A Simplified History of How We Got the Bible

Before the New Testament was written Greek became the common language of the area, so the Old Testament was translated into Greek. This happened anywhere from 250-100 years before Christ was born. The translation of the Old Testament to the Greek (before the New Testament was written) was called The Septuagint.

Then came “The Jewish Targums”. This was a collection of paraphrases of the Old Testament translated into Aramaic. It was a translation, not from the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), but rather a translation from the original Hebrew into Aramaic.


Next came the Latin Vulgate (AD 390-405). After Alexander the Great the Roman Empire rose up, and people were reading Latin. This was a translation of the entire Bible into Latin and became the standard Bible for use in the Western church for 1000 years. Jerome translated it into Latin.


John Wycliffe’s translation was the first English translation in AD 1380. He translated the Bible from the Latin Vulgate to English.


The Geneva Bible was the first English Bible to incorporate chapter and verse divisions, and it was translated in AD 1570.


William Tyndale’s translation in AD 1535 was the first translation from the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament into English. He was burned at the stake for this.


The King James Version was translated first in AD 1611. That was the first edition, and it was written in Old English. We would not be able to understand it today. There are many revisions: 1612, 1613, 1616, 1629, 1638, 1660, 1683, 1727, 1762, 1769, and 1873. The 1769 revision is the KJV used today.


With other translations such as the New American Standard, which were translated in the 20th Century, there are textual variants when compared with the KJV, but this is not a problem due to the fact that no doctrine is changed by the variants. No meanings of the verses were changed.


(Compiled from Pastor Hollie Miller’s sermon "Which Translation Should I Read?" Sevier Heights Bapt. Church, Knoxville, TN)

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