Denied the episcopal license necessary to publish his English translation of the New Testament, William Tyndale (ca. 1494-1536) left England to seek a suitable printer on the Continent. Traveling first to Wittenberg, Germany (where he may have benefited from Martin Luther's (1483-1546) own experience translating the Bible), Tyndale eventually selected the famous Cologne-based printer Peter Quentel. However, he was forced to suspend production after Church authorities discovered his project. Tyndale located a new printer in Worms who completed the job in late 1525, and his New Testament probably hit London’s streets sometime in early 1526.
Cuthbert Tunstall (1474-1559), Bishop of London and the official who denied Tyndale's request to print his Bible, claimed this English New Testament contained more than 2000 errors, declaring it "pestiferous and most pernicious poison." Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Warham (ca. 1450-1532), issued a decree calling for the book's destruction. Between ecclesiastical efforts to destroy the book and the heavy use received by copies that survived long enough to reach sympathetic hands, only a few copies of Tyndale's New Testament printed between 1525-1528 survive today. Eventually arrested in Antwerp on charges of heresy, Tyndale was strangled and burnt at the stake in 1536. Tyndale's translation efforts would stand the test of time. Recent scholarly opinion suggests that as much as seventy-five to eighty percent of the King James Bible's text descends directly from Tyndale's own version.
These 11 leaves are fragments of a 1530 copy of Tyndale's translation of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament). In contrast to the most of the English Bibles printed throughout the remainder of the 16th century, these leaves were printed not in folio or quarto formats, but in the much smaller octavo format. By printing in this smaller size, Tyndale was able to economize on paper expenses and produce a volume that would be easier to transport and smuggle into England. Additionally, this small size would have helped readers in England hide their illicit copies of this Bible from ecclesiastical authorities.
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Tyndale Bible (ca. 1530)
Tyndale Bible fragments from the Pentateuch and Epistles of the Old Testament, ca. 1530
Bible. O.T. English. Tyndale
Bible. O.T. Pentateuch. Tyndale. 1530
Includes fragments from William Tyndale's Pentateuch, 1530, STC2350 bound with "Epistles of the olde Testament", from an early edition of the New Testament, ca. 1538.
 p.; 15 cm.
Tyndale, William, d. 1536, translator
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The Ohio State University Rare Books and Manuscripts Library, James Stevens-Cox Collection of STC-SIGLA books
Tyndale, William, d. 1536, translator, “Tyndale Bible (ca. 1530),” The Ohio State University Libraries Exhibits, accessed February 23, 2019, https://library.osu.edu/innovation-projects/omeka/items/show/15.