The History of The English Bible Part 7: The Coverdale Bible 1535

Coverdale Bible 1535

Much was going on by 1535 as it relates to bible translation. The printing press with movable type had been perfected

King Henry VIII (1491-1547)

by Johann Gutenberg in 1454. Erasmus had printed his Greek New Testament in 1516. Stephanus and Beza had printed several editions of each of their Greek New testaments, and Tyndale had printed an English New Testament and much of the Old Testament. Then in 1534 King Henry the VIII became upset because his wife Katherine of Aragon had not given him a male heir to the throne. He asked the pope for a divorce and the pope refused to grant him one. So Henry left the Roman Catholic Church and made himself head of the Church of England. Then he granted himself a divorce from Katherine and married Ann Boleyn. Coincidentally Ann was not able to give him a male heir either.

All this made it a good time to be protestant and a good time for English bible translations. Myles Coverdale became a very important name in bible translation as he translated the Coverdale bible, The Great Bible, and helped prepare the Geneva bible.  Coverdale went to Cambridge and studied under Robert Barnes. In 1528 he fled England due to persecution from Henry the VIII who was still part of the Roman Catholic Church. He met Tyndale and began working with him on the Pentateuch.

Coverdale himself admits that he was insufficient in Hebrew and Greek, but his passion for getting God’s word into

Myles Coverdale (1488-1569)

English led him to find other ways. After Tyndale’s death Coverdale used Latin and German bibles to complete what had not been completed by Tyndale. It was published as the Coverdale Bible in 1535. Myles included a dedication to Henry the VIII calling him a “better defender of the faith than the Pope himself”. So Henry had his advisors check the Coverdale Bible for errors and while they felt it was “saturated with problems” they could not point out any heresy so it was approved by Henry.

Coverdale separated the Apocrypha from the Old Testament and stated that it did not have divine authority as the rest of the bible did. The Coverdale Bible was reprinted twice in 1537 and once in 1550 and 1553.

John 3:16 The Coverdale Bible

For God so loued the worlde, that he gaue his onely sonne, that who so euer beleueth in hi, shulde not perishe, but haue euerlastinge life.

The Lord’s Prayer from The Coverdale bible Matthew 6:9-13

O oure father which art in heauen, halowed be thy name.  Thy kyngdome come. Thy wyll be fulfilled vpon earth as it is in heauen.  Geue vs this daye oure dayly bred. And forgeue vs oure dettes, as we also forgeue oure detters. And lede vs not in to teptacion: but delyuer vs from euell. For thyne is the kyngdome, and the power, and the glorye for euer. Amen. For yf ye forgeue other men their treaspases, youre heauenly father shall also forgeue you. But and ye wyll not forgeue me their trespases, nomore shall youre father forgeue you youre trespases.

page from Coverdale Bible 1535 (click to enlarge)

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