Article - Languages and Bible Translations (part 2)

Latin and English

For a while much of the world was Greek-speaking. However, by the 300s A.D. Latin had become a major spoken language, thus the need to translate the Bible in Latin. One of the most famous Latin translations of the Bible was the Latin Vulgate, primarily translated by Jerome beginning in A.D 382. By the 1200s the Latin Vulgate became the primary Latin translation used in the Western world and by the 1500s it became the official version of the Catholic Denomination as it continued to increase its power. With regard to the English language, in the 400s and 500s Germanic groups of people, such as the Angles (where we get the word “England” and “English”) and Saxons, migrated to what is now known as England and developed what is now known as the Old English language (thus the birth of the English language that would eventually become the third most common language in the present world). As the Catholic Denomination continued to enforce Latin, the English-speaking nations were in great need of English translations. As the Church of England (Episcopal Church) was in the process of dividing off the Catholic Denomination (which occurred in 1534), William Tyndale completed the first printed New Testament in English in 1526 and Myles Coverdale completed the first printed Bible (Old and New Testaments) in English in 1535. In 1539 Myles Coverdale helped to prepare the Great Bible which became the first authorized English Bible under King Henry VIII of England. Many of the bishops of the Church of England realized several inadequacies of the Great Bible and began to use their own translation in 1568 (which became known as the Bishops’ Bible; the second authorized translation of England). The third authorized version of the Bible was commissioned by King James I and was completed by 47 men of the Church of England in 1611. These men were very intelligent and had a high regard for the inspiration of the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16-17). They made use of the English translations as well as the other sources, including Greek and Hebrew. In the original preface of the King James of 1611 the translators made it clear they were not trying “to make a new translation…but to make a good one better.”

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