too polemically Protestant in tone. In this case the
naming of the translator or "corrector" was done by
Cromwell's influence, and Coverdale was selected,
Richard Grafton and Edward Whitchurch being
charged with the supervision of the printing, which
was to be done: —
"within the universitie of Paris, because paper was there
more meete and apt to be had for the doing thereof, then in
the realme of England, and also that there were more store
of good workmen for the readie dispatch of the same." *
1 A. W. Pollard, Records of the English Bible, p. 223. Extract from Fox's
Actes and Monumentes, fourth edition, 1583, p. 1191.
THE ENGLISH VERSIONS I539-I582 367
Cromwell had obtained from the King, early in 1538,
the authorization of the printing of this book, and the
King had written to Bishop Bonner, then Ambassador
at Paris, to assist, and had obtained from the French
King, Francis I, license for Grafton and Whitchurch to
proceed with the work. Before it was completed, two
events occurred which threatened serious consequences;
first, the conservative churchmen had prevailed upon
the King to issue a decree, November, 1538, prohibiting
the importing into England of any English books
printed abroad, special mention being made of editions
of the Bible; second, the relations of France and Eng-
land becoming strained, the printing house was seized
in December, 1538, and with it the printed sheets of the
Bible. Grafton had deposited with the English Am-
bassador some copies of the sheets, and saved some
others from those which were to be burnt by the French
authorities. Cromwell was able to arrange to have
Coverdale and Grafton go to Paris where they: —
"got the presses, letters and servaunts of the aforesaid
Printer, and brought them to London, and there they became
printers themselves (which before they never entended) and
printed out the said Bible in London, and after that printed
sundry impressions of them." 1
Although this book bears the date 1539, it is doubt-
ful whether many, if any, copies were actually issued
so early. Copies which bear the date 1539 are called
CromwelPs Bible, but copies of 1 540, and later, contain
"a prologe thereinto, made by the reverende father in
God, Thomas archbysshop of Canterbury" and are
known as Cranmer's. From its size, the printed page
1 A. W. Pollard, Records of the English Bible, p. 227. Extract from Fox's
Actes and Monuments,
368 A BOOK ABOUT THE ENGLISH BIBLE
being 13^ x 7^ inches, this version is known as the
"Great Bible." The title-page of 1539 reads: —
"The Byble in Englyshe, that is to saye the content of all
the holy scrypture, bothe of ye olde and newe testament,
truly translated after the veryte of the Hebrue and Greke
textes, by ye dylygent studye of dy verse excellent learned
men, expert in the forsayde tonges.
Prynted by Rychard Grafton and Edward Whitchurch.
Cum privilegio ad imprimendum solum, 1539."
Coverdale had before him the Matthew Bible, which
became the basis of the Great Bible. A revision of the
Latin Old Testament, with Hebrew text and commen-
taries by Sebastian Miinster, printed in 1534-5, the
Complutensian Polyglot, and the Latin version of the
New Testament by Erasmus, were all used by Cover-
dale in this revision. Ezra to Malachi, and the Apoc-
rypha, in Matthew's Bible, was the work of Cover-
dale. In this portion we find in the Great Bible a
large number of changes. To the influence of Miinster
are due the changes made in Tindale's work, Genesis
to II Chronicles, and to the Latin of Erasmus, and to
the Vulgate, changes made in Tindale's translation
of the New Testament. The Latin origin of changes
is indicated by smaller type, as is the verse I John 5 :J.
The following versions of Psalm 23 indicate the kind
of changes made in the translation: —
"The Lord is my Shepherd, I can want nothing. He
feedeth me in a green pasture, and leadeth me to a fresh
water. He quickeneth my soul, and bringeth me forth in
the ways of righteousness for His name's sake. Though I
should walk now in the valley of the shadow of death, yet
I fear no evil, Thy staff and Thy sheephook comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me against mine enemies:
THE ENGLISH VERSIONS I539-I582 369
Thou anointest mine head with oil, and fillest my cup full.
Oh, let Thy loving-kindness and mercy follow me all the days
of my life, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."
Co verd ale's Bible, 1535.
"The Lord is my Shepherd; therefore can I lack nothing.
