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A 1538 Coverdale/Erasmus NT Display Leaf First Edition


Offered for the consideration of the serious Bible leaf collector is an original display leaf from the second edition 1538 Coverdale/Erasmus NT accompanied by a reproduction of its title page and a signed Certificate of Authenticity from the Biblical Heritage Collection Archives. Reserve your text today!!!


Contents Offer


  • An original leaf from a 1538 Coverdale/Erasmus 2nd edition diglot New Testament (H38)* Reserve your favourite text.
  • A fine art reproduction of the title page from the 1538 Coverdale/Erasmus NT (H38).
  • A fine art reproduction portrait of Myles Coverdale
  • A fine art reproduction Portrait of Desiderius. Erasmus
  • Reference material from the Herbert Catalogue*


*Herbert (H): HISTORICAL CATALOGUE OF PRINTED EDITIONS OF THE ENGLISH BIBLE 1525-1961 by A.S. Herbert. Herbert Catalogue is the standard reference work for printed English Bibles. 


He was a friend of kings and princes, dukes and duchesses, theologians and bishops. He was once the chaplain to the boy king, Edward the VI, and the almoner to the queen dowager, Catherine Parr, eventually preaching her funeral sermon. He was consecrated Bishop of Exeter by Archbishop Cranmer and assisted in the consecration of Bishop Matthew Parker when he was enthroned as the Archbishop of Canterbury. He knew the famous humanist Desiderius Erasmus and the firebrand Martin Luther. He traveled; France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark and everyplace in between. 


Once, while in difficulty, he was befriended by John Calvin’s wife and often rubbed shoulders with men like Thomas Bilney, Peter Martyr, Henry Bullinger, Martin Bucer, Bishop Grindal and John Jewel. He worked for Sir. Thomas Cromwell and Richard Grafton for a while when he wrote and translated numerous religious works, some of which got him into a little trouble with the Church. His mentor was Robert Barnes and one of his protagonists Sir Thomas More. Cardinal Wolsey promoted his program and he defended, in public, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, though Hugh Latimer needed no defending. 


Although he was an ordained Catholic priest and at the age of 52 finally broke his vow of celibacy and married, which of course got him into more than a little trouble with the Church. Later, King Christian III of Denmark came to his rescue when he once again got himself into a spot of bother. He was a great preacher and in his old age was the favourite to preach your funeral, that is if someone else more important hadn’t died just before you. 


Near the end of his life he was collated to the Rectory of St. Magnus, London Bridge but found he could not pay his taxes whereupon Queen Elizabeth I personally forgave him his debt. He was born around 1488 and died precisely 20 May 1565 or 19 February 1568 or 20 January 1569 depending on who you believe. His funeral was attended by the rich and famous and afterwards his body was buried in the chancel of St. Bartholomew’s Church, behind the Exchange in London but his tomb can be seen at St. Magnus Church, London Bridge, that is if you can believe what you read. In one respect he never died, depending on WHAT you believe. 


He was a friend of trouble and pain, a brother to sorrow and trial and married to disappointment and loneliness. He was deprived of his bishopric on the ascension of Queen Mary and put in prison. His friends Latimer and Ridley were also imprisoned and before long burned at the stake in Oxford as heretics. Archbishop Cranmer who had consecrated him Bishop just a few years earlier was also imprisoned and eventually burned at the stake as well. He saw his friends from the early days of the White Horse Inn in Cambridge, where the reformation in England found its first proponents, one at a time incarcerated and then systematically burned at the stake for either being heretics or traitors; Thomas Bilney, Robert Barnes, William Tyndale, John Rogers, in all more than 10 of his friends were burned at the stake and at least four others beheaded. On three separate occasions he was forced to flee England for his life, loosing all his worldly possessions and when he arrived in fields abroad he did so without stipend or purse. In the end he was a pauper supported by friends and though it is purported he died no one remembers exactly when. 


