There are many translations of the Bible, the ESV, NIV, KJV to name a few. Many will associate the KJV as being one of the oldest Bible translations. But before the KJV was the Geneva Bible, but what Bible was before the Geneva Bible?
When one person translates a text from one language to another, it will vary from the translation of another person. The most widely accepted Bible translations all have their purpose to help understand God.
The history of the Bible is a fascinating one. We know that even today some countries have banned the Bible, but this was also once a common thing in the western world when it was illegal to own a Bible.
We owe a lot to our forefathers who died for the sake of the Bible and the word of God. They put their lives on the line to translate the Bible for the common man and many were killed for owning and translating the Bible.
We can be thankful that we are able to own a copy of the Bible and can read it without persecution.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”2 Timothy 3:16 (KJV)
The Bible came in two parts, the Old Testament and the New Testament but none of these were written in the English Language. If we are reading the Bible in English today, it is because some people translated it from the original languages in which the books were written.
The Old Testament which was originally the Hebrew Bible was written majorly in Hebrew, just Daniel and Ezra were written in Aramaic. The New Testament was written in Greek, Koine Greek to be specific. We also have people who spoke Aramaic in the New Testament. It is generally agreed that Jesus also spoke the language and so also, His disciples.
The story of the Bible being translated by different people have been given recognition because of the importance that their works carry. It is not that all these mentioned people concerning the translation of the bible were the only ones who translated the bible.
It was noted that some monks had already translated the Bible into English from the Vulgate Latin. There had been some kind of copied work from the original manuscript before the scholars began to translate them into English.
The Geneva Bible
The Geneva Bible is one of the notable Bibles that was translated. We can’t say that the Geneva Bible is the first of its kind because it was not documented that the author(s) of this Bible was or were the first to give the translated version of the Bible.
The Geneva Bible is truly one of the historical Bible which contributes to the translations of the Bible from the original languages they were written – talking of the Old Testament in Hebrew and also the New Testament in Koine Greek and Aramaic. The Geneva Bible was printed in the year 1560, abbreviated as GEN. It is also a protestant Bible.
The reason why this Bible is important to the English people in the 16th century is that; it is easy to be carried about – it was a printed version. What are the other Bibles that have existed before the Geneva Bible? It would have been a lot of work for the author(s) of the Geneva bible if they were translating directly from the original manuscripts.
The First Bible Translation
The first translation was made by John Wycliffe (1324 – 1384) in the fourteenth century. Every of the Old Testament was translated into English. Although, it was believed that before the translation of John Wycliffe, the Bible had been translated into Saxon. Wycliffe was a philosopher, a theologian, and also a priest. His translation or this bible was called the Wycliffe’s Bible.
Before any Bible could be printed, even before the Wycliffe’s bible, the Gutenberg Bible was the first to be printed. It has all of the features that most of the modern printed bibles have such as the preface. The Gutenberg Bible was produced in Mainz, Germany between 1452 and 1455. This production was modeled on the manuscript bibles.
The translation was made by Jerome; it was Vulgate Latin based used by the Roman Catholic Church in Europe. History of Gutenberg Bible. It is most likely that the translation that Wycliffe made was from this vulgate Latin that Jerome had already done.
After Wycliffe is the Tyndale’s Bible. This is what most people believed to be the first English bible before the existence of the Geneva Bible.
There are lots of events that surround the existence of this bible. The Tyndale Bible is a bible that was made by William Tyndale. Tyndale was born in 1477 and then was killed in September 1536. One peculiar thing about Tyndale’s bible is its accuracy. It was widely accepted by the people.
At this time, there was a persecution of the priest. Bibles were burnt and people that were caught with a copy of the bible were punished. This did not bother the translator, Tyndale as he continued with His work on the other books of the Bible.
To capture Tyndale, the king promised him safety – on hearing this, Tyndale went back to London where he was captured and killed. Tyndale bible was more recognized because it was the first bible that gives the translation of the whole scriptures. It was not fully translated as at the time Tyndale was murdered but according to some claims, a man named Myles Coverdale (born in 1535) updated the bible and published the next translation.
The next Bible before the Geneva Bible is Mathew Bible. In this bible, no many translations were made to it. it is just the combination of the Tyndale and Coverdale translations and was published in the sixteenth century by Richard Grafton.
The Geneva Bible follows. The Geneva Bible is mostly called the ‘Breeches Bible’ in the sixteenth century. The translations of this bible relied mostly on the translations of Tyndale and Coverdale. It was translated by the protestants and used in the protestant Churches.
After all of these, translations have become easy – we have the version of King James. King James I, was the one reigning when there was a plan to resolve the problems that were lingering with the Church which has to do with the translations of the bible.
There was a resolution to make a new version of the bible that will be uniform and will cause any formation of factions in the Church of England. The King set up 6 panel which has 47 men in total – they were translators and scholars to review and restructure the bible. After this, the bible became an Authorized Version of the bible also, the only authorized bible to be used across England.
As fascinating as the history of the Bible is, we can rest assured that we have the best scholars in the world that dedicate their lives to perfecting Bible translations so that we can understand it and for it to be as accurate as possible.
“For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth.”Psalm 33:4 KJV
Some people are KJV only, and it is a translation that is admired. We can all learn something new from all of the translations. Sometimes when you read through the Bible again, you see things that were not obvious the first time around. For me personally a variety of translations at home can help you in your walk with the Lord.