Bible Overview – Part 1

2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,  (17)  that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

It has always been the plan of God for He and His Word to dwell in and among His people.

Exodus 29:45-46 NKJV  I will dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God.  (46)  And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them up out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.

Revelation 7:9-10, 15 NKJV  After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands,  (10)  and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them.

Isaiah 55:10-11 NKJV  “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater,  (11)  So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

How We Got Our Bible: Christian History Timeline by Philip W Comfort:


  • 1400–400 B.C. Books of the Hebrew Old Testament written
  • 250–200 B.C. The Septuagint, a popular Greek translation of the Old Testament, produced
  • A.D. 45–85? Books of the Greek New Testament written
  • 90 and 118 Councils of Jamnia give final affirmation to the Old Testament canon (39 books)
  • 140-150 Marcion’s heretical “New Testament” incites orthodox Christians to establish a NT canon (dualistic view of God)
  • 303-306 Diocletian’s persecution includes confiscating and destroying New Testament Scriptures
  • 317 Constantine – first Christian Emperor of Rome issues the edict of Milan allowing the freedom of religion and release of property confiscated under the Diocletian persecution.
  • 305-310 Lucian of Antioch’s Greek New Testament text; becomes a foundation for later Bibles
  • 367 Athanasius’s Festal Letter lists complete New Testament canon (27 books) for the first time
  • 381 Christianity made state religion of Roman Empire by Emperor Theodosis
  • 397 Council of Carthage establishes orthodox New Testament canon (27 books)
  • 400 Jerome the priest translates the Bible into Latin; this “Vulgate” becomes standard of medieval church


  • 650 Caedmon, a monk, puts Bible books into verse
  • 735 Historian Bede translates the Gospels
  • 871-899 King Alfred the Great translates the Psalms and 10 Commandments
  • 950 The 7th-century Lindisfarne Gospels receive English translation
  • 955-1020 Aelfric translates various Bible books
  • 1300 Invention of eyeglasses aids copying
  • 1325 Both Richard Rolle and William Shoreham translate psalms into metrical verse
  • 1380-1382 John Wycliffe and associates make first translation of the whole Bible into English
  • 1388 John Purvey revises Wycliffe Bible
  • 1455 Gutenberg’s Latin Bible—first from press

Martin Luther – Born 1483, originally going to be a lawyer, member of the Catholic Church. He rebels against plans of his father and becomes a monk.

He struggled to understand his own relationship with God and how to obtain purity and right-ness with God. At that time the Catholic Church has a practice of indulgences. This is where you can make a withdrawal on the treasury of merits and graces of saints that have gone before and purchase and receive them for yourself. You could not only purchase these for yourself or your loved ones, you could purchase them for loved ones that have already died and also to cover your sins not yet committed. Luther writes a 95 point thesis on why this is wrong titled, “Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences,” also known as “The 95 Theses,” and nails it to the door of the Church at the Whittenburg Castle. This causes Pope Leo to issue a decree labeling Luther a heretic and offering him the opportunity to repent and recant his thesis. He refuses and ends up getting kicked out of the church. In exile, he then translates the New Testament into German. This “rebellion” is what started the Protestant Reformation and eventually the Protestant wing of Christianity.

Martin Luther died in 1546. 


  • 1516 Erasmus’s Greek New Testament, forerunner to the Textus Receptus used by KJV translators
  • 1525 William Tyndale makes the first translation of the New Testament from Greek into English
  • 1536 Tyndale strangled and burned
  • 1537 Miles Coverdale’s Bible completes Tyndale’s work on the Old Testament
  • 1538 Great Bible, assembled by John Rogers, the first English Bible authorized for public use
  • 1560 Geneva Bible—the work of William Whittingham, a Protestant English exile in Geneva
  • 1568 Bishop’s Bible—a revision of the Great Bible
  • 1582 Rheims New Testament published
  • 1607-1611 King James Version, the “Authorized Version,” is made

Dr. Philip W. Comfort is visiting professor of New Testament at Wheaton College and author of The Quest for the Original Text of the New Testament (Baker, 1992).

Copyright © 1994 by the author or Christianity Today

Interesting to note, the Industrial Revolution began in the mid 1700’s, about 100 years after the Bible was translated into languages that ordinary people could understand. From that time until now, technology has exploded and is only accelerating at record speed.

Daniel 12:4 NKJV  “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” 

Revelation from God’s Word is directly associated with the prosperity of a society as a whole.

Proverbs 29:18 NKJV  Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law.

The Soviets, Chinese and other communist or socialist nations copied technologies of other nations because of a lack of creativity because they do not allow the Word of God to flow into their nations. 

Languages of the Bible

Obviously, the Bible was not originally written in English, Italian or any modern language. The Old Testament was written primarily in Hebrew with small parts being written in Aramaic. However, while Jesus most likely spoke Aramaic, the New Testament was originally written in Greek. Thus, all modern Bibles are translations of the original languages.

Methods of Translation

  1. Literal translation. Attempts to keep the exact words and phrases of the original. It is faithful to the original text, but sometimes hard to understand. Keeps a constant historical distance. Examples: King James Version (KJV), New American Standard Bible (NASB).
  1. Dynamic equivalent (thought for thought) translation. Attempts to keep a constant historical distance with regard to history and facts, but updates the writing style and grammar. Examples: New International Version (NIV), Revised English Bible (REB).
  1. Free translation (paraphrase). Translates the ideas from the original text but without being constrained by the original words or language. Seeks to eliminate historical distance. Readable, but possibly not precise. Examples: The Living Bible (TLB), The Message. 

Types of Bibles

Most translations are available in several different types of Bible.

Here are just a few of the many different kinds of Bibles.

  1. Text only. Minimal footnotes.
  2. Study Bible. Such Bibles usually have extensive footnotes and explanatory notes next to the columns of text. They may also have extensive cross references, a narrative commentary, and maps. (Some also have a cyclopedic index and/or a concordance—see Reference Bible.)
  3. Reference Bible. Usually has a cyclopedic index (like an encyclopedia with a reference to the verse where the word or thought is used), a concordance (like a dictionary of common words with examples of their usage and verse references for each example), and maps.
  4. “Place in Life” Bible. Has meditations and thoughts about issues of concern to people at a particular stage in life. There are versions of these Bibles aimed at men, women, sports players, recovering addicts, new believers, converted Jews, small group members, and many others.
  5. One-Year Bibles. Divided into 365 readings for each day of the year, usually with each having a portion of the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs.
  6. Chronological Bible. Entire Bible in one continuous story with narration to cover gaps and make everything flow. The four gospels are harmonized into one, for example, and the writings of the prophets are placed in the proper historical place in the books of history.
  7. Pastor’s Bible. Includes protocol outlines and recommended verses for hospital visits, weddings, funerals, and other events. Often has answers to frequently asked questions.
  8. Children’s Bible. Usually includes color drawings, maps, and simplified stories.
  9. Parallel Bible. Has from two to eight translations side by side.
  10. Other Specialty Bibles. The Serendipity Bible, The Quest, Key Word Bible, Leadership Bible, Hebrew-Greek Keyword Bible, “Here’s Hope” Bible, Serenity Bible, and many others.

What are some tools that every student of the Bible should have:

  • Concordance – cross referencing verses in the Bible
  • Bible Dictionary – dictionary of words from the original text
  • Bible Background Commentary – to help with context, understand the context in which it was written
  • Chain Referencing Bible
  • English Dictionary – such as Webster’s, etc
  • Interlinear Bible – Original language with translation below for reference on words in the original
  • Maps
  • Study Bible – has more in-depth information on topics.

Many of these tools are now available in digital format through Bible software packages or online for free.