The original translation of the Bible was the Septuagint (known as the "LXX"), which was Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). It is the oldest version of the Bible extant today. This is the version of the Old Testament was used by Jesus and His followers, and few disputed interpretations in that Bible (such as the prophesy of a virgin birth of the Messiah) were carried over into the New Testament.
The second translation of the Scriptures was the Peshitta. In 36 A.D., both the Queen of Adiabene, known in Greek as Queen Helena (not the mother of Constantine) and known to the Jews as Queen ShlomZion ("Peace of Zion"), and her son King Ezad (Izates)were converted to Judaism. Queen Helena was buried in the grand tomb complex in East Jerusalem - formally thought to be the Tomb of the Kings. Her palace complex takes up the full half of the Hill of the City of David as reconstructered by Israeli archaeologist, Mikhael Avi-Yonah (reconstruction now in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem). Queen Helena's conversion, as well as others of the Kingdom, greatly furthered the already developing translation of the Hebrew Scriptures in her Kingdom's language - Aramaic. That developing (on up to 5th Cent. redactions) translation came to be known as the Peshitta - meaning simple or common speech, in much the same way as the Hebrew Bible would be translated into Latin by Jerome, with extensive help from a Rabbi,and the resultant translation would be called the Vulgate - meaning simple or common speech. The Peshitta, retaining elements of the then Jewish "targumic" (interpretive) and other Jewish understandings of the Hebrew Bible, is primarily based on the Pre-Masoretic Hebrew Scriptures - though certain books, such as the Prophet Isaiah,are translations primarily from the Septuagint (The Peshitta Book of Proverbs, however, and the Targum of Proverbs are almost identical). (A History of Christianity in Asia, Volume l, Samuel Hugh Moffett,orbis, 1998, pg. 70). See Targum for the early centuries Rabbinic interpretive literature and its application to both Old and New Testament studies. (The development of the Old Testament Peshitta translation is held by some to have taken place alternatively in Adiabene's nearby neighbor Edessa).
As Thomas and his followers went to India, others (possibly Adai (Thaddeus), the Galilean from Caesarea Phillipi among them) arrived in Adiabene, and having gone (probably to the synagogues first, as did the Apostle Paul), they found already, if not a populous, then an elite governmental element, conversant with the biblical message in Aramaic. From these people, hearing the preaching of the messengers from Israel ,came believers in Jesus Christ, and soon after, came the translation of the Greek New Testament Scriptures into Aramaic, and so the Peshitta was added to by inclusion of the New Testament in Aramaic. Unlike the Greek canon of the New Testament Scriptures, the Peshitta originally did not include the following books: the Second Epistle of Peter, the Second Epistle of John, the Third Epistle of John, the Epistle of Jude and the Book of Revelation. But these books translated into the Syriac (as Christian Aramaic is known) are part of the Peshitta now and used by the Aramaic based churches, primarily in India and the Middle East.
The Protestants rely primarily on the untranslated Masoretic Hebrew Texts, while the Greek Orthodox Church relies primarily on the Septuagint. The Septuagint fell into disuse among Jews for two reasons - 1. Greek speaking Christians were using the Septuagint in their efforts to bring Jews to faith in Jesus Christ 2. A number of the Apocryphal books were also apocalyptic, that is, focusing on the last days, the Kingdom of God in battle against the kingdoms of this world and the downfall of this world's empires. This was considered dangerous and liable to provoke Rome against the Jews. Alternative Greek translations to the Septuagint, the Septuagint being considered "loose", were adopted by the Rabbis. These were the translations of three proselytes to Judaism, Theodosius, Aquilas, and Symmachus. The Jewish Rabbinic "Council" of Jamnia (Yavneh on the Mediterraenian coast of Israel) in 90 A.D., under the leadership of Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai, effectively excluded the Apocraphal books (along with the Septuagint) from the Jewish Canon by requiring, for a book to be considered canonical, that it have been written in Hebrew (and Aramaic). Actually, a number of the apocryphal books, or portions thereof, had been written originally in Hebrew, most notably, the Book of Ben Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) found in Hebrew at Qumran with the rest of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but this was unknown to Yohanan Ben Zakkai and the Council of Jamnia in the first century. Under the impetus of Renaissance learning, Protestant scholars, now able to translate the Bible directly from the original languages of Hebrew and Greek, instead of having to go through the Latin Vulgate, went directly to the Hebrew text. But this was the Hebrew text (eventually to be called the "Massoretic text") of the canon of books that had been authorized by the Council of Jamnia. In this way, most Protestant churches came to not include the Apocryphal books in their Canon of Scripture.
There is no fully conservative translation of the Bible as of 2009. All modern translations avoid references to Hell and allow feminist ideology to change the meaning in key places (e.g., "sons of God" becomes "children of God," which has a very different connotation). The best modern versions are listed in chronological order below, with their shortcomings noted:
- King James Version (limited by arcane English as of 1611, before many new conservative terms developed; lacks quotation marks; losing popularity)
- New American Standard Bible (includes many passages of doubtful authenticity but uses notes and italics to mark such passages; becoming dated itself)
- New International Version (lowered to the 7th grade level with many unpublicized, liberal word changes, as in purging references to the unborn child)
- English Standard Version A revision of the scholarly Revised Standard Version that meets the objections of conservative Christains
- Holman Christian Standard Bible (has some unisex, gender-inclusive language, as in "fish for people" (Mt 4:19))
In addition, all of the above translations except the King James Version downplay the existence of Hell.
- Geneva Bible (the first full-length English translation of the Bible, and the one used by Puritans)
- King James Version (also known as the Authorised Version)
- Revised Standard Version
- New Revised Standard Version
- New International Version
- Today's New International Version
- New English Bible
- Amplified Bible
- Living Bible
- English Standard Version
- New American Standard Bible
- Confraternity Bible
- New American Bible
- New Jerusalem Bible
- Jerusalem Bible
- Good News Bible
- New King James Version
- New Living Translation
- Complete Bible - An American Translation
- Bible In Living English
- American Standard Version
- Holman Christian Standard Bible
- New Century Version
- The NET Bible
- The Lamsa Bible
- Common English Bible
Ease of reading
- Good News Bible: 9.9
- Holman Christian Bible: 10.0
- New International Version: 10.5
- English Standard Version: 11.7
- New American Standard Bible: 12.5
- King James Version: 13.5
- The NIV changed "from his mother's womb" to "from birth" (Luke 1:15), "cornerstone" to "capstone" in referencing Christ, and "Lucifer" to "morning star" in referencing Satan (Isaiah 14:12).
- A translation of the Bible from Ancient Eastern Manuscripts by scholar Dr. George M. Lamsa
- "Is the ESV the "easy-reading" bible translation?". Corrected here.
- Essay: The superiority of the King James Bible: Looking through!
- Analysis of the popularity of the major translations
- Listing, with book covers, of all the English translations with a brief description of each
- Disputed Biblical Translations
- Compare translations
- Translations compared on one page, verse by verse
- KJV searchable version
- Word Analysis of Bible
- Feminist Bible
- Many Bibles in pdf, including English Revised Version
- Superb Bible searching tool that includes the older Wycliffe and Tyndale Bibles