The “Great Bible”
English Bible. The Byble in Englyshe, That is to Saye, the Content of all the Holye Scrypture.
London: Thomas Petyt and Roberte Redman, for Thomas Berthelet, 1540. (00006)
The Harrison Collection includes this early revised edition of the “Great Bible,” so-called because of its large format. First printed in 1539, the text was officially designated to be used in churches and was the first Bible to be published with the full approval of the new Church of England. Ordered by Thomas Cromwell (ca. 1485–1540), the Royal Secretary and vice-regent in ecclesiastical matters, the work was also authorized by Thomas Cranmer (1489–1556), the Archbishop of Canterbury. The translation includes Miles Coverdale’s revision of the “Matthew’s Bible” with corrections based on Sebastian Münster’s Latin Old Testament, the Greek New Testament of Erasmus, and the Complutensian Polyglot. The large title page woodcut, repeated for the New Testament, includes in the bottom portion a depiction of King Henry VIII (r. 1509–1547) presenting the Bible to ecclesiastical and royal figures.