The Bible​—Why So Many?

Why are there so many different versions or translations of the Bible today? Do you view new versions as a help or a hindrance to Bible understanding? Learning about their origins can help you to assess them wisely.

First, though, who originally wrote the Bible, and when?


The Bible is normally divided into two sections. The first section has 39 books containing “sacred pronouncements of God.” (Romans 3:2) God inspired faithful men to write these books over a long period of time​—about 1,100 years from 1513 B.C.E. to sometime after 443 B.C.E. They wrote mostly in Hebrew, so we call this section the Hebrew Scriptures, also known as the Old Testament.

The second section has 27 books that are also “the word of God.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13) God inspired faithful disciples of Jesus Christ to write these books over a much shorter time​—about 60 years from about 41 C.E. to 98 C.E. They wrote mostly in Greek, so we call this section the Christian Greek Scriptures, also known as the New Testament.

Together these 66 inspired books make up the complete Bible​—God’s message for mankind. But why were additional translations of the Bible made? Here are three of the basic reasons.

  • To allow people to read the Bible in their mother tongue.
  • To remove errors made by copyists and thus restore the Bible’s original text.
  • To update archaic language.

Consider how these factors were involved in two early translations.


About 300 years before Jesus’ day, Jewish scholars began to translate the Hebrew Scriptures into another language​—Greek. This translation became known as the Greek Septuagint. Why was it made? To help the many Jews who by then spoke Greek rather than Hebrew to stay close to their “holy writings.”​—2 Timothy 3:15.

The Septuagint also helped millions of non-Jewish, Greek-speaking people to get to know what the Bible taught. How? “From the middle of the first century,” says Professor W. F. Howard, “it became the Bible of the Christian Church, whose missionaries went from synagogue to synagogue ‘proving from the scriptures that the Messiah was Jesus.’” (Acts 17:3, 4; 20:20) That was one reason why many Jews soon “lost interest in the Septuagint,” according to Bible scholar F. F. Bruce.

As Jesus’ disciples progressively received the books of the Christian Greek Scriptures, they put them together with the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, and that came to be the complete Bible that we have today.


About 300 years after the Bible was completed, religious scholar Jerome produced a Latin translation of the Bible, which eventually came to be the Latin Vulgate. Latin translations in various forms already existed, so why was a new one needed? Jerome wanted to correct “wrong renderings, obvious errors, and unwarranted additions and omissions,” says The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

Jerome corrected many of those errors. But in time, church authorities committed the greatest disservice of all! They declared the Latin Vulgate to be the only approved translation of the Bible and continued to do so for centuries! Instead of helping ordinary people to understand the Bible, the Vulgate made it a closed book because eventually most people knew no Latin at all.


In the meantime, people continued to make other translations of the Bible​—such as the famous Syriac Peshitta by about the fifth century C.E. But it was not until the 14th century that renewed efforts were made to give many ordinary people the Scriptures in the vernacular.

In England in the late 14th century, John Wycliffe began the process of breaking free from the clutches of a dead language by producing the Bible in English, a language that people in his land could actually understand. Soon after that, Johannes Gutenberg’s printing methods opened the way for Bible scholars to produce and distribute new versions of the Bible in many different living languages throughout Europe.

When English translations multiplied, critics questioned the need to make different versions in the same language. The 18th-century English cleric John Lewis wrote: “Language grows old and unintelligible, therefore it’s necessary to review old Translations to make them speak the Language in use, and be understood by the living generation.”

Today, Bible scholars are in a better position than ever to review older translations. They have a much clearer understanding of ancient Bible languages, and they have valuable ancient Bible manuscripts that have been found in recent times. These help to establish more accurately the original text of the Bible.

So there is real value in new Bible versions. Of course, there is need for caution regarding some of them. * But if the revisers have been moved by a genuine love of God in making a new Bible version, their work can be of great benefit to us.


The divine name in a Septuagint manuscript fragment from Jesus’ day
The divine name in a Septuagint manuscript fragment from Jesus’ day

The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures uses God’s sacred name Jehovah in the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Greek Scriptures. Most modern English Bibles do not. They use “Lord” instead. One reason for doing this, some translators say, is that God’s personal name, represented by the Tetragrammaton (YHWH), never appeared in the Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. But is that true?

In the mid-20th century, some very old fragments of the Septuagint that existed in Jesus’ day were found. They contain God’s sacred name written in Hebrew characters. It seems that later, copyists removed the divine name and substituted Kyʹri·os​—the Greek word for “Lord”—​in its place. The New World Translation restores the divine name to its rightful places in the Scriptures.


A Dead Sea Isaiah Scroll
A 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Isaiah Scroll. It matches closely what is in the Bible today

Bible copyists, of course, made mistakes. But none of those mistakes corrupted the Bible. “No fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith rests on a disputed reading.”​—Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts.

Jewish copyists made the fewest mistakes. “The Jewish scribes of the early Christian centuries copied and recopied the text of the Hebrew Bible with the utmost fidelity.”​—Second Thoughts on the Dead Sea Scrolls.

For example, a scroll of Isaiah found among the Dead Sea Scrolls is 1,000 years older than the previously available texts. How does it compare with the text we have today? “Very occasionally, the odd word is added or subtracted.”​—The Book. A History of the Bible.

Mistakes​—such as transposed letters, words, or phrases—​made by less meticulous copyists are now easily identified and corrected. “There is no body of ancient literature in the world which enjoys such a wealth of good textual attestation as the New Testament.”​—The Books and the Parchments.

“Anxious believers can be enormously reassured by the almost exact similarity between even the earliest of the biblical papyri from Egypt and the text as it has survived during its descent through countless scriptoria and printing shops of Europe.”​—The Book. A History of the Bible.

