fol. t1r, Paul to the Romans
The Newe Testament yet once agayne corrected by willyam Tindale. Antwerp?: n.p., 1536.
Quarto. 268 of 276 leaves (, cxlii, , [cxliii]cclvi, ), 8¼ x 5½ inches. Black letter, 38 lines, preliminary matter and Romans prologue have 57; 121 small woodcuts and 21 large ones, woodcut initials. Bound in 18th-century brown calfskin; spine gilt. Lacking title leaf and next 7 leaves. § DMH 20; Fry 9; STC (2nd ed.) 2833. § CD-ROM: 8.2, fol. 2r (detail), Conversion of St. Paul.
William Tyndales translation of the New Testament was the editio princeps of the Bible in English. Prohibited in England, it had to be printed on the Continent, although even there a first attempt to publish the work at Cologne in 1525 was thwarted by the authorities. The first complete printed edition appeared in Worms in 1526. These two editions were so thoroughly suppressed that there are now only three surviving copies of the Worms edition, and only a single fragmentary exemplar of the interrupted Cologne printing (through Matthew 22). Tyndale once defended his labors of translation by asking the question: "Saint Jerome . . . translated the Bible into his mother tongue. Why may not we also?" (Daniell 1994, 229).
Although he claims Erasmuss Greek New Testament as the basis for his English version, Tyndale clearly used Luthers work as well, even rendering parts of Luthers German prefaces into English.
The English of Tyndales Bible is so joyful, so lucid, and so memorable that it has had an enormous impact. Scholars and laypeople alike are still remarkably moved by his literary talent and his verve. As S. L. Greenslade put it, "Scripture made him happy, and there is something swift and gay in his rhythm which conveys his happiness" (Greenslade 1963, 144). His words and cadences echo not only in the Geneva and King James versions but also in modern English expressions that derive from the Bible, such as "fruit of the vine," "give up the ghost," and "filthy lucre."
The definitive revision of the New Testament was completed in an imprint of 1535, which is now called the "G. H." version, a reference to the publisher of that edition, Godfrid van der Haghen. With light corrections, this was reprinted in a richly illustrated quarto in 1536 (shown here). This is one of the more mysterious books in the history of the early printed English Bible. It exists in three versions (which scholars occasionally assign to different printers), each of which is differentiated largely by the state of a woodcut of Paul at the beginning of his epistles. The stone below Pauls foot is blank in one edition (now called "The Blank Stone Edition"); in another, a mole is on the stone (making it the "Mole Edition"); the third version, shown here, bears the initials of the unknown engraver or designer on the stone ("The Engravers Mark Edition"). Scholars have assigned these quartos variously to five printers in Antwerp (Symon Cowke, Christopher Endhoven, William Vorsterman, Matthew Crom, and Hans van Ruremonde). Herbert once argued that John Gowghe, a London printer, produced the "Mole Edition" and the "Engravers Mark Edition."
Literature: Daniell 1994, 31632; Greenslade 1963, 141153.