translated the remaining books of the Hebrew Bible into English using Latin.

Matthew’s Gospel (1537)

John Rogers, writing as Thomas Matthew, released a second English translation in 1537. That Bible was the first one ever authorized by the king to be printed. He also added about 2000 marginal notes to his translation. King Henry VIII liked Rogers’s version, but when Catholic Mary Tudor came to power, he was burned at the stake.

God’s Word, the Holy Bible (1539)

A new version of Matthew’s Bible, called the Great Bible, was produced. Coverdale’s edition was the first to receive official church approval as a Bible translation into English. After Henry VIII demanded that every Englishman have access to the Bible, a copy of the Great Bible was distributed to every church in England. After Bibles were placed in the churches, many people visited to read them. Preachers often griped that congregations opted to read the Bible instead of listening to sermons. “The Lord has opened the king of England’s eyes,” Tyndale prayed in his final hours (How We Got the Bible, Neil Lightfoot, p. 129-30).

Specifically, the Geneva Bible (1560)

Many Protestant translators produced the Geneva Bible after fleeing to Geneva to escape the reign of Roman Catholic Queen Mary Tudor in England. The Geneva Bible’s translators were experts at making changes from the original languages. The Geneva Bible, the first printed Bible to include chapters and verses, was also the first Bible to be sold at a reasonable price. Notes of commentary were also included, which reflected John Calvin’s beliefs. Shakespeare read from the Geneva Bible, which the Pilgrims brought to the New World in 1620. The Apocrypha was first omitted from an English translation in 1640’s revision.

Bible used by the Bishop (1568)

Queen Elizabeth I, a Protestant, ascended to the throne in 1558 and became England’s next monarch. In her view, an English Bible should be available in every parish church. Since the Geneva Bible was rejected by the clergy in England due to its controversial notes, several bishops got together to create a new edition of the Great Bible called the Bishop’s Bible. Because most editions of the Bishop’s Bible were bulky and expensive, the Geneva Bible continued to enjoy vastly greater popularity than the Bishop’s Bible.

The Authorized (or King James) Version (1611)

King James I of England convened the Hampton Court Conference, a gathering of religious leaders, in 1604 shortly after assuming the throne. John Reynolds advocated for a new authorized version of the English Bible that could be used in both public and private settings and was accepted by all factions within the church. The king agreed, and he gave 54 scholars the task of translating the Bible into their language. The King ordered that there be no marginal notes like those in the Geneva Bible and that the text should reflect the Church of England’s doctrinal framework and its belief in an ordained clergy.

Over the course of the next six years, six different scholarly teams drew from all previous English translations as well as Greek and Hebrew manuscripts to produce a new translation. Each group’s efforts were supposed to be double checked by the others. There would need to be multiple translators working on this one. The new “Authorized” version was first printed in 1611. Only a few decades passed before the King James or Authorized Version was universally adopted by English speakers in England and the places where the English had established colonies. The current edition is a revision from 1769. To reduce costs and broaden the KJV’s appeal to readers outside of the Anglican tradition, printers were more influential than translators and revisers in the decision to exclude the Apocrypha from the final version of the Bible.

Because of its “majesty of style,” the King James Version of the Bible became the most widely printed book in history. The goal of the translators was to create a version of the Bible that could be read aloud with respect and authority. This is why we use thee and thou and -eth at the end of words from the old English language. The use of such words had already become much less common by the time of the 1611 version, and they had been replaced by our more modern version, as seen in the works of Shakespeare and Marlowe.

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