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Matthew Bible

Matthew's Bible, Matthew Bible. First complete English translation of the Bible (not just the Old Testament or New Testament) published in 1537 under the pseudonym 'Thomas Matthew'.

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

The Pentateuch, the Books of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, First and Second Samuel, First and Second Kings, First Chronicles, and the entire New Testament (previously published in 1526) were the work of William Tyndale. Tyndale worked directly from the Hebrew and Greek, occasionally consulting the Vulgate and Erasmusís Latin version, and referencing Luther's Bible for the prefaces and marginal notes

The remaining books of the Old Testament and the Apocrypha were the work of Myles Coverdale. Coverdale translated primarily from German and Latin sources.

The Song 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 almanac.

The Matthew Bible was probably published by Jacobus van Meteren, who had published Coverdale's Old Testament in 1536. In the same year Tyndale entrusted his completed translations to Rogers. Van Meteren was then able to provide Rogers with Coverdale's translations of the missing portions.

Of the three translators, two were burned at the stake. Tyndale was burned on October 6, 1536 in Vilvoorden, Belgium at the instigation of agents of Henry VIII and the Anglican Church. John Rogers was "tested by fire" on February 04, 1554/55 at Smithfield, near Warwick, Nottinghamshire, 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 1538/1539, the first officially authorized English translation of the Bible.

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 at 1529.

Van Meteren's son, Emanuel stated in an affidavit dated 28 May 1609 that his father was "a furtherer of reformed religion, and he that caused the first Bible at his costes to be Englisshed by Mr Myles Coverdal in Andwarp, the wíh his father, with Mr Edward Whytchurch, printed both in Paris and London." In 1535 and 1536 both Coverdale and Tyndale were in the employed as translators by J. van Meteren. Rogers began assisting Tyndale around 1535, and married J. van Meteren's niece Adriana in the same year that the Matthew Bible was published (1537).

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." His translations are directly from the Hebrew and Greek, rather than translations of previous translations from those languages. The quality of his translations have also stood the test of time, coming relatively intact even into modern versions of the Bible.

Adapted from the 1911 Encyclopedia entries "Bible, English", "Rogers, John (c. 1500 - 1555)", "Tyndale, William", "Coverdale, Miles", and 'Foxe's Acts and Monuments'