Monthly Archives: February 2011

  • History of the English Bible, part 8

    God works in mysterious ways. Isn’t it true that very often the times when we set out the most intentionally to do something great for God, those intentions and initiatives often fall flat? And yet, mystery of mysteries, sometimes when we are seeking something specifically, something entirely different emerges. These, and now I am speaking autobiographically here, are usually the best and most lasting things that we ever accomplish. It’s almost as if God wants all the glory. He uses us, to be sure, but he uses us in spite of us. Such was the case with the genesis of the King James Version of the Bible (hereafter just KJV). In 1603 Elizabeth died and the crown was passed to James I, formerly James VI of Scotland for thirty-seven years. Upon his assumption of the crown and coming to England … Read More »

  • History of the English Bible, part 7

    Simply type in “bible” on Amazon.com and you will be amazed at the myriad of options and editions and translations you are confronted with. To be precise, Amazon offers 302,314 options at the time of this writing. To be sure there is some overlap in that number. But still, that’s a lot of Bibles. Why so many? Partly because of marketing. Let’s face it – publishers are not selling the Bible to break even, let alone at a loss. They are doing it to turn a profit. Related to this is the desire of many readers and the wiliness of the publishers to provide a Bible for “me.” As a result there are a lot of niche Bibles. You can get the Golfer’s Bible, the Soldier’s Bible, the Young Man’s Bible (haven’t seen the Old Man’s Bible yet, though), and … Read More »

  • History of the English Bible, part 6

    During Calvin’s tenure Geneva became a “second Wittenburg” (Bobrick, 174). It was attracting students and refugees from all over Europe, especially those who were seeking refuge from Bloody Mary. Moreover, it was a place where Reformed doctrine and practice had won the day. As such it was a city “humming with biblical scholarship.” The need for an English translation for its refugees and the wealth of scholars was the perfect confluence to produce the Geneva Bible.

    As great as the Great Bible may have been, neither it nor its successors could meet the challenge posed to them by the distinctly Protestant Geneva Bible. The Geneva Bible, unlike the Great Bible, was the product of the private enterprise of some English speaking Protestants in Geneva (McGrath, 98) and quickly became the household Bible of English-speaking Protestants.

    The popularity and influence of the … Read More »

  • History of the English Bible, part 5

    In 1537 another edition of the English Bible appeared, Matthew’s Bible. Now there were two versions of the Bible in English making their way through England. Matthew’s Bible was translated into English by “Thomas Matthew,” a pen name for John Rogers, an associate of William Tyndale, who would later be burned at the stake in 1555. While the text of Matthew’s Bible was not controversial, the marginal notes most certainly were. England and her church were neither Protestant nor Roman Catholic and thus the distinctly Protestant notes threatened to lead readers to embrace the theology and practice of the Reformers. Consequently, Cromwell suggested a revision of Matthew’s Bible be taken up in order to “render it generally more acceptable” (Bruce, 67). That translation? The Great Bible. The Great Bible, sometimes referred to as Cranmer’s Bible because of his preface to … Read More »