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Bible History

In the beginning, God
created the heavens and the earth. Genesis

God directly and personally created the universe from nothing.

God interacts with His creation and has from the very beginning. He is not a distant, uncaring Creator; He is the only true God and one of the ways He communicates with us is through His Word, the Bible.

And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:19–21

We should be as attentive to the Bible as we would to a lamp shining in a dark place. Only the area around a lamp is illuminated. It allows us to see how to both accomplish our purposes and avoid obstacles that would cause us to stumble if we were still in the dark. The Bible is unique among all books. While finite humans cannot comprehend an infinite God, the Bible gives us an authoritative and sufficient revelation which contains all that God wants us to know.

Timeline of Bible History

  • 1,400 BC: The first written Word of God: The Ten Commandments were delivered to Moses.
  • 500 BC: The completion of all original Hebrew manuscripts which make up the 39 Books of the Old Testament.
  • 200 BC: The completion of the Septuagint Greek manuscripts which contain the 39 Old Testament Books and the 14 Apocryphal Books.
  • 1st Century AD: The completion of all original Greek manuscripts which make up the 27 Books of the New Testament.
  • 315 AD: Athenasius, the Bishop of Alexandria, identifies the 27 Books of the New Testament which are today recognized as the canon of scripture.
  • 382 AD: Jerome’s Latin Vulgate- The manuscripts were produced which contain All 80 Books (39 Old Test. + 14 Apocrypha + 27 New Test).
  • 500 AD: The Scriptures have been translated into over 500 languages.
  • 600 AD: Latin was the only language allowed for Scripture.
  • 995 AD: Anglo-Saxon, early roots of the English language, translations of the New Testament were produced.
  • 1384 AD:  John Wycliffe, The Morning Star of the Reformation, is the first person to produce a manuscript copy of the complete Bible; all 80 Books.
  • 1455 AD: Johannes Gutenberg invents the printing press and utilizes movable type. Books may now be mass-produced instead of individually hand-written. The first book ever printed is Gutenberg’s Bible in Latin.
  • 1516 AD: Desiderius Erasmus produces a Greek/Latin Parallel New Testament.
  • 1522 AD: Martin Luther produces his German New Testament.
  • 1525 AD: William Tyndale begins printing the New Testament at Cologne, Germany. His work was interrupted after completing just the first 21 chapters of Matthew and was forced to flee persecution to Worms, Germany.
  • 1526 AD: William Tyndale completes his New Testament being the first  ever printed in the English Language.
  • 1535 AD: Myles Coverdale’s Bible- The first complete Bible is printed in the English Language. (80 Books: O.T. & N.T. & Apocrypha).
  • 1537 AD: Tyndale-Matthews Bible- The second complete Bible is printed in English. It was produced under the pseudonym of “Thomas Matthew” by John Rogers to avoid persecution. (80 Books).
  • 1539 AD: The Great Bible- Ordered by King Henry the Eighth, it is the First English Language Bible Authorized for use by the Church of England. (80 Books).
  • 1560 AD: The Geneva Bible – The first English Language Bible to include both verse and chapter numbers and the first to include printed marginal notes thus creating the first study Bible. Translated by Reformation Fathers while in exile in Switzerland escaping the persecution of England’s Bloody Queen Mary. (80 Books)
  • 1568 AD: The Bishops Bible- Ordered by Queen Elizabeth the First in response to the sometimes thorny marginal notes of the Geneva Bible. It was the second English Language Bible authorized for use by the Church of England. The 1602 edition would be used as the foundation for the forthcoming King James Version. (80 Books).
  • 1582 AD: The Rheims New Testament- English Catholic scholars fled from the ascension of protestant Queen Elizabeth to the throne in 1558 and translate the New Testament from the Latin Vulgate. 
  • 1609 AD: The Douay Old Testament- Delayed due to lack of funding, the Old Testament is at last added to the 1582 Rheims New Testament making the first complete English Catholic Bible translated from the Latin Vulgate (80 Books).
  • 1611 AD: The King James Bible- Ordered by King James the First, it was third English Language Bible authorized for use by the Church of England. This beloved translation has been in continuous print to this day. With over a billion copies printed, it far surpasses that of any book in history. Originally printed with all 80 books, the Apocrypha was removed in 1885 leaving only 66 Books.
  • 1628 AD: The first New Testament is printed at Edinburgh, Scotland.
  • 1629 AD: The first King James Bible printed at Cambridge- Without formal authorization from the Crown, scholars at the University of Cambridge undertook a minor revision seeking to correct spelling and punctuation and removing printers’ errors.
  • 1633 AD: The first complete King James Bible is printed at Edinburgh.
