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How Did We Get the Bible?
How We Got the Bible
Lesson Three:
The History
of the English
Bible
Am I A Soldier of the Cross?
Isaac Watts 1724
“…Must I be carried to the
skies on flow’ry beds of ease,
while others fought to win the
prize and sailed through
bloody seas?...”
Translation of the
New Testament
The Translation of the Bible
Syriac
200s
Early Translations: Syriac
• In the 2nd & 3rd centuries the Bible was
translated into Syriac, a
dialect of Aramaic used
in the region of Antioch.
• The most widely
accepted version was
called the Peshitta,
meaning “Pure.”
The Translation of the Bible
Syriac
200s
Coptic
200s
Early Translations: Coptic
• In the 2nd & 3rd centuries the Bible was
translated into Coptic, the form of
Egyptian in use at the time.
• The Greek alphabet was adopted with
a few added
letters, under
the influence
of Bible
translators.
The Translation of the Bible
Gothic
300s
Syriac
200s
Coptic
200s
Early Translations: Gothic
• About 350 Wulfilas,
began to translate
portions of the Bible into
the Gothic language of
the Goths of Dacia.
• Wulfilas had to invent an
alphabet for Gothic in
order to even make a
translation.
The Translation of the Bible
Latin
200s
Gothic
300s
Syriac
200s
Coptic
200s
Early Translations: Old Latin
• In the 2nd & 3rd centuries the Bible was
translated into Latin, rapidly growing to
be the language of the Roman empire.
The Translation of the Bible
Latin
200s
Armenian
400s
Gothic
300s
Syriac
200s
Coptic
200s
Early Translations: Armenian
• In the 5th century
Mesrop invented
alphabets for
Aremenian &
Georgian in order to
translate the Bible into
these languages.
• These alphabets are
still in use.
The Translation of the Bible
Latin
200s
Armenian
400s
Gothic
300s
Syriac
200s
Coptic
200s
Ethiopic
500s
Early Translations: Ethiopic
• In the 4th century the
New Testament was
translated into Ethiopic
(or Ge’ez).
• Jews had been in
Ethiopia for some time.
• The Old Testament was
translated into Ethiopic
well before this.
The Translation of the Bible
Slavonic
800s
Latin
200s
Armenian
400s
Gothic
300s
Syriac
200s
Coptic
200s
Ethiopic
500s
Early Translations: Slavonic
• In the 800s Cyril &
Methodius, two brothers,
taught among the Slavs.
• To translate the Bible
they too had to invent an
alphabet for their
language, now called
“Old Church Slavonic.”
• Russian is written in the
Cyrillic alphabet.
“Into All the World”
“And He said to them, ‘Go into
all the world and preach the
gospel to every creature. He
who believes and is baptized will
be saved; but he who does not
believe will be condemned.”
(Mark 16:15,16)
“How Shall They Hear?”
“How shall they call on Him in
whom they have not believed? And
how shall they believe in Him of
whom they have not heard? And
how shall they hear without a
preacher?
(Romans 10:14)
The Teaching of Ezra
“So they read distinctly from the
book of the Law of God; and they
gave the sense, and helped them
understand.”
(Nehemiah 8:8)
Jesus Was
Proclaimed
• Without cell phones.
• Without the internet.
• Without computers.
• Without printing presses.
• Without airplanes.
• Without automobiles.
The Latin
Vulgate
Jerome
(ca. 342-420)
 Trained as a boy in
Greek & Latin classics
and grammar.
 Studied Hebrew in a
cave for some time.
 Found the Latin Bible
texts of his day coarse.
Jerome
(ca. 342-420)
 In Constantinople,
served as the secretary
to pope Damasus.
 Damasus assigned
him to work on a new
Latin translation.
Jerome
(ca. 342-420)
Commenting on the confusing state of
Old Latin Bible texts of his day, he once
said…
“There are almost as many
forms of the text as there are
copies.”
Jerome
(ca. 342-420)
Commenting on Old Testament
apocryphal texts said they were like…
“The crazy wanderings of a
man whose senses have taken
leave of him.”
Did not believe they were canonical.
Jerome
(ca. 342-420)
 Traveling to Palestine and comparing
different manuscripts, Jerome (with
others) prepared the first critical Latin
translation of the Bible in 405.
The Latin Vulgate
 Was written in Vulgar (i.e. “Common”)
Latin, for the common man.
