Bible translations into English

English Bible translations

Partial Bible translations into languages of the English people can be traced back to the late 7th century, including translations into Old and Middle English. More than 450 translations into English have been written.

The New Revised Standard Version is the version most commonly preferred by biblical scholars.[1] In the United States, 55% of survey respondents who read the Bible reported using the King James Version in 2014, followed by 19% for the New International Version, with other versions used by fewer than 10%.[2]

Old English

Although John Wycliffe is often credited with the first translation of the Bible into English, there were in fact many translations of large parts of the Bible centuries before Wycliffe's work. Parts of the Bible were first translated from the Latin Vulgate into Old English by a few select monks and scholars. Such translations were generally in the form of prose or as interlinear glosses (literal translations above the Latin words).[3]

Very few complete translations existed during that time. Most of the books of the Bible existed separately and were read as individual texts. Thus the sense of the Bible as history that often exists today did not exist at that time. Instead, an allegorical rendering of the Bible was more common and translations of the Bible often included the writer’s own commentary on passages in addition to the literal translation.[3]

Toward the end of the 7th century, the Venerable Bede began a translation of scripture into Old English. Aldhelm (c. 639–709) translated the complete Book of Psalms and large portions of other scriptures into Old English.[3]

In the 10th century an Old English translation of the Gospels was made in the Lindisfarne Gospels: a word-for-word gloss inserted between the lines of the Latin text by Aldred, Provost of Chester-le-Street.[4] This is the oldest extant translation of the Gospels into the English language.[4]

The Wessex Gospels (also known as the West-Saxon Gospels) are a full translation of the four gospels into a West Saxon dialect of Old English. Produced in approximately 990, they are the first translation of all four gospels into English without the Latin text.[3]

In the 11th century, Abbot Ælfric translated much of the Old Testament into Old English. The Old English Hexateuch is an illuminated manuscript of the first six books of the Old Testament (the Hexateuch).

Another copy of that text, without lavish illustrations but including a translation of the Book of Judges (hence also called the Old English Heptateuch), is found in Oxford, Bodleian Library, Laud Misc. 509.[3]