The main priest of