As more and more people entered the Early Church, the Bible had to be translated into other languages to aid the spread of the Gospel and help people understand God's Word for themselves.
As familiarity with Hebrew, Aramaic, and Koine Greek declined, biblical translation into new languages became a necessity. But, before long the Holy Roman Church (whose official language was Latin) became utterly dominant and as such, Latin became the de facto language of the Bible.
The principal Bible used in the church was Jerome's Vulgate (completed in 405), which was written in Latin. Hence, if you didn't know Latin, you didn't know the Bible and all you had to rely on was the correct and accurate preaching of the religious leaders of the day. You became subject to the whim and fancy of Church leadership and the political machinations of the day.
Between circa 1100-1550, John Wycliffe, John Purvey, and Nicholas of Hereford decided it was time to bring the Word of God back to the common people. They produced the first complete Bible in English in two editions, both translations from the Latin Vulgate.
The Latin Vulgate was the only source text available to them, but the Pope was so infuriated by their work and Wycliffe's teachings that 44 years after Wycliffe died, he ordered the bones to be dug-up, crushed, and scattered in the river.
This departure from the religious and political hierarchy's will, and the threat of the general populous having access to the Bible in their own language caused Wycliffe and his followers (known as the "Lollards") to suffer extreme persecution as heretics.
William Tyndale (1484-1536) was a Greek scholar educated at Oxford who carried a similar vision to Wycliffe. He wanted to provide a version of the Bible which would be accessible to the average person in the street, but now (after the Renaissance and the Protestant reformation) he was able to base his English New Testament on a Greek text (not the Latin) established by Erasmus in 1516.
He printed his finished Bible in Europe in 1526 and revised it in 1534. Shortly afterwards, Myles Coverdale produced the first complete English Bible of the sixteenth century in 1535, and then in 1611, King James gave his blessing to a new translation, known to us as the Authorized Version or the King James Bible.
Later on, the discoveries of the Codex Sinaiticus, early Greek papyri of New Testament, and the Dead Sea scrolls have further aided new translations in common use today. These include the New English Bible, the New International Version, and the Jerusalem Bible.
One of the many prophetically significant events in modern times that ahs directly impacted our understanding of the Bible is a return of the Jewish people to their ancient, historical and Biblical homeland: Israel. Along with this has come a return to the Messianic Faith that began some 2,000 years earlier in the times of Yeshua of Nazareth.
With greater advances in linguistic analysis; the ongoing discovery of new texts; text fragments and archaeological discoveries and the mere fact that people from a Jewish background and mindset are again looking at the New Testament has led to new and better translations.
One example (of several) of these exciting new translations is Dr David H Stern's "Complete Jewish Bible" accompanied by the Jewish New Testament Commentary.
The work to give true and accurate translations of the Bible from its original language into English and other modern languages continues to this day. It must be said that there is nothing as good as knowing the original language, but not many people have the time or opportunity to be linguistics scholars. There are, however, many excellent resources that can help us get closer to the Biblical text and decide for ourselves the best meaning and application for our lives today.
Some of these linguistic studies are noted in this section of our website, and will be added to over time.
For those who have dedicated their lives, and for the many who have been martyred in order to bring us the Word of God, we implore you to read on, continue your own studies, learn from them, and use this site as a resource to aid your learning...
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