Bible was the combined work of three individuals, working from numerous
sources in at least five different languages.
entire New Testament (first published in 1526, later revised, 1534 and
1535), the Pentateuch, Jonah and in David Daniell's view, the Books of
Joshua, Judges, Ruth, First and Second Samuel, First and Second Kings,
and First and Second Chronicles, were the work of William Tyndale.
Tyndale worked directly from the Hebrew and Greek, occasionally
consulting the Vulgate and Erasmusís Latin version, and he used
Luther's Bible for the prefaces, marginal notes and the biblical text.
The use of the pseudonym "Thomas Matthew" resulted possibly
from the need to conceal from Henry VIII the participation of Tyndale in
remaining books of the Old Testament and the Apocrypha were the work of
Myles Coverdale. Coverdale translated primarily from German and Latin
sources. Historians often tend to treat Coverdale and Tyndale like
competitors in a race to complete the monumental and arduous task of
translating the biblical text. One is often credited to the exclusion of
the other. In reality they knew each other and occasionally worked
together. Foxe states that they were in Hamburg translating the
Pentateuch together as early as 1529.
Prayer of Manasses was the work of John Rogers. Rogers translated from a
French Bible printed two years earlier (in 1535). Rogers compiled the
completed work and added the preface, some marginal notes, a calendar
and an almanac.
the three translators, two were burned at the stake. Tyndale was burned
on 6 October 1536 in Vilvoorde, Belgium. John Rogers was "tested by
fire" on 4 February 1555 at Smithfield, England; the first to meet
this fate under Mary I of England. Myles Coverdale was employed by
Cromwell to work on the Great Bible of 1539, the first officially
authorized English translation of the Bible.
and extensive scholastic scrutiny have judged Tyndale the most gifted of
the three translators. Dr Westcott (in his History of the English
Bible) states that "The history of our English Bible begins
with the work of Tyndale and not with that of Wycliffe." The
quality of his translations has also stood the test of time, coming
relatively intact even into modern versions of the Bible. A. S. Herbert,
Bible cataloguer, says of the Matthew Bible, "this version, which
welds together the best work of Tyndale and Coverdale, is generally
considered to be the real primary version of our English Bible".
upon which later editions were based, including the Geneva Bible and
King James Version. Professor David Daniell recounts that, "New
Testament scholars Jon Nielson and Royal Skousen observed that previous
estimates of Tyndale's contribution to the KJV 'have run from a high of
up to 90% (Westcott) to a low of 18% (Butterworth)'. By a statistically
accurate and appropriate method of sampling, based on eighteen portions
of the Bible, they concluded that for the New Testament Tyndale's
contribution is about 83% of the text, and in the Old Testament
76%." Thus the Matthew Bible, though largely unrecognized,
significantly shaped and influenced English Bible versions in the
centuries that followed its first appearance.
is not known who printed the 1537 Matthew Bible (Herbert #34); it may
have been Jacobus van Meteren in Antwerp. Later editions were printed in
London; the last of four appeared in 1551 (Herbert #92). Two editions of
the Matthew Bible were published in 1549.