The Statenbijbel (authorised version of the Bible) 1637

The Book of Books

For Christians, the Bible is the most important book in existence because it contains the truth revealed by God, "the word of God". One of the points of conflict during the Reformation had been the question of for whom the Bible was meant. The Catholic Church believed that the Bible should preferably not be read by ordinary people. Rather, they could listen to the explanations of the clergy in church, where the priests read from the Bible in Latin. The priests acted as intermediaries between God and the faithful.

The protestants, on the other hand, believed that the faithful themselves should be able to read the Bible and that the preacher in the first place was a servant of the word of God. It was the task of preachers to let God's word speak to the congregation, through Bible readings and exeges of the Scriptures. This meant, therefore, that the Bible should be available in the language of the faithful, preferably in as reliable a translation as possible. Consequently, the reformer Luther translated the Bible from Latin into German in around 1535. In the sixteenth century, a number of Dutch translations were made of Luther's German work.

Over the course of time, the call from the Dutch Reformed Church became ever stronger for a new translation based on the original manuscripts of the Bible in Hebrew and Greek. In 1618 the synod of the Dutch Reformed Church, during its main assembly in the city of Dordrecht, commissioned such a translation based on the example of the English Authorised Version (the King James Bible of 1611). The States General was asked to finance the translation.

The States General only agreed to this in 1626 and the translators were then able to start work. Nine years later the translation was completed and in 1637 the Dutch authorised version, the Statenvertaling or Statenbijbel, was printed for the first time. Several 100,000 copies were printed between 1637 and 1657. The Statenbijbel remained the most important Bible in the Dutch Reformed Church for over three hundred years. Even today it is still used in some church communities. Recently a revised version of the Statenvertaling was completed.

Over the course of time, through sermons and Bible readings, large groups of people became familiar with the language of the Statenbijbel, that also had an enormous impact on Dutch culture. The Statenvertaling was the source for expressions like "in the sweat of thy face" and "a feast for the eye", that have now become embedded in the Dutch language.


  • circa 3000 BC Megalithic tombs Early farmers  
  • 47 A.D.-circa 400 A.D. The Roman Limes On the frontiers of the Roman world  
  • 658 A.D.-739 A.D. Willibrord The spread of Christianity  
  • 742 A.D. – 814 A.D. Charlemagne Emperor of the Land of the Setting Sun  
  • circa 1100 Hebban olla vogala The Dutch language in writing  
  • 1254-1296 Floris V A Dutch count and disgruntled nobles  
  • 1356-circa 1450 The Hanseatic League Trading towns in the Low Countries  
  • 1469?-1536 Erasmus An international humanist  
  • 1500-1558 Charles V The Low Countries as an administrative unity  
  • 1566 The “Beeldenstorm” (iconoclastic outbreak) Religious conflict  
  • 1533-1584 William of Orange From rebel nobleman to “father of the country”  
  • 1588-1795 The Republic A unique political phenomenon  
  • 1602-1799 The Dutch East India Company (VOC) Overseas expansion  
  • 1612 The Beemster Polder The Netherlands and water  
  • 1613-1662 The canal ring Urban development in the seventeenth century  
  • 1583-1645 Hugo Grotius Pioneer of modern international law  
  • 1637 The Statenbijbel (authorised version of the Bible) The Book of Books  
  • 1606?-1669 Rembrandt The great painters  
  • 1662 Blaeu’s Atlas Major Mapping the world  
  • 1607-1676 Michiel de Ruyter Heroes of the sea and the wide reach of the Republic  
  • 1629-1695 Christiaan Huygens Science in the Golden Age  
  • 1632-1677 Spinoza In search of truth  
  • circa 1637-1863 Slavery Human trafficking and forced labour in the New World  
  • 17th and 18th centuries Country mansions Prosperous living  
  • 1744-1828 Eise Eisinga The Enlightenment in the Netherlands  
  • 1780-1795 The patriots Political conflict about modernising the Republic  
  • 1769-1821 Napoleon Bonaparte The French period  
  • 1772-1843 King William I The kingdom of the Netherlands and Belgium  
  • 1839 The first railway Acceleration  
  • 1848 The Constitution Fundamental rules and principles of government  
  • 1860 Max Havelaar Scandal in the East Indies  
  • 19th century Opposition to child labour Out of the workplace and back to school  
  • 1853-1890 Vincent van Gogh The modern artist  
  • 1854-1929 Aletta Jacobs The emancipation of women  
  • 1914-1918 The First World War War and neutrality  
  • 1917-1931 De Stijl Revolution in design  
  • 1929-1940 The crisis years Society in the depression  
  • 1940-1945 World War II Occupation and liberation  
  • 1929-1945 Anne Frank The persecution of the Jews  
  • 1945-1949 Indonesia A colony fights for freedom  
  • 1886-1988 Willem Drees The welfare state  
  • 1 February 1953 The great flood The danger of water  
  • since 1948 Television The rise of mass media  
  • since circa 1880 The port of Rotterdam Gateway to the world  
  • 1911-1995 Annie M.G. Schmidt Going against the grain of a bourgeois country  
  • since 1945 Surinam and the Netherlands Antilles Decolonisation in the West  
  • 1995 Srebrenica The dilemmas of peacekeeping  
  • since 1945 Diversity in the Netherlands The multicultural society  
  • 1959-2030? The natural gas deposit A finite treasure  
  • since 1945 Europe The Dutch and Europeans  
english version