The "Great Bible"
The Byble in Englishe, That is to Saye the Content of all the Holy Scrypture. [London]: Edward Whitchurch, 1540. (Prothro B-61)
This is the second, revised edition of the 1539 “Great Bible,” so-called because of its large format. Officially “appoynted to the use of churches,” it was the first Bible to be printed with the full approval of the new Church of England. Ordered by Thomas Cromwell (c. 1485–1540), the Royal Secretary and vice-regent in ecclesiastical matters, this edition of 1540 bears the authorization and prologue of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer (1489–1556). The translation consisted of Miles Coverdale’s revision of the “Matthew’s Bible” (without the Lutheran notes) corrected on the basis of 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 (shown here), depicts King Henry VIII presenting the Word of God to Cranmer and Cromwell. They in turn distribute the Bibles to the English people, who shout “Vivat Rex” and “God save the kynge.” The Almighty looks down upon the King and speaks the words of Acts 13:22, “I have found a man after my own heart, who shall perform all my desire.”