  • 1638 AD: The second folio of the King James Bible printed at Cambridge- This was a continuation of the revision begun in 1629 and remained the text of the KJV for the next 124 years.
    1640 AD: The first English Bible to deliberately omit the Apocrypha- A folio edition of the Geneva Bible is printed at Amsterdam.
  • 1644 AD: The last seventeenth century Geneva Bible- Also a folio edition printed at Amsterdam. After nearly a century and being printed in several editions and foreign languages, the beloved translation of the Pilgrims and of Shakespeare is eclipsed by the ever popular King James Version. The final London printing occurred in 1616 and, at the same time, the first KJV lectern folio was produced.
  • 1647 AD: The first Bible printed by The Company of Stationers- Usually reserved for the King’s printers, this King James Bible was printed during the turmoil of the English Civil War.
  • 1652 AD: The first Bible printed in which the Parliament is mentioned on the title page and with the King James dedication page omitted. It was printed by John Field just prior the protectorate of Oliver Cromwell. Field would serve as printer to the parliament and then in 1655 as printer to the University of Cambridge. 
  • 1675 AD: First Bible printed at Oxford- This King James Bible was printed by the Oxford University Press at the Sheldonian Theater. A charter was granted to the University by King Charles the First in 1633 to print all manners of books, but it took another 42 years for their first Bible to appear. 
  • 1714 AD: The first King James Bible printed in Ireland- Printed in Dublin by Binauld and Dobson. It has been asserted that James Blow had printed a Bible in Belfast in 1704, but no surviving examples are known to exist.
  • 1762 AD: King James Bible printed at Cambridge by Dr. F.S. Paris- The first serious attempt to correct the text of the beloved 1611 King James’ Version by amending the spelling and punctuation, unifying and extending the use of italics, and removing printers’ errors.
  • 1769 AD: The Oxford Standard Edition of the 1611 King James Bible- a careful continuation of Dr. Paris’ work by Dr. Benjamin Blayney using the 1755 Johnson Dictionary. 
  • 1782 AD: Robert Aitken’s Bible- The First English Language Bible (KJV) Printed in America.
  • 1791 AD: Isaac Collins and Isaiah Thomas Respectively Produce the First Family Bible and First Illustrated Bible Printed in America. Both were King James Versions, with All 80 Books.
  • 1800 AD: The Macklin Bible- Printed in London by Thomas Bensley for Thomas Macklin, this work is considered the largest Bible ever produced in mass with movable type on a letterpress. This edition was issued as a 6 or 7 volume set measuring nearly 20 inches tall and 16 inches deep and weighed over 100 pounds. It was embellished with 70 engravings by several British artists and costing over 30,000 pounds sterling to produce. Macklin sadly died just 5 days after the last engraving was completed.
  • 1808 AD: Jane Aitken’s Bible- The first Bible to be printed by a woman who was also the daughter of Robert Aitken.
  • 1833 AD: Noah Webster’s Bible- After producing his famous dictionary, Webster printed his own revision of the King James Bible.
  • 1841 AD: English Hexapla New Testament- An early textual comparison showing the Greek and 6 famous English translations in parallel columns: Wycliffe 1380, Tyndale 1534, Great Bible 1539, Geneva N.T. 1557, Rheims 1582 and KJV 1611.
  • 1846 AD: The Illuminated Bible- The most lavishly illustrated Bible printed in America by Harper & Brothers in New York. Issued beginning in 1843 periodically in sections for 25 cents each. An example was owned by Robert E. Lee and still sits on a parlor table at Arlington House. A King James Version, with All 80 Books.
  • 1863 AD: Robert Young’s “Literal” Translation- Often criticized for being so literal that it sometimes obscures the contextual English meaning.
  • 1881 AD: English Revised Version New Testament- The first major English revision of the KJV New Testament. This version is often found in parallel columns in American family Bibles.
  • 1885 AD: The “English Revised Version” Bible- The first major English revision of the KJV.
  • 1901 AD: The “American Standard Version”- The first major American revision of the KJV.
  • 1952 AD: The Revised Standard Version (RSV)- Said to be a Revision of the 1901 American Standard Version, though more highly criticized. 
  • 1971 AD: The “New American Standard Bible” (NASB) – Published as a “Modern and Accurate Word for Word English Translation” of the Bible.
  • 1973 AD: The “New International Version” (NIV) – Published as a “Modern and Accurate Phrase for Phrase English Translation” of the Bible.
  • 1982 AD: The “New King James Version” (NKJV)- Published as a “Modern English Version Maintaining the Original Style of the King James.”
  • 2002 AD: The English Standard Version (ESV) – Published as a translation to bridge the gap between the accuracy of the NASB and the readability of the NIV.
Bible History

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