Bible History

How did we get the Bible?

We know that the Bible holds all the wisdom that we need for our life and it is the most awesome and profound reference for our lives and for other’s lives. It holds all the beautiful revelations from God, and the timeless purposes God has had in His Redemptive Plan for Creation!

We illustrate some truths about how we got the Bible in the first place, and how it became as this most important reference.

  • The Bible is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21).
  • The Bible is made up of 66 books, it is an anthology or a library as some have called it. Many of the books were written over 1600 years ago. The time range seems to be about 1500 BC to 100 AD. We see more than 40 kings, prophets, leaders, and followers of Jesus Christ. The Old Testament has 39, while the New Testament has 27 books. The OT books were written around 1500-400 BC it seems, while the NT books were written about 45-100 AD.
  • The Old Testament was written mainly in Hebrew and included some Aramaic. The New Testament was written in Greek. Now, what we have in our English Bible is a translation.
  • The Books of the Bible were collected and arranged, and were found to be inspired by a sacred authority of rabbis and church leaders using careful guidelines as they were led by the Lord.
  • Before the printing press, the Bible was copied by hand very accurately. Special scribes developed intricate methods of counting the words and letters to ensure no errors were made.
  • The Bible was the first book to ever be printed on the printing press with moveable type (which was the Latin Bible on the Gutenberg Press in 1455).
  • There is much evidence that the Bible we have is completely true to their original Greek manuscripts.
  • The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls confirmed the reliability of the Old Testament copies. Although there were spelling variations, there were no doctrinal differences.
  • As the Bible was carried to other countries, it was translated in their common language.
  • Dates for how many languages the Bible was respectively translated into: 200 AD = 7 languages; 500 AD = 13 languages; 900 AD = 17 languages; 1400 = 28 languages; 1800 = 57 languages; 1900 = 537 languages; 1980 = 1100 languages; and 2014 = 2883 languages.

Bible materials

The Old Testament was written on leather, clay, and stone. The New Testament was written on papyrus. The Bible was copied onto papyrus as it became customary. Eventually, the Bible was printed by the printing press after 1455. Now, the Bible is printed on paper in many languages and digital formats, and it is fully beautiful.

The Timelines of the Bible’s creation

  • Starting in 2000 BC – Old Testament events are written in Hebrew and portions in Aramaic. In Exodus, God told Moses to write in a book, and other writers, leaders, kings, and prophets wrote parts of the Old Testament. They did so as God inspired them. All of them are called the Hebrew Scriptures or the Old Testament.

  • 500 BC – Ezra collected and arranged some of the Books of the Hebrew Bible, which constructed the Old Testament, at about 450 BC.

  • The Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible and was translated in 250-100 BC by Jewish scholars in Alexandria, Egypt.

  • 200 BC – The books are arranged by subject: history, poetry, prophecy, etc. It also includes the apocrypha, which we don’t have in our typical Bible these days.

  • 1 AD – Time of Jesus – Jesus often quoted the Old Testament Scriptures, for He did not come to destroy the Scripture. Everything must be fulfilled that is written about Jesus from the Law of Moses. He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:44-45).

  • 100 AD – Followers of Jesus from 45-100 AD wrote many different letters and books with records about Jesus and His Ministry.

  • 200 AD – Old Testament apocrypha ruled out as trusted Scripture.

  • 200-300 AD – The earliest translations were written in Latin, Coptic (from Egypt), and Syriac.

  • Church Fathers accepted the writings of the Gospels and Paul’s letters as canonical. Origen listed 21 approved New Testament books, and Eusebius listed 22 accepted books.

  • 300 AD – The New Testament books were collected and circulated through the Mediterranean around the time of Constantine – the Roman emperor who legalized Christianity in 313. The 27 books they took account of were included as canonical by the Synod of Carthage in 397.

  • Jerome started translating the Scriptures into Latin in 382 and finished it about 23 years after. This translation known as the Latin Vulgate remained the basic Bible for many centuries.

  • 500 AD – The Masoretes were Jewish Scribes entrusted with making copies of the Hebrew Scriptures. They developed a good system of counting the words to ensure it was fully accurate of a copy.

