The church declared it contained thousands of errors as they torched hundreds of New Testaments confiscated by the clergy, while in fact, they burned them because they could find no errors at all. One risked death by burning if caught in mere possession of Tyndale's forbidden books. Having God's Word available to the public in the language of the common man, English, would have meant disaster to the church. No longer would they control access to the scriptures.
If people were able to read the Bible in their own tongue, the church's income and power would crumble. They could not possibly continue to get away with selling indulgences the forgiveness of sins or selling the release of loved ones from a church-manufactured "Purgatory".
People would begin to challenge the church's authority if the church were exposed as frauds and thieves. The contradictions between what God's Word said, and what the priests taught, would open the public's eyes and the truth would set them free from the grip of fear that the institutional church held. Salvation through faith, not works or donations, would be understood. The need for priests would vanish through the priesthood of all believers. The veneration of church-canonized Saints and Mary would be called into question. The availability of the scriptures in English was the biggest threat imaginable to the wicked church.
Neither side would give up without a fight. Any copies printed prior to are extremely valuable. Tyndale's flight was an inspiration to freedom-loving Englishmen who drew courage from the 11 years that he was hunted. Books and Bibles flowed into England in bales of cotton and sacks of flour. In the end, Tyndale was caught: betrayed by an Englishman that he had befriended. Tyndale was incarcerated for days before he was strangled and burned at the stake in But before that could happen…. Coverdale finished translating the Old Testament, and in he printed the first complete Bible in the English language , making use of Luther's German text and the Latin as sources.
Thus, the first complete English Bible was printed on October 4, , and is known as the Coverdale Bible. John Rogers went on to print the second complete English Bible in He printed it under the pseudonym "Thomas Matthew" , an assumed name that had actually been used by Tyndale at one time as a considerable part of this Bible was the translation of Tyndale, whose writings had been condemned by the English authorities.
It is a composite made up of Tyndale's Pentateuch and New Testament edition and Coverdale's Bible and some of Roger's own translation of the text. It remains known most commonly as the Matthew-Tyndale Bible. It went through a nearly identical second-edition printing in It became the first English Bible authorized for public use, as it was distributed to every church, chained to the pulpit, and a reader was even provided so that the illiterate could hear the Word of God in plain English.
It would seem that William Tyndale's last wish had been granted Cranmer's Bible, published by Coverdale, was known as the Great Bible due to its great size: a large pulpit folio measuring over 14 inches tall. Seven editions of this version were printed between April of and December of His motives were more sinister… but the Lord sometimes uses the evil intentions of men to bring about His glory. The Pope refused. His first act was to further defy the wishes of Rome by funding the printing of the scriptures in English… the first legal English Bible… just for spite.
The ebb and flow of freedom continued through the 's She was possessed in her quest to return England to the Roman Church. Mary went on to burn reformers at the stake by the hundreds for the "crime" of being a Protestant. This era was known as the Marian Exile, and the refugees fled from England with little hope of ever seeing their home or friends again.
In the 's, the Church at Geneva, Switzerland, was very sympathetic to the reformer refugees and was one of only a few safe havens for a desperate people. Many of them met in Geneva, led by Myles Coverdale and John Foxe publisher of the famous Foxe's Book of Martyrs , which is to this day the only exhaustive reference work on the persecution and martyrdom of Early Christians and Protestants from the first century up to the midth century , as well as Thomas Sampson and William Whittingham.
The New Testament was completed in , and the complete Bible was first published in It became known as the Geneva Bible. Due to a passage in Genesis describing the clothing that God fashioned for Adam and Eve upon expulsion from the Garden of Eden as "Breeches" an antiquated form of "Britches" , some people referred to the Geneva Bible as the Breeches Bible.
The Geneva Bible was the first Bible to add numbered verses to the chapters, so that referencing specific passages would be easier. Every chapter was also accompanied by extensive marginal notes and references so thorough and complete that the Geneva Bible is also considered the first English "Study Bible". William Shakespeare quotes hundreds of times in his plays from the Geneva translation of the Bible. Between and at least editions of this Bible were published. Examination of the King James Bible shows clearly that its translators were influenced much more by the Geneva Bible, than by any other source.
