Learn About the Bible Translation by William Tyndale and Myles Coverdale
Do you appreciate the King James Version of the Bible? If so, you will appreciate the 1537 Matthew Bible, which formed the base of the KJV. Few people are aware, but computer studies show that the KJV kept over 80% of the New Testament Bible translation by William Tyndale from the Matthew Bible. Thus when you read the Matthew Bible, the truths, beauty, and style will be familiar. However, though it is almost 80 years older than the KJV, the Matthew Bible is easier to understand.
Our goal at Baruch House Publishing is to increase people’s awareness of the Matthew Bible. We are also the publishing arm of the New Matthew Bible Project, which is dedicated to gently updating the Matthew Bible for today. In 2016 we published Tyndale’s New Testament as The October Testament, available on Amazon and in a special leather edition through our bookstore. It contains Tyndale’s translations, commentaries, and some of his prologues to the books of the New Testament.
What Is the Matthew Bible Translation?
The Matthew Bible was first published in 1537, after being translated overseas by Tyndale and Coverdale. The New Testament is entirely Tyndale’s work, while the Old Testament is the combined work of Tyndale and Myles Coverdale. They worked in exile because at that time it was illegal to translate the Bible into English. A third man, John Rogers, collated their translations, added notes and study aids, and published the entire Bible under the pseudonym “Thomas Matthew.” He used this name to conceal William Tyndale’s involvement as one of the translators, because all Tyndale’s work was banned in England.
The Matthew Bible is the only English Bible sealed with the blood of its authors. The 1535 New Testament Bible translation by William Tyndale was his final revision, made just before he was captured and burned at the stake in Vilvoorde by Roman Catholic authorities. Then, in 1555, John Rogers also died for his work: he was Queen Mary’s first burning victim in England. One of the charges against him was that he had used the alias Thomas Matthew.
Why Should You Be Interested in This Translation?
The Matthew Bible is little known today. Even worse, there are many misconceptions about it. Unpacking these misconceptions is quite a task, but our editor Ruth Magnusson Davis does this in her book, The Story of the Matthew Bible, published in two parts.
The Matthew Bible is a clear and true translation of God’s timeless word. In Part 2 of The Story, Ruth shows how the method of Bible translation by William Tyndale and Myles Coverdale contributed to the greater clarity of their Scriptures. Their “meaning first” emphasis meant that, as Tyndale desired with all his heart, even the ploughboy would be able to understand God’s word.
John Rogers’ informative notes enhance the value of the Matthew Bible. For example, in the Old Testament, he added hundreds of notes to explain obscure or confusing Hebrew idioms (figurative manners of speech). He explained that when Isaac is called Abraham’s “only son” in the book of Genesis, it means “most beloved son.” This idiom is not used in English, and is confusing because we know that Abraham had other sons, including Ishmael.
In Part 2 of The Story Ruth also demonstrates the faithfulness of the Matthew Bible, and how modern scholars have wrongly depreciated the value of this Bible translation by William Tyndale and Myles Coverdale.
What Resources Are There to Learn About the Matthew Bible Translation?
The Story of the Matthew Bible. Part 1 is about the making of the Matthew Bible. It tells the stories of Tyndale, Coverdale, and John Rogers, as well as Thomas Cranmer and Thomas Cromwell, who were instrumental in obtaining King Henry’s consent for the Matthew Bible to go forth in England. 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 and Geneva and King James Versions. It then follows Bible revisions right up to modern times. It is surprising how much has changed!
The October Testament is Tyndale’s New Testament as it was set forth in the Matthew Bible, including John Rogers’ notes, all lightly updated for today. The English language has changed since the 16th century, but Ruth’s gentle editing of obsolete words and phrases brings out the meaning.
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.
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