A Look Back at the Legacy of the English Bible

 

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Sacred Scriptures come from the fullness of the Spirit; so that there is nothing in the Prophets or the Law, or the Gospel, or the Epistles, which descends not from divine majesty—Origen

We have the privilege of not only having the Bible in print but now the Bible in an audio format as well.

Think back for a moment to the legacy of the English Bible which had its genesis in the writings of an Oxford theologian named John Wycliffe. He is fondly remembered as being the Morning Star of the Reformation. His translations were the only English Bible until the invention of movable type all the way back to the sixteenth-century. His work profoundly influenced the legacy of what we now possess in terms of an English Bible. He held that the Bible was the exemplar of Christianity and the authority for faith and practice.

As a result of translating the Bible into the English language, Tyndale was roundly condemned as a heretic because back then it was thought that putting Scripture into the hands of the laity was an outrage against the authority of the church. Forty-four years after Wycliffe died—he died back in 1384—Pope Martin V had his bones unearthed, incinerated, and then had the ashes unceremoniously thrown to the wind. But, the legacy of Wycliffe’s English Bible spread, and no single person after Wycliffe made a greater contribution to the legacy of the English Bible than an Oxford-Cambridge scholar. You probably remember his name: William Tyndale.

Tyndale defied the papacy and its traditions very much in the manner of Wycliffe. He wanted to make the Bible available to the commoner so that a boy who drives the plow—this was his sentiment—would be as familiar with the Scriptures as was the pope. Tyndale’s work became the basis for many translations culminating with the King James Version. Tyndale was tried for translating Bible into the English language. I mean that was thought to be an incredible outrage. He was martyred as a result on October 6, 1536. I will always remember that his body ablaze he cries out, “Lord, open the eyes of England’s king.” This is memorable because the prayer finds an answer in King Henry VIII.

Henry VIII authorized an English translation of the greatest volume to be chained to every church pulpit in the land. It is called the Authorized English translation or the Great Bible due to its volume and size.

The Bible was now available to the masses but the problem that many found is that the Bible by the masses was quickly turned into a wax nose because they did not know how to read the Bible in the sense in which it was intended. One of the core values of the Christian Research Institute is not only to get you into the Word of God and get the Word of God into you but to get you conversant with the art and science of biblical interpretation. We have resources available for that. I teach that very discipline in the second half of my book Has God Spoken?

—Hank Hanegraaff

This blog adapted from the January 6, 2017 Bible Answer Man broadcast.

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