The Great Bible (before printing)

Within a few years after the martyrdom of Tyndale, the Crown of England was ready to approve the issuance of the Bible in English. Interestingly enough, although Tyndale has been martyred for his work, it was precisely his translation which became the basis for subsequent versions for three or more centuries. Miles Coverdale and Thomas Matthew (Actually John Rogers) made revisions of Tyndale's text, and in 1538 Henry VIII issued an injunction which required all churches to have a copy of the Bible in English available. Since the Bible was issued under his auspices, he had a captive group of consumers. 

This version was known as the Great Bible, because of its size. Six editions were published by 1541. The one on display is the fifth, which is particularly interesting because of its title page, to which it is open. One of the chief advisors of Henry VIII was Thomas Cromwell, but by the time the fifth edition was made, he had fallen out of favor with the King and his coat of arms was removed from the title-page of the Great Bible, leaving an empty circle.

[click thumbnail for large view]

Golden bible cover

The Great Bible. The Byble in Englysh. Printed by Edwarde Whitchurch, Finished the xxviii. daye of Maye, Anno Domini MDXLI. This is the 5th edition with the Prologue by Thomas Cranmer, and with the omission of the coat of arms of Thomas Cromwell from the title page. #F83


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