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Great Bible (1539)

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  • Although Coverdale's and Matthew's versions of the Scriptures had been licensed by the Crown, the "Great Bible" of 1539 was the first truly state-sponsored English Bible. Commissioned by Thomas Cromwell (1485-1540) in 1538 and prepared by Coverdale, the Great Bible—so called because of its extremely large size (385 x 281 mm)—was intended from the start to be the realm’s single authoritative Bible and was ordered to be placed on lecterns in every church across the land for communal and public reading by clergy and parishioners alike.

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    Great Bible (1539)

    Alternative Title

    The Byble in Englyshe, that is to saye the content of all the holy scrypture, bothe of ye olde and newe testament, truly translated after the veryte of the Hebrue and Greke textes, by ye dylygent studye of dyuerie excellent learned men, expert in the forsayde tonges
    Bible. English. Great Bible. 1539
    The Bible in English, that is to say the content of all the holy scripture, both of the old and new testament, truly translated after the verity of the Hebrew and Greek texts


    [12] p., lxxxiiij, cxxiij, cxxxiiij [i.e. 132], lxj [i.e. 80], ciij, [1] leaves: ill.; 39 cm. (fol.)


    Coverdale, Miles, 1488-1568


    London: Rychard Grafton & Edward Whitchurch




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    BS155 1539


    The Ohio State University Rare Books and Manuscripts Library

    Original Format


    Further Information

    The Ohio State University library catalog record



    Coverdale, Miles, 1488-1568, “Great Bible (1539),” The Ohio State University Libraries Exhibits, accessed October 17, 2017,
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