I would like give a small perspective from where we’ve come from since the 16th century. The English Bible had it’s genesis in the writings of Oxford theologian John Wycliffe. He was remembered as the Morningstar of the Reformation and his translation from the 1380’s remained the only English Bible until the invention of moveable type in the 16th century. He held that the Bible was the exemplar of Christianity and the sole authority for faith and practice. So his writings were condemned as heresy. To put the Bible into the hands of the laity was an outrage against the authority of the church. In fact forty-four years after Wycliffe died Pope Martin V had his bones unearthed, incinerated, and the ashes unceremoniously thrown to the wind.
Perhaps no single person made a greater contribution to the legacy of the English Bible than Oxford and Cambridge scholar William Tyndale. Like Wycliffe, Tyndale purposed to make the Bible available to the commoner so that a boy who drives the plough would be as familiar with the Bible as the Pope. After a lengthy imprisonment, Tyndale—like Wycliffe before him—was tried for translating the Bible into the English language, He was martyred. In fact, October 6th, 1536, his body was ablaze and he cried out “Oh Lord, open the eyes of England’s king!” His prayer found an answer, ironically enough, in King Henry VIII, who authorized an English translation of the greatest volume to be chained to every church pulpit in the land. The popularity was so great that parishioners gathered in parishes to experience formal readings from its pages. Thus within 3 years of his death, the translation work of Tyndale became virtually ubiquitous.
This legacy of a common English Bible from Wycliffe to the New King James Version however, is just one part of the story. The even greater legacy, to my mind, is God’s faithfulness in preserving His Word from the time of the original writings to the present. You can be absolutely certain that the Bible is a faithful representation of the original writings. It’s not a copy of copy, of a copy, with fresh errors cropping up in each stage of the process. It is divine as opposed to merely human in origin.
Think with me for just a moment. From the 16th century and the invention of moveable type to the twenty-first century, we have had the Bible, and today I fear that we have Bibles of every color, shape and size but few people are familiar with what’s encapsulated in its pages. The reason is that we have so many things that capture our attention: television, movies, sports, video games, but the Word of God has been gathering dust.
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