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Matthew's Bible

 

1549

 

The Matthew Bible, also known as Matthew's Version, was first published in 1537 by John Rogers, under the pseudonym "Thomas Matthew". It combined the New Testament of William Tyndale, and as much of the Old Testament as he had been able to translate before being captured and put to death. The translations of Myles Coverdale from German and Latin sources completed the Old Testament and the Apocrypha, except the Apocryphal Prayer of Manasses. It is thus a vital link in the main sequence of English Bible translations.

 

Discussion continued below.

 

OLD TESTAMENT 

Genesis

2nd Chronicles

Daniel

Exodus

Ezra

Hosea

Leviticus

Nehemiah

Joel

Numbers

Esther

Amos

Deuteronomy

Job

Obadiah

Joshua

Psalms

Jonah

Judges

Proverbs

Micah

Ruth

Ecclesiastes

Nahum

1st Samuel

Song of Solomon

Habakkuk

2nd Samuel

Isaiah

Zephaniah

1st Kings

Jeremiah

Haggai

2nd Kings

Lamentations

Zechariah

1st Chronicles

Ezekiel

Malachi

 

NEW TESTAMENT

Matthew

Ephesians

Hebrews

Mark

Philippians

James

Luke

Colossians

1st Peter

John

1st Thessalonians

2nd Peter

Acts

2nd Thessalonians

1st John

Romans

1st Timothy

2nd John

1st Corinthians

2nd Timothy

3rd John

2nd Corinthians

Titus

Jude

Galatians

Philemon

Revelation

 

Matthew's Bible was the combined work of three individuals, working from numerous sources in at least five different languages.

The 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 the translation.

The 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.

The 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.

Of 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.

Time 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.

It 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.