The History of the English Bible




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The History of the English Bible
1250 AD Cardinal Hugo places chapter divisions into scripture

Years later Athias adds OT verses and Robert Stevens adds NT

1350 ca Scholars, like Wycliffe, are unfamiliar with original Hebrew and Greek languages. All translating is from Latin to English

1375-6 John Wycliffe writes “On Divine Dominion” and “On Civil Dominion” and declares that all people are under God. States that all political/religious authority should live righteous or lose their rule and possessions. Wycliffe is condemned for these views

1377 Pope condemns Wycliffe.

Wycliffe condemns the church’s rituals, ceremonies, and doctrine not found in the Bible. He says Christians are saved by divine grace. People are responsible for themselves and it is then required that they have access to the scriptures.

1380 Wycliffe decides the best way to fight corrupt church is to give everyone a Bible. Wycliffe’s English New Testament translation from the Latin Vulgate is released (not printed)

1382 Wycliffe’s English Old Testament is complete

1384 Wycliffe dies of a stroke. In about 35 years, around 1420, the church is still so upset with Wycliffe they have his body dug up and burned and his ashes thrown in the Swift River.

1388 John Pruvey revises Wycliffe’s English translation

1425ca The Renaissance bring new interest to the study of the classical writings. An interest and need to study Greek and Hebrew follow.

1448 Pope Nicholas brings Codex Vaticanus to the Vatican

1500 Oxford is teaching Greek

1515 William Tyndale graduates from Oxford saying to a clergyman who resisted translating the scriptures: “If God spare my life, ere many years, I will cause a boy that driveth the plough to know more of the scriptures than thou dost.”

1516 Erasmus publishes his Textus Receptus. Erasmus used 5 Greek New Testament manuscripts:

1) 11th century MSS of Gospels, Acts, Epistles

2) 5th century MSS of Gospels

3) 12th –14th century of Acts and Epistles

4) 15th century of Acts and Epistles

5) 12th century of Revelation

-He also used Latin copies to fill in the gaps.

1517 Martin Luther posts his 95 theses on October 31

1519 2nd Edition of Textus Receptus with revised Greek text.

1522 3rd Edition of Textus Receptus now includes 1 Jn5:7 that Erasmus did not want and had omitted



Martin Luther makes a German translation from Erasmus’1516 text.

1523 Tyndale goes to London; the bishop refuses to let him work on an English translation

1524 Tyndale goes to Germany to work on his English translation

1525 Tyndale finishes the first English translation directly from a Greek text. He used Erasmus’ 1516 Textus Receptus. Germany smuggles 15,000 copies to England. England burns the copies as fast as they can find them.

1527 The fourth edition of Textus Receptus is finished. It includes along with theGreek, the Latin Vulgate and Erasmus’s translation into Latin

1535 The fifth edition of Textus Receptus is finished

1536 October 6, Tyndale is strangled and burnt by England’s King Henry VIII and the Church of England. Tyndale dies praying,

“Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.” This prayer is almost immediately answered. . .

1537 King Henry VIII breaks ties with the pope and orders royal funds used to print Miles Coverdale’s English Bible. Henry did not know Coverdale’s work was simply the finishing of Tyndale’s OT work. It was printed along with Tyndales NT.

This Bible becomes the first English Bible Authorized for public use. It is called “TheGreat Bible”

1543 King Henry VIII changes his mind along with parliament and makes it a crime to use an English Bible with out a licensed person. England again begins to burn Tyndale and Coverdale Bibles.

1553 (Father Ephream uses some old vellum in a Syrian Monestary to record sermons by erasing the GNT MSS from 400’s)

1554 Queen Mary of England attempts to restate Roman Catholicism in England. She executes protestants. She executes Bible translators: John Rogers an dThomas Cranmer. Coverdale is arrested. Protestants flee England.

1550’s “Geneva Bible” Whitingham, an English exile, uses Beza’s Latin and some Greek to make a small inexpensive Bible with John Calvin’s strongly evangelical notes.

1551 Verse numbers added by Stephanus when he publishes his 4th edition of the T.R

1568 “Bishop’s Bible” English church leaders realize the “Geneva Bible” is a better translation than the Great Bible. The Great Bible is revised and called “Bishop’s Bible.” This became the main Bible until the “King James”

1580 (Catherine de Medici of France dies, her books are placed in the French National Library in Paris. Included unknowingly is Father Ephraem’s book of sermons coied in 1553 on GNT MSS from 400’s. They will be discovered in 254 years in 1834)

1611 King James Bible is finished using “Textus Receptus” as the Greek Text

1627 Codex Alexandrinus, Brought to England from Greek Orthodox in the East. It is a MSS from the 400’s and it includes Revelation.

1700 John Mills produces an improved “Textus Receptus

1730 Bengel’s Greek New Testament deviates from Erasmus’

Textus Receptus due to Codex Alexandrinus

1750 Textus Receptus itself begins to change

1809 Napoleon takes Pope and the Vatican Library into exile. Someone takes note of some ancient manuscripts on parchment.

