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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume III. Renascence and Reformation.

II. Reformation Literature in England

§ 13. Miles Coverdale

Miles Coverdale, afterwards bishop of Exeter, although inferior to Tindale in scholarship, was at least as closely connected with the English version. A Yorkshireman by birth, he became an Augustinian friar at Cambridge, where he had formed one of the band of reformers, and had been naturally influenced by his prior, Barnes; he had also early connections with Sir Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell. He soon left England, however, and probably (1529) met Tindale abroad. Not only did he thus enter the circle of translators, but he was urged by Cromwell to print an edition of his own, about which much correspondence took place between Cromwell and the editors and printers. The work, when it appeared (1535), was said to be translated from the Dutch (i.e., German) and Latin, and not to be for the maintenance of any sect; Coverdale recognised the previous labours of others, which he had, indeed, largely used, and he drew upon the Zürich Bible as well as upon Tindale’s editions. He dedicated his work to Henry VIII, in the hope of receiving royal patronage, if not a royal licence; but this was not formally given. Cromwell’s injunction (1536) that the Bible, in Latin and English, should be placed in churches was, doubtless, meant to refer to this edition, but the order was ineffective. Convocation, however, soon asked again for a new translation, and the second edition of Coverdale’s work—published (1537) both in folio and quarto, and the first Bible printed in England—was licensed by the king. The edition of 1535, printed, probably, by Froschover at Zürich, had also been the first complete English Bible printed. Tindale had translated the Pentateuch, Jonah and some detached pieces, and may have left more in MS., but Coverdale now translated the whole. He did not claim any extensive scholarship, and his description of his work is modest; but his pains, nevertheless, had been great, and the prayerbook Psalter, still reminding us of his work, speaks of its literary merits to all.