He shall feed me in a green pasture, and lead me forth beside
the waters of comfort. He shall convert my soul, and bring
me forth in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil, for Thou are with me; Thy rod and Thy
staff comfort me. Thou shalt prepare a table before me
against them that trouble me: Thou has anointed my head
with oil, and my cup shall be full. But Thy loving-kindness
and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I
will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever." The Great
Bible, 1539. 1
An edition printed in April, 1540, contains further
changes which were increased in another edition in
November, 1540. It may be remarked here that books
were often revised while being struck off, and, as sheets
were printed by hand, one at a time, it is not uncom-
mon to find, in 16th-century books copies of the same
edition of a work that have different readings in the
same passage, because the author, or the printer, made
a change, or changes, after some sheets had been
printed. Between 1540 and 1557 reprints of Tindale's
New Testament, Coverdale's, Matthew's, Taverner's
and the Great Bible were numerous, but no new ver-
THE GENEVA BIBLE, I557-I560
The religious dissensions, and the various enact-
ments by the party that happened to be in the as-
1 The spelling is here modernized in both versions of the Psalm.
37° A BOOK ABOUT THE ENGLISH BIBLE
cendant at a given time, made life very uncomfortable
and even dangerous for those whose views differed from
the prevailing ones. Cruel persecutions and martyr-
doms were among the results. Important, in the
history of the English Bible, were the colonies of
religious refugees who lived at Antwerp, Rheims,
Douay, Rouen, Amsterdam and Geneva, from which
came many English books. From Geneva, where
Calvin was the leader, came in 1557 an English New
Testament, printed by Conrad Badius, translated by
William Whittingham of Christ Church, Oxford, which
contained for the first time, in English, the verse
divisions, which have interfered so greatly with the
proper reading of the Bible. The division of verses
in the New Testament was made first in the Greek
Testament of Stephanus, (or Etienne) fourth edition,
1 55 1, and it is this that is the basis of the Whitting-
ham New Testament. Verse divisions in the Old
Testament existed in Hebrew, and were made probably
by the Massorites. They were made in the Latin
version of Pagninus, 1528. They appeared in English
first in the Geneva version, 1 560. The division of the
Bible into chapters was the work of Stephen Langton,
1228, or as some assert of Hugues de St. Cher, 1262, in
In Whittingham's Testament, we have chapter-
summaries, notes, and marks calling attention to
differences in Greek manuscripts, and the use of italics
to indicate words not in the original. This last feature
was taken from Beza's French New Testament, 1556.
In 1560 appeared from the press in Geneva a vol-
ume, quarto size, with this title: —
" The Bible and Holy Scriptures Conteyned in the Olde and
Newe Testament. Translated according to the Ebrue and
THE ENGLISH VERSIONS I539-I582 371
Greke and conferred with the best translations in divers
langages. With moste profitable Annotations upon all the
hard places, and other things of great importance as may
appeare in the Epistle to the Reader. At Geneva. Printed
by Rouland Hall, mdlx."
The book contains an address to the Queen and to
the Brethren of England, Scotland, Ireland, etc. The
Geneva Version of 1560 is probably chiefly the work
of Whittingham, whose version of the New Testament,
considerably revised, appears, with a careful version
of the Old Testament based on the Great Bible. Asso-
ciated with Whittingham in the preparation of the
Geneva Version were Anthony Gilbey, a Cambridge
man, and Thomas Sampson, who, like Whittingham,
was an Oxford man. Coverdale was one of the Eng-
lishmen who had gone to Geneva to be with the re-
formers under Calvin. Other prominent reformers in
the colony were John Knox, John Pullain, Thomas
Cole and Christopher Goodwin, at one time Professor
of Divinity at Oxford.
The Geneva Bible contains numerous annotations,
and the Apocrypha is printed separately, the books of
the Bible being arranged as in the King James Version.
The Prayer of Manasses is placed, not in the Apocry-
pha, but between II Chronicles and Ezra, with a note,
"This prayer is not in the Hebrew, but is translated
out of the Greeke." This prayer was omitted by
Coverdale, because not in the Vulgate, but added in
Matthew's Bible. This version, like the Whittingham
Testament, 1557, was printed in Roman type, all other
English versions having been in black letter.
Just how much difference the French environment
made to the Geneva translators we cannot tell. We
know that Whittingham used the French Testament
372 A BOOK ABOUT THE ENGLISH BIBLE
of Beza, 1556, and the French Bible of Olivetan, 1535.