The Geneva in fact, remained more popular than the King James Version until decades after its original release in ! With the end of Queen Mary's bloody reign, the reformers could safely return to England. The marginal notes, which were vehemently against the institutional Church of the day, did not rest well with the rulers of the day. Another version, one with a less inflammatory tone was desired, and the copies of the Great Bible were getting to be decades old. Then said young Mercy for she was but young , If I thought it would be to purpose to go with you, I would never go near the town any more.
Well, Mercy, said Christiana, cast in thy lot with me; I well know what will be the end of our pilgrimage. My husband is where he would not but be for all the gold in the Spanish mines. Nor shalt thou be rejected, though thou goest but upon my invitation.
Besides, if thou wilt, I will hire thee, and thou shalt go along with me as my servant; yet we will have all things in common betwixt thee and me; only, go along with me. But how shall I be ascertained that I also shall be entertained? Had I this hope but from one that can tell, I would make no stick at all, but would go, being helped by him that can help, though the way was never so tedious.
Well, loving Mercy, I will tell thee what thou shalt do.
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Go with me to the wicket-gate, and there I will further inquire for thee; and if there thou shalt not meet with encouragement, I will be content that thou shalt return to thy place. I also will pay thee for thy kindness which thou showest to me and my children, in thy accompanying us in our way, as thou dost.
Then will I go thither, and will take what shall follow; and the Lord grant that my lot may there fall, even as the King of Heaven shall have His heart upon me. Christiana then was glad at her heart, not only that she had a companion, but also that she had prevailed with this poor maid to fall in love with her own salvation.
So they went on together, and Mercy began to weep. Then said Christiana, Wherefore weepeth my Sister so? Bowels becometh pilgrims; and thou dost for thy friends as my good Christian did for me when he left me; he mourned for that I would not heed nor regard him; but his Lord and ours did gather up after his tears and put them into His bottle; and now both I and thou, and these my sweet babes, are reaping the fruit and benefit of them. I hope, Mercy, these tears of thine will not be lost; for the truth hath said, that "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy" in singing.
And "he that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him" Psa. And let Him never suffer me To swerve or turn aside From His free grace, and holy ways, Whate'er shall me betide. And let Him gather them of mine, That I have left behind; Lord, make them pray they may be Thine, With all their heart and mind.
Now my old friend proceeded, and said: But when Christiana came up to the Slough of Despond, she began to be at a stand; for, said she, this is the place in which my dear husband had like to have been smothered with mud. She perceived, also, that notwithstanding the command of the King to make this place for pilgrims good, yet it was rather worse than formerly.
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So I asked if that were true. Yes, said the old gentleman, too true; for that many there be that pretend to be the King's labourers, and that say they are for mending the King's highway, that bring dirt and dung instead of stones, and so mar instead of mending. Then they looked well to the steps, and made a shift to get staggeringly over. Yet, Christiana had like to have been in, and that not once nor twice.
Now they had no sooner got over, but they thought they heard words that said unto them, "Blessed is she that believed; for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord" Luke Then they went on again; and said Mercy to Christiana, Had I as good ground to hope for a loving reception at the wicket-gate as you, I think no Slough of Despond would discourage me. Well, said the other, you know your sore, and I know mine; and, good friend, we shall all have enough evil before we come at our journey's end.
For can it be imagined, that the people that design to attain such excellent glories as we do, and that are so envied that happiness as we are; but that we shall meet with what fears and scares, with what troubles and afflictions they can possibly assault us with, that hate us? And now Mr. Sagacity left me to dream out my dream by myself. Wherefore, methought I saw Christiana and Mercy, and the boys, go all of them up to the gate; to which, when they were come, they betook themselves to a short debate about how they must manage their calling at the gate, and what should be said to Him that did open to them.
So it was concluded, since Christiana was the eldest, that she should knock for entrance, and that she should speak to Him that did open, for the rest. So Christiana began to knock; and, as her poor husband did, she knocked, and knocked again. But, instead of any that answered, they all thought that they heard as if a dog came barking upon them; a dog, and a great one too, and this made the women and children afraid: nor durst they, for a while, to knock any more, for fear the mastiff should fly upon them.
Now, therefore, they were greatly tumbled up and down in their minds, and knew not what to do: knock they durst not, for fear of the dog; go back they durst not, for fear the Keeper of that gate should espy them as they so went, and should be offended with them; at last they thought of knocking again, and knocked more vehemently than they did at the first.
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