History of English Bible Translation 10 Matthew Thomas Bible 1537

The History of the English Bible - Chapter 10 

Bible History Timeline Matthew Thomas1537 Matthew Thomas's Bible English Bible History

"Thomas Matthew", (whose real name was "John Rogers"), completed the translation work of Tyndale and produced a complete English Bible within a year of Tyndale's execution.  It is a product of Tyndale's Pentateuch and New Testament (1534-1535 edition) and Coverdale's Bible and some of Roger's own translation of the text. It is known as the "Matthew-Tyndale", "Matthew Thomas" or "Matthew's" Bible.

The title-page prominently shows that this Bible was "set forth with the king's most gracious license."  However, the origin of this version certainly was not realized by Henry when he sanctioned it. Tyndale apparently was performing Old Testament translation work during his 500 days of imprisonment before being burned at the stake in 1536.  We know from his hand-written letters that he asked for the use of his Hebrew books.

Tyndale’s Last Work

The Pentateuch and New Testament of Matthew Thomas’s Bible are taken direct from Tyndale with little variation. The books of the Old Testament from Ezra to Malachi and the Apocrypha are taken from Coverdale.  But the historical books of the Old Testament (Joshua through 2 Chronicles) are a new translation, as to the origin of which no statement is made. It is, however, fairly certain, from a combination of evidence, that it was Tyndale's.
The Matthew-Tyndale Bible was initially printed in Antwerp, at the expense of R. Grafton and E. Whitchurch. Soon after, this became the first complete English Bible that was actually printed in England. The initials IR (Ioannes Rogers), WT (Tyndale), RG and EW (Grafton and Whitchurch) are printed in large letters on various blank spaces throughout the Old Testament.

Tyndale's outspoken Prologue to the Romans and pro-Protestant commentary made many of the clergy uncomfortable. Soon, another translation, the Great Bible, was authorized, this time commissioned officially by the Church, minus the offending commentary.  Although Coverdale's edition was printed first in 1535, it was not until 1537 that he also contained the license of the king.  The first Bible to obtain such license was the Matthew Thomas Bible. And so it happened that Tyndale's translation, which was banned and burned just a few years earlier, was circulating with the King's permission and authority both in the Coverdale and Matthew Bibles.

The reign of Queen “Bloody” Mary (1553-1558), was the next obstacle to the printing of the Bible in English. Queen Mary violently tried to return England to the Church of Rome.  As a result, in 1555, John Rogers was burned at the stake.



Matthew Thomas Bible Leaf