Will you be celebrating Reformation Day on October 31? This year it will mark a significant milestone. It will be five-hundred years to the day that Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany calling for debate over the selling of indulgences. That historic event has often been hailed as the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.
While Reformation Day is celebrated by many Christians every year, no doubt it will get more attention this year. Five hundred years is surely noteworthy. With this anniversary coming up, there will be (and there has already been) no shortage of posts and articles covering the Reformation from many different angles. There will also undoubtedly be special services and celebrations. And that’s good! It is history all Bible-believing Christian should know about and hold dear. The Protestant Reformation was a critical time in church history, and I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that it helped shape the history of the world. Certainty, it shaped the look of the church. It’s important that we do not forget what happened and why it happened. Last year, I wrote a post encouraging you to learn all you can about it. Please see Reformation Day and the Doctrine of Justification for some suggestions for studying the Reformation.
This year, I would like to present you with an additional option. One excellent way to learn about the Reformation is to learn about another important subject of church history that is entwined with it, namely the history of how Bibles came to be available to the average person in their own language. The stories are inseparable.
Since we are English speaking, you might find it most interesting to learn how we got our English Bibles. The story of how English Bibles came into existence is fascinating. It is a story of hard work, tremendous sacrifice, faith, and even politics. What took place centuries ago not only deeply affected the course of the Reformation; it also had and still has eternal implications for many.
Interactive Study: History of the English Bible
Have you ever wondered about this part of church history? Do you know when and how English copies of the Bible come to be available to the general public? It didn’t happen until centuries after the last book of the New Testament was written. Centuries! How blessed we are to live at a time when there is unprecedented access to the Bible. We can read it in our own language and even have multiple versions of it to choose from.
It may be hard to imagine that there was a time when owning a copy of an English Bible for yourself was impossible or dangerous, but that was the case. But thanks to God’s providence and the vision, work, and courage of some in the past, English Bibles became available to the people. Hearts and minds were brought out of darkness and into the light of true biblical knowledge of God in Christ.
If you are unfamiliar with the history of the English Bible, I encourage you to look into it. You will not be disappointed. There are lots of good reasons to learn the story. To help get you started, I invite you to do an interactive study of the history of the English Bible here on Chapter 3 Ministries.
Highlights of the Study
- Learn about the canon of the Scriptures.
Learn who produced the first hand-written, whole copy of the Bible in English.
Learn about a new invention that greatly affected the spread of information, the availability of Bibles, and the course of the Protestant Reformation.
Learn the name of the first, whole copy of the Bible to be printed with this new technology.
See front covers and pages of early Bibles. (They’re beautiful.)
Learn about English translations that pre-date the King James Bible (KJV).
Learn about the history of the KJV. The KJV is loved by many. It is interesting to learn how it came to be. That history also helps to shed some light on the King James Only controversy.
Learn some of the religious and political drama of the day involving the Roman Catholic Church and England.
Get a deeper appreciation for Christians who came before us and the sacrifices they made. Lives were lost in connection with Bibles becoming available for people in their own language.
Learn about modern Bibles and translation types.
Get a deeper appreciation for our English Bibles and what precious gifts they are.
Excited yet? I hope so! There is a lot to absorb. Though it is possible to go through the study fairly quickly, I recommend taking your time to get the most out of it, maybe even spreading it over days. There’s no rush. You can bookmark your progress and come back. It would be a great way to spend some time in the weeks leading up to Reformation Day. It might be fun to do it together with a group of ladies at church. Either way, I encourage you to dig in and absorb as much as possible. It really is a fascinating story.
If you make it to the end (or even part way), please leave a comment here or at the end of the study. There is a comment section there too. Please let me know what you thought of the study. I’d love to see how many finish!
Enjoy, and Happy Reformation Day! 500!