The Matthew’s Bible was the first complete English translation from the original Hebrew and Greek. Scholars consider this version to be the first “true and legitimate” translation. The actual translation was the combined work of three men – William Tyndale, Miles Coverdale, and John Rogers. They used various sources, in at least five different languages.
William Tyndale translated Genesis through Second Chronicles, as well as the New Testament, working directly from the Hebrew and Greek texts. He was burned at the stake just one year before the printing of the Matthew’s Bible.
The remainder of the Old Testament was translated by Miles Coverdale, who worked from the German and Latin sources. The compilation of these works was done by John Rogers, Tyndale’s assistant, who furnished the Matthew’s Bible with its summaries and marginal notes. This Bible contained all of Tyndale’s work, with the addition of Coverdale’s second translation.
The printer, Grafton, passed a copy of the Matthew’s Bible to Thomas Cramer, who passed it to Oliver Cromwell, who then gave it to King Henry VIII. The King authorized the sale and the reading of this Bible in his realm within ten days.
Thus, eleven years after William Tyndale’s New Testament was burned by royal decree, the Matthew’s Bible was published with the King’s consent. This Bible was later used by those who translated the Great Bible and the Bishop’s Bible.
In 1537, John Rogers submitted the Matthew’s Bible, under the pseudonym of Thomas Matthew, a name used by William Tyndale on occasion. He knew that if his name or Tyndale’s name appeared on the title, it would hinder the sale of that Bible, because at that time Tyndale’s writings were condemned by King Henry VIII.