On This Day In History: Coverdale Bible Printed In English For The First Time – On Oct 4, 1535

On October 4, 1535, the Coverdale Bible, the first English-language translation of Christianity’s sacred text, was printed.

The Coverdale Bible, compiled by Myles Coverdale and published in 1535, was the first complete Modern English translation of the Bible (not just the Old Testament or New Testament), and the first complete printed translation into English (cf. Wycliffe’s Bible in manuscript).

The later editions (folio and quarto) published in 1539 were the first complete Bibles printed in England. The 1539 folio edition carried the royal licence and was therefore the first officially approved Bible translation in English.

The place of publication of the 1535 edition was long disputed.

The printer was assumed to be either Froschover in Zurich or Cervicornus and Soter (in Cologne or Marburg). Since the discovery of Guido Latré, in 1997, the printer has been identified as Merten de Keyser, in Antwerp. Although Coverdale was also involved in the preparation of the Great Bible of 1539, the Coverdale Bible continued to be reprinted.

The last of over 20 editions of the whole Bible, or its New Testament, appeared in 1553.

Coverdale based his New Testament on Tyndale’s translation. For the Old Testament, Coverdale used Tyndale’s published Pentateuch and possibly his published Jonah.

He apparently did not make use of any of Tyndale’s Old Testament material, which was unublished. Instead, Coverdale himself translated the remaining books of the Old Testament and the Apocrypha.

Coverdale used his working intermediate knowledge of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, not being a Hebrew or Greek scholar, he worked primarily from German Bibles and some other sources.


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