Site Menu

In 1535 he completed the first English translation of the Bible. Revised in 1539, the "Great Bible" was a significant influence on the translators of the 1611 KJV.

Powered by FreeFind

| Back | Home |

English Bible translator
Miles Coverdale was born in 1488, probably in the district known as Coverdale, in that part of the North Riding of Yorkshire called Richmondshire. His died in London and was buried in St. Bartholomew's Church, February 19, 1568. He studied at Cambridge where he received his bachelor of canon law and then became a priest at Norwich in 1514. In 1523, he entered the Augustinian Monastery at Cambridge, where Robert Barnes, an early follower of Martin Luther, was the prior and it is probable that Barnes strongly influenced him in favor of Protestantism. When Barnes was tried !or heresy in 1526, Coverdale assisted in his defense.

After the trial, he left the monastery in favor of full time preaching against the religious abuses of the day, which effort resulted in his persecution and subsequent decision to leave England for the continent where he spent most of his time between 1528 - 1535. It was here in 1535 that his Bible translation, the first complete translation in English, was published. (William Tyndale had earlier, in 1525, translated the Greek New Testament into English) Coverdale's translation was smuggled into England and gained great popularity and eventually was published by English printers. Having been convinced of the need for an official English Bible by Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII commissioned Coverdale to revise his translation for this purpose.

In 1538, he was in Paris, superintending the printing of this revised translation that would become known as the "Great Bible,". In the same year were published, both in London and Paris, editions of a Latin and an English New Testament, the latter being by Coverdale. (In 1540, he also edited "Cranmer's Bible") He returned to England in 1539, but on the execution of Thomas Cromwell in 1540, who had been his friend and protector since 1527, he was compelled again to go into exile and lived for a time at Tubingen, Germany. Between 1543 and 1547 he served as Lutheran pastor and schoolmaster at Bergzabern, and was very poor. In March, 1548, he returned to England, was well received at court and made King's chaplain and almoner(a person whose function or duty is the distribution of alms on behalf of an institution, a royal personage, a monastery, etc.) to the dowager Queen, Catherine Parr who Edward VI had chosen as his successor. In 1551 he became bishop of Exeter, but was deprived of this post in 1553 after the succession of Queen Mary, a staunch Catholic. The imminent threat of persecution once forced him into exile so he departed for Denmark (where his brother-in-law was chaplain to the king), then to Wesel, and finally back to Bergzabern. In 1559 he was again in England, but was not reinstated to his bishopric, perhaps because of Puritanical scruples about vestments. From 1564 to 1568 he was rector of St. Magnus's, near London Bridge.

"He was pious, conscientious, laborious, generous, and a thoroughly honest and good man. He knew German and Latin well, some Greek and Hebrew, and a little French. He did little original literary work. As a translator, he was faithful and harmonious. He was fairly read in theology, and become more inclined to Puritan ideas, as his life wore on. All accounts agree in his remarkable popularity as a preacher. He was a leading figure during the progress of the Reformed opinions, and had a considerable share in the introduction of German spiritual culture to English readers in the second quarter of the sixteenth century."

Written by John M. Fritzius:
Source material taken from Philip Shaff's Encylopedia, Volume III and certain details from Who's Who in Christian History, an article by K. HOGLUND

  | Back | Top of Page | Home |
biocoverdale.htm: Part of Copyright ©2007 John M. Fritzius