The newer Latin version of Pagninus, 1528, and the
Bible of Leo Juda, 1543-45, were likewise probably
used. The Geneva Bible was the most scholarly and
critical yet produced. It is nicknamed the "Breeches
Bible" because in Genesis 3:7 it follows the Wycliffite
and reads "breeches" where other versions read
"aprons." In 1576 the French Testament of Beza was
translated into English by Laurence Tomson, an
Oxford man, who used the Geneva Version as the basis
for his English. Among the Puritans, as the reformed
party were called in England, the Geneva Version was
the household book. It was the first version printed
in Scotland, where an edition was issued in 1579.
THE BISHOPS' BIBLE, 1 568
The Geneva Bible, as the popular version, the Great
Bible, as the official Bible of the Church of England,
and various editions of the other versions circulating
in considerable numbers — this represents the condition
of England, as concerns the English Bible, during the
period between the appearance of the Geneva Version
in 1560 and that of a new official version in 1568, the
latter being the long-looked-for Bishops' Bible. Parker,
Archbishop of Canterbury, was the leader in the
making of the new version. The Geneva Version was
generally recognized as far superior to any that -had
preceded it, and Parker himself would have been
willing perhaps to accept it, had it not contained "in-
spersed preiudicall notis which might have ben also
well spared." * There is in the Record Office in Lon-
1 A. W. Pollard, Records of the English Bible, p. 295, Archbishop Parker
to Queen Elizabeth.
THE ENGLISH VERSIONS I539-I582 373
don, Parker's list of Bishops and others to whom he
assigned for translation different sections of the Bible.
The initials of these men were to be placed at the end
of their respective sections, but some changes were
evidently made, as the initials do not always accord
with the list as given. Of great interest are the: —
"Observations respected of the Translators "
" Firste to followe the Commune Englishe Translacion used
in the Churches and not to receed from yt but wher yt
varieth manifestlye from the Hebrue or Greke originall."
" Item to use such sections and devisions in the Textes as
Pagnine in his Translacion useth, and for the veritie of the
Hebrue to followe the said Pagnine and Munster specially,
And generally others learned in the tonges."
" Item to make no bitter notis uppon any text, or yet to
set downe any determinacion in places of controversie."
" Item to note such Chapters and places as conteineth
matter of Genealogies or other such places not edefieng,
with some strike or note that the Reader may eschue them in
his publike readinge."
" Item that all such wordes as soundeth in the Old Trans-
lacion to any offence of Lightnes or obscenitie be expressed
with more convenient termes and phrases."
" The printer hath bestowed his thickest Paper in the newe
Testament because yt shalbe most occupied. 1 "
In general, the Bishops' Bible is simply a revision of
the Great Bible. Different parts were treated by differ-
ent men, but it does not appear that there was any con-
ference between the various revisers in regard to their
work, so that there is no consistency in the changes
made. In a quarto edition of the Bishops' Bible in
1569, many of the misprints and errors of the 1568
1 A. W. Pollard, Records of the English Bible, p. 297.
374 A BOOK ABOUT THE ENGLISH BIBLE
edition were corrected, but in the 1572 folio, while the
New Testament had been further revised, the correc-
tions of 1569 in the Old Testament were not made.
The most notable feature of the Bishops' Bible, so
far as the people were concerned, was the new version
of Psalms, made not by Guest, Bishop of Rochester, to
whom Parker at first assigned them, but, as we know,
from the initials at the end, by one T. B., who is
with reason thought to have been Thomas Bickley,
afterwards Bishop of Chichester. 1 So strongly at-
tached were the people to the version of Psalms
given in the Great Bible, which was Coverdale's
version of 1535 with modifications, that a new
version has never yet found its place in the Prayer
Book. In the second folio edition of the Bishops' Bible
in 1572, the older version of Psalms was printed in
black-letter, in columns parallel to the new version,
in Roman. The liking of the people for the old Psalter
was due to the fact that, as the first Prayer Book in
English was printed in 1549, the Great Bible, then the
authorized version of the Church, was used for all
scripture passages. The Psalter was arranged to be read
through every month, and the people therefore became
familiar with it from the reading. In the Great Bible
additions from the Latin version had been printed
in different type and thus indicated to the reader.
