The first full translation of the Bible into English
The Coverdale Bible - 1535
BY DAVID ROSS, EDITOR
Miles Coverdale was responsible for the first complete printed translation of the Bible into English. There had previously been versions of the Old and New Testaments in English, but the translation and printing of both New and Old Testaments into modern English had never been accomplished before Coverdale undertook the task.
It was while living in Europe that Coverdale met Jacobus van Meteren, and his nephew, Leonard Ortels. The two men financed Coverdale's translation of earlier versions of the Bible into English, and the first edition of the 'Coverdale Bible' was printed in Antwerp, in 1535.
Coverdale drew heavily upon the New Testament translation by William Tyndale, and on some of Tyndale's Old Testament material. Coverdale himself translated much of the Old Testament, but not from the original Hebrew or Greek. He worked primarily from German sources, including Luther's Bible, as well as from the Latin.
The ink was scarcely dry on the Coverdale Bible when Coverdale was called by Henry VIII to oversee the production of the so-called 'Great Bible' of 1539. Unlike Coverdale's earlier work, the Great Bible was an officially authorized work, produced for the newly reformed English church under the auspices of Sir Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's Vicar General and Secretary.
Coverdale himself was later named Bishop of Exeter, a post he was forced to relinquish when Queen Mary attempted to reverse the earlier reforms introduced by her father. Coverdale lived in exile during Mary's reign, but later returned and died in London on 19 February 1588.
The historical importance of the Coverdale Bible is not in the number of readers it attracted, or the number of copies it sold, but rather, and very simply, that it was the first full translation of the Bible into modern English. It was quickly superseded by the Great Bible, which would certainly have had a much greater circulation. The Coverdale Bible was simply part of the gradual movement to bring religious teachings closer to the common Englishman and Englishwoman.
Name the Historic attraction
British Heritage Awards
Celebrate the best of British Heritage in our annual
British History Quiz
This Labour politician was Prime Minister twice from 1945-1950 and 1950-51
He led the Labour Party in Churchill's wartime coalition government
He was the first Labour PM to hold a Commons majority
This Day in British History
28 November, 1290
Queen Eleanor dies at Harby, Northamptonshire
Edward I erects memorial crosses (Eleanor Crosses) at each stopping place of the queen's procession to London