Skip to main content

The Christian Bible

The Christian Bible

In England, until the fourteenth century, the Christian Bible was considered the preserve of the priestly classes. The Vulgate was a Latin translation by Saint Jerome, read and interpreted only by the clergy, as the Church deliberately discouraged common people from reading vernacular bibles. They believed those outside the Church would misinterpret the text in the Bible, which would then lead to heresy. In fact, it was a crime to possess a vernacular bible.

In the centuries that followed, however, the efforts of men who challenged the Church, and the invention of the printing press, made the Bible available in plain English, to ordinary men and women.

In his New York Times article "Where Is it Written? Right Here," Simon Winchester discusses the men who sought to put the Bible in commoners' hands. Among them is William Tyndale, who was strangled and burned at the stake for "such a heretical presumption." Winchester also comments on two interesting books, which go into detail about how the Bible revolutionized England: Wide as the Waters: The Story of the English Bible and the Revolution It Inspired, by Benson Bobrick, and In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How It Changed a Nation, a Language and a Culture, by Alister McGrath.

Winchester states that the more important points in these books are about the realizations that came from the brave actions taken to make the Bible available to all, and how the popularization of the Bible led to the establishment of the individual's inviolable rights and the formation of equal government, for and of the people. "In other words, the essentials of popular democracy were inspired by writings first set down on papyrus and in manuscript two millenniums ago in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greekwords since translated and then printed for the benefit of all, by the courageous and long-suffering heroes," Winchester said.


bobrick, benson. wide as the waters: the story of the english bible and the revolution it inspired. new york: simon & schuster, 2001.

mcgrath, alister. in the beginning: the story of the king james bible and how it changed a nation, a language and a culture. new york: doubleday, 2001.

winchester, simon. "where is it written? right here." new york times, 8 april 2001.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"The Christian Bible." Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained. . 18 Apr. 2019 <>.

"The Christian Bible." Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained. . (April 18, 2019).

"The Christian Bible." Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained. . Retrieved April 18, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.