We were pleasantly surprised that so many of you showed a real interest in learning how we got our English Bible. So we are continuing with that, and also taking a look at the lives of some of other men who labored with this task. As you know already, it also turned out to be a very dangerous task as well. And many lost their lives because of their determination to set people free and give everyone an opportunity to know what God’s plan for humanity really is, and also what He has in store for those who love and trust Him.
Someone asked in a letter why the clergy did not want people reading the Bible. The answer is, as long as you can keep people ignorant in any area of life, they can be controlled and the upper class with have the power. That’s why education is so important, as well as checking things out for yourself before you believe something. And we are so blessed to have a Book which has not changed throughout the ages.
I think a lot of people are afraid to read the Bible, afraid to find that they are condemned in some way. The Son of God did not come, take on human form, walk the dusty roads and experience all the pain and sorrow we all suffer, in order to condemn us.
Reading all four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John), you will see that the only people that Jesus condemned were the scribes and Pharisees. He called them hypocrites, because they claimed to be righteous and better than others.
Jesus is seen healing all that were sick, forgiving the sinner who had been condemned by society, and showing mercy and compassion everywhere He went. That Jesus lived is a fact of history, but there are people who do not believe the Bible. Well, all I can say is you can’t make people eat who are not hungry. So thank God for those who are hungry, and I think that most of them are in prison.
(From The New Analytical Bible and Dictionary of the Bible © 1973
by John A. Dickson Publishing Company. Notes and footnotes provided by us.)
3. The Coverdale Bible (A.D. 1535)
Myles Coverdale (1488-1569) gave to the people of England the first complete Bible printed in English. It was in circulation, as we have seen, a year before Tyndale’s death. A man of fewer scholarly attainments than Tyndale, Coverdale nonetheless stands next to him in stature insofar as accomplishments for rendition of the Bible into English are concerned. He was closely connected with the production of five important Bibles, either as translator or editor.
Born in Yorkshire, England about 1488, he was an Augustinian friar who took his bachelor’s degree in canon law at Cambridge, but left the Augustine’s when he came under the influence of the Reformation. About 1527 he wrote his patron, Thomas Cromwell, of his desire for books to help in his translation of the Scriptures. He left England for Germany in 1528, and may have met Tyndale at Hamburg the following year. He next appears on the scene in 1535, with his Bible printed and ready to ship to Southwark, England, for binding. A dedication to Henry VIII was inserted there. It is not definitely known whether the Bible was printed at Antwerp, Marburg, or Zurich.
Added to his own translation of two-thirds of the Old Testament and all the Apocrypha, Coverdale used five main sources for his Bible: Tyndale’s New Testament, the Pentateuch, and the Prophet Jonah; two German translations, Luther’s and the Swiss German Bible of Zwingli and Leo Juda; the Latin Vulgate; and an independent Latin translation (based on the Hebrew and the Greek) made by the Dominican scholar, Sanctes Pagninus, in 1528.
From 1538 to 1539 Coverdale was in Paris to superintend the printing of the Great Bible. In 1540, after a brief stay in England, he returned to Germany on Cromwell’s death; during this time he received his doctor’s degree at Tübingen. He returned to England in 1548 and was appointed Bishop of Exeter in 1551; but after two years, on the death of King Edward VI, he was deprived of his post. Through intercession of the King of Denmark, however, he was permitted to go to the Continent. He was in Geneva (1558) while the Geneva Bible# was in production and may have helped in its production. He was appointed rector of St. Magnus in London (1563) but resigned three years later because of disagreement with Queen Elizabeth’s church laws. He died in February, 1569, and was buried at St. Bartholomew’s Church; but his remains were removed, after destruction of the Church in the London Fire, to St. Magnus.
Coverdale’s Bible appeared again in 1537 in both folio and quarto sizes#, the folio being the first complete Bible printed in England and the first (along with Matthew’s Bible, printed the same year) to bear a notice of license by the king. It was reprinted in 1550 and 1553. Editions of the New Testament were published in 1537 and 1538 - with yet another in 1538 including the Latin Vulgate text alongside the English. An edition, carefully compared with Tyndale’s was published in 1549 and reprinted in 1550.
4. Matthew’s Bible (A.D. 1537)
This Bible is the work of John Rogers (about 1500 to 1555), who became the first martyr to be burned at the stake under Queen Mary’s effort to stamp out the effects of the Reformation in England.# The name “Thomas Matthew” is a pseudonym used to disguise his identity as a friend of William Tyndale, under whose influence he came as chaplain of the English House in Antwerp while Tyndale was resident there.
Matthew’s Bible contains Tyndale’s hitherto unpublished work (Joshua through 2 Chronicles), which the great scholar doubtless gave to Rogers, as well as Tyndale’s Pentateuch and New Testament, and Coverdale’s Ezra through Malachi and the Apocrypha - all of this carefully edited by “Matthew,” who added notes peculiarly his own. This one volume contained all the translation work done by Tyndale - 65 percent of the Old and New Testaments was his - plus the completion of his unfinished task by Coverdale. Other reprints of Matthew’s Bible appeared in 1549 and 1551; a slightly revised edition also was published in 1549.