 The Vulgate came to be viewed as the
official “authorized version” of Western
Europe for 1000 years.
C The Latin Vulgate…
• Was a translation. (The original
Biblical texts were in Hebrew &
Latin).
• Was intended for the common man.
• Represented excellent scholarship,
but was not flawless.
C The Latin Vulgate…
• Was a translation. (The original
Biblical texts were in Hebrew &
Latin).
• Was intended for the common man.
• Represented excellent scholarship,
but was not flawless.
C The Latin Vulgate…
• Was a translation. (The original
Biblical texts were in Hebrew &
Latin).
• Was intended for the common man.
• Represented excellent scholarship,
but was not flawless.
“Test All Things”
“Test all things; hold
fast what is good.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:21)
The Possibility of Apostasy
“For the time will come when
they will not endure sound
doctrine, but according to their
own desires because they have
itching ears…”
The Possibility of Apostasy
“…they will heap up for themselves teachers and they will
turn their ears away from the
truth and be turned aside to
fables.”
(1 Timothy 4:3,4)
It is Right To…
Make certain that copies of texts
are accurate
 Make certain that translations are
accurate
 This does not reflect a lack of trust
in God or the inspiration of
Scripture

In the days of Josiah the
“Book of the Law” was lost!
The Middle Ages
The Bible in the Middle Ages
• Only the wealthy could
afford Bibles.
The Bible in the Middle Ages
• All copies were made by a
scribe, by hand.
The Bible in the Middle Ages
• The common man was
not encouraged to read
the Bible.
The Bible in the Middle Ages
• Bibles were so expensive
they were chained to pulpits.
• Roman
Catholic
church
dominated
Western
Europe.
The Bible in the Middle Ages
• The first Bible Luther ever
saw was chained to a library
wall.
• The Bible
in many
ways was
chained.
The Bible in the Middle Ages
• Preaching was in Latin even
when it was no longer
spoken.
• Latin had
become
the language of
Europe’s
scholars.
The Bible in the Middle Ages
• The Latin Vulgate was the
only Bible accepted by the
Catholic church in Western
Europe.
The Bible in the Middle Ages
• The common people were
ignorant of God’s word.
The Bible in the Middle Ages
This was rightly
called the
“Dark Ages”
Lack of Knowledge
“My people are destroyed for lack of
knowledge. Because you have rejected
knowledge, I also will reject you from
being priest for Me; Because you have
forgotten the law of your God, I also
will forget your children.”
(Hosea 4:6)
Shutting Off the Word
“But woe to you, scribes and
Pharisees, hypocrites! For you
shut up the kingdom of heaven
against men; for you neither go in
yourselves, nor do you allow
those who are entering to go in.”
(Matthew 23:13)
The Renaissance
& the Reformation
Three Things
That Changed History
• The Printing Press
• Christian Humanism.
• The Protestant Reformation
Three Things
That Changed History
• The Printing Press
• Christian Humanism.
• The Protestant Reformation
Three Things
That Changed History
• The Printing Press
• Christian Humanism.
• The Protestant Reformation
Papermaking
• Although papermaking was invented
in China in 105 AD, it
did not make its way to
Europe until 950.
• The first paper mill in
Europe was set up
Spain in 1150.
• This made book making easier and cheaper.
The Printing Press
• In 1452 Johannes
Gutenberg succeeded
in operating the first
printing press with
moveable type.
• The first printed
publication was a
papal indulgence –
granting forgiveness
of sins to the bearer.
The “42 Line” Bible
• In 1457 Gutenberg
began printing the
so-called “42 Line”
Bible. A printed
edition of the Latin
Vulgate named for its
42 lines per page.
• Typesetters took an
entire day to layout
one page of text.
“Christian” Humanism
• From the 14th -16th centuries a move spread
across Europe known as Humanism.
• Unlike modern humanism which sees man
as the sum of all things, “Christian”
humanism, fostered an appreciation for
what man could do with the abilities God
had given them.
• This movement led to an appreciation of
classical learning (and texts) with a strong
desire to look back to original sources.
Desiderius Erasmus
• In 1504 Erasmus read a
work by Lorenzo Valla
entitled Annotations on
the New Testament.
• Valla sought to look
back to the original
language of Scripture
to overcome false
concepts that had
arisen over time.
Desiderius Erasmus
• Erasmus was intrigued and set himself to the
task of comparing manuscripts of the Greek
New Testament to analyze the text.