This has never been done in the Prayer Book, which
contains, in the Psalter, passages not in the Hebrew
Text. A striking instance of this will be found by com-
paring Psalm 14, as given in the Psalter, 2 with the same
Psalm as given in the Geneva version: —
1 A. W. Pollard, Records of the English Bible, p.p.
2 The version of the Psalter in the Prayer Book is evidently that of the
1540 revision of the Great Bible, but is not exact. It differs in many places
THE ENGLISH VERSIONS I539-I582 375
Psalm 14. Psalter — Great Bible
1. " The fool hath said in his heart: There is no God."
2. " They are corrupt, and become abominable in their
doings: there is none that doeth good, no not one."
3. " The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children
of men: to see if there were any that would understand, and
seek after God."
4. " But they are all gone out of the way, they are alto-
gether become abominable: there is none that doeth good,
no not one."
5. "Their throat is an open sepulchre, with their tongues
have they deceived: the poison of asps is under their lips."
6. "Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their
feet are swift to shed blood."
7. " Destruction and unhappiness is in their ways, and the
way of peace have they not known: there is no fear of God
before their eyes."
8. " Have they no knowledge, that they are all such work-
ers of mischief: eating up my people as it were bread, and
call not upon the Lord ? "
9. "There were they brought in great fear, even where
no fear was: for God is in the generation of the righteous."
10. " As for you, ye have made a mock at the counsel
of the poor: because he putteth his trust in the Lord."
n. "Who shall give salvation unto Israel out of Sion?
When the Lord turneth the captivity of his people: then
shall Jacob rejoice, and Israel shall be glad. 1 "
Psalm 14. Geneva Bible, 1560
1. "The foole hath said in his heart, There is no God:
they have corrupted, and done an abominable worke: there
is none that doeth good."
2. " The Lord looked downe from heaven upon the children
from the version of 1539. Examples are given by S. R. Driver, The Paralell
Psalter, Oxford, 1898, p. xv.
1 The spelling is here modernized.
376 A BOOK ABOUT THE ENGLISH BIBLE
of men, to see if there were any that would understand and
3. "All are gone out of the way: they are all corrupt:
there is none that doth good, no not one."
4. " Doe not all the workers of iniquity knowe that they
eate up my people, as they eat bread ? they call not upon the
5. " There they shall be taken with feare because God is
in the generation of the just."
6. " You have made a mocke at the counsell of the poore,
because the Lord is his trust."
7. "Oh give salvation unto Israel out of Zion: when the
Lord turneth the captivitie of his people, then Jaakob shall
rejoyce, and Israel shalbe glad."
" Note that of this Psalme the 5. 6. and 7. verses which are
put into the common translation, and may seem unto some
to bee left in this, are not in the same Psalme in the Hebrew
text, but are rather put in, more fully to expresse the maners
of the wicked: and are gathered out of the 5. 140. and 10.
Psalmes, the 59. of the Prophet Isaiah, and the 36. Psalme,
and are alleaged by S. Paul, and placed together in the 3.
to the Romanes."
The Bishops' Bible contained notes dealing chiefly
with the interpretation of the text. They are briefer
and not so numerous as those of the Geneva Bible.
"Bitter notes" were avoided in accordance with the
instructions given by Parker. On Psalm 45:9 is the
"Ophir is thought to be the island in the west coast of
late found by Christopher Colombo: from whence at this
day is brought most fine gold."
The Bishops' Bible, like Coverdale's, 1535, has the
nickname, the "Treacle Bible" from the translation,
"Is there not treacle at Giliad," Jeremiah 8:22.
THE ENGLISH VERSIONS 1582-1611
From Tindale on, the English versions had come
from the Reformers or Protestants. WyclifTe has been
called the morning star of the Reformation.
THE RHEIMS-DOUAY BIBLE, I582-1609
In 1582 appeared at Rheims, where one of the Eng-
lish Roman Catholic colonies of refugees was located, a
translation of the New Testament with the following
"The New Testament of Jesus Christ Translated
Faithfully into English, out of the Authentical Latin,
according to the best corrected copies of the same; diligently
conferred with the Greeke and other Editions in divers
languages; with Arguments of Bookes and Chapters, Annota-
tions, and other necessarie helpes for the better understanding
of the text, and specially for the discoverie of the Corrup-
tions of divers late translations, and for cleering the Con-
troversies in Religion of these daies; In the English College of
Rhemes. Printed at Rhemes by John Fogney 1582 cum
The leader in the preparation of this version of the
New Testament was Cardinal Allen, who in writing to
Dr. Vendeville Sept. 16, 1578, called attention to the
disadvantage under which Roman Catholic Clergy
labor when they are : —
378 A BOOK ABOUT THE ENGLISH BIBLE
"preaching to the unlearned and are obliged on the spur
of the moment to translate some passage which they have
quoted into the vulgar tongue. They often do it inaccurately
and with unpleasant hesitation, because either there is no
English version of the words or it does not then and there
occur to them. Our adversaries on the other hand have
at their fingers' ends all those passages of scripture which
seem to make for them, and by a certain deceptive adapta-
tion and alteration of the sacred words, produce the effect
of appearing to say nothing but what comes from the Bible.
