Twentieth Century English Bibles
The Canadian Bible Society indicates that, if translations of individual books of the Bible are included, almost 500 versions of the English Bible have been published over the previous two centuries. Many of these have been revised or updated since their first introduction. The production of so many new versions of the Bible in our time is really an encouraging sign. This is an indication of the enduring relevance of the Bible and the desire of many people to present its message in language that will be understood by people from all backgrounds. There are versions for those who speak English as a second language, for children who have a limited vocabulary, for novice readers who need wording that is easy to read, as well as for those who have a mastery of the English language and for those who are very familiar with the Bible.
The first volume of the 20th Century was \'\'The Twentieth Century New Testament: A Translation into Modern English Made from the Original Greek". It was the work of a group of about 20 translators and was prepared from Westcott and Hort\'s text. A 1930 edition of this 1885 Greek text is in the exhibition. In 1903, another popular version of the New Testament was published; The New Testament in Modern Speech by Dr. R. F. Weymouth.
As the century continued, many new translations became available. These represent different levels of scholarly and readership interests. The final version published in the 20th Century was the New English Translation just released in 1996.
The discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls, in 1946, sparked a renewed interest in the Old Testament text. These scrolls have also provided a useful background to Jewish literature at the time of the Gospels.
The year 1911 was the 300th anniversary of the first printing of the King James Bible. To celebrate this anniversary, the British Museum presented an exhibition of Bible texts and English Bibles. A facsimile of the original 1611 Bible was also printed. A copy of this facsimile is in the exhibition.