There is a long and rich history of translating the Bible into the English language.
Many people prefer the King James Version for its flowery prose and poetic language. It was not the first English translation, though it may have been the best translation of its time.
Ironically enough, the King James Version was commissioned by King James, who was head of the Church of England, or the Anglican church. They were not Catholic, and were not really protestant either.
Before the printing press was invented, books were hand written one at a time and that made them very expensive.
John Wycliffe was the first person to produce and entire bible in English, including the Apocrypha, in 1384. William Tyndale also produced a hand-written English bible in 1529. His was the first translation from Greek. Several parts of the bible had been translated into English before that time.
Here is a list of printed English bibles, leading up to the 1611 King James Version.
1526. William Tyndale’s New Testament.
1526. William Tyndale’s New Testament. This was the first complete New Testament printed in the English Language. He was one of the first to use ancient Greek texts, and Luther helped with the translation.
1535. Myles Coverdale’s Bible.
1535. Myles Coverdale’s Bible. The first complete bible, and Apocrypha, printed in English. It contained all 80 books. It was the first to use Greek and Hebrew manuscripts to translate.
1537. Tyndale-Matthews Bible,
1537. Tyndale-Matthews Bible, the second English Language bible printed. John Rogers, another British bible Scholar worked on this one. It had a revision printed in 1549.
1539. The Great Bible.
1539. The Great Bible. This was the first bible that the protestant church approved for public use. It included the Apocrypha. This bible was placed in churches throughout England.
1560. The Geneva Bible
1560. The Geneva Bible. The first bible to have verse numbers. It was also the first bible to have marginal notes and references. It could be called the first study bible. This was the bible of the Pilgrims who came to America.
1568. The Bishop’s Bible
1568. The Bishop’s Bible. The second bible authorized by the protestant church for public use. Highly regarded for its scholarship and accuracy, and reliance on the orginal languages. Still it was never as popular as the Geneva Bible.
1609. The Douay-Rheums Bible.
1609. The Douay-Rheums Bible. This was the first complete Roman Catholic bible to be printed in English, and it relied heavily on the latin manuscripts.
1611. The King James Version
1611. The King James Version, which contained the Old and New Testaments, and the Apocrypha. It was also relied heavilly on the Geneva and Bishop’s Bibles.
1782. The Robert Aitken Bible.
1782. The Robert Aitken Bible. The first English bible printed in the United States. it was a King James Version, and is the version most commonly available today.