Thursday, January 19, 2006

Miles Coverdale and the English Bible

Miles Coverdale died on this day in 1569 being the first to publish a complete Bible in the English language (on October 4, 1535). He had assisted William Tyndale (as had John Rogers) in the last six years of his life before Tyndale's execution. Coverdale was to complete the process of translating the Old Testament into English overseas. The Coverdale Bible was deeply significant in the formation of the King James Bible (1611). It was the Coverdale Bible that gave us the following phrases:

'the pride of life'

'the world passeth away'


'tender mercy'

And two of my favourite verses:

'so yt thou shat not nede to be afrayed for eny bugges by night' (Psalm 91:5)

'there is no more Triacle at Gilead' (Jeremiah 8:22).

The preface to the Coverdale Bible contains some wonderful instruction on how to read the Bible, especially when one comes across a passage that we do not understand:

'Now will I exhort thee, whosoever thou art that readest scripture, if thou find ought therein that thou understandest not, or that appeareth to be repugnant, give no temerarious nor hasty judgment thereof; but ascribe it to thine own ignorance, not to the scriptures. Think that thou understandest it not, or that it hath some other meaning, or that it is haply overseen of the interpreters, or wrong printed. Again it shall greatly help thee to understand scripture, if thou mark, not only what is spoken or written, but of whom, and unto whom, with what words, at what time, where, to what intent, with what circumstances, considering what goeth before and what followeth after.'

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