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erly “ Cranmer's Bible." It for a while was the standard version, for use in the churches.
In 1539, another work of great historical interest and value appeared from the press, under the favor of Cromwell. It was “ Taverner's Bible," with introductory matter, notes, tables, etc.; and was specially adapted to private use. Two, if not three, editions appeared in the course of the year.* What renders this Bible specially deserving of notice is the introductory and explanatory matter which accompanies the text, in which some of the leading tenets of popery are distinctly and pointedly repudiated. For example, in speaking of the priesthood, Taverner says: “ The order of priesthood is translated; that is to say, abolished, ceased, and finished, in such wise as there must now be no more; for we are all priests to God, that we should offer ourselves a spiritual sacrifice, even as Christ offered himself,” etc. Of the mass he says
“ This word is not in the Bible, therefore he could do no better but to send the reader to the supper of our Lord Jesus Christ.” So he speaks of purgatory as a word not to be found in the Bible; and tells his readers that there is no other means provided for the purging away of their sins but the passion of Christ. Under the head of sacrifice, he says: “ The bread and wine received in the supper of Christ are no sacrifice, (for Christ was offered once sufficiently for our
* Cotton, 15, 16; Anderson, II. 80-82.
sins, Heb. x.) but a holy memory of the death of Christ." “ The supper of our Lord,” he says, " is a holy memory and giving thanks for the death of Christ." He speaks of " ministers or bishops.” He asserts that" a man ought to make no images, for God hateth them; and whosoever maketh them is cursed of him”; and that “the Lord hateth the holy-days." Of the sacraments he says: “ Christ hath left us two signs, for to show and protest our faith before his church; that is to say, the water of baptism, and the bread and wine of his holy supper.” 66 The keys," he tells us, " are the law and word of God, by the which we do shut and open the kingdom of heaven; that is to say, the church. Christ only giveth the keys to bind and loose by his word. Whosoever is filled with the Holy Ghost, hath power to show by the Word of God, that they which do believe (that remission of sins is done by Christ) are absolved (which is to open); and that they which do not believe it, are bound (which is to shut), Jno. xx.” “Excommunication and rejection from the holy assembly of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he informs us, “is done by the church against open and obstinate sinners, Matt. xviii.” Among his definitions of a church are the following: “ The faithful gathered together in one house are a church.” Rom. xvi., Col. iv. “A bishop," according to Taverner, “is an overseer, a watcher over any manner of thing whatsoever it be.” *
* I quote from the edition of 1549, in two small quarto volumes, black letter, kindly loaned me by Mr. George Livermore, of Cambridge. The first editions, of 1539, one in folio and the other in quarto, I have not been able to find. The “Postils on the Epistles and Gospels, compiled and published by Richard Taverner, in the year 1540,” were republished at Oxford, in 1840, in one volume, 8vo. pp. 612. Taverner was one of Wolsey's scholars, who was arrested while at Oxford University, for reading and having in his possession Tyndale's version of the Scriptures, and imprisoned with Clark and others. He escaped condign punishment by Wolsey's interposition, he saying of him : “He is only a musician !” He was the organist of his college, and skilled in music. No less than three editions of Taverner's Bible appeared during the year 1539; and two editions of the New Testament by Taverner, and two by Coverdale. Cotton, pp. 15, 16.
Thus we see, in 1539, the priesthood denied by royal authority; masses and purgatory ignored; the sacraments described as nothing but outward signs; and the eucharist treated as simply a memorial supper, without sacrificial character: all which, it need hardly be added, was rank Lollardy, which in previous years had sent hundreds of poor saints to the prisons of the bishops, and many to the martyr's stake.
The years 1540 and 1541, though barren of religious interest otherwise,* may be fitly called the Bible Era of the English Reformation ; for, during these two years, not less than seven distinct editions of the Bible were printed in London. Six of these were handsome folios; and the editions consisted of from fifteen hundred to two thousand five hundred copies each. Besides these, there were printed three editions of the New Testament; four editions of the Epistles and Gospels — two of them with postils “by divers learned men, recognized and augmented by Richard Taverner”; the Epistle to the Ephesians, with a commentary; and two editions of portions of the Old Testament.*
* After 1540, Fox says, “religion began to go backward." Vol. II. p. 370.
Of the Bibles, the first was finished in April, 1540. It was called the “Great Bible," or “ Cranmer's Bible," the archbishop having furnished it with a prologue, and was printed by Edward Whitchurch.† This was regarded during Henry's reign as the standard edition, to be read in the churches ; for the king not only commanded that "it be set up in all the churches," and that his order to this effect be read by all the clergy to their people, but also that the order be “ set up upon every church door, that it may more largely appear to our subjects." I
The same month another, and a different folio edition of the Bible was published by Petyt and Redman. This is styled by Cotton, “ Cranmer's Bible”; but Anderson says, " it is not only without Cranmer's prologue, and differs from his translation in the psalms and elsewhere, but the New Testament is said to be after the last recognition of Erasmus * * * It is on a smaller type and paper than the last, and seems to have been intended for the use of families.” Though neither submitted to any bishop's inspection nor the king's approval, it was warranted by Cromwell, the great patron of the Scriptures, without whose authority no Bible could be published in England.
* Cotton, 16–18; Anderson, 11. 127–34, and Index.
† Some copies have Richard Grafton's, and others have Edward Whitchurch's imprint. Cotton, 16. Anderson, 11. 130, says, “ Ed. ward Whytchurche.”
Anderson, 11. 130; Cotton, ut sup.
By July, another edition of the “Great Bible” was called for and published; and in November of the same year, still another edition, which bishops Tunstall and Heath were compelled by the king's command Cromwell having now fallen to oversee and approve, though, doubtless, greatly to their annoyance. This, though finished in 1540, was not published until 1541. "In addition to these four [folio] Bibles, it is said that there was a fifth, and in five volumes, as small as sexto-decimo [16mo.), printed by Redman." * In 1541, there was another edition of Tunstall and Heath's overseeing published, and two of Cranmer's Bible. All these Bibles were printed in London; and most of them by means of those very types, presses, and workmen, which were brought from Paris in 1539, when the Inquisition interrupted the printing of the Holy Scriptures in that city, as before related.† Thus did God make the wrath of man to praise him. Thus were some twelve thousand copies of these large and handsome Bibles published in England in the course of two years! which, without these
* Cotton, 17; Anderson, 11. 131-34, and Index. † Anderson, 11. 129. See ante, p. 118.