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The Bible has been the most influential text in all of Western culture. It's difficult to understand medieval or early modern or much of modern literature without knowing it...

Prof. Barbara Newman, Northwestern University
from 2006 Bible Literary project


It's not that it's impossible to read some writers without a Biblical background, but that you would miss a whole dimension to their work.

Prof. Steven Goldsmith, University of California at Berkeley
from 2006 Bible Literary Project


I can only say that if a student doesn't know any Bible literature, he or she will simply not understand whole elements of Shakespeare, Sidney, Spenser, Milton, Pope, Wordsworth

Prof. Robert Kiely, Harvard University
from 2006 Bible Literary Project


...there is truth in the remark. "without Tyndale[Bible translator], no Shakespeare"...

Prof. David Daniell, University College London
from The Bible in English


You can't really study Western literature intelligently or coherently without starting with the Bible.

Prof. Gerald L. Bruns, University of Notre Dame
from 2006 Bible Literary Project


...a familiar understanding of Christian doctrine in historical perspective thus contributes to a fuller appreciation of Shakespeare's art, but Shakespeare's art

Prof. Roland M. Frye
from Shakespeare and the Christian Doctrine


In English tradition and also for an American tradition begun by Puritan writers, a knowledge of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament is even more crucial than classical references.

Prof. Ulrich Knoefplmacher, Princeton University
from 2006 Bible Literary Project


There is no book more important for our culture than the Bible, and it is fundametal to the study of English literature and language.

Prof. David Jasper and Prof. Stephen Prickett
from the Bible and literature


A brief timeline of English Bible

The Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek

4th CenturyDuring the 4th century, St. Jerome translated the Bible into Latin- the Vulgate, meaning “common” or “of all people”.
10th CenturyIn the 10th century, some accounts from the New Testament were translated into English.
14th CenturyIn the 14th century, John Wycliffe, professor of theology and philosophy at the University of Oxford, translated the whole Bible into English from Latin.
1525-1534William Tyndale (1494-1546) became the first to translate the Bible into English from the original languages.
1611When King James came to power in 1603, he authorized a revision of earlier versions due to their stylistic and doctrinal inconsistencies. This is the King James Version. (KJV) or Authorized Version of 1611.
19th century to the presentModifications to the King James Versions include Revised Version (1885), Revised Standard Version (1952), the New Revised Standard Version (1989), and the English Standard Version (2001).
Today popular English Bible versions include the Living Translation (1971) that translates into contemporary English based on American Standard Version of 1901; the Good News Bible (1976), a modern-day readable translation produced by American Bible Society; and most popular of them all, the New International Version (1978), a translation that goes between the more literal translation of King James Bible and the more informal Good News Bible.

Introducing important English Bible translations that inspired early writers

Wycliffe’s Bible

Tyndale’s Bible

Geneva Bible

King James’ Bible (1611)

A brief timeline of English Bible

Some verses in Shakespeare are directly taken from the Bible. Let’s look at these parallels:

Search idiom or name

A lot of phrases, such as "two-edged sword" and " an eye for an eye", are taken from the English Bible. Learning the stories behind these idioms is fun, and can help boost your vocabulary. Click here to find out now!

What's in a name?

Common names such as Joseph and Rachel have their origins in the Bible. Want to know their stories before picking the right name for yourself? Click here to find out.