Myles Coverdale

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Myles Coverdale (also spelled Miles Coverdale) (c. 1488 – 20 January 1569[1]) was a 16th-century Bible translator who produced the first complete printed translation of the Bible into English.



He was born probably in the district known as Coverdale, in that district of the North Riding of Yorkshire called Richmondshire, England, in or around 1488. He studied at Cambridge (bachelor of canon law 1531), became priest at Norwich in 1514 and entered the convent of Austin friars at Cambridge, where Robert Barnes was prior in 1523 and probably influenced him in favor of Reform. When Barnes was tried for heresy in 1526, Coverdale assisted in his defence and shortly afterward left the convent and gave himself entirely to preaching.

Bible translator

From 1528 to 1535, he appears to have spent most of his time on the Continent. In 1535 he published the first complete English Bible in print, the so-called Coverdale Bible. As Coverdale was not proficient in Hebrew or Greek, he used 'five soundry interpreters' in Latin, English and 'Douche' (German) as source text. He made use of Tyndale's translation of the New Testament (following Tyndale's November 1534 Antwerp edition) and of those books which were translated by Tyndale: the Pentateuch, and the book of Jonah. The publication appeared in Antwerp and was partly financed by Jacobus van Meteren. In 1537, his translations were included in the Matthew Bible. In 1538, he was in Paris, superintending the printing of the "Great Bible," and the same year were published, both in London and Paris, editions of a Latin and an English New Testament, the latter being by Coverdale. That 1538 Bible was a diglot (dual-language) Bible, in which he compared the Latin Vulgate with his own English translation. He also edited the Great Bible (1540). Henry VIII had a Coverdale Bible put into every English Church, chained to a bookstand, so that every citizen would have access to a Bible.[2]

Later years

He returned to England in 1539, living briefing in Newbury, but on the execution of Thomas Cromwell (who had been his friend and protector since 1527) in 1540, he was compelled again to go into exile and lived for a time at Tübingen, and, between 1543 and 1547, was a pastor and schoolmaster at Bergzabern (now Bad Bergzabern) in the Palatinate, and very poor.

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