Part 1: The Story of the Matthew Bible: That Which We First Received, is Part 1 of the untold history of the Scriptures that formed the basis of the King James Version. It is also the first book ever written about the only English Bible that was bought with blood, the Matthew Bible, published in Antwerp in 1537.
Part 1 tells the full story of the making of this Reformation Bible, which was the work of three men: William Tyndale, Myles Coverdale, and John Rogers. Davis investigates conflicting accounts and resolves the confusion: did the three men work together in Antwerp, or not? Did Coverdale never leave English soil, as some historians say? And was he really a rival of John Rogers, as Rogers’ biographer J. Chester has claimed?
Davis also describes how the Matthew Bible was brought over to England and successfully licensed for use in the Church, even though the work of William Tyndale was outlawed in England. She tells the touching stories of Thomas Cranmer and Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s chief ministers, who were responsible for obtaining the king’s authority to use the Matthew Bible in the churches.
This book will appeal to readers at all levels. Passionate, lively, well-sourced, illustrated, it refers frequently to original (and often little-known) documents, so readers may be sure they are receiving the true history.
When you reach the last page of The Story of the Matthew Bible, you will have a much deeper understanding of the history of the English Bible and the men who gave it to us – men who gave their lives in the Reformation, for our sakes, that we might have the light of God’s word.
Part 2: In Part 2 of The Story of the Matthew Bible (The Scriptures Then and Now), Davis looks at revisions to the Matthew Bible translations over the past five centuries – especially, because of their scope and influence, revisions introduced in the Geneva Bible and the 1894 Revised Version. She shows the surprising nature of modern re-interpretations of certain Bible verses, such as 1 Peter 1:13:
Matthew Bible: Be sober, and trust perfectly on the grace that is brought unto you by the declaring of Jesus Christ.
NIV: Set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.
In the Matthew Bible, the believer receives grace now. This grace is given since Jesus’ first coming. However, in modern Bibles grace is something to hope for in the future, at the second coming. Davis explores the sources and consequences of such developments in Bible translation.
Part 2 of The Story is illustrated and contains interesting charts: one chart shows how the mention of slaves (and “slave-wives”) has gone from zero to over 300 in some modern versions. And it is far from a dull review of Bible history. It tells the tale of the Puritan revolution of the 16th-17th centuries in England, and contrasts the Matthew Bible teachings about obedience to civic authority with the Geneva version (which formed part of The Soldiers’ Pocket Bible during the Puritan wars). Davis also examines the new treatment of hell introduced in the 1894 Revised Version.
Davis challenges modern scholarship insofar as it disesteems the translations of the Matthew Bible, and with many clear examples shows how learned and faith-filled John Rogers’ commentaries were. By the end, the reader will regret that the Matthew Bible was suppressed and forgotten.
This much-needed book is not only a fascinating new Bible history, it is a monument to the faithfulness of the Scriptures we first received, and is a solid vindication of the faith, work, and scholarship of William Tyndale, Myles Coverdale, and John Rogers.
Have a listen here to an informative radio interview Ruth had with Pledge Radio hosts Gene Parker and Cynthia Palmer of Holland, Michigan:
Reviews on Amazon:
“Having read many books on this subject, I can unequivocally state that this is the best yet. This book isn’t filled with trivia, instead it presents the important details regarding the arrival of the Bible in the English language to our shores. It is a fascinating read, one which highlights the fact that the English Bible was thoroughly and truly inspired by the Holy Spirit, even though circumstances, good and bad, were at play.“
“I found this book gripping. There were parts which I initially thought were going into too much detail, but as I kept reading I saw how vital all the parts were and how they hung and fitted together to make the whole story really exciting. While reading it I became more and more immersed in and able to appreciate the cultural/spiritual atmosphere of that period in the 1500s. My previous studies of Christian history had never given me such a close sense of that atmosphere.”
“I found this book incredibly informative and interesting. I understand the reasons for the Reformation and the history of the bible so much better. It was well-written and very moving.”
“As far as,.. “the heroes who struggled and suffered to produce our seminal English Bible of 1537″… I know that Ruth Magnusson Davis relied heavily upon her own faith to not only produce this fine work of The Story of the Matthew Bible, but also the OUTSTANDING modern spelling and punctuation of the actual original 1537 Matthew Bible New Testament known as The October Testament recruiting involvement from the actual descendants of the martyred saint John Rogers himself. I believe that there is a very special place in heaven for those who God calls upon to provide for His Word to be heard. In the original way that it was meant to be spoken and understood by English speaking peoples, Ruth Magnusson Davis has served the LORD well. This is an OUTSTANDING accompanying book to her modern rendition of a very old Bible that was bought with blood.”
“With “The Story of the Matthew Bible”, Ruth Magnusson Davis has finely crafted an easy-to-read but scholarly-sound tome, detailing the history of what is likely the greatest Bible ever printed in the English language. Having read MANY books on the history of the Bible in English, I can honestly say that Ruth’s stands with the best of them. David Daniell’s hefty textbook gives us an incredibly deep overview of the topic from the Dark Ages through to modern times, and Donald Brake offers concise but current information with hundreds full color photos, but Davis intently focuses on the three men who gave us the Matthew Bible: William Tyndale, Myles Coverdale, and John Rogers, and how their work and contributions still affect us today.
While all three translators are given multiple full, meaty, and well-researched chapters, what I especially enjoyed were the chapters related to Myles Coverdale, a man who has been greatly under-appreciated by modern scholarship. Davis has taken the most modern, updated information available on these men and their works, and given us a solid build-up to their combined magnum opus, the Matthew Bible. The book includes many pictures, as well as useful citations and a full bibliography and topical index. Not only does Davis write factual statements ABOUT the Matthew Bible, she also makes solid arguments with examples on WHY it’s so great.
After my personal experience of buying and reading through a facsimile of the Matthew Bible many years ago, I can honestly state that it is my favorite translation of God’s word. Subsequently, it is a delight that Ruth has come along and written such a terrific book on its history and the martyrs who compiled it. I cannot recommend this book enough. Also, don’t forget to check out Ruth’s own magnum opus, her modernization of the Matthews Bible New Testament (itself just as great achievement as this book).”
“Interesting, well written and well researched. Her writing leaves you wanting more, which hopefully will come soon with the publishing of the second volume. Her website has additional articles clarifying some points about other aspects, i.e. competition with the Geneva Bible, etc. Enjoy!”
“Great information on a recently found ancestor!”
“Ruth Magnusson Davis has done real yeoman’s work here in putting together this history. I had the privilege of proofreading an advance copy and found very little to critique. It became clear to me that the author took great care to go back to the original sources such as an early edition of John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments of the Christian Church (not the modern, bowdlerized Foxe’s Book of Martyrs which are typically heavily redacted and condensed) and the writings of William Tyndale, Myles Coverdale, John Rogers, Thomas Cranmer & Thomas Cromwell and other sources of antiquity from the English Reformation period.
For me as a Lutheran, I knew that Luther had played some role in the English Reformation, but only knew so much. Since reading Ruth Magnusson Davis’ book, I now have a fuller understanding. I checked her history of this against Luther’s Works and several histories published by CPH (Concordia) and others and concluded that she has done her homework on the connections between Luther, Barnes, Tyndale & Frith. It was a very satisfying discovery for me.
It also was hard to put down at times. The author clearly has a passion for her topic, she is a traditional Anglican who is fond of Luther and other Reformers.
If you are interested in Reformation history or the history of the English Bible, this is a must-get book to read. It is easy enough to read for the interested layman but also has the citations and detailed bibliography and helps a scholar or seminary student would desire.”
“The Matthew Bible of 1537 was a significant precursor to the later Authorised Version of 1611.
This is a well researched history of the events and persons involved in the publishing of the Matthew Bible that played such an important part in the English Reformation. It features the lives of William Tyndale, Myles Coverdale, John Rogers, Thomas Cranmer and Thomas Cromwell and many other less well known figures. It’s a vivid and passionate account of these heroes, several of whom paid with their lives to bring the Scriptures in the English language to our nation. There are ample quotations from the laws of England, personal letters, other books and especially the Bible.
The author founded the New Matthew Bible Project in 2009, dedicated to generating a lightly updated Matthew Bible for today’s readers.
The New Testament was published in 2016 as “The October Testament”. I have a copy of that too.
“The Story of the Matthew Bible” is actually Part 1 of what will be a two part series. Part 2 is in preparation, and will be added to my wish list.
I thoroughly enjoyed this account which is written in a style that should appeal to both scholars and ordinary readers.”