History of The Bible in English

Updated: Feb 26, 2021

Peace & Blessings Beloved,

TGBTG for allowing us to see another day. I pray all is well with you and yours, and that your week has been fruitful & blessed thus far.


Today, we'll explore the history of the Holy Bible in the English language. We've already studied the original languages in both the Old & New Testaments, and will now move through time to see how the original translations transformed into the English language we have currently.


So with that in mind, let's get to it.


There is evidence of Christianity in the British Isles as early as the late second century. For the next 1,000 years, missionaries and teachers translated bits and pieces of the Bible into the language of the people for teaching purposes, but there was no concerted effort to translate the whole Bible. Latin was the language of the church, and the few whole Bibles that did exist were handwritten in Latin and would have been inaccessible to the average person, even if he could read. John Wycliffe (1329—1384) was the first person to oversee a translation of the entire Bible into English (NT in 1380, OT in 1382). Wycliffe was educated at Oxford and became a lecturer there. A scholar as well as a pastor, he saw the need for people to be able to read the Bible in their own language. He also spoke out against corruption in the church, drew the ire of Rome, and was forced from his post. His Middle English translation was of the Latin Vulgate, the official Bible of the church. After Wycliffe’s death, some of his associates revised the translation and were condemned by the church and burned at the stake for their efforts. At the Council of Constance (1414—1418), Jan Hus, one of Wycliffe’s followers, was condemned as a heretic and martyred; Wycliffe was also condemned posthumously, and his bones were exhumed and burned. During the next 100 years, the English Bible saw advances, as scholars were able to access Hebrew and Greek versions of the Bible and the Protestant Reformation began. The printing press became commercially available. Protestant scholars saw the benefit of working from the original languages instead of Latin. William Tyndale (1494—1536), spurred by the Reformation, translated the New Testament from Greek manuscripts and began work on the Old Testament from Hebrew. Tyndale also included marginal notes that were often critical of church practices. Eventually, Tyndale was condemned and burned at the stake. Miles Coverdale (1488—1569) was a Reformer who had to flee England when Henry VIII wa