  • 600 AD – Christianity reached Britain before 300; however, Anglo-Saxon pagans drove Christian Britons into Wales. Augustine of Canterbury began evangelization. There were a few different scholars who translated parts of the Bible such as Caedmon, Aldhelm, Bede, Alfred the Great, Aldred, and Aelfric.

  • 1300 AD – The first English Bible is translated to Latin in 1382, and was called the Wycliffe Bible in honor of the priest John Wycliffe. The Bible is eventually banned and burned.

  • 1455 – The first printing press was invented in Germany by Johann Gutenberg, and the Gutenberg Bible is the first book ever printed by a printing press.

  • 1500 – Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German in about 1522. Erasmus published a Greek edition of the more accurate Latin translation of the New Testament in 1516. This would form the basis for the Textus Receptus, which was used by Martin Luther, William Tyndale, and other King James translators.

  • The Coverdale Bible was translated by Miles Coverdale and dedicated to Anne Boleyn. The Matthew’s Bible was translated by John Rogers under the pen name “Thomas Matthew”. The Great Bible was placed in every church by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer.

  • 1555 – Queen Mary banned protestant translations of the English Bible. Soon, exiles from England fled to Geneva to produce the Geneva Bible in 1560. This is the Bible of Shakespeare and carried to America by the Pilgrims in 1620. The 1640 edition omitted the apocrypha.

  • Soon, the Bishop’s Bible, which began under the lead of Queen Elizabeth in 1568, was published. After that, the Douay-Rheims Bible was translated into English from the Latin Vulgate by Gregory Martin. It became the standard translation for the Catholic Church.

  • 1600 – King James I of England commissioned 54 scholars to translate into a new Bible, which we call the King James Version or Authorized Version. It is the most popular Bible translation for over 300 years, almost 400 years. The first version was officially published in 1611.

  • 1800 – Older manuscripts have been discovered between 1629-1947, which show the accuracy of Bible translations.

  • Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Sinaiticus were copies of the New Testament that were discovered from about 400 AD.

  • The Revised Version is released in 1885 after scholars in England found manuscripts to guide them. The Codex Vaticanus was found to be one of the earliest copies of the New Testament that was found in 1889.

  • 1900 – The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in a cave in 1947 that contained portions of the Old Testament that were made between 100 BC and 100 AD. A Scroll of Isaiah was found as part of the Dead Sea Scrolls and is a near perfect reliable copy. A Ugaritic Grammar was published in the 1960s.

  • LIST OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS OF THE BIBLE

  • 1885 – The English Revised Version

  • 1901 – American Standard Version

  • 1926 – Moffatt Bible

  • 1931 – Smith-Goodspeed, An American Translation

  • 1952 – The Revised Standard Version

  • 1958 – JB Phillip’s New Testament in Modern English

  • 1965 – The Amplified Bible

  • 1966 – Jerusalem Bible

  • 1970 – New English Bible

  • 1970 – New American Bible

  • 1971 – New American Standard Bible

  • 1971 – The Living Bible

  • 1976 – The Good News Bible (Today’s English Version)

  • 1978 – New International Version

  • 1982 – New King James Version

  • 1987 – New Century Version

  • 1989 – Jewish New Testament

  • 1989 – New Revised Standard Version

  • 1991 – Contemporary English Version

  • 1995 – God’s Word

  • 1996 – New Living Translation

  • 1996 – New International Reader’s Version

  • 2001 – English Standard Version

  • 2002 – The Message

  • 2004 – Holman Christian Standard Bible

  • 2005 – Today’s New International Version

  • 2005 – New English Translation

  • 2008 – New Community Bible

  • 2008 – The Orthodox Study Bible

  • 2009 – The Inclusive Bible

  • 2011 – Divine Name King James Bible

  • 2011 – Common English Bible

  • 2011 – International Standard Version

  • 2011 – New American Bible Revised Edition

  • 2011 – Names of God Bible

  • 2012 – The Voice Bible

  • 2014 – Modern English Bible

  • 2014 – Tree of Life Bible

  • 2017 – Christian Standard Bible

  • 2018 – Easy English Bible

  • 2018 – The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary

  • 2018-2019 – Revised New Jerusalem Bible

  • 2019 – Evangelical Heritage Version

  • 2020 – 365 Day Bible

  • 2020 – Literal Standard Version

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