Christianity Knowledge Base

Timeline of Bible Translation History[]

The following timeline presents some of the key events in translation history, with particular reference to English-language translations.[1]

1400 BC: The first written Word of God? The Ten Commandments delivered to Moses.

500 BC: Completion of all original Hebrew manuscripts which make up the 39 Books of the Old Testament.

200 BC: Completion of the Septuagint Greek manuscripts which contain the 39 Old Testament books and 14 Apocryphal books.

1st century AD: Completion of all original Greek manuscripts which make up the 27 Books of the New Testament.

AD 367: Athanasius, the Bishop of Alexandria, identifies the 27 books of the New Testament which are today recognized as the canon of Scripture. [1] [2]

AD 382: Jerome's Latin Vulgate manuscripts produced which contain all 80 books (39 OT + 14 Apocrypha + 27 NT).

AD 500: The Scriptures have been translated into over 500 languages.

AD 600: Latin declared the only language permitted for Scripture.

AD 995: Anglo-Saxon (early roots of English language) translations of the New Testament produced.

AD 1384: John Wycliffe is the first person to produce a (hand-written) manuscript copy of the complete Bible, all 80 books.

AD 1455: Gutenberg invents the printing press. Books may now be mass-produced instead of individually hand-written. The first book ever printed is Gutenberg's Bible in Latin.

AD 1516: Erasmus produces a Greek/Latin parallel New Testament.

AD 1522: Martin Luther's German New Testament.

AD 1526: William Tyndale's New Testament. The first New Testament printed in the English language.

AD 1535: Myles Coverdale's Bible. The first complete Bible printed in the English language (80 Books: O.T. & N.T. & Apocrypha).

AD 1539: The "Great Bible" printed. The first English language Bible authorized for public use (80 Books).

AD 1560: The Geneva Bible printed. The first English language Bible to add numbered verses to each chapter (80 Books).

AD 1568: The Bishop's Bible printed. The Bible of which the King James was a revision (80 Books).

AD 1609: The Douay Old Testament is added to the Rheims New Testament (of 1582) making the first complete English Catholic Bible. Translated from the Latin Vulgate (80 Books).

AD 1611: The King James Bible printed, drawing on the Bishop's Bible and also Tyndale's earlier work, originally with all 80 Books. The Apocrypha was officially removed in 1885 leaving only 66 books.

AD 1841: English Hexapla New Testament. An early textual comparison showing the Greek and 6 famous English translations in parallel columns.

AD 1901: The American Standard Version. A major revision of the KJV, still in use today.

AD 1971: The New American Standard Bible is published as a modern translation of the Bible using the principle of formal equivalence.

AD 1973: The New International Version is published as a modern translation of the Bible using the principle of dynamic equivalence.

AD 1982: The New King James Version is published as a modern revision of the King James Version.

AD 2002: The English Standard Version is published as a translation to bridge the gap between the accuracy of the NASB and the readability of the NIV.

Translation ministries[]

  • Wycliffe Bible Translators



  • The Word of God in English: Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation, by Leland Ryken (ISBN 1581344643) (Review)
  • Why Is My Choice of a Bible Translation So Important?, by Wayne Grudem (ISBN 0977396800)

External links[]


  1. Timeline adapted from