Learn About the Bible Translation by William Tyndale and Myles Coverdale
The little-known Matthew Bible, published during the Reformation, contained the Bible translation by William Tyndale with, also, the equally excellent translation by Myles Coverdale. A third man, John Rogers, compiled their work, added many helpful notes, and produced the Matthew Bible in 1537. Together, these three men gave us the world’s first English study Bible. This wonderful Reformation Bible is the main focus of our work at Baruch House Publishing.
Few people are aware that Tyndale’s Bible translation formed the base of about half of the King James Version, a fact that demonstrates its great worth: computer studies show that the KJV New Testament is about 83% straight Tyndale from the Matthew Bible. However, though it is almost eighty years older, the Bible translation by William Tyndale is easier to understand. His life’s purpose was to make the Bible so plain and clear that a ploughboy would understand it. Myles Coverdale shared his desire, and both men gave us translations that are a rich, heavenly pasture of truth and comfort for every soul.
Our goal at Baruch House Publishing is to increase people’s awareness and appreciation of the Matthew Bible. We are also the publishing arm of the New Matthew Bible Project, dedicated to gently updating the Matthew Bible so that it is clear for today’s ploughboy, yet without any loss of the original character or the fullness of the truth that this Bible translation by William Tyndale and Myles Coverdale conveyed. That is what the men would want. In 2016 we proudly published the New Testament of the New Matthew Bible, entitled The October Testament.
The October Testament contains Tyndale’s New Testament, his prologue to Romans, which he translated from Martin Luther, and all Rogers’ notes and commentaries from the Matthew Bible. Our editor Ruth Magnusson Davis has minimally updated the obsolete words and grammar but maintained the style and beauty of the original work.
What Is the Matthew Bible Translation?
The New Testament of the Matthew Bible and the first half of the Old Testament is the Bible translation by William Tyndale, while the rest, including the Apocryphal books, is Coverdale’s work. These two men laboured in hardship and exile in Europe because at that time it was illegal in England to translate the Bible. John Rogers, who worked in Antwerp with them, published their translations under the pseudonym “Thomas Matthew.” He used this pseudonym mainly to conceal William Tyndale’s involvement in the work, because all Tyndale’s writings and translations were banned in England, and it led to the names “Matthew’s Version” and “Matthew Bible.”
The Matthew Bible is the only English Bible that is sealed with the blood of its authors. The 1535 New Testament Bible translation by William Tyndale was his final revision, completed just before he was executed by Roman Catholic authorities in Vilvoorde. It is this edition that Rogers used in the Matthew Bible. Later, he also died for his work: he was burned alive at the stake by Queen Mary in Smithfield, England, in 1555. One of the charges against him was that he had used the alias “Thomas Matthew.”
Why Should You Be Interested in This Translation?
Even if people have heard about the Matthew Bible, still most do not understand its true worth. This is partly because modern scholars have undervalued it. In Part 2 of The Story of the Matthew Bible (see below), Ruth Magnusson Davis shows how the method of Bible translation by William Tyndale and Myles Coverdale contributed to the superior clarity and meaningfulness that they achieved. She also shows how well and fully they understood and conveyed the gospel message and the teaching of the New Covenant. The blood-bought Scriptures of the Matthew Bible feed the saints with divine truth better than any other translation.
John Rogers’ informative notes further enhance the value of the Matthew Bible. Among other things, he added notes that explained difficult Hebrew idioms, or Hebrew expressions that are unknown to English speakers. For example, in the book of Genesis he added a note to explain that when Isaac is called Abraham’s “only son,” it means “most beloved son.” Without Rogers’ explanation this Hebrew idiom is confusing, because Abraham had other sons besides Isaac. Another example is at Roman 8:3, where Paul stated that Christ “was made sin for us.” This also is a Hebrew idiom, which Rogers explained means that Christ was made a sin-offering. He took this note from Tyndale himself. (Click here for a fuller discussion of Romans 8:3.) Rogers’ commentaries illuminate the meaning of many Bible passages that are little understood today.
Books and Resources to Learn About the Matthew Bible Translation
The Story of the Matthew Bible. Part 1 is about the making of the Matthew Bible. Part 2 tracks changes to the Bible translation of William Tyndale and Myles Coverdale when their work went on to form the base of later versions, including the Great Bible, Geneva and King James Versions, and down to modern times.
The October Testament is Tyndale’s New Testament as it was set forth in the Matthew Bible, including John Rogers’ notes, all gently updated for today.
You may follow our blog. Ruth publishes insights into the Matthew Bible translation by William Tyndale and Myles Coverdale, as well as their other works and writings, and posts on a variety of other interesting topics.
As well, Ruth publishes academic papers about the Matthew Bible on the Academia platform. Her papers include, The 1537 Matthew Bible: More Anglican Than Not , and Hebraisms in Genesis: Comparing the Matthew and Geneva Bibles.
See our complete line of books in our store.