Bibles and Versions

Do not become tied to one version, but use many translations. Like the facets of a diamond, the many versions of the Bible add to its sparkle. There is no perfect translation; each has its own particular strengths and weaknesses.

The Bible was written over 1,400 years by approximately forty writers. Most of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, with a few chapters in Aramaic, especially in the book of Daniel. Between 300 and 100 B.C., the Old Testament was translated into Greek, which is known as the Septuagint. This translation was the Bible of the Jews in the first century A.D., and used primarily by the NT writers when quoting the Scriptures. The New Testament was written in Greek and later translated into Syriac in the second century and both the Old and New Testaments were translated into Latin by Jerome in fifth century.


Compare as many versions of the Bible as practical. Parallel Bibles are very useful; more so the computer Bible programs mention above. Translators are not infallible; they are human and fallible. They sometimes contradict each other for diverse reasons, ranging from theological bias to grammatical-historical understanding of words and phrases. Where differences occur, more study is always required. The chapter, paragraph and verse divisions, headings, notes, cross references, etc. are helpful, but not inspired.

The significant English versions of the Bible from the sixteenth century to the present:

  • 1535 Tyndale Versions
  • 1539 Great Bible by Cloverdale
  • 1560 Geneva Bible with Notes
  • 1572 Bishops Bible with Notes
  • 1611 King James Version (AV)
  • 1870 English Revised Version
  • 1901 American Standard Version
  • 1946 Revised Standard Version
  • 1952 Williams (NT)
  • 1959 Berkley—Modern Language (NT)
  • 1963 New American Standard Version
  • 1965 Amplified Bible
  • 1966 Today’s English Version (NT)
  • 1966 Jerusalem Bible
  • 1970 New English Bible
  • 1971 New American Standard Bible
  • 1971 Living Bible (Paraphrase)
  • 1973 New International Version
  • 1976 Literal Translation Version
  • 1989 New Revised Standard Version
  • 1992 Good News Bible
  • 1995 Contemporary English Version
  • 1995 God’s Word
  • 1996 New Living Translation
  • 2001 English Standard Version (ESV)
  • 2002 The Message (Paraphrase) (MSG)
  • 2003 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
  • 2006 New English Translation (NET)

Why are there so many versions in the twenty and twenty-first century? In 1947, the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered near the Dead Sea in Palestine. This find along with Greek manuscripts of the New Testament that were discovered at Mt. Sinai and in the Vatican renewed the interest in studying the underlying text of the Bible, which is known as textual criticism. This study along with computers and new archaeological discovers that revealed new meanings of biblical words and customs fueled the need for new versions of the Bible in English and other languages.

One of the first questions that faces the student of any ancient literature is the question of the original text. What did the original author really write?

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