The 14th Century English translation of the Bible which John Wycliffe inspired and organized was limited in its outreach. And although his translation did not achieve a reformation in England unaided, it did prepare many for the movement when it came a century later.

With the invention of printing around 1450 A.D., limited and costly handwritten manuscript copies of the Bible, as in Wycliffe’s day, were replaced with large editions of relatively inexpensive Scriptures. The Church could no longer contain the “heresies” of the Reformers. By 1500 A.D., printed texts of the Latin Vulgate Bible appeared, followed by printed translations of the Bible in German, Italian, Catalan and Czech. The Word in the people’s tongue was spreading.

Following the Renaissance, the publication of the entire Old Testament in Hebrew in 1487 and Erasmus’ edition of the Greek New Testament in 1516, the Reformation translations of Luther in German in 1522 and Tyndale in English in 1526 were based on the original languages rather than the Latin Vulgate version of the Church.

Luther’s translation became the model for translations by his followers into Danish, Swedish, Icelandic and Finnish. Tyndale’s translation began an era of intense translation and Bible publication that changed the course of English history. One version, the Geneva Bible, went through 200 editions, with one or more editions every year for 56 consecutive years.

The King James version in 1611 denominated the field for two and a half centuries and was the basis for the English Revised, the American Standard, and the Revised Standard Versions. Between 1611 and 1946 over 500 different translations of at least one book of the Bible have been published in English.

The enthusiasm for Bible translation ...

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