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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Coverdale, Miles

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one of the earliest English reformers, was born in Yorkshire about 1487, and was educated at Cambridge, where he became a monk of the Augustine order. At an early period he perceived the errors of Popery. In 1514 he was ordained priest. About 1525 he laid aside his monk's habit, and began to preach against papal errors. In 1528 he joined Tyndale at Hamburgh, and in 1535 his own translation of the Bible appeared, with a dedication to Henry VIII. It formed a folio, printed at Zurich. "He thus had the honor of editing the first English Bible allowed by royal authority, and the first translation of the whole Bible printed in our language. The Psalms in it are those now used in the Book of Common Prayer. About the end of the year 1538 Coverdale went abroad again on the business of a new edition of the Bible. Grafton, the English printer, had permission from Francis I, at the request of king Henry VIII himself, to print a Bible at Paris, on account of the superior skill of the workmen, and the goodness and cheapness of the paper. But, notwithstanding the royal license, the Inquisition interposed by an instrument dated December 17, 1538. The French printers, their English employers, and Coverdale, who was the corrector of the press, were summoned before the inquisitors, and the impression, consisting of 2500 copies, was seized and condemned to the flames. The avarice of the officer who superintended the burning of the copies, however, induced him to sell several chests of them to a haberdasher for the purpose of wrapping his wares, by which means a few copies were preserved. The English proprietors, who had fled at the alarm, returned to Paris when it subsided, and not only recovered some of the copies which had escaped the fire, but brought with them to London the presses, types, and printers. This importation enabled Grafton and Whitchurch to print, in 1539, what is called Cranmer's, or The Great Bible,' in which Covprdale compared the translation with the Hebrew, corrected it in many places, and was the chief overseer of the work. Coverdale was almoner, some time afterwards, to queen Catharine Parr, the last wife of Henry VIII, at whose funeral he officiated in the chapel of Sudeley Castle, in Gloucestershire, in 1548. On August 14, 1551, he succeeded Dr. John Harman, otherwise Voysey, in the see of Exeter" (English Cyclopaedia). On the accession of Queen Mary, he was ejected from his see and thrown into prison. On his release, at the end of two years, Coverdale repaired to Denmark, and afterwards to Wesel, and finally to Geneva, where he joined several other exiles in producing that version of the English Bible which is usually called "The Geneva Translation," part of which, the New Testament, was printed at Geneva in 1557 by Conrad Badius, and again in 1560. On the accession of queen Elizabeth Coverdale returned from exile; but having imbibed the principles of the Geneva reformers, as far as respected the ecclesiastical habits and ceremonies, he was not allowed to resume his bishopric, nor was any preferment offered to him for a considerable time. In 1563 bishop Grindal recommended him to the bishopric of Llandaff; but it is supposed that Coverdale's age and infirmities, and the remains of the plague, from which he had just recovered, made him decline so great a charge. In lieu of it, however, the bishop collated him to the rectory of St. Magnus London Bridge. He resigned this living in 1566. The date of his death has been variously stated. The parish register of St. Bartholomew, behind the Royal Exchange, however, proves that he was buried Feb. 19,1568. His principal writings have been recently republished in England by the Parker Society, under the titles of "Writings and Translations of Miles Coverdale, edited by G. Pearson" (Camb. 1844, 8vo) "Remains of Miles Coverdale, edited by G. Pearson" (Cambridge, 1846, 8vo). See Bagster, Memorials of Coverdale; Johnson, English Translations of the Bible; Hook, Eccles. Biog., 4:209.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Coverdale, Miles'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/c/coverdale-miles.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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