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IN the following Essay I have endeavoured to cal attention to some points in the history of the English Bible which have been strangely neglected. The history of our Bible is indeed a type of the history of our Church, and both histories have suffered the same fate. The writers who have laboured most successfully upon them have in the main confined themselves to outward facts without tracing the facts back to their ultimate sources, or noticing the variety of elements which go to form the final result. As far as I know no systematic inquiry into the internal history of our Authorised Version has yet been made, and still no problem can offer greater scope for fruitful research. To solve such a problem completely would be a work of enormous labour, and I have been forced to content myself with indicating some salient points in the solution, in the hope that others may correct and supplement the conclusions which I have obtained. It is at least something to know generally to what extent Tyndale and Coverdale made use of earlier versions, and to be able to refer to their sources most of the characteristic readings of Matthew's New Testament and of the Great Bibles.

Perhaps I may be allowed to mention one or two collations which would certainly furnish some valuable results.

(1) A collation of the Grenville Fragment with the smaller Tyndale's Testament of 1525.

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Even in the external history of our Bible much remains to be done. It seems scarcely credible that adequate inquiry will not shew from what presses Tyndale's New Testament of 1535', Coverdale's Bible of 1535 and Matthew's Bible of 1537 proceeded. And it is impossible not to hope that Mr Brewer's researches may yet bring to light new documents illustrating the vacillating policy of Henry VIII. as to the circulation of the vernacular Scriptures.

It does not fall within my province to criticise other histories. I have used Mr Anderson's Annals of the English Bible, and the Historical Account prefixed to Baxter's Hexapla (to which Mr Anderson does scant justice). with the greatest profit, and I desire to express generally my obligations to both essays. If I differ from them silently on any points I do so purposely, and in some cases I have even felt obliged to point out errors in them which were likely to mislead.

Absolute accuracy in an inquiry of so wide a range seems to be impossible, and every one who is conscious

(2) A collation of Tyndale's Testaments of 1534 and 1535 with the New Testament in Matthew's Bible of 1537.

(3) A collation of Tyndale's Pentateuchs of 1530 and 1534 with Mat. thew's Bible 1537, for which Mr Offor's MS. in the British Museum would be available as a verification (see p. 216, n.).

(4) A collation of numerous select passages in the Great Bibles of 1539, April 1540, and November 1540, with a view to ascertaining how far the reaction in the last text extends, and whether it can be traced to any principle.

(5) A collation of the New Testaments of the Bishops' Bibles of 1568

and 1572.

1 [See p. 168 n. 1872]

? [The Historical Account appears in two forms. That which I have used was drawn up (I am informed) by Dr S. P. Tregelles. In the later issue of the Hexapla this independent and valuable narrative was replaced by another written (it is said) by Mr Anderson, which I have not consulted. 1872]


of his own manifold mistakes would gladly leave the mistakes of others unnoticed; but when writers like Mr Hallam and Mr Froude misrepresent every significant feature in an important episode of literary history, it seems necessary to raise some protest. Their names are able to give authority to fictions, if the fictions are unchallenged'....

No apology, I trust, will be needed for the adoption of our ordinary orthography in quotations from the early versions; and the extreme difficulty of revising proofs by the help of distant libraries must be pleaded as an excuse for more serious errors.

What I have done is for the most part tentative and incomplete, and many points in the history of the Bible are left wholly unnoticed. If my leisure would have allowed I should have, been glad to examine the changes in the headings of the chapters and the mar

1 One example of this contagiousness of error, which is a fair specimen of a very large class, falls under my notice as these sheets are passing through the press. “Tyndale,' writes Mr Smiles, “unable to get his New Testament 'printed in England, where its perusal was forbidden [?], had the first edition 'printed at Antwerp in 1526...A complete edition of the English Bible, 'translated partly by Tyndale and partly by Coverdale, was printed at ‘Hamburgh in 1535; and a second edition, edited by John Rogers, under 'the name of Thomas Matthew, was printed at Marlborow in Hesse in

1537...Cranmer's Bible, so called because revised by Cranmer, was pub'lished in 1539–40.' Huguenots, p. 15, and note. London, 1867. Neither the first nor the second edition of Tyndale's New Testament was printed at Antwerp. The Bible of 1535 was not partly translated by Tyndale; and no competent bibliographer at present assigns it to the Hamburgh press. Matthew's Bible was in no sense a second edition of Coverdale's, of which, indeed, two editions were published in 1537, and the place where it was printed is as yet uncertain. «Cranmer's Bible' was not revised by Cranmer, and the editions of 1539 and 1540 are quite distinct. With that of 1539 Cranmer had nothing to do till after it was printed. Thus every statement in the quotation is incorrect. Lewis' History has, I fear, much to answer for; but it is unpardonable to use it without verification.

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ginal references, both before and after 1611, for their history involves many details of great interest. One question however in connexion with the Authorised Version I have purposely neglected. It seemed useless to discuss its revision. The revision of the original texts must precede the revision of the translation, and the time for this, even in the New Testament, has not yet fully come!

But however painful the sense of incompleteness and inaccuracy in such an essay as this must be, it has this advantage, that it bears witness almost on every page to the kindness of friends. It would have been far, more imperfect than it is if I had not been allowed every facility for using the magnificent collections of Bibles in the British Museum, the University Library at Cambridge, and the Baptist College at Bristol. For this privilege and for similar acts of courtesy my warmest thanks are due to the Rev. H. 0. Coxe, Bodley's Librarian at Oxford, Mr Bradshaw, University Librarian at Cambridge, Mr Bullen of the British Museum, the Rev. Dr Gotch, Principal of the Baptist College, Bristol, Mr Aldis Wright, Librarian of Trinity College, Cambridge, Mr [Francis] Fry Cotham, Bristol, and the late Rev. Dr Milman, Dean of St Paul's.


Nov. 1868.



? [The experience of the work of New Testament Revision during the last two years has shewn me that I was wrong in this opinion. Whatever may be the merits of the revised version it can be said confidently that in no parallel case have the readings of the original text to be translated been discussed and determined with equal care, thoroughness and candour, 1872]


The kindness of many friends has enabled me to issue this second edition of the History of the English Bible with considerable additions in different sections, but the book is substantially unchanged. Later researches have fully established the general results which I indicated as to the composite character of our present Authorised Version; and the labours of the New Revision have brought into clearer relief the merits and defects of the Scholars who successively fulfilled the office of Revisers in earlier times. Even now perhaps full justice has not been done to the exquisite delicacy of Coverdale and the stern fidelity of the Rhemists. But, not to dwell on the individual characteristics of former Revisers, it may fairly be said that they have marked a general method of procedure which those who follow them are not likely to abandon. The changes in our Authorised Version which are still necessary are due for the most part to the claims of riper scholarship and more searching criticism, and not to any altered conception of the style and character most appropriate to a popular Version of the Holy Scriptures. That question most happily has been settled for ever.

One most remarkable discovery which has been made lately as to the early editions of the English Testament requires to be brought into special notice. Mr F. Fry has found the text of "Tyndale 1535 ' in an edition dated 1534 (see p. 168 n.). It is possible, therefore, that the misspelt copies may belong to a pirated reprint of Tyndale's own work.

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