The Christian Bible Reference Site

Appendix: Bible Translations

(Lockyer, Mays, Senior)

Old Testament

The Old Testament of the Bible was originally written in the Hebrew language with a few sections written in the Aramaic language. The OT contains the sacred writings of the Hebrews and contains books of the Law, history of Israel, wisdom, and prophecy. The events of the OT occurred between roughly 1800 B.C. and 400 B.C. A Greek translation of the OT, called the Septuagint, was produced between 200 and 100 B.C. for the benefit of Greek-speaking Jews in Alexandria, Egypt.

New Testament

The New Testament emerged in the late second century, A.D. The early church leaders included books they believed were written by eyewitnesses to the events narrated, while rejecting many other early Christian writings. Eventually, the 27 books which form the present New Testament, along with the OT books, became the Christian Bible as we know it today.

The New Testament contains the four gospels, or "good news," of Jesus Christ, some history of the early Christian church, and a number of letters written by the Apostle Paul and other Christian leaders. All the NT books were written in Greek over the period of about 50 to 120 A.D. The earliest works in the NT are the letters of Paul to the early Christian communities. The first of the Gospels was probably Mark, written around 70 A.D., about 40 years after Jesus was crucified. Matthew, Luke and Acts were written between 80 and 90 A.D. Finally, The Gospel of John appeared in its final form around 95 A.D.

The Apocrypha

The Apocrypha, a group of 15 late OT books, was written during the period 170 B.C. to 70 A.D. These Jewish books were included in many versions of the Septuagint in circulation as the New Testament was being formed, but were excluded from the official canon of Judaism, established about 100 A.D. Today, the books of the Apocrypha are included in Catholic versions of the OT, but not in most Protestant versions.


Latin Translation

During the first centuries A.D., Latin replaced Greek as the language of the Roman Empire. In 405 a Latin translation of the Old and New Testaments was completed. This version, known as the Vulgate, became the standard Bible of Christianity for many centuries.

English Translations

The first English version of the full Bible was John Wycliffe's translation of the Vulgate in 1384. Several other English versions followed, and the beloved King James version was published in 1611.

None of the original texts of the OT or NT are known to exist; the best available sources are hand-made copies of copies. However, developments in archaeology and biblical scholarship have made possible a number of modern, more accurate English translations of the scriptures. These newer versions are translated from the best available ancient Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, rather than from the King James version or the Latin Vulgate.