• In 1516 Erasmus
published the first
critical edition of the
Greek NT with the
Vulgate in a parallel
column. In 1518 he
replaced the Vulgate
with his own
translation.
Desiderius Erasmus
1469-1536
In the preface to his 1516 edition of the
Greek New Testament says…
“I wish that the Scriptures might
be translated into all languages so
that not only the Scot and the Irish,
but also the Turk and the Saracen
might read and understand
them…”
Desiderius Erasmus
1469-1536
“…Then I long that the farmlaborer might sing them as he
follows the plough, the weaver
hum them to tune of his shuttle,
the traveler beguile the weariness
of the journey with their stories.”
Robert Stephanus
• In 1550 Robert Estienne (Lat. Stephanus)
published a revision in Geneva of Erasmus’
text making use of more manuscripts.
• Stephanus setup the
chapter and verse
divisions in use today.
• Stephanus’ work came
to be known as the
“Text received by all”
or Textus Receptus.
The Protestant Reformation
• In 1517 a German monk named Martin
Luther challenged the Catholic church’s
practice of selling indulgences.
• Although originally interested in only reforming
Catholicism, Luther’s
ideas spawned a movement
throughout Europe which
rejected the authority of
Rome.
Luther’s Bible
• A motto of this reformation was sola scriptura
“the Scriptures alone.”
• In 1522, using Erasmus’
Greek NT Luther made
the first translation of the
NT in German from the
original Greek.
• This became the Bible of
many Protestants and
fueled the desire of other
reformers to possess the
Bible in their own tongue.
Martin Luther
1483-1546
Commenting on the Bible, said…
“No clearer Book has been written
in this wide world than the Holy
Scriptures. Compared with all
other books it is like the sun over
all other lights…”
Martin Luther
1483-1546
“…Don't let them lead you out of
and away from it, much as they
may try to do so. For if you step
out, you are lost; they take you
wherever they wish. If you
remain within, you will be
victorious.”
The Bible is Sufficient
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for
doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be
complete, thoroughly equipped for
every good work.”
(2 Timothy 3:16, 17)
The Bible is Sufficient
“…From childhood you have
known the Holy Scriptures,
which are able to make you
wise unto salvation through
faith which is in Christ Jesus”
(2 Timothy 3:15)
Man Needs No…
Priest to interpret them
 Council to define them
 Additional revelation to
understand them
 Great Intellect to
comprehend them

God knows how to Speak!
Understanding Through
Reading
“…When you read, you
may understand my
knowledge in the mystery
of Christ.”
(Ephesians 3:4)
The Bible into
English
Beginnings of an English Bible
• In 735 Aldhelm & Bede translated the
gospel of John into Anglo-Saxon, an
ancient form of English.
• In the 800s King Alfred
distributed Exodus,
Psalms and Acts to the
people in Anglo-Saxon.
• No manuscripts of
these works have
survived.
The Lindisfarne Gospels
• In 950 a priest named
Aldred wrote AngloSaxon translations
above the Latin text of
an older manuscript
of the gospels originally produced at
Lindisfarne.
The Wycliffe Bible
• John Wycliffe, led a
group of priests who
believed that preaching
should be done in the
language of the people,
not Latin. These were
later called sarcastically
Lollards – meaning
“mutterers.” He died
in 1384.
The Wycliffe Bible
• In 1395 one of Wycliffe’s followers John Purvey,
published the first entire translation of the Bible
into English from the Latin. In 1408 it was
outlawed.
• In 1428, Pope
Martin V ordered
Wycliffe’s body
exhumed, burned
and the ashes
scattered on a
stream near his
house.
The British Throne
1500
1525
1550
Henry VIII
1509-1547
Edward VI
1547-1553
Mary I
1553-1558
Elizabeth I
1558-1603
1575
1600
1625
James I
1603-1625
Tyndale
1526
The Tyndale Bible
• William Tyndale
came to Cambridge
shortly after Erasmus
left.
• He was very interested in Erasmus’
writings and became
skilled in Greek.
The Tyndale Bible
• In response to laws
forbidding the
translation of the Bible
into English, William
Tyndale went to
Germany, where he
translated the New
Testament into English
from the Greek.
William Tyndale
1494-1536
To a one who was critical of his plan to
translate the Bible into English –
“If God spare my life, ere many years
pass, I will cause a boy that driveth
the plough shall know more of
Scriptures than thou dost.”
