History of the English Bible

The first English Bible translated from the original Hebrew and Greek texts was the Wycliffe  Bible in 1380’s AD. It was hand-written by John Wycliffe and his followers – the Lollards. They produced a dozens of the English language manuscript copies of the Bible. The Pope was so infuriated by Wycliffe’s teachings and his translation of the Bible into English, that years after Wycliffe had died, the Pope ordered his bones to be dug-up, crushed and scattered in the river.


Tyndale New Testament – Book of Revelation

In 1536 William Tyndale produced the first printed English New Testament – the Tyndale New Testament. He was burned at a stake in 1536 for printing this illustrated New Testament. The Tyndale New Testament contained beautiful woodcut illustrations and  calligraphy-like Gothic Blackletter Typeface.


     Coverdale Bible 1535

In 1535, Myles Coverdale, a close friend of William Tyndale, printed the first complete English translation of the Bible. This was a translation of the Hebrew and Greek texts together with other texts like Latin and German.


   Matthew’s Bible 1537

The Matthew-Tyndale Bible produced in 1537 was considered the first true direct English translation of the complete Bible.


   The Great Bible 1541

The first “Great Bible” was printed under King Henry VIII and published in London and Paris. It was an English New Testament. Later, in 1540, the “Cranmer’s Bible” which was an edition of the Great Bible was published in 1540.


    The Geneva Bible 1557

The Geneva Bible was the most popular English Bible in the period between 1557 and 1644. William Shakespeare quoted frequently from it. In 1557, the Geneva New Testament was printed but it was not until  1560, that the complete Geneva Bible was produced.


    The Bishops’ Bible 1568

In 1563, a massive Bible project was commissioned under Queen Elizabeth. Ten bishops undertook the task to organise and produce a new translation of the Bible in English. This was completed on 22 September 1568 and the “Bishops’ Bible” was published in 1568. It has numerous woodcuts.


    The King James Version Bible 1611

The King James Bible was commissioned by King James I of England in January 1604. This was produced in response to the perceived problems of earlier translations as pointed out by the Puritans. The KJV is the most printed and used English translation of the Bible in the English speaking world. It is also known as the Authorised Version.