An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Great Bible, The

English Bible prepared by Miles Coverdale. The term is based on the size of the Bible. It was printed by Richard Grafton and Edward Whitchurch. It has been called “Whitchurch's Bible.” The printing was begun in Paris but later continued in London owing to the hostility of the Sorbonne. In Sept. 1538, Thomas Cromwell had ordered this Bible to be placed in every parish church. The Great Bible was finally issued in the early summer of 1539. It was based on Coverdale's Bible (1535), Matthew's Bible (1537), and the work of William Tyndale. The title page of the Great Bible depicts God blessing the King, who is handing out copies of the Bible to Thomas Cranmer and Thomas Cromwell. This artwork is generally attributed to Hans Holbein. Coverdale later revised the Great Bible, which was reissued with a preface by Thomas Cranmer in 1540. This version has been known as “Cranmer's Bible.” The Great Bible is also known as the “Treacle Bible,” due to Coverdale's distinctive rendering of Jer 8:22, in which he mentions “treacle in Gilead” instead of “balm in Gilead.” The Great Bible influenced the Geneva Bible (1560) and the Bishops' Bible (1568). The Convocation of 1571 ordered the Bishops' Bible to be used in all the churches of England. The Psalter of the Great Bible became the Psalter of the 1549 Prayer Book. Coverdale's Psalter in the Great Bible has been carefully preserved in subsequent Prayer Book revisions, including the 1979 BCP, although some archaic words and inaccurate renderings have been changed.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.