What Was The First English Translation Of The Bible


The Bible is one of the oldest and most important books ever written. While the original scriptures were written in ‘koine’ Greek, the first English translations of the Bible began with the spread of Christianity throughout the country. The purpose of these translations was to make the Bible accessible to a wider number of people, allowing more people to understand its teachings. In this article, we explore the history of English translations of the Bible, from first to last.

The Wycliffe Bible

The earliest English translation of the Bible was completed by the Reformer John Wycliffe and his followers in the 14th century. Wycliffe was a prominent church reformer of the late Middle Ages and his ideas laid the foundations for the Protestant Reformation. The translation was done from the Latin Vulgate, the standard version of the Bible at the time, and was a comprehensive yet literal translation.
The Wycliffe Bible posed a threat to the Catholic Church and its authority, as it made the scripture available to the layperson for the first time. Because of this, it drew vehement criticism from the church and Wycliffe was called a heretic. Despite the opposition, the Wycliffe Bible quickly became popular; it was copied and distributed to churches, monasteries and laypeople throughout England and beyond.

The Tyndale Bible

The second English translation of the Bible was completed by William Tyndale in the 16th century. It was based on the original Hebrew and Greek scriptures, rather than the Latin Vulgate, and was done as a response to the increasingly repressive religious policies of the Catholic Church. Tyndale believed that the Bible should be available to everyone, regardless of their knowledge of Latin, and sought to make that possible with his translation.
His translation was received more warmly than the Wycliffe Bible, and became the foundation of all subsequent English translations. His work was the first to be printed with the recently developed technology of the printing press, making it much more accessible than the handwritten manuscripts of the Wycliffe Bible.

Other Early English Translations

Other notable early English translations of the Bible include the Douay-Rheims Bible, the King James Bible, and the Geneva Bible. These translations had a significant impact on the spread of Christianity in England, and their distinctive versions of biblical language still remain influential to this day. The King James Bible, for example, established a unified version of the Bible which became accepted throughout the English-speaking world.

Modern English Translations Of The Bible

The modern English Bible translations of today have their roots in these early works. They are the product of centuries of study and consideration of different sources, ranging from the original manuscripts to the alternate interpretations of scripture used in various traditions.
Modern day English translations are much more reliable and easily accessible than their predecessors. Translations are now available in various formats, including print, digital and audiobooks, making them more accessible to people in different circumstances.

Contemporary Translations

The New International Version

The New International Version (NIV) is the most widely used English translation of the Bible today. It was published in 1978 and has since become the most popular modern translation.
The NIV is widely respected for its combination of accuracy and readability. It was translated from the original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek and was widely consulted by over a hundred linguists, pastors, and biblical scholars.

The English Standard Version

The English Standard Version (ESV) is a newer translation that was published in 2001. It is based on the original languages, but also takes into account modern linguistic considerations.
The ESV is intended to be especially suitable for public reading in churches and other places of worship. It has been praised for its accuracy, clarity and consistent terminology, making it suitable for a wide range of readers.

The New Living Translation

The New Living Translation (NLT) was published in 1996, and is a relatively modern translation. It was translated from the original languages of Hebrew and Greek, but with an emphasis on making it’s style more accessible to modern readers.
The NLT strives to convey the meaning of the original scripture with modern English, while maintaining accuracy and precision. It aims to translate in a way that will make it easily understood by contemporary readers while staying faithful to the original.

The Message

The Message is a unique translation of the Bible done by Eugene Peterson. This translation take a unique approach, seeking to create a more interpretive translation that is easy to understand.
The Message is not intended to replace other translations, but rather to provide an additional layer of interpretation. It has been praised for its emphasis on language, and its ability to draw out meaning and relevance from the original scripture.

Other Contemporary Translations

The New American Standard Bible

The New American Standard Bible (NASB) is a translation that was published in 1995. It was translated from the original texts, with an emphasis on literal accuracy and precision in its language.
The NASB was designed to be a comprehensive, literal translation and is often used for serious study. It is widely respected for its accuracy and attention to detail, making it suitable for academic and religious use.

The New King James Version

The New King James Version (NKJV) was published in 1982 and is a modern update of the classic King James Version of the Bible. It was translated from the original languages and updated to be more accessible and easier to read.
The NKJV has been praised for its faithfulness to the original language, while also making it easier to read and understand. It is considered to be a reliable and accurate modern translation, while still managing to preserve the integrity of the language of the original King James Version.

The Good News Bible

The Good News Bible (GNB) is a translation that was published in 1976. It was intended to be an easier to read translation and was translated from the original texts.
The GNB is particularly notable for its effort to use everyday language, making the Bible easier to read and understand for those with a limited knowledge of the original languages. It has been praised for its attempts to make the Bible more accessible, and is often used in churches and other religious contexts.


English translations of the Bible have existed since the 14th century. The earliest were done by Reformer John Wycliffe and William Tyndale in the 14th and 16th centuries and were based on the Latin Vulgate. Subsequent English translations sought to make the scripture more accessible to the layperson, updating the language and accuracy of the original scriptures.
Today, modern English translations are widely available, allowing anyone with access to the internet to access the Word of God. English translations of the Bible can be found in various forms, including print, digital, and audiobooks, making them more accessible than ever before. No matter what translation you choose, it is important to remember that the Bible is the Word of God, and that all translations should be read with a sense of reverence and awe.

Hilda Scott is an avid explorer of the Bible and inteprator of its gospel. She is passionate about researching and uncovering the mysteries that lie in this sacred book. She hopes to use her knowledge and expertise to bring faith and God closer to people all around the world.

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