This evil might be remedied if we too had some Catholic
version of the Bible, for all the English versions are most
How strong the Roman Catholic feeling was against
the English versions of the Bible is indicated also in a
book written by Gregory Martin which bore the fol-
lowing title : —
" A Discoverie of the Manifold Corruptions of the Holy
Scriptures by the Heretickes of our daies, specially the
English Sectaries, and of their foule dealing herein, by partial
and false translations to the advantage of their heresies in
their English Bibles, printed at Rhemes by John Fogny, 1582."
To this there was an immediate reply in a book by
" A Defense of the sincere and true Translation of the Holie
Scriptures into the English tong, against the manifolde cauils
and impudent slaunders of Gregorie Martin, at London,
Imprinted by Henrie Bynneman, for George Bishop, 1583."
The Rheims New Testament was the actual work of
Gregory Martin, one of the original scholars of St.
1 T. F. Knox, First and Second Diaries of the English College at Douay,
London, 1878, p. xl.
THE ENGLISH VERSIONS I582-161I 379
John's College, Oxford, and at this time, 1578, lecturer
in Hebrew and Holy Scripture at the Douay-Rheims
College. His work took three years and a half to
complete, as we learn from the Douay Diary and
was revised by Cardinal Allen, and Richard Bristow,
Moderator of the College. Prefixed to the text is: —
"The Preface to the Reader treating of these three points:
of the translation of Holy Scriptures into the vulgar tongues,
and namely into English; of the causes why this New Tes-
tament is translated according to the auncient vulgar Latin
text: and of the maner of translating the same."
Much of what is said in this Preface is controversial
and we are not concerned with it, but there are several
important statements made which bear on the history
of the Bible in English. One is that the whole Bible
had been translated into English by the Roman Catho-
lic College, when in 1582 the New Testament was
printed. The Old Testament was not printed until
1609. Another, and most important in the present con-
nection, is that these translators looked at their task
from a point of view quite different from that of the
Protestant translators. Tindale's remark that he would
"cause a boy that driveth the plough" to know the
Bible, represents one view. The other view is given
in the following passage from the Preface to the Rheims
"The holy Bible long since translated by us into English,
and the old Testament lying by us for lacke of good meanes
to publish the whole in such sort as a worke of so great
charge and importance requireth: we have yet through
Gods goodnes at length fully finished for thee (most Christian
reader) all the New Testament, which is the principal, most
profitable and comfortable peece of holy writte": . . .
380 A BOOK ABOUT THE ENGLISH BIBLE
"Which translation we doe not for all that publish, upon
erroneous opinion of necessitie, that the holy Scriptures
should alwaies be in our mother tonge, or that they ought,
or were ordained by God, to be read indifferently of all,
or could be easily understood of every one that readeth or
heareth them in a knowen language: or that they were not
often through mans malice or infirmitie, pernicious and much
hurtful to many: or that we generally and absolutely deemed
it more convenient in it self, and more agreable to Gods word
and honour or edification of the faithful, to have them turned
into vulgar tonges, then to be kept and studied only in the
Ecclesiastical learned languages: Not for these nor any such
like causes doe we translate this sacred booke, but upon
special consideration of the present time, state, and condition
of our countrie, unto which divers thinges are either neces-
sarie, or profitable and medicinable now, that otherwise in
the peace of the Church were neither much requisite, nor
perchance wholy tolerable. . . ."
The vocabulary used in the Rheims Testament is
noteworthy, because, as the translators tell us in the
Preface, they followed closely the : —
"old vulgar approved Latin: not only in sense, which we
hope we alwaies doe, but sometime in the very wordes also
and phrases, which may seeme to the vulgar Reader, and
to common English eares, not yet acquainted therewith,
rudenesse or ignorance: but to the discrete Reader that
deepely weigheth and considereth the importance of sacred