Bible in English, Coverdale's Version
- Biblia. The Bible, That Is, the Holy Scripture of the Olde and New Testament, Faithfully and Truly Tranlsated out of Douche and Latyn in to English [?Cologne: Eucherius Cervicornus (pts. 1–2, 6) and Johannes Soter (pts. 3–5)] 4 October 1535; [Preliminaries (first quire) printed at Southwark: James Nicolson, 1535 or 1536]
- paper, ink, leather
Many differences of opinion have surrounded the production and distribution of the Coverdale Bible. Once thought to have been printed by Christopher Froschauer at Zurich, it was assigned to Cologne printers Johannes Soter and Eucherius Cervicornus by L.A. Sheppard on the basis of the woodcut initials. Sheppard also observed that the initial sets in the main appeared exclusively in the different parts and concluded that they had been divided between Soter and Cervicornus.
Guido Latré has conjectured that Antwerp was the most likely place of publication, but his claim, as pointed out by Peter W.M. Blayney, is purely anecdotal, bearing no evidential weight. It is true that Jacob van Meteren, a merchant sympathetic to the Reformation, resided at Antwerp and was to some extent responsible for financing the translation of the book but not necessarily its publication. Van Meteren's son Emanuel, in his 1609 recollection, conflated the publication of the Coverdale Bible with that of the Great Bible of 1539, which Coverdale had revised from the Antwerp-printed "Matthew" Bible of 1537, and which was printed in Paris and London at the expense of Edward Whitchurch and Richard Grafton. Furthermore by 1535, with Tyndale having been imprisoned and van Meteren's house searched, Antwerp was no longer considered a safe haven for Protestants.
Cologne, too, experienced its share of religious intolerance. Printers like Peter Quentel, who had previously printed reformist books, now embraced anti-reformist works. Given these circumstances, Sheppard advanced that at least part of the book was printed at Cologne and part at Marburg. While it is true that Cervicornus produced books concurrently at Cologne and Marburg between 1535 and 1537, he did not matriculate at university there until November of that year, nearly a full month after the date given in the colophon (TT5v). Therefore, Blayney concludes that despite Sheppard's "ill-advised detour into Marburg," his attribution to Cervicornus and Soter of Cologne remains unaffected.
On the title-page, Coverdale freely admits that he translated the Bible "out of Douche [German] and Latin" rather than from the Hebrew and Greek. While his prologue apologetically recognizes his linguistic limitations, it also asserts his determination to provide the best possible version of the Bible in the English vernacular. He used Tyndale as the basis for the New Testament, Pentateuch, and Jonah, and consulted the translation of the Latin Vulgate and Martin Luther's complete German translation of 1534. Other sources probably included a German translation by Ulrich Zwingli and Leo Jud, a literal translation into Latin by Santi Pagnini, and Erasmus's Latin translation of the New Testament. He was the first to introduce chapter headings, grouping them all together at the beginning of each book. He also was the first to separate the books of the Apocrypha from the canonical Old Testament and place them together before the beginning of the New Testament. Coverdale also decided to include Baruch among the Prophets rather than in the Apocrypha, which prompted an early owner of the Ashburnham-Wardington copy to caustically to remark beside the explanatory clause "very improperly" (Sotheby's London, 12 July 2006, lot 1).