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by Wayne Blank
English Language Translations
The first complete English translation may have been done by John Wycliffe and his supporters in England in the late 1300's. Wycliffe's teaching that the Scriptures, the Word of God, was the supreme authority above the word of any human religious leader resulted in him being labeled as a heretic by Roman Catholic Church authorities. Pope Gregory XI demanded his arrest in 1377, an order that was ignored by the English authorities.
Another Englishman, William Tyndale, produced translations of the Bible into English around 1530, and like Wycliffe, Tyndale was condemned as a heretic for teaching the primacy of the Word of God above that of any pompous human who blasphemously claimed the Divine title of The Holy Father to himself. Tyndale was not as fortunate as Wycliffe however. After years of persecution, and actually living on the run, William Tyndale was burned at the stake by Roman Catholic Church authorities after being arrested in Belgium.
Despite the opposition, or perhaps because of it, other translations followed Tyndale, some of which were based on his work: the Coverdale Version of 1535, the Matthew's Bible of 1537, the Great Bible of 1539, the Geneva Bible of 1560, and the Bishop's Bible of 1572.
After Britain's break with the Roman Catholic Church came the King James Bible. The Authorized Version, as it is sometimes called, was prepared and written by a committee of scholars and churchmen led by Lancelot Andrewes in the time of King James I of England, Scotland and Ireland (reigned 1603-1625). Originally commissioned at the Hampton Court Conference in 1604, it was not completed until 1610/1611. It has served many generations of Christians for nearly 400 years, and continues to be a strong and generally reliable favorite.
In the late 19th century, the Revised Version (RV), a revision of the King James Version, was produced in Britain, and shortly after, the American Standard Version (ASV), also a revision of the King James Version, was produced in the United States. Although the RV and ASV were widely used, the King James remained the leading English-language Bible translation.
In the 20th century, many new translations became available that were written in easier to understand modern English (the King James was also written in "modern English" - as spoken by the translators of 1610). Among the better ones are the James Moffat Bible of 1913-1924, the Revised Standard Version (RSV) of 1952 (a revision of the American Standard Version, the RSV is now used as the primary reference Bible for Daily Bible Study, which may indicate how the author would answer the question, "Which Bible translation do you think is the best overall?"), the New American Standard Bible (NASB) of 1971, the New International Version (NIV) of 1978, the New King James Version (NKJV) of 1982, and the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of 1990.