5. The Great Bible (A.D. 1539)
Although two Bibles were now available in English - Matthew’s and Coverdale’s - many groups disliked the marginal notes and the prologues so thoroughly that there were recurrent demands on King Henry VIII for a Bible free from interpretations. The King authorized Cromwell# to arrange for the publication of such a Bible, so once again Miles Coverdale was called on to prepare the translation. Richard Grafton and Edward Whitchurch were appointed printers; and, because of superior workmanship and
materials available in Paris, permission was secured from the King of France to print the Bible there.
By June, 1538, Coverdale and Grafton were in Paris, hard at work. Matthew’s Bible was the basis of this translation; but Coverdale had access to Münster’s excellent Latin version of the Old Testament (published from the Hebrew in 1534-35 and not available for his own 1535 Bible), which he used in a careful revision of Matthew’s. The Latin Vulgate and Erasmus’ Latin version were used for help in the New Testament; the Great Complutensian Polyglot Bible of Cardinal Ximenes, published in Spain (1514-17, but not printed until 1522) with its Hebrew Chaldee, Greek, and Latin texts, was also used to revise Matthew’s version. Since this version was largely Tyndale’s, the prayer of the great and gentle martyr was actually answered with his own Bible just two years after his death. On September 5, 1538, King Henry VIII issued an order that, by “the feat of All Saints next coming” (Nov. 1, 1538), every parish set up a Bible “of the largest volume in English” - a description which would fit the Great Bible (so called because of its size), the first Authorized Version of the English, whose colophon bears the date of April, 1539.
If the order was enforced, an earlier “largest volume” had to be substituted; because, like the Coverdale Bible and Tyndale’s New Testament, the Great Bible had an interrupted printing. This time it was due to strained diplomatic relations between England and France, which developed in December, 1538. Officials of the Inquisition on December 17 seized the printed sheets and unprinted stock, together with the type. Cromwell had invested £400 in the venture, so he appealed for release of the sheets. The Inquisition ordered them burned; but the officer in charge sold them instead to a haberdasher# who wanted to pack men’s caps with them. These and some sheets Coverdale had rescued earlier reached England safely; and, a little later, Grafton arranged for type, press, and printers all to be brought to England. The date the Bible finally appeared was probably some months later than the “April 1539” date in its colophon. But by the end of 1541 six more editions - including a revised edition with a preface by Archbishop Cranmer in April, 1540 - came from the press; their total was perhaps 21,000 volumes.
For three or four years, there was great freedom in Bible reading for the common people. But in 1543 all translations carrying Tyndale’s name were burned, and notes in other Bibles were ordered to be marked out; in 1546 Coverdale’s New Testament joined the proscribed books. Notes were eradicated. Women (except those of the nobility) and many classes of the common people were prohibited from reading the Scriptures. At this juncture, King Henry VIII died.
Young King Edward VI was so devoted to the Bible that, during his brief reign of six and one-half years, 13 Bibles and 35 New Testaments were printed. The Great Bible was restored to its place in the churches, and its last edition seems to have been printed in 1569. But, again, persecution reared its ugly head. During the bloody reign of Queen Mary (1516-1558) no Bibles were published in English; and two of the Bible’s strongest protagonists, Rogers and Cranmer, paid for their beliefs and activity with their lives.
6. Taverner’s Bible (A.D. 1539)
Richard Tavernier (1505? - 1575), who edited the Bible that bears his name, was a brilliant Greek scholar. Born in Brisley, Norfolk, he studied at both Cambridge and Oxford. He was imprisoned for reading Tyndale’s New Testament, while a student at Oxford, but his musical talents secured his release.
Taverner’s Bible is essentially the same as Matthew’s with slight changes. In the Old Testament his changes are based on the Vulgate; but in the New Testament, where the changes are more numerous, his scholarly knowledge of Greek is evident. His Bible was published in London (both in folio and quarto editions) in 1539, and the New Testament appeared in both folio and quarto editions the same year. In 1549-50 the Old Testament was published in five parts. Appearing as it did almost simultaneously with the Great Bible, Taverner’s edition exerted little influence in further revisions.
Taverner was sent to the Tower# for a while, after Cromwell’s fall from power in 1540, because of his work on the Bible. He preached occasionally, but was in retirement during Queen Mary’s reign. When Queen Elizabeth I came to the throne he preached again, and she appointed him as high sheriff for Oxford County. He died in 1575, at about the age of 70.
To be continued next month. …………………..
1. The Geneva Bible (fully discussed next month in Part 3) is one of the most historically significant translations of the Bible into the English language, preceding the King James translation by 51 years. It was the primary Bible of the 16th Century Protestant movement and was the Bible used by William Shakespeare, Oliver Cromwell, and John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress. What makes this version of the Holy Bible significant is that, for the very first time, a mechanically printed, mass-produced Bible was made available directly to the general public which came with a variety of Scriptural study guides and aids (collectively called an apparatus), which included verse citations which allow the reader to cross-reference one verse with numerous relevant verses in the rest of the Bible, introductions to each book of the Bible which acted to summarize all the material that each book would cover, maps, tables, woodcut illustrations, indexes, as well as other included features - all of which would eventually lead to the reputation of the Geneva Bible as history’s first study Bible.
