Depends on your definition of “versions” – MOST historians, theologians, Pastors, Priests, and Scholars wouldn’t say versions at all, they would say “translations”
You see the bible started as a compilation of texts from 2 primary sources.
- Jewish historical record, translated from Hebrew into Greek, in what is called the Septuagint
- the Compilation of the Gospel accounts of the Apostles which were ALSO in Greek.
So you see the Bible was, in its rawest form, written in Greek. Before it was canonized and even CALLED “The Bible” it was just a bunch of letters and books by a group of Jesus’s followers called “the apostles.”
So GREEK is the original bible.
Some may say that the Old Testament was written in Hebrew…but that isn’t really an accurate statement for a couple of reasons… For 1 thing, the Jews never referred to their historical record as the Old Testament. Secondily, The bible isn’t a Jewish book, it is a Christian book and the Christians based their OT on the Greek translation of the Hebrew history BEFORE it was canonized. The Jew’s canonized their history around 100BC, but the Greek Translation was made just before that.
SO the bible is essentially a Greek document, historically speaking.
The Canon of the bible was closed off from changes around 397AD, AFTER that time, there has been nearly Zero changes. This is because in many cases originals exist of what was officially canonized and even some before that, therefore Modern bible translators can go BACK to the original Greek and study it to make sure there are no alterations.
The FIRST major translation of the bible was from Greek into Latin. This was done by the Catholic church and it is easy to see that it was done accurately, because we can go back and compare it to the Greek.
This was done in after Latin replaced Greek as the major language spoken by most people, especially Scholars and Business men.
The Bible remained in Latin for many centuries, though “unofficial” translations were made into other languages. Some even done by Catholic monks in the 700-800s. - Such was the case in Romania and Slovakia
Around the 1300 and 1400s, the New Testament portion of the bible was translated into English.
Now I said “nearly zero” changes, because there are at least 3 very well documented changes to the official canon of the bible.
- around the mid-1500s, Martin Luther added at least 1 word to a few verses in the bible dealing with faith. He added the word “alone” to some verses, making them read “faith alone” - when the original Greek never had that in it. - Luckily Martin Luther’s “corrections” have been removed from the bible translations we have today.
- Around the 1600s, the Basis for the Old Testament was changed from the Greek Septuagint to the Hebrew Tanakh, thus moving 7 books from the OT to the Appendix in the back of most bibles in the process. The Catholic church to this day, STILL holds to the original canon it created in 397AD, which includes the 7 disputed books.
- Those 7 books which hung out in the appendix of most bibles were completely removed from most bibles around the 1800s.
So these 3 changes are the only alterations to the bible which it has undergone. We haven’t really lost anything because the Catholic church still adheres to its original canon, so the 7 books can still be found. AND the alterations that Martin Luther made, have been removed.
SO, there are Translations of the Bible, but not really different versions, unless you claim the Catholic canon and the Protestant canon to be different versions, in which case their are then 2.
As far as different Bibles… there are MANY. Each one translating the text slightly differently to make it more clear to the reader, updating the language a bit since few of us speak old-english, latin, or greek.
All translations can be reviewed by scholars, compared to the original Greek, etc.
The tranlsations I am aware of are:
NIV, NASB, ASB, KJV, NKJV, DRV
I will say THIS…
The King James Version is not really a TRUE translation but a compilation of translations, as the people which the King of England commissioned to create it were not Biblical scholars so they stole heavily from the Coverdale, Wycliff, Latin Vulgate, Septuagint, and other sources to create their bible. Scholars have thoroughly picked it apart and found countless translational errors in it. PLUS it is written in old-english, so other then sounding holy, with all its thy and thous, in it, it is a really bad version to go by UNLESS you already KNOW the bible fairly well and won’t get tripped up by its awkward wording.
The Douay Rheims bible is often times overlooked. It is a Catholic translation into English, follows the original canon, which includes the 7 books of the apocrypha, AND pre-dates the King James version, without the same errors and old english writing style. Unfortunately, most people don’t know about it.
(The above statement concerning “versions” of the Bible was copied from the internet)