So, has the Bible been corrupted? Emphatically, no!

167 thoughts on “The Bible​—Why So Many?

  1. Have you ever thought about including a little bit more than just your articles?
    I mean, what you say is important and all. However just imagine if you added some
    great graphics or video clips to give your posts more, “pop”!
    Your content is excellent but with images and video clips, this site could certainly be one of the most beneficial in its
    niche. Excellent blog!

  2. Hey There. I found your blog the use of msn. That is a really neatly written article.
    I’ll be sure to bookmark it and return to learn extra of your useful info.
    Thanks for the post. I’ll certainly return.

  3. Just want to say your article is as astounding.

    The clearness in your put up is just cool and that
    i can assume you are an expert on this subject. Well together with your permission allow me to seize your feed to stay up to date with imminent post.
    Thanks a million and please carry on the enjoyable work.

  4. Hmm it looks like your blog ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll
    just sum it up what I submitted and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to
    the whole thing. Do you have any tips and hints for first-time blog writers?
    I’d definitely appreciate it.

  5. I’m pretty pleased to uncover this great site. I wanted to thank you for your
    time for this particularly wonderful read!! I definitely appreciated every
    little bit of it and i also have you saved to fav to look at new
    things on your blog.

  6. Wonderful beat ! I would like to apprentice at the same time as you amend your website, how could i subscribe for a blog website?
    The account aided me a acceptable deal. I were tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast
    provided bright transparent concept

  7. Does your site have a contact page? I’m having problems locating it but, I’d like to shoot you an email.
    I’ve got some recommendations for your blog you might be interested in hearing.
    Either way, great website and I look forward to seeing
    it grow over time.

  8. My partner and I absolutely love your blog and find almost all of your post’s to be just
    what I’m looking for. Does one offer guest writers to write content for yourself?
    I wouldn’t mind publishing a post or elaborating on a number of the subjects you write concerning here.

    Again, awesome site!

  9. 522370 828884surely like your internet web site but you need to have to check the spelling on several of your posts. Several of them are rife with spelling issues and I locate it quite troublesome to tell the truth nevertheless I will certainly come back once again. 390076

  10. 85310 68355Nicely picked details, a lot of thanks towards the author. Its incomprehensive in my experience at present, even so in common, the convenience and importance is mind-boggling. Regards and all the very best .. 421945

  11. 163841 330367Howdy! I just want to give an enormous thumbs up for the fantastic info you might have here on this post. I will likely be coming back to your weblog for a lot more soon. 266244

  12. 387521 638333Im so pleased to read this. This is the kind of manual that needs to be given and not the accidental misinformation thats at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this greatest doc. 196331

  13. 984043 506677This style is steller! You undoubtedly know how to maintain a reader entertained. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almostHaHa!) Great job. I genuinely enjoyed what you had to say, and much more than that, how you presented it. Too cool! 745808

  14. 447524 939423Aw, i thought this was quite a good post. In concept I would like to devote writing such as this moreover – spending time and actual effort to produce an excellent article but exactly what do I say I procrastinate alot by no means manage to get something done. 218667

  15. 384718 527268Aw, i thought this was quite a excellent post. In concept I would like to devote writing such as this moreover – spending time and actual effort to produce a terrific article but exactly what do I say I procrastinate alot by no indicates manage to get something done. 947841

  16. 906046 620936whoah this weblog is magnificent i love reading your posts. Maintain up the fantastic work! You know, lots of people are searching about for this information, you can support them greatly. 527600

  17. 888177 2593This really is a very exciting post, Im looking for this know how. So you understand I established your internet web site when I was searching for sites like my own, so please look at my web web site someday and post me a opinion to let me know how you feel. 858120

  18. Hey! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after browsing through some of the post I realized it’s new to me.Nonetheless, I’m definitely delighted I found it and I’ll be bookmarking andchecking back frequently!

  19. whoah this blog is great i love reading your articles. Keep up the good work! You know, lots of people are hunting around for this information, you could aid them greatly.

  20. Hey! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after reading through some of the post I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m definitely happy I found it and I’ll be bookmarking and checking back often!

  21. You can certainly see your skills within the paintings you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to mention how they believe. At all times go after your heart.

  22. Links Coi Thẳng đá Bóng Futsal Việt Nam Vs Lebanon Vòng Loại World Cuptruc tiep kenoNếu cứ nghịch như cách vừa tiêu diệt Everton cho tới 3-1 bên trên Sảnh quý khách hàng

  23. I do not even know the way I stopped up right here,however I thought this put up used to be good. I don’t recognisewho you might be but definitely you’re going to a well-known blogger in the eventyou are not already. Cheers!

  24. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Regardless, just wanted to say fantastic blog!

  25. A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment.I think that you should write more about this subject, it might not be a taboo matter but usually people do not speak about these subjects.To the next! Best wishes!!

  26. Thank you for the good writeup. It if truth be told was once a leisure account it. Glance complex to far delivered agreeable from you! By the way, how could we keep up a correspondence? cbd for sale cbd oil for sale

  27. A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment. I think that you should write more on this issue, it may not be a taboo subject but usually people do not discuss these subjects. To the next! Best wishes!!

  28. Nice post. I was checking continuously this blog and I’m impressed! Very useful info specifically the last part 🙂 I care for such information a lot. I was looking for this certain information for a long time. Thank you and good luck.

  29. Hello! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a group of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us beneficial information to work on. You have done a outstanding job!

  30. I am not sure where you’re getting your information, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more. Thanks for great info I was looking for this information for my mission.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *