A monk, a cobbler, a tutor, an explorer, a merchant, a bishop and some even became martyrs who sacrificed their lives in order that others might have the Word of God in a language they could understand. Today we take for granted the fact we have easy access to a Bible we can read in our native language but this has not always been the case nor is it true for everyone around the world in our generation. The Museum of The Book is the only museum in London exclusively dedicated to sharing the stories of the translations of the Bible. See the original Bibles and documents that form the basis of our Christian heritage at the Museum of The Book. Book a Visit
Known as the "morning star" of the Reformation, John Wyclife gave to England, before the invention of printing, her very first scriptures in the English language. His reformed teaching was so despised by the Church that on three occasions he was charged and tried for heresy but was delivered each time by the providence of God. He eventually died in 1384 of natural causes. Such was the disdain for his continuing influence over the English people that 44 years after his death his bones were secretly dug up in the middle of the night, burned and scattered in the River Swift. In their superstition the Church thought by destroying his physical remains they would ruin his chances of a resurrection on the day of judgement.
The Church's ghastly action against Wyclife's teaching made no difference to the purpose of God because the glowing embers of his theology and the burning light of his translation of the Bible eventually set on fire a reformation that swept all of Europe with the cry 'sola scripture' - scripture alone making Wyclife the "morning star" of the Protestant Reformation. More
The Museum of The Book exhibits original Wyclifite manuscripts of both the Old and New Testaments. There is also a copy of Wycliffe's first printed edition of his New Testament 1731 as well as some early printed editions of his theological writings. Book a Visit
The influence of the reformer John Wyclife reached beyond the shores of England and touched the life of a young German monk by the name of Martin Luther. After a sudden and transformational conversion from darkness to light Luther nailed a 95 thesis to his local church door in 1517 demanding reformation of the corrupted institution of the Roman Catholic Church. The Pope in turn issued a Papal Bull against Luther excommunicating him from the Church. In 1522 Luther published the New Testament in German and his first complete Bible in 1534. More
See on display in the Museum of The Book Luther’s original contemporary first and early edition Bibles and Testaments, copies of his original printed reformational writings and even a copy of the Papal Bull condemning him for his theology.
On Friday, 6 October 1536, William Tyndale was executed by the instigation of the Church. His crime? Heresy! He was a heretic of the worst kind. He had been a wanted man on the run from the English authorities because his theology dammed the teaching and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. Like Martin Luther, Tyndale had also translated and published the New Testament (1525) and the Pentateuch (1530) into the language of the common man giving the people access to the Word of God. No longer could the Church hide behind its traditions and extra-biblical practices. More
On display in the Museum of The Book are original contemporary Tyndale New Testaments along side his earliest theological arguments. See also original contemporary manuscripts reflecting the tensions of the Protestant Refomation. Book a Visit
Meet the Translators
The first complete printed English Bible appeared in 1535 just 10 years after the publication of Tyndale's 1525 New Testament. The translator, Myles Coverdale, was born in 1488, probably in Yorkshire. He was originally connected to the monastery of the Augustinian Friars at Cambridge until he was converted to Protestantism when he began to have a great love for the Holy Scriptures. In 1528 he was preaching in Suffolk against the mass, compulsory confession, and the worship of images. In the same year, fearing for his safety, he went to the Continent, and nothing more is definitely known of him till 1535. It is thought that he spent some time with Tyndale, especially at Hamburg (1529). In 1538 he was in Paris superintending the printing of the "Great Bible" (1539) until compelled to flee to England. In 1548 he became a chaplain of Edward VI, and in 1551 Bishop of Exeter. In 1553, in the Marian persecution, he was deposed, imprisoned, and banished. In 1558-9 he was in Geneva, while the Genevan translation was being made. Returning to England in 1559, he became rector at London Bridge but then resigned because of his Puritanic ideas concerning church vestments. He died in London (1569?).
See Coverdale’s original contemporary Bibles and much more on display in the Museum of The Book. Book a Visit
John Rogers took his B. A. degree at Cambridge University in 1525, the same year William Tyndale published his first New Testament. About 1534 he left England and became chaplain at the 'English Merchants' House in Antwerp, Belgium where Tyndale was then living. They became close friends, and before Tyndale was martyred he appointed Rogers his literary executor and left to him his unfinished manuscript of Joshua to 2 Chronicles. He published a new translation of the Bible in 1537 which in reality was William Tyndale’s translation bearing the pseudonym Thomas Matthew as the translator. In 1547 Rogers returned to England, and was the first victim of martyrdom in the reign of Bloody Mary (1553-8). Of the 1500 copies printed, only a few survived Bloody Mary's persecution. More
See John Roger’s original contemporary Bibles on display in the Museum of The Book. Book a Visit