2. A folio is a book or pamphlet made up of one or more full sheets of paper on which four pages of text are printed, which sheets are then folded once to produce two leaves. Each leaf of a folio book thus represents one half the size of the original sheet. Ordinarily, additional folio sheets would be inserted inside another to form a group or “gathering” of leaves prior to binding the book. Famous folios include the Gutenberg Bible, printed in about 1455, and the First Folio collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays, printed in 1623. Quarto is a book or pamphlet produced from full 'blanksheets', each of which is printed with eight pages of text, four to a side, then folded two times to produce four leaves (that is, eight book pages). Each printed page now presents as one-fourth size of the full blanksheet.
3. Queen Mary I (“Bloody Mary”) - Mary had always rejected the break with the Roman Catholic Church instituted by her father, King Henry VIII. Therefore, She and her husband fought the Reformation and wanted England to reconcile with Rome. Eventually the English Church was returned to Roman jurisdiction, and under the Heresy Acts, numerous Protestants were executed in the “Marian Persecutions.” By the Queen’s order, many of these Protestants were burned at the stake.
4. Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex, (b. in or before 1485, executed 28 July 1540), was an English statesman who served as chief minister of King Henry VII of England from 1532 to 1540. Cromwell was one of the strongest advocates of the English Reformation, the English church's break with the papacy in Rome. Cromwell helped engineer an annulment of the King's marriage to Catherine of Aragon, so that the king could marry his mistress, Ann Boleyn. Supremacy over the Church of England was officially declared by Parliament in 1534, and Cromwell supervised the Church from the unique posts of vicegerent for spirituals and vicar general. Cromwell's rise to power made him many enemies, especially among the conservative faction at court. He fell from Henry's favor after arranging the King's marriage to a German princess, Anne of Cleves, which turned out to be a disaster. He was subjected to a bill of attainder and executed for treason and heresy on Tower Hill on 28 July 1540. The king later expressed regret at having lost his great minister.
5. Haberdasher - This word first emerged in the 13th century, and initially it was used in reference to peddlers who sold any number of sundries, from pots and pans to buttons. The term may come from a Scandinavian root, but its origins are obscure. It certainly does not have anything to do with “dashing” anywhere, and it may come from hapertas, a word meaning “small wares.” Whatever the origins, it was in common use by the 16th century.
6. The Tower (Now “The Tower of London”). The peak period of the castle's use as a prison was the 16th and 17th centuries, when many of the Reformists were held within its walls. This use led to the phrase "sent to the Tower.” It was not a good place to be. Most people held there awaited execution by beheading, being hung, drawn and quartered, or by Queen Mary’s favorite method, being burned at the stake.
Prayer Requests for July, 2011
For Rodney Bracken’s brother, Bob, who recently suffered a stroke. Rodney is at Menard, Illinois.
For Alfredo Ramos at Pinckneyville, Illinois, who is getting out in December and needs transportation and clothes.
For Wade Miller’s Aunt Cindy, that she is okay with her health and that she stays strong.
For Michael Chavez’ brother, Heath Overton, “that he will be drawn into God’s Love.” Michael is at Grady, Arkansas.
For Timothy Mobley, Menard, Illinois, new to Wingspread.
For Stephen Clayton at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, who is looking for a Bible College that will help him with tuition.
For Johnny Carruthers, Florence, Arizona, who seeks Spiritual growth.
For Joe Bruno & his family, especially his Father’s health. Joe is at Florence, Arizona.
For J.T. Likes, Grady, Arkansas, who wants to have contact with his family again.
For Michael Rivera, Buckeye, Arizona, for healing of his body.
For Raymond (“Peanut”) Sanders at Iowa Park, Texas, who needs prayer for health. He has many problems related to high blood pressure.
For Richard Burns, Menard, Illinois, who has diabetes and takes daily injections.
For Ed Ewing, Visalia, California, who is 89 years old and in bad health.
For Mike Long, at Larned, Kansas, for health.
For Willie Scott at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, for health, and for spiritual growth.
For Willie Clark, Iowa Park, Texas, who wants to be transferred closer to his family in the Houston area. He also has Glaucoma and high eye pressure problems.
For Sister Ann & all the Carmelite Nuns in Little Rock.
For Frank Williams, Jr., Death Row, Grady, Arkansas. He is waiting to find out if the Arkansas Supreme Court will hear his case.
For Freddie Lee Lott, Galesburg, Illinois, to keep his healing and stay cancer free.
For Willie Harper, Joliet, Illinois, for health, and that his cancer stays in remission.
For Robert Heffernan, Grady, Arkansas, for healing of a diabetic ulcer on his leg.
For Pastor Scott & her ministry (The University Network) in Los Angeles.
For all of us at Wingspread.
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