In 1989 a man by the name of Russell Ashe came out with his book “The top 10 of everything.” Each year he publishes a new edition and most recently “The top 10 of everything 2009” was released. In every one of his books since 1989, the top-selling book in the history of the world has been the Holy Bible. At last count the total was over 6 billion copies since its first printing. In 1455, the book in second place is quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong with 900 million sold. There are over 30 million copies of the Bible sold and distributed each year throughout the world.
The Bible was written over a 1500-year span from 1400 BC to AD 100 by more than 40 writers. It was written in three languages – Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. The first translation of the Bible from its original language was the Septuagint, a Greek translation from the Hebrew Old Testament in the 3rd century BC. In its present form, the Bible consists of 66 books – 39 in the Old Testament 27 in the
New. It wasn’t until 1228 when a Stephen Lang separated the Bible into chapters. In 1488 a rabbi named Isaac Nathan divided the Old Testament into verses and Roberts Stephanus did the same to the New Testament in 1551. The first English translation began in 1382 and was completed in 1384 by John Wickliffe and his associate John Purvi. These translations were all done by hand and smuggled throughout Europe. The first Bible printed on movable type was the Gutenberg Bible in 1455. It was a version of the Latin Vulgate we’ll talk more about that later.
Martin Luther first translated the New Testament from Greek into German in 1522. With the help of others the complete German Bible was completed in 1534. Luther’s translation was influential in the first printed English translation of the New Testament by William Tyndale in 1525. Tyndale was later captured, strangled and burned at the stake. The first legal English translation of the Bible was the Coverdale Bible completed in 1535 it was translated by Myles Coverdale who relied heavily on the work of William Tyndale. The first English translation of the Bible to be divided into chapter and verse was the Geneva Bible in 1560. This translation is also called the Pilgrim’s Bible because this was the Bible that the pilgrims brought with them to America. Since then hundreds of translations have been done. The Bible has been translated into thousands of languages by such organizations as the Wickliffe Bible Society Lutheran Bible Translators and others.