The Great Bible or Cranmer’s Bible

Known by several different names, the Great Bible, or the Cromwell Bible, was the first English version of the sacred text to be authorized. King Henry VIII (reigned 1509–1547) requested Myles Coverdale and Sir Thomas Cromwell to supervise its creation for use in the Church of England. Today the book, especially the 1540 edition, is referred to as the “Cranmer Bible,” in reference to the preface by Thomas Cranmer (1489–1556), first Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury. Much of the text has its origins in the earlier translation of the Bible by William Tyndale (ca. 1494–1536). The Psalms that appear in the Book of Common Prayer originate from this Bible, rather than the King James Bible of 1611. The availability of an English Bible caused controversy during Henry’s reign. He grew concerned about the consequences of allowing the lower classes to read the Bible and later placed restrictions on its editions and uses.

The Bible in Englyshe. London: Richard Grafton and Edward Whitechurch, 1540. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress

Call number: BS160 1540

The Great Bible or Cranmer’s Bible

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