1815 Vatican Library Returned

1831 Lachman’s New Greek New Testament text is based on Manuscripts from 300’s

1834 A student in the back stacks of the French National Library in Paris is working on a term paper on Father Ephream. While reading Father Ephream’s hand written sermons he notices that the Father had erased something first. Ephraemi Rescriptus, a GNT MSS from the 400’s is discovered.

1843 Someone remembers seeing the Codex Vaticanus in the Vatican. Tregelles and Tischendorf are allowed to view it.

1844 Tischendorf discovers Codex Sinaiticus in a monestary at Mt.Sinia and saves it from the fire. It is an almost complete Bible MSS from 350 AD

1845 Tregelles memorizes Codex Vaticanus as the pope gave him permission to read it for a few hours a day, but could not take notes, use paper or pen, and could not remove it. He read it and memorized it in all three languages while guards observed him.

He would return to his room each night and write it out. By the end of the summer he had a copy of the text of Codex Vaticanus.

1849 Henry Alford compiles his Greek New Testament Text

1857 Tregelles begins publishing his GNT text between 1857-1872 that he memorized from Codex Vaticanus

1859 Pope is very upset with Tregelles’ work. The pope reacts by having Codex Vaticanus photographed and released to the public. This manuscript had been available at the Vatican since 1481 and dates back to 320. It includes almost the entire Bible.

1860’s By now there are three very good Greek New Testament Text that surpass the Textus Receptus:

1)Tregelles’ 2) Tischendorf’s 3) Westcott and Hort’s

1870 The Convocation of Canterbury decided to revise the King James. Sixty-five British scholars made significant changes to the KJ Bible. They corrected mistranslations of Hebrew words and reformatted the poetic passages into poetic form. The NT had thousands of changes based upon better textual evidence.The English Revised Version is released. American scholars were invited to participate with the understanding that if their suggestions were not accepted they could not publish their own version until 1901. In 1901 several of the surviving members published the American Standard Version

1871 John Nelson Darby, Plymouth Brethren, made a new translation into English using mainly Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus called New Translation Bible.

1872 J.B. Rotherham publishes a translation of Tregelles text, in

which he attempted to reflect the emphasis inherent in the Greek text. This was The Emphasized Bible.

1881 Westcott and Hort release their GNT text

King James is revised. They attempt to make each Greek word

same in English.

1900 Oxyrhynchos Papyri found. 2000 stuffed crocodiles are found containing a library of papyri from the first century that include many daily documents but also Greek grammars, etymologies and much more. This is a turning point in Greek studies.

1901 American Standard Version is released by the American scholars who had joined the 65 British scholars in 1870 to revise the King James and form the English Revised version.

1902 The Twentieth Century New Testament 20 men and women worked to produce a smooth-flowing easy to read translation.

1903 Richard Weymouth published The New Testament in Modern Speech. Weymouth had a Doctor of Literature from the University of London and spent his life producing an edition of the Greek text (1862) that was more accurate than Textus Receptus.

1906 A Jewish Temple Library from 600 BC is discovered in Elephantine, Egypt.

1913 James Moffiatt, a Scottish scholar published The New Testament: A New Translation. Unfortunately it was based on Soden’s Greek New Testament text that is now considered defective.

1923 Edgar J. Goodspeed, a professor of New Testament at the University of Chicago released The Twentieth Century New Testament. He had criticized Weymouth’s and Moffiatt’s translations and had been challenged to do better.

1927 Adolf Deissman writes “Light From the Ancient East” after 20 years of study of the papyri of Oxyrhynchos.

1931 November 19, the Chester Beatty Papyri from 90’s-200’s AD are purchased from a dealer in Egypt. Three manuscripts contain a large portion of the New Testament. P45 (200’s AD) contains portions of Gospels and Acts. P46 (90’s AD) almost all of Paul’s epistles and Hebrews. P47 (200’s AD) contain Rev. 9-17.

1933 Russian Communist, who see no value but cash in Codex Sinaiticus, sell it to Great Britian.

1947 Dead Sea Scrolls discovered

1952 The English Revised and the American Standard Version were accurate but hard to read. New manuscript finds demanded a revision of the Greek Text. The result was the Revised Standard Version generally based on Masoretic Text for the OT (1952) and the 17th edition of Nestle Text for the NT (1946). It was a revision which sought to preserve all that is best in the English Bible. It was well received by Protestants and son became their standard text. Evangelicals and fundamentals rejected it mainly because of Isaiah 7:14, “Look, a young woman is with child and whall bear a son.” It did not use the word “virgin.”

1954 Bodmer Papyrus published

1961 The New English Bible, it was to be a fresh translation in modern idiom (though extremely British) of the original languages. This was not a revision. They produced readings from different text never before produced in English.

1962 The Living Bible, Kenneth Taylor’s paraphrase of the NT Epistles. Taylor paraphrased from the American Standard Version.