And this is so apropos, because every hour of every day, wherever English is spoken, we hear this man speak. He attends church with us each week and has been at many a funeral these past 477 years, though he has not been the guest speaker. He climbed into the pulpit last week with our pastors and sat with our children in Sunday School. He was there when the renowned Baptist preacher C.H. Spurgeon addressed 23,654 people in Crystal Palace, without the aid of a mechanical device, in 1861. He went to the Crimea War with a young nurse named Florence Nightingale in 1854 and then whispered in the ears of frightened and wounded soldiers as bombs burst overhead and bullets whiz by during the Charge of the Light Brigade. He traveled with the father of modern day missions William Carey to India in 1793 and assisted Adoniram Judson in 1832 when he translated the bible into Burmese. He was there 100 years earlier in 1732 when three young men prayed together in the Holy Club, George Whitefield, Charles and John Wesley, committed Christians, who impacted their generation like few before or since. He ventured into the new world aboard the Mayflower in 1620 and èjoined the translators of the King James Bible in the Jerusalem Chamber in Westminster Abbey in 1611 when the new translation was dedicated. He gave expression to the poets of the metrical psalms in 1562 some of which are still sung today. He has attended the coronation of every English monarch since Edward VI in 1547.


See, in 1533-34, while he was a vagabond, hiding in Germany, from the persecution of the Church in England he translated the entire bible from German and Latin into English. His Bible of 1535 has the honour of being the first complete bible printed in the English language. When John Rogers persuaded Henry VIII to license his supposed new translation in 1537 it was soon discovered it was in reality the 1526 New Testament of William Tyndale and the Old Testament of one Myles Coverdale. Soon the King that had threatened Coverdale sending him into hiding in Germany was now employing him to oversee another translation of the Bible to be chained to every pulpit in every church in England. Of course, Coverdale, like Rogers, once again used Tyndale’s New Testament and his own original translation of the Old. That edition of Holy Scriptures, first printed in 1539, has become known as the Great Bible. 


  • ... continued

    Myles Coverdale was there when the second edition of the Book of Common Prayer was written and produced and it was his translation of the Psalms that has graced its pages ever since. In 1558 when he once again found himself hiding in Switzerland during the reign of “Bloody Mary” he joined John Knox, William Whittingham and others in producing the Geneva translation of the English Bible. And finally, his good friend Matthew Parker, whom he assisted at his consecration in becoming the Archbishop of Canterbury, oversaw Queen Elizabeth's new translation now called the Bishops’ Bible, first printed in 1568. The Bishops’ Bible was the English Bible translation used for the basis of the King James' Bible of 1611. Yes, it is true, for the most part, perhaps as much as 90% of what William Tyndale originally translated in 1526 remains in the KJV today but it is also equally true many words and phrases attributed to Myles Coverdale can still be found in all King James' Bibles today. 


    The next time you find yourself overwhelmed with the anxieties of life and turn to the 23rd Psalm for comfort and solace listen carefully and you will hear Myles Coverdale whisper down through the centuries, Ps. 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death... .”  When next you pray or sing of the “tender mercies” of the Lord as found in the Psalms or you join the congregation in reciting the Lord’s Prayer, speak those familiar words with humility Matt. 6:12  “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors... ”  and then thank God for the life of one Myles Coverdale whose body is buried, it is told on good authority, at St. Magnus Church in the city of London. 

    The original bible leaf now offered to discriminating collectors comes from the SECOND DIGLOT EDITION of the Coverdale New Testament printed sided by side with the Latin translation of Desiderius Erasmus published almost 480 years ago in 1538 by the Southwark printer James Nichlson. During the ruthless reign of “bloody Mary” Coverdales translation, like all other English bibles, was illegal to own. The cost of owning one, if caught, was almost certainly the loss of one’s liberty but could be, in fact, as high as the loss of one’s life in the flames on a wooden stake at a public execution. The cost to you for this single fragment of antiquity cannot, nor should it be, compared in terms of monetary value. For what price can be placed on an historical document that witnesses so much of the times and trials of godly Christians who for the love of the Book sacrificed their lives for the glory of God and the good of the people? 


    In private hands, so few copies of these early English bibles have survived the times of persecution that if a complete copy were to come on the open market for sale today the cost would no doubt be in the ten’s of thousands of dollars if not more. This rare fragment, measuring approximately 20X160mm, comes from an incomplete Bible that is no longer able to secure it’s contents. It is our prayer a collector who loves the Word of God will preserve and share this