the Dark Ages very little Bible translation was done. There were a few
minor translations made of portions of the Bible. The Word of God was
locked up in the Latin language, which was unknown to the common people.
John Wycliffe, a great English scholar and Bible student,
conceived the plan of translating the whole Bible into common English.
He translated the New Testament in about
1380. It is not known how much more work he did before his death.
The work was completed by his friends after his death. This work rests
heavily on the Latin Vulgate.
Tyndale was the next in order of the great English Translators. He
was an early and courageous reformer and was determined that the English
common people should have the Bible in their own language. Persecution
made it impossible for him to do his work in England, so he crossed over
to the Continent where his New Testament translation was issued in 1525
and the Pentateuch in 1530.
translation does not rest on the Latin Vulgate as much as Wycliffe’s.
Tyndale was a Greek scholar and had access to the Greek text of Erasmus
and other helps that Wycliffe did not have. In addition, he had a fine
command of the English language, which left its impression on all later
was martyred before he completed the Old Testament, but it is generally
believed that he left the material that later appeared in the
Coverdale. Coverdale was a friend of Tyndale. He prepared and
published a Bible dedicated to King Henry VIII in 1535. Coverdale’s
New Testament is largely based on Tyndale’s. He used the Latin and
other versions as helps, as well as Tyndale’s.
Bible, 1537. At about the same time as the second edition of the
Coverdale Bible, another translation appeared. Its authorship is
uncertain, but although it bears the name of Matthews it is generally
credited to John Rogers, a friend and companion of Tyndale. It is
thought that this scholarly man came into possession of Tyndale’s
unpublished translation of the historical books of the Bible. It
contains Tyndale’s translations in their latest forms but also gives
some evidence of Coverdale’s work.
Great Bible. 1539. This translation is based on the Matthews,
Coverdale and Tyndale Bibles. The first edition was prepared by Miles
Coverdale and was ordered to be set up in every parish church. It was a
large-sized book that was chained to the reading desk in the churches,
where the people would come to hear the reading of the Word of God.
Geneva Bible. 1560. This translation was made at Geneva by scholars
who fled from England during the persecution by Queen Mary. It was a
revision of the Great Bible collated with other English translations.
This was a very scholarly version printed in a handy size and for many
years was a popular Bible in England.
Bishop’s Bible. 1568. It was prepared under the direction of the
Archbishop of Canterbury during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. It is
manly a revision of the Great Bible although it is somewhat dependent
upon the Geneva Version. It was used mostly by the clergy and was not
popular with the common people.
Douay Bible. This is a Roman Catholic version made from the Latin
Vulgate. The New Testament was published in Rheims in 1585 and the Old
Testament at Douay, 1609–10. It contains notes that are controversial
and it is the generally accepted English Version of The Roman Church.
King James or Authorized Version. 1611. This version was made by a committee of
forty-seven scholars under the authorization of King James I of England.
The Bishop’s Bible was the basis of this new version, but the Hebrew
and Greek texts were studied and other English translations consulted
with the view of obtaining the best results. It has held first place
throughout the English-speaking world for over 400 years. It went
through two revisions: 1769 and 1850.
Revised Version. 1881–1884. Made by a committee of English and
American scholars. While it was supposed to be another revision of the
Authorized Version, it goes beyond that as it reaches down to the most
ancient of copies of the original Scriptures that were not available
when the Authorized Version was translated.
American Standard Version. 1900–1901. This version incorporates
into the text the readings preferred by the American members of the
Revision Committee of 1881–1885.