A Brief Timeline of the English Bible

2,000-1.500 B.C. - Book of Job, possibly the oldest book, is written.

c. 1,405 B.C. - The Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament are written and compiled by Moses.

c. 1010 B.C. - David becomes King over Israel

722 B.C. - The ten Northern Tribes of Israel are deported to Assyria, and scattered throughout the empire.

605-536 B.C. -The southern nation of Judah is taken captive by the Babylonians, and were exiled to Babylon.

538 B.C. - The decree of Cyrus, King of Persia, is issued, allowing the Jews to return to Israel.

. 400 B.C. - The Book of Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament is written, and the canon of the Old Testament was considered closed by Jewish scholars.

285-247 B.C. -The Septuagint is translated. Also known as "LXX" (Roman numeral "seventy"). This Greek translation of the Old Testament was believed to have been translated from the Hebrew language by seventy (or seventy-two) Jewish scholars at Alexandria, Egypt.

4-6 A.D. - The birth of Jesus Christ.

33 A.D. - Traditional date of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

50-96 A.D. - The books of the New Testament are written as letters to the early Church.

70 A.D. - Jerusalem is captured by the Roman General Titus, and the Temple is destroyed.

397 A.D. - The Books of the New Testament are officially approved as canon (i.e. part of the Divinely inspired Bible) at the eighth council at Carthage.

405 A.D. - The Vulgate, a Latin translation, was translated by Eusibius Hieronymus, more commonly known as Jerome. The Old Testament of the Vulgate was translated from Hebrew, and the New Testament from Greek. This version of the Bible met with persecution by the established church, which preferred to continue to use the Septuagint. The Vulgate eventually became so highly esteemed that other translations were forbidden, and Latin became the official language of the Church.

1396 - The final revision of the Wycliffe Bible is completed 12 years after the death of John Wycliffe. The Wycliffe Bible was the first complete Bible to be translated into Middle English. Up until this point only the Latin Vulgate was available, which could only be read by the priests who were schooled in Latin. The church so strongly opposed the English translation that anyone caught reading or copying any translation other than the Vulgate was ordered to be burned as a heretic.

1450 - Johann Gutenburg invented the printing press. The first book that is printed is the Bible, with 200 copies on paper, and 30 on vellum.

1516 - Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus, commonly know as Erasmus, compiled and released the Greek New Testament, with a Latin Translation. About 3,300 copies were printed, making the original Greek New Testament generally available for the first time. This edition was used by Zwingli, Calvin, Luther, and Tyndale to translate the Bible into their own language.

1517 - Martin Luther wrote his Ninety-five Theses, and nailed them to the door of the Castle church in Wittenburg, paving the way for reformation in Germany.

1522 - Martin Luther printed his German New Testament, and 4 years later finished the Old Testament, causing the effects of the reformation to last for generations.

1526 - William Tyndale's illegal version of the English New Testament is smuggled into England, causing national unrest among the people who could now read the Bible for themselves. The King ordered burning of the Bibles, and persecuted anyone who possessed or distributed them.

1536 - William Tyndale was burned at the stake for his work of translating the Bible, and his efforts to defend the Reform.

1537 - The "Matthew Bible" was authorized by the King of England, though it was based on the Tyndale Bible, the King did not realize the connection.

1539-1541 - The "Great Bible," translated by Miles Coverdale, was printed. With the support ofThomas Cromwell, the Earl of Essex, a royal declaration commaded that a copy of this Bible should be in every church and parish, and made available to the general public.

1560 - The Geneva Bible was printed, with the assistance of John Calvin and John Knox, providing training for Reformed ministers from England.

1560 - With the help of John Knox, Scotland Legislature published a Protestant creed, which stood as the only Scottish creed for the next two centuries.

1568 - The Bishop's Bible was published, taken from the texts of the Geneva Bible, and the Great Bible. Sometimes it is referrred to as fourth revision of the Tyndale Bible. (The Great Bible being the second, and the Geneva Bible being the third.)

1611 - The "Authorized Version" also know as the King James Verison was printed, under King James VI. This version was mainly translated from the Bishop's Bible, the the Masoretic (Hebrew) text used for the questionable areas of the Old Testament, and the Greek text printed in Geneva in 1550 and onward for the New Testament.

1620 - The Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts.

1762 - The Cambridge edtition of the King James version was published.

1769 - The Oxford Bible changed the measurement of weights and coins, and became the latest version of the King James Bible.

1881 - The Revised Version was printed. It is estimated that 3 million copies were sold in America and England within the first year of publication.

1901 - The American Standard Version was published as an American version of the Revised Version.

1979 - The New King James Version was published, using the King James form as a base, but using Westcot and Hort's greek text, instead of the traditional Geneva text used in 1611.

1979-2001 - Many English Translations are published, which will not be addressed here. See the links page for publisher's information on Bible Versions.


Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, Walter A. Elwell, Baker Book House Company, Grand Rapids, MI 1996.

The Indestructible Book, Kenneth connolly, Baker Book House Company, Grand Rapids, MI 1996.

Reader's Digest: After Jesus, the Triumph of Christianity, Gayla Visalli, Reader's Digest Association, Inc. New York, Montreal 1992.