1966 Good News for Modern Man (NT) Published by the American Bible Society. Promoted and made affordable sold more than 35,000,000 copies in six years. Influenced by the linguistic theory of dynamic equivalence

1971 New American Standard, this is a revision of the American Standard Version (1901). The popularity of the American Standard Translation was failing. 32 Scholars who believed in a literal translation prepared a new revision. Very good study Bible but hard to read and 30 years behind in the area of the text.

1976 Due to the success of the Good News Bible NT of 1966 the entire Bible was done: The Good News Bible: Today’s English Version.

1978 New International Version, a completely new rendering of the original languages done by an international group of more than 100 scholars. It is an excellent thought-for-thought translation in contemporary English. Scholars from U.S. Canada, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand sought to use vocabulary common to the major English-speaking nations of the world.

The NT was finished in 1973 and the OT in 1978. Since 1987 the NIV has outsold the KJ, a feat never accomplished by any other translation.

1979 Novum Testamentum Graece – 1

1982 New King James

1985 New International Version revised

1986 New Jerusalem Bible

Novum Testamentum Graece – 2, corrections had been made

1989 New English Bible revised

1990 New Revised Standard

Bible Translations
The Bible was originally written in Hebrew (the Old Testament) and Greek (the New Testament)

For years it has been translated into other languages for other people to read.


Two basic methods of Bible Translation
1) Formal Equivalence – render the exact words form for form, word for word. But, strict literalism can distort the original meaning because it may not take into account such things as idioms.
2) Dynamic Equivalence – reproduce the closest natural equivalent of the original. It does this first in meaning, second in style. This is to give modern reader the same dynamic impact. This is thought for thought translation instead of word for word. Of course, for this to be a correct translation you must have the correct interpretation to correctly translate the thought.
Jerome who translated the Latin Vulgate in 405 said: “For I myself not only admit but freely proclaim that in translating from the Greek (except in the case of the holy scriptures where even the order of the words is a mystery) I render sense for sense and not word for word.”
Martin Luther, when he translated the German Bible, attempted to reproduce the spirit of the author; at times this could only be done by idiomatic rendering, though when the original required it only word for word could be used.
Strictly Literal Translation

New American Standard


Literal Translation

New King James

Revised Standard

New American Bible


Literal with Freedom to be Idiomatic

New International Version

New Jerusalem Bible

Revised English Bible

New Jewish Version
Dynamic Equivalent (Modern Speech)

Today’s English Version



Paraphrase

The Living Bible


Use 3 or 4 Bible translation for yourself:

For detailed word studies. . . . New American Standard (NAS)

New Revised Standard

For general study. . . . . . . . . . New International Version (NIV)

New Jerusalem Bible
For reading pleasure. . . . . . . The Living Bible
Other useful translations by individual men:

Williams New Testament – by Charles B. Williams

The New Testament in Modern English – by J.B. Phillips

The Weymouth New Testament – by Richard Weymouth

The New Testament: An Expanded Translation – Kenneth Wuest

The Worrell New Testament – by A.S. Worrell

The Emphasized Bible (OT/NT) – by Joseph Bryant Rotheraham

Bible Translations
The Bible was originally written in Hebrew (the Old Testament) and Greek (the New Testament)

For years it has been translated into other languages for other people to read.


Two basic methods of Bible Translation
1) Formal Equivalence – render the exact words form for form, word for word. But, strict literalism can distort the original meaning because it may not take into account such things as idioms.
2) Dynamic Equivalence – reproduce the closest natural equivalent of the original. It does this first in meaning, second in style. This is to give modern reader the same dynamic impact. This is thought for thought translation instead of word for word. Of course, for this to be a correct translation you must have the correct interpretation to correctly translate the thought.
Jerome who translated the Latin Vulgate in 405 said: “For I myself not only admit but freely proclaim that in translating from the Greek (except in the case of the holy scriptures where even the order of the words is a mystery) I render sense for sense and not word for word.”
Martin Luther, when he translated the German Bible, attempted to reproduce the spirit of the author; at times this could only be done by idiomatic rendering, though when the original required it only word for word could be used.
Strictly Literal Translation

New American Standard


Literal Translation

New King James

Revised Standard

New American Bible


Literal with Freedom to be Idiomatic

New International Version

New Jerusalem Bible

Revised English Bible

New Jewish Version
Dynamic Equivalent (Modern Speech)

Today’s English Version



Paraphrase

The Living Bible


Use 3 or 4 Bible translation for yourself:

For detailed word studies. . . . New American Standard (NAS)

New Revised Standard

For general study. . . . . . . . . . New International Version (NIV)

New Jerusalem Bible
For reading pleasure. . . . . . . The Living Bible
Other useful translations by individual men:

Williams New Testament – by Charles B. Williams

The New Testament in Modern English – by J.B. Phillips

The Weymouth New Testament – by Richard Weymouth

The New Testament: An Expanded Translation – Kenneth Wuest

The Worrell New Testament – by A.S. Worrell



The Emphasized Bible (OT/NT) – by Joseph Bryant Rotheraham






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