The Great Bible
From Textus Receptus
- "…one book of the bible of the largest volume in English, and the same set up in some convenient place within the said church that ye have care of, whereas your parishioners may most commodiously resort to the same and read it."
Although called the Great Bible because of its large size, it is known by several other names as well: the Cromwell Bible, since Thomas Cromwell directed its publication; Whitchurch's Bible after its first English printer; also the Chained Bible, since it was chained in "some convenient place within the said church". It has also been termed less accurately Cranmer's Bible, since Thomas Cranmer's preface appeared only in the second edition.
Sources and history
The Great Bible was based on Matthew's Bible. It therefore includes, with very slight revision, the New Testament and the Old Testament portions that had been translated by William Tyndale. The remaining books of the Old Testament had been translated by Coverdale, who used mostly the Latin Vulgate and German translations as sources rather than working from the original Greek and Hebrew texts.
The first edition was a run of 2,500 copies that were begun in Paris in 1539. Much of the printing was done at Paris, and after some misadventures where the printed sheets were seized by the French authorities on grounds of heresy (since relations between England and France were somewhat troubled at this time), the publication was completed in London in April 1539. It went through six subsequent revisions between 1540 and 1541. The second edition of 1540, included a preface by Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, recommending the reading of the scriptures. (Cranmer’s preface was also included in the front of the Bishops' Bible.)
The most available reprinting of the Great Bible's New Testament (minus its marginal notes) can be found in the second column of the New Testament Octapla edited by Luther Weigle, chairman of the translation committee that produced the Revised Standard Version.