The Tyndale Bible
• Tyndale’s New Testament was published in
1526 and smuggled into England. Officials
burned all copies they could find.
• In 1536 he was
arrested, strangled
and burned at the
stake.
• His dying words were,
“Lord, open the King
of England’s eyes!”
The Tyndale Bible
• The Tyndale Bible
introduced many
words into English
for which he could
find no existing word
(e.g long-suffering).
• The Tyndale Bible was more literal in
some passages than some versions
which followed it.
The Tyndale Bible
“But and yf I tarie longe, that then
thou mayst yet have knowledge
how thou oughtest to behave
thyselfe in the housse of God,
which is the congregacion of the
livinge God, the pillar and
grounde of trueth”
(1 Timothy 3:15)
The British Throne
1500
1525
1550
Henry VIII
1509-1547
Edward VI
1547-1553
Mary I
1553-1558
Elizabeth I
1558-1603
1575
1600
1625
James I
1603-1625
Tyndale
1526
Coverdale
Matthew’s
1535
1537
The Coverdale Bible
• Miles Coverdale, also worked in
Germany with Tyndale and
supported Luther’s
reforms.
• In 1535 he published
a complete translation
of the entire Bible into
English.
• He used Latin &
German texts for the
Old Testament.
The Matthew’s Bible
• In 1537 another friend of Tyndale, John
Rogers, published another complete Bible,
making use of some of Tyndale’s unpublished
notes.
• Rogers gave credit for
the work to Thomas
Matthew, but he is
believed to have done
most of the translation.
The British Throne
1500
1525
1550
Henry VIII
1509-1547
Edward VI
1547-1553
Mary I
1553-1558
Elizabeth I
1558-1603
1575
1600
1625
James I
1603-1625
Tyndale
1526
Coverdale
Matthew’s
1535
1537
Great Bible
1539
The Great Bible
• In 1537 Coverdale was commissioned by
Thomas Cromwell, the
chancellor of England to
revise the Matthew’s
Bible.
• The “Great Bible” was
published in 1539 with
the sanction of Henry
VIII and used Hebrew
texts for the Old
Testament.
Cromwell & Cranmer
• Thomas Cromwell, Henry
VIII’s chancellor, did a great
deal to move the crown towards
allowing an English Bible.
• He is pictured to the right of
the King on the title page of the
Great Bible.
• In 1540 he was executed by
Henry VIII.
Cromwell & Cranmer
• Thomas Cranmer, was
Archbishop of Canterbury
during the reign of Henry
VIII. He also did a great deal
to move the crown towards
allowing an English Bible.
• He is pictured to the left of the
King on the title page of the
Great Bible.
• In 1556 he was burned at the
stake by the Catholic Mary I.
The Great Bible
Cranmer
Cromwell
The Council of Trent
• In response to the rise of Protestantism a
Council of Catholic theologians declared on
April 8, 1546 that the Vulgate was the sole
authoritative text in matters of faith & morals.
The Clementine Vulgate
• The council did acknowledge that the Vulgate
was not without its imperfections and called for
new revisions and corrections.
• The final revision of Pope Clement VIII, in
1592, is the “Clementine Vulgate.”
Mary I - “Bloody Mary”
• A strict Catholic, Mary
Tudor persecuted
Puritans and other
Protestants.
• Public reading of the
Bible in English was
outlawed.
• Thomas Cranmer & John
Rogers, the translator of
the Matthews Bible, were
burned at the stake.
• Miles Coverdale, barely
escaped from her alive.
The British Throne
1500
1525
1550
Henry VIII
1509-1547
Edward VI
1547-1553
Mary I
1553-1558
Elizabeth I
1558-1603
1575
1600
1625
Tyndale
1526
James I
1603-1625
Geneva
1560
Coverdale
Matthew’s
1535
1537
Great Bible
1539
The Geneva Bible
• When Mary I came to the throne in 1553 and
sought to reaffirm Catholicism in England,
persecuted Puritans fled to Geneva.
• There in 1557, William
Whittingham, John
Calvin’s brother-inlaw, produced a
revision of the Great
Bible including
Calvin’s notes in the
margins.
The Geneva Bible
This was the Bible the “Pilgrim’s” used.
The Geneva Bible
Calvin’s Notes on Romans 5:12…
5:12 {10} Wherefore, as by {l} one man {m} sin entered into the world,
and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, {n} for that all have
sinned:
“(10) From Adam, in whom all have sinned, both
guiltiness and death (which is the punishment
of the guiltiness) came upon all…. (m) By sin
is meant that disease which is ours by
inheritance, and men commonly call it original
sin…(n) That is, in Adam.”
The British Throne
1500
1525
1550
Henry VIII
1509-1547
Edward VI
1547-1553
Mary I
1553-1558
Elizabeth I
1558-1603
1575
1600
1625
Tyndale
1526
Coverdale
Matthew’s
1535
1537
James I
1603-1625
Geneva
1560
Bishops’
1535
RheimsDouay
1582
Great Bible
1539
The Bishops’ Bible
• In 1568 Elizabeth I,
unhappy with the
Calvinistic notes in the
Geneva Bible, assigned
Matthew Parker to revise
the Great Bible.
• Parker worked with eight
Bishops and produced the
“Bishops’ Bible,” to be
placed in every church.
Rheims-Douay Bible
• By the late 1500s, Rome
finally accepted that an
English Bible inevitable.
• In 1582 Gregory Martin
published a New Testament for Catholics from
the Latin Vulgate in
Rheims.
• The Old Testament was
published in 1609 from
Douay.
The British Throne
1500
1525
1550
Henry VIII
1509-1547
Tyndale
1526
Edward VI
1547-1553
Mary I
1553-1558
Geneva
1560
Elizabeth I
1558-1603
1575
1600
1625
Coverdale
Matthew’s
1535
1537
James I
1603-1625
King James
1611
Bishops’
1535
RheimsDouay
1582
Great Bible
1539
The King James Version
• King James I, in line with
an agreement he had
made with Puritan
leaders, assigned 54
scholars to create an
“Authorized Version.”
• Scholars from Oxford,
Cambridge & Westminster worked in 6
groups, who compared
and checked one another.
The King James Version
• In 1611 (after 7 years), it
was published being the
first English version with
no doctrinal notes.
• It is estimated to follow
80-90% of Tyndale’s text.
• In 1873 the Church of
England issued a revision
which is what is called
today the “King James
Version.”
The King James Version
The Look Changes…
“Peter sayde unto them: repent and be
baptised every one of you in the name of
Jesus Christ for the remission of synnes…”
Tyndale Bible - 1535 (Acts 2:38)
“Peter sayde unto them: repent of youre
synnes, and be baptysed every one of you in
the name of Jesus Christ for the remission
of synnes…”
Great Bible – 1540 (Acts 2:38)
The Look Changes…
“Then Peter sayd unto them, Amende your
lyves, and be baptized everie one of you in
the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission
of sinnes…”
Geneva Bible – 1562 (Acts 2:38)
“Then Peter sayd unto them, Repent ye, and
let every one of you be baptized in the name
of Jesus Christ for the remission of
sinnes…”
Bishops’ Bible - 1602 (Acts 2:38)
The Meaning Remains the Same
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and
be baptized every one of you in the
name of Jesus Christ for the remission
of sins…”
King James Version (Acts 2:38)
It Is Clear That…
• God preserves His Word.
• We must be diligent to guard the
accuracy of translations and the texts
behind them.
• The Bible we read came to us by the
shed blood of others.
• The Bible still teaches the way of
salvation.
The Preservation of God’s
Word
“For assuredly, I say to you, till
heaven and earth pass away, one
jot or one tittle will by no means
pass from the law till all is
fulfilled.”
(Matthew 5:18)
The Preservation of God’s
Word
“...All flesh is as grass, And all the
glory of man as the flower of the
grass. The grass withers, And its
flower falls away, But the word of
the LORD endures forever...”
(1 Peter 1:24-25)
It Is Clear That…
• God preserves His Word.
• We must be diligent to guard the
accuracy of translations and the texts
behind them.
• The Bible we read came to us by the
shed blood of others.
• The Bible still teaches the way of
salvation.
It Is Clear That…
• God preserves His Word.
• We must be diligent to guard the
accuracy of translations and the texts
behind them.
• The Bible we read came to us by the
shed blood of others.
• The Bible still teaches the way of
salvation.
It Is Clear That…
• God preserves His Word.
• We must be diligent to guard the
accuracy of translations and the texts
behind them.
• The Bible we read came to us by the
shed blood of others.
• The Bible still teaches the way of
salvation.

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