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What Bible Did Jesus Use?

Henry Harbuck speaking in 2010.

The ministerial test, administered as a prerequisite for ministerial credentials with our Fellowship, has alerted us that many ministers possess limited knowledge of Bible translations. For example, in the multiple choice section of the test, ministerial applicants are asked to select “From which version of the Bible did Jesus quote?” Believe it or not, eighty-five percent answer that Jesus quoted from the King James Version. And while many jokes have been made about this issue among American ministers, our test results prove this error to be a reality – among both laity and clergy.

As a response to this trend, I will address an issue seldom discussed or understood – English Bible Versions. My purpose is not to find fault, should you prefer a favorite version, but rather to enlighten you regarding the different kinds of translations and versions currently available.

For example, while more than fifty Bible versions were produced during the twentieth century, only the more outstanding ones shall be discussed. And although numerous versions have been produced in the past four hundred years, the KJV remains popular in the U.S., while the NIV enjoys more popularity worldwide.

The word for book in the Greek is biblos. However, in theological thought today, biblos usually refers to the Bible, not to the Septuagint (LXX), the version from which Jesus likely quoted. There is no question that the Septuagint was the most important early Greek translation of the Old Testament, there being no New Testament at that time. The Septuagint was developed at Alexandria, Egypt in 200 B.C. It was the preferred translation of the early Church and was responsible for the acceptance of the Apocrypha (considered spurious or false books by Protestants), which was later used by the Roman Catholic Church in their church dogma.

Most of the following information comes directly from a textbook used by Omega Seminary entitled, A Brief History of English Bible Translations by Laurence M. Vance, copyrighted in 1993, and published by Vance Publications, Pensacola, Florida.

Latin Vulgate - The first English Bibles were translated from this Latin version – not from the Hebrew and Greek. The word Vulgate is from the root word vulgar, which refers to the common language of the people. The Latin Vulgate was developed by the Catholic Saint, Jerome (A. D. 346-420), and remains the official version of the Roman Catholic Church today.

The Wycliffe Bible - Produced by John Wycliffe (1320-1384), it was the first English translation of the entire Bible.

The Greek New Testament - Although this version underwent many revisions, Desiderius Erasmus (1469-1536) is credited for this popular translation. The first edition appeared in 1516. The second edition, published in 1519, was the edition used by Martin Luther (1483-1546) for his German translation.

The Tyndale Bible - This Bible was translated by William Tyndale (1494-1536) of England. He was the first person to translate the New Testament from Greek into English.

The Coverdale Bible - Myles Coverdale (1488-1569) is credited with translating from the original languages the first complete English Bible (1535). Like Tyndale, he was forced to flee England to preserve his life.

The Great Bible - The “Great Bible” was the first “authorized” Bible. The work was done by Myles Coverdale and released in 1538, at the direction of Thomas Cromwell. Because of Cromwell’s influence concerning this Bible, it has often been called the Cromwell Bible.

The Geneva Bible - Published at Geneva, this version was produced by several great scholars using the editions of Stephanus and Beza. Stephanus was the first translator to show the present verse divisions in both the Bishops Bible, and not a new translation, as some believe.

The King James Bible - Meeting together at the Hampton Court, fifty-four men were nominated to produce this Bible, although only forty-seven were actually known to have taken part in the translation. Even up to the current time, no other Bible version in history has paralleled the popularity and celebrated eminent position of the KJV (King James Version).

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Category: Biblical Studies, Winter 2015

About the Author: Henry A. Harbuck, Ph.D., Th.D., is General Overseer and President of AEGA Ministries International. He is an author, pastor, conference speaker, educator, and certified naturopathic physician. Seeing the need for truth and accountability in Christian leadership, he co-founded the Association of Evangelical Gospel Assemblies in 1988 as a fellowship that would provide spiritual and legal covering for independent ministers, ministries and churches. The AEGA now has members in 50 countries and networks in over 65 nations around the world. Dr. Harbuck completed a study aide in 2023 entitledThe New Millennia In-Depth Bible.

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