CHRISTIANITY IS THE RELIGION OF THE INCARNATE WORD, JESUS CHRIST, AND OF THE WRITTEN WORD, THE BIBLE. Wherever Christianity has gone, it has developed translations of Scripture as a necessity. The promise of Pentecost, where people of various origin heard of “the wonders of God in their own tongues” (Acts 2:11), has been fulfilled and continues to be increasingly fulfilled in the process of Bible translation. The whole Bible, or portions thereof, is now available in print in more than 2,000 languages.
In the British Isles, turbulent times accompanied the work of translating Scripture, but the first written translation of the whole Bible was made under the influence of John Wycliffe (c. 1330–1384). Even though it had to be copied by hand, and in spite of a prohibition against English translations, there are still some two hundred manuscripts of it extant.
The first published text was William Tyndale’s translation of the New Testament (1526), based on the Greek and Hebrew texts, in Worms, Germany. He had completed the translation of the Pentateuch, Jonah, and Joshua-2 Chronicles before being martyred in 1536.