History of the Bible - crazyJCgirl.com

History of the Bible

This article is part of a short series called Bible Basics.

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The Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, & Greek – not English. Therefore, trying to stay as close as possible to the original language and it’s meaning is important. The problem becomes unless you can read & understand Hebrew, Aramaic, & Greek we “ordinary people” need an English translation. Debates then arise as to whether or not the translation is correct & “true” to the original meaning. Let’s look into a brief history of the Bible.

The Septuagint

The Septuagint is probably the most notable when it comes to history. Ptolemy II, the King of Egypt, ordered a Greek translation of the Torah for the great Library of Alexandria. The Torah, also known as the Pentateuch, is simply the first 5 books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, & Deuteronomy. Apparently 70-72 Jewish Scholars were placed in separate rooms, where they independently translated the Torah from Hebrew into Koine Greek which all turned out to be identical in translation. Over time the rest of the Old Testament was translated into Koine Greek and completed by 132 B.C.

The Vulgate

The next historically significant translation would be the Vulgate. This Latin translation took 23 years to complete by Jerome. He did not translate from the Greek, he once again translated from the original Hebrew & Aramaic texts. Finally completed in 405 A.D., the Latin Vulgate which became the standard Biblical text for the Western world.

The Wycliffe New Testament

In 1380, The Wycliffe New Testament was published in English. John Wycliffe/Wyclif (~1320-1384), a teacher of theology at Oxford University, supervised the translation of the Latin Vulgate into English for public use. Wycliffe is known as one of the most outspoken theologians of his time and radical figures of the Reformation.

Tyndale’s Bible

In 1534, William Tyndale (1494-1536), also a Protestant Reformer, also translated the entire Bible into English. Tyndale was proficient with both Greek and Hebrew and thus provided a more accurate translation directly from the source rather than the Latin Vulgate.

Verses & Paragraphs

In 1551, a French printer, Robert Estienne, added numbers to the Bible in order to break up verses into smaller sections while working on a Greek concordance. This became the standard, as well as breaking up groups of verses into paragraphs in 1557 with the introduction of the Geneva Bible. That being said, this printer was not a priest and the divisions sometimes fall awkwardly in the “middle-of-a-thought.” Thus, it is always important to read a verse in “context” of the entire passage & paragraph to understand its intended meaning.

The King James Bible

Probably the most familiar translation of the Bible is the King James Version – KJV. Although there were several English translations of the Bible already, none were considered accurate by the ruling Church of England. King James then ordered a new translation which began in 1604 A.D. Once again the scholars went back to the original Hebrew, Arabic, & Greek. However, they also utilized the majority of Williams Tyndale’s work while working on this translation. Once completed in 1611, this English translation of the Bible, known as the King James Version, KJV, eventually replaced the Latin Vulgate after several revisions.

Michael W. Smith ~ Ancient Words