The Great Bible, printed in 1539, is known as one of the most beautiful Bibles ever printed. At the time of the translation, two versions were already in print -- the Matthews Bible and the Coverdale Bible. Because Coverdale's Bible was not translated from the original texts, and the Matthew's Bible was under great suspicion of its origin as a Tyndale Bible, Thomas Cromwell and Archbishop Thomas Cranmer commissioned Myles Coverdale to complete a whole revision of the Bible. Coverdale began work immediately, using the Matthew's Bible as a base, and revising where needed. By 1539, printing had started in Paris; however, the inquisition in France was on, and the printer was arrested. Rather than burning the printed pages, the French Inquisitor-General sold them as waste paper. Through shrewd management, Thomas Cromwell was able to buy the Bible pages and transport them back to England, where they finished the work. In April of 1539, the first edition of the Great Bible appeared, also known as the "Cromwell Bible," the "Cranmer Bible,' and the "Chained Bible." Thomas Cromwell issued an injunction that a copy be set up in every church, and a reader was appointed so that even the illiterate could learn the Word of God, as they desired. With this action, the Great Bible, funded by King Henry VIII, became the first Bible authorized by the government for public use.
The Great Bible was first printed in 1539 and is still considered one of the most beautiful English Bibles ever printed. Cromwell turned to his friend, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, to commission Miles Coverdale with yet another translation, one which would be a whole revision of both Old and New Testaments. Coverdale began work immediately using the Matthew's Bible and making revisions where needed. By 1539, printing had begun in Paris. However, it was quickly stopped by France's Inquisitor Genera. Rather than burning the printed pages, he chose to sell themas waste paper. Through shrewd management, Thomas Cromwell was able to buy the Bible pages and transport them, along with the presses and type, back to England where they resumed printing under Grafton Whitchurch Printers. The first run of 2,500 copies was completed in 1539, but the supply was exhausted within weeks. A second larger edition was finished in 1540 with an additional preface by Thomas Cranmer recommending the reading of Scripture daily (The same appeared later in the Bishop's Bible). Because of the addition of Cranmer's preface to the second edition, it is sometimes referred to as "Cranmer's Bible."