References and Other Resources
One of the best places to get information about a specific Bible is from its Preface. A lot of the material about specific Bibles listed in this guide was gleaned from the Prefaces of the Bibles discussed. The following annotated list includes other references consulted and helpful resources for people who are eager to learn more about the Bible and its many translations.
Baker Publishing Group
Baker Publishing Group produces the God's Word translation. Although this essay is biased toward the translator choices that were used to create that specific version of the scriptures, it offers an interesting look at some of the challenges. Additionally, it includes examples from other translations that illustrate potential problems.
The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, © 2011.
Beal begins his account of the Bible's story with information about his own experiences related to the innovative ways in which scriptures are presented to young and specialized audiences. He explains that Bible publishers often encounter tensions between the dual motives of evangelism and commercialism, and then he goes on to show that this dilemma is not unique to the current age. Along the way he broaches the questions of what the Bible is, where it came from, why it is frequently misunderstood, and how the future of biblical scholarship may unfold.
The BibleGateway website provides information and tools for reading the Bible or researching Biblical text in many different translations—including more than thirty in English. Clicking on the "Available Versions" link opens an ever-growing list of translations in more than 60 languages, all of which can be accessed free of charge. Other tools offered include links to reading plans, commentaries, devotionals, and a blog.
BibleStudyTools provides devotionals, study guides, articles, and other resources to Christians who want to learn more about the Bible and their relationship with Jesus Christ. Under the "Library" tab, the website offers access to the text of more than thirty different translations, including the most popular modern English translations, some older, historically important translations, and translations in Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.
Wide As the Waters: The Story of the English Bible and the Revolution It Inspired. Penguin, © 2002.
Bobrick recounts the interrelationship between ecclesiastical goals and political power during a turbulent stage in British history. He narrates events and tells about the personalities that came together to culminate in the making an authorized translation of the Bible into the English language.
Brake, Donald L.
A Visual History of the English Bible. Baker Books, © 2008.
This book discusses the struggles of the people who originally sought to translate the Bible into the common language of the people in England. After a brief introduction discussing the production and copying of ancient manuscripts, Brake turns his attention to John Wycliffe, a man credited with being the first to begin translating the text of the Bible into English. Subsequent chapters describe the tumultuous centuries that passed as pioneering efforts and new technologies eventually opened the way for the production of an officially sanctioned translation, the King James Version. From that momentous occasion, Brake continues the story of Bible translation through the discovery of additional ancient sources and modern changes in the English language itself.
History of the Bible in English: From the Earliest Versions. Oxford University Press, © 1978.
Beginning with the story of the Bible's first expressions in the British Isles, centuries before the language currently known as English emerged, this book traces the development of Bibles in Britain. It tells the stories of the personalities and the powers that struggled to bring the Holy Scriptures to the English people in their own tongue. It discusses the contributions made by Wycliffe, Tyndale, Coverdale, and many others in the centuries that led up to the development of the King James Version (Authorized Version). It also discusses the process of Bible revision and many of the significant new editions that have been developed during the centuries since the original KJV was published.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library
This online digital library, hosted by Calvin College, includes the writings of many well-known Christian authors from ages past, including St. Augustine, Meister Eckhart, Thomas à Kempis, and Watchman Nee. It also offers tools for Bible study, including the text of several translations which can be viewed along with text from classic commentaries, sermons, and other related resources.
Fee, Gordon D. and Mark L. Strauss
How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth. Zondervan, © 2007.
The authors of this guide explain the process of Bible translation and the types of challenges related to issues such as figurative language, cultural and gender issues, and stylistic concerns. Fee and Strauss are both members of the Committee on Bible Translation, which is responsible for the New International Version (also published by Zondervan). Occasionally they lapse into an advocacy role for their own biases; nevertheless, this book provides a good explanation of the translator's task.
Kenyon, Frederic G.
Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts. Harper, © 1958. Revised edition updated by A.W. Adams, printed in 1965.
Kenyon begins this book with an explanation regarding ancient manuscripts and the techniques used by scribes to write them. He explains how the copying process was used to preserve and distribute sacred texts, and he describes the types of errors that could account for some resulting textual variations. The book presents information about the documents used as authoritative witnesses to the biblical text and how these documents have been viewed by translators in making various versions of the Bible. Nearly 50 illustrations depict ancient writings, manuscript fragments, and some historically significant printed Bibles.
Johnson, Luke Timothy
The Story of the Bible, a video series. The Great Courses, © 2006.
In a series of 24 lectures, Luke Timothy Johnson, a professor and former Benedictine monk, explains the process by which ancient writings were selected and assembled to create the Bible.
Marlowe, Michael D.
Marlowe, a writer and editor who received an MA from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, compiled the information available through this website to help others learn more about the Bible. It includes articles about textual criticism, the development of the Biblical canon, and facts about English versions of the Bible from the earliest Anglo-Saxon versions through those published in the early 21st century.
Metzger, Bruce M.
The Bible in Translation: Ancient and English Versions. Baker Academic, © 2001.
This succinct volume describes the historical sequence of translating scriptures. Its first section offers an account of ancient writings, such as the Septuagint and versions of the Old and New Testament in Syriac and Latin languages. The rest of the book explains versions in English beginning with translations that preceded the King James Version. It includes a discussion of early English translations, the process of updating translations in modern times, and the development of easy-to-read versions and paraphrases.
Metzger, Bruce M.
A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition. Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft/German Bible Society, © 1994.
This volume is described as "A Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament (Fourth Revised Edition)." It contains an introduction that summarizes the various families of biblical manuscripts and the types of issues translators face in determining which witness to a particular text is likely to be the most authentic. The bulk of the volume contains commentary regarding the text presented in the accompanying Greek New Testament.
The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha
Oxford University Press, © 1977.
This study bible is based on the text of the Revised Standard Version (RSV) with the Apocrypha (biblical text © 1946, 1952, 1957, 1971, and 1977 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America). In addition to textual notes, this Bible features supplementary articles by Bruce M. Metzger, Herbert G. May, and others that discuss the Bible's compilation and translation history (especially with respect to the English language). It also provides details about canonical differences among the major streams of contemporary Christianity, and it offers facts about each of the books and major divisions within the Bible. Other editions of this work that incorporate text from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) are also available.