Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 13, 1964

How Did We Get Our Bible?

E. L. Flannery

Our question deals with who made the 66 Books of the Bible into a collection. This is a study of man's part, not God's; of history, not the Bible itself. It is too lengthy a study to detail here, but most good Teacher's Editions of the Bible, or a good Bible dictionary will give you ample detail.

The Versions

The Septuagint — Written by seventy scholars translating from Hebrew into Greek about 200 B. C. the books of the Old Testament.

The Peshito (Syriac) Version — contains the oldest Christian version of the New Testament known to the world, It was evidently completed by 150 A.D. Many other important versions were made from this Syriac Version. Missing from this version are 2 and 3 John, 2 Peter, Jude and Revelation, but it does not contain any book which is not to be found there. The British Museum has parts of this manuscript.

The Old Latin Version — This version was made for the Western churches while the Syriac was made for the Eastern. The exact date of this version cannot be determined but it was well known to Tertullian and men of his day. Tertullian was born about 150 A.D. It must have been written by 175 A.D. and could have been much earlier. It contained all the New Testament books but three — Hebrews, James and 2 Peter. Taking these two versions together we find only 2 Peter omitted. They were probably in common use by both East and West.

The Vulgate — In about 390 A.D. the scholarly Jerome completed his task of translating and improving the Old Latin Version used in the Western churches, It became known as the Latin Vulgate, and for 1000 years most translations (English) were made from the Latin Vulgate. The

Roman Church makes all its translations from Jerome's version; Douay Bible, Rhenish New Testament, and others.

English Versions — Wycliffe in 1382 had completed his translation of the Latin Vulgate Version into English the tongue at the time when it was a crime to be suppressed. Tyndale translated the New Testament in 1525, going straight to the originals, not using a previous version (such as the Latin Vulgate). Coverdale in 1535 completed the whole Bible and his and Tyndale's translations made up the first complete printed edition of the Bible in English. Tyndale was put to death but his work opened the floodgates of Bible learning, and caused new and more scholarly translations to be made. In trying to set forth an "authentic version" King James I, successor to Queen Elizabeth, authorized 54 scholars to undertake the task. In about three years, in 1611, they gave the world The King James, or "Authorized Version," authorized by the King. It was a fine version. In 1881-1885 sixty-five English scholars, with access to many Manuscripts (Codex Alexandrinus, Codex Ephraemi, Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus) unknown to the King James translators, gave us the English Revised Version. The American Standard Version, 1900-01, was the work of about 100 scholars, who like those who gave us the English Revised Version, had access to many documents and manuscripts. It is the judgment of many scholars that the American Standard Version of 1901 is the most accurate translation of the ancient languages of any versions thus far printed. It may lack the poetic beauty of the King James Version, and the modern speech style of the late Revised Version (1945) but it stuck to accurate translation instead of trying to interpret meaning. Briefly, that is how we got our Bible, God's revelation to man, providentially preserved for us.

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