Holy Bible

Millions of people believe that the Bible is the word of God. That it tells them who God is, and reveals his will for their lives. The Bible has influenced the famous, leaders and ordinary people who will never have books written about them.

It has affected the course of countries. Victor Hugo, French poet and novelist claimed:

England has two books; the Bible and Shakespeare. England made Shakespeare, but the Bible made England.

The English translations have also had a profound effect on our language, with many everyday phrases and quotes coming start from the Bible. For example:

English Versions

With the ready availability of the Bible in many different translations and editions, stocked in all bookshops or accessible online, few people realise that the first English translations caused outrage. The story of translating the Bible into English is one of clandestine activity, controversy, smuggling, politics, betrayal, and even murder.

John Wycliffe, an Oxford University scholar, and his followers, made the first English translation of the complete Bible in the late 14th century. The Established Church reacted quickly by banning it in 1409. Only the Latin Vulgate was allowed. Despite the ban, over 170 hand written copies still survive today.

In 1526 the first printed English New Testament was produced, with the complete Bible following shortly afterwards. This version was translated by William Tyndale, a gifted linguist who had studied at Oxford and Cambridge. He moved to the continent to have the freedom to work on an English translation, and gain access to the newly invented printing press. This version was banned in England. Tyndale was later betrayed and was condemned to death in 1536 in Antwerp on a charge of heresy, at the behest of Henry VIII.

Ironically, his translation formed the basis of subsequent official versions.

The Authorised Version (King James Version)

Holy Bible

King James wanted one single official version that would displace the Geneva Bible favoured by the Puritans and Calvinists. It was also to follow the episcopal structure of the Church of England when making decisions over translation. For example, using 'church' instead of 'congregation'; or 'Bishop' instead of 'overseer'.

James commissioned the new translation in 1604, and the task was completed in 1611. The work was carried out by a group of 47 scholars (all members of the Church of England), working from the Greek and Hebrew but making extensive reference to the previous English translations, drawing significantly on Tyndale's translation.

What’s in the Bible?

The Bible is not just a book but a library of 66 books, containing a wide range of very different literary styles, including: history, poetry, prophecy, letters, prayer, law. It was written over a period of more than 1,000 years by many different authors. These range from Kings, shepherds, a doctor, fishermen, among others. In most cases, these authors never knew or met each other.

These 66 books are arranged in two sections:

  • The Old Testament 39 books, from Genesis to Malachi. Written before birth of Jesus Christ, covering the history of Israel and looking forward to Christ. This is called the Tanakh by Jews. Written mostly in Hebrew, with a few short sections in Aramaic.
  • The New Testament 27 books, from Matthew to Revelation. Written after the birth of Jesus. Covers the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and the start of the Christian Church. Written in Koine (Common) Greek.

Read the Bible for yourself

Holy Bible

Don't just read about the Bible - open and read it for yourself. It has changed the lives of countless people. If could change your's!

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

First, choose a modern translation. While the Authorised Version (King James Version) has magnificent English, for most of us, it is difficult to follow. The English language has changed in the last 500 years.

Some good translations include the New International Version (NIV) and the Good News Bible (also called Today's English Version). The Message is a modern paraphrase. Use the links below to view different version.

But where do you start? Unlike most books, the Bible is a collections of different books, totalling over 1200 pages.

A good place to start is with the Gospel of Mark - the second book in the New Testament. Mark tells us what Jesus did and is written in a fast passed style (and is the shortest of the 4 Gospels). Next, read the Gospel of John, which tells what Jesus said. Following John is the Book of Acts which details the start of the early Church and the spread of the gospel throughout the Roman Empire.

In the Old Testament, start with Genesis, the first book. This tells about God creating the world, how mankind fell into sin, and the early history of the Israelites.

On-line Bibles

BibleGateway is an online searchable Bible with a wide selection of translations in English and many other languages. Not sure which English version to read? Try the New International Version - UK, for a translation using contemporary language with Anglicised spelling (this is near the end of the list of English translations).

It also includes other resources such as reading plans and commentaries which can assist in your reading and study.

United Bible Societies

The United Bible Societies also has a selection of Bible translations in English and some other languages. Although a smaller range than BibleGateway, in includes some versions such as popular Good News Bible (also called Today's English Version) that BibleGateway doesn't offer.

Bible Reading Aids


CWR publishes a comprehensive range of Bible reading notes includes Every Day with Jesus, Cover to Cover Every Day (a five-year Bible reading programme), Lucas on Life Every Day and Inspiring Women Every Day. They also cater for various age groups of younger readers with their publications Mettle, YP's and Topz.

Scripture Union

Scripture Union publishes a comprehensive range of daily Bible guides, both in print and in electronic formats.

Daily Bread, Closer to God and Encounter with God are the three titles designed for adults. Daily Bread and Encounter with God are also available in electronic format, and can be used on your desktop computer, laptop or PDA. Each issue covers three months.

The Word for Today

The Word For Today and Word 4U 2Day (contemporary language for youth) are free daily devotionals from by UCB that are available on-line, by email or in printed form.