The Matthew Bible, also known as Matthew's Version, was first published in 1537 by John Rogers, under the pseudonym "Thomas Matthew". It combined the New Testament of William Tyndale, and as much of the Old Testament as he had been able to translate before being captured and put to death. The translations of Myles Coverdale from German and Latin sources completed the Old Testament and the Biblical apocrypha, except the Apocryphal Prayer of Manasses. It is thus a vital link in the main sequence of English Bible translations.
Matthew's Bible was the combined work of three individuals, working from numerous sources in at least five different languages.
The entire New Testament (first published in 1526, later revised, 1534 and 1535), the Pentateuch, Jonah and in David Daniell's view, the Book of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, First and Second Samuel, First and Second Kings, and First and Second Chronicles, were the work of William Tyndale. Tyndale worked directly from the Hebrew and Greek, occasionally consulting the Vulgate and Erasmus’s Latin version, and he used Luther's Bible for the prefaces, marginal notes and the biblical text. The use of the pseudonym "Thomas Matthew" resulted possibly from the need to conceal from Henry VIII the participation of Tyndale in the translation.
The remaining books of the Old Testament and the Apocrypha were the work of Myles Coverdale. Coverdale translated primarily from German and Latin sources. 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 as 1529.
The Prayer 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 an almanac.
Of the three translators, two were burned at the stake. Tyndale was burned on 6 October 1536 in Vilvoorde, Belgium. John Rogers was "tested by fire" on 4 February 1555 at Smithfield, 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 1539, the first officially authorized English translation of the Bible.
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." The quality of his translations has also stood the test of time, coming relatively intact even into modern versions of the Bible. A. S. Herbert, Bible cataloguer, says of the Matthew Bible, "this version, which welds together the best work of Tyndale and Coverdale, is generally considered to be the real primary version of our English Bible", upon which later editions were based, including the Geneva Bible and King James Version. Professor David Daniell recounts that, "New Testament scholars Jon Nielson and Royal Skousen observed that previous estimates of Tyndale's contribution to the KJV 'have run from a high of up to 90% (Westcott) to a low of 18% (Butterworth)'. By a statistically accurate and appropriate method of sampling, based on eighteen portions of the Bible, they concluded that for the New Testament Tyndale's contribution is about 83% of the text, and in the Old Testament 76%. Thus the Matthew Bible, though largely unrecognized, significantly shaped and influenced English Bible versions in the centuries that followed its first appearance.
John Strype wrote in 1694 that the 1537 Matthew Bible was printed by Richard Grafton, in Hamburg. Later editions were printed in London; the last of four appeared in 1551. Two editions of the Matthew Bible were published in 1549. One was a reprint of the 1537 first edition, and was printed by Thomas Raynalde and William Hyll (Herbert #75). The other was printed by John Daye and William Seres, and made extensive changes to the notes of the original Matthew Bible, included copious commentaries on the book of Revelation based on the book Image of Two Churches by contemporary John Bale.
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 w’h his father, with Mr Edward Whytchurch, printed both in Paris and London." Coverdale was employed as a translator by Jacobus van Meteren. Rogers began assisting the work around 1535, and married J. van Meteren's niece Adriana in the same year that the Matthew Bible was first published (1537). Rogers was living in London again at the time of the second printing of the Matthew Bible in 1549.
- Bible editions
1. The Matthew's Bible. 1537 edition [Facsimile]. Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 2009, ISBN 978-1-59856-349-8
2. The Tyndale Bible, Thomas Matthew, 1549 [Facsimile]. Greydon Press, USA, 2003, ISBN 1-57074-492-0. Sold as a facsimile of Matthew's Version, it is in fact Becke's 1549 edition of the Matthew Bible but contains preliminary pages from Raynalde and Hyll's 1549 version, and even a copy of the title page from the 1549 Great Bible.
3. New Matthew Bible: World's first project working with the Matthew Bible scriptures to publish the Matthew Bible in modern spelling with language and grammar minimally updated - "New Matthew Bible Project", with a target publication date of 2020.
4. The Matthew Bible: Modern Spelling Edition. "The Matthew Bible: Modern Spelling Edition" This Bible uses modern font and spelling (without changing the original wording). It includes modern verse divisions. It is available in 2015.
- Tyndale, William (tr.); Martin, Priscilla (ed.) (2002) William Tyndale's New Testament (edition of 1534); with an introduction by Priscilla Martin. Hertfordshire; p. xxi, line 37 and see the Wikipedia article for David Daniell
- Scientifically proven, see: Tyndale, William (tr.); Martin, Priscilla (ed.) (2002); p. xvi
- Scientifically proven, see also: Daniell, David (1994) William Tyndale: a biography. New Haven & London: Yale University Press, p. 114, line 33
- Scientifically proven, see also: Vogel, Gudrun (2009) "Tyndale, William" in: Der Brockhaus in sechs Bänden. Mannheim/Leipzig: Brockhaus Verlag
- Scientifically proven, see also: Zwahr. A. (2004) Tyndale, William" in: Meyers Großes Taschenwörterbuch. Mannheim: Bibliographisches Institut
- Probably Luther's German translation and the Vulgate (see: Tyndale, William (tr.); Martin, Priscilla (ed.) (2002); p. xxi, line 18); for more see: Coverdale Bible
- Foxe, John. The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe
- most probably, at the instigation of agents of Henry VIII and his Anglican Church
- Herbert 1968, p. 18.
- Perhaps also written: John Nielson
- Daniell, David (2003) The Bible in English: history and influence. New Haven and London: Yale University Press ISBN 0-300-09930-4, p. 448
- Strype 1812, pp. 81–6.
- Herbert 1968, p. 92.
- Herbert 1968, p. 74.
- Herbert 1968, p. 76.
- Nathan, Harding. "The Matthew Bible: Modern Spelling Edition". The Matthew Bible. lulu.com. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
- Herbert, A. S. (1968), Historical Catalogue of Printed Editions of the English Bible, 1525–1961, London & New York: British and Foreign Bible Society; American Bible Society, ISBN 0-564-00130-9
- Strype, J. (1812) , Memorials of the Most Reverend Father in God Thomas Cranmer, Sometime Lord Archbishop of Canterbury: Wherein the History of the Church, and the Reformation of It, During the Primacy of the Said Archbishop, Are Greatly Illustrated; And Many Singular Matters Relating Thereunto, Now First Published (1694) in Three Books, 1, Clarendon, OCLC 154289588
- Online version of Sir Frederic G. Kenyon’s article in Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible, 1909.
- Books Fatal to Their Authors, by P. H. Ditchfield, 1894.
- "New Matthew Bible Project": Retrieved on June 17, 2010. Contains numerous articles discussing translation and theological issues and comparing translations of the Matthew Bible with later versions based upon it.
- "The Matthew Bible: Modern Spelling Edition": Retrieved on December 24, 2013. This site offers comparisons and also answers questions about the original Matthew Bible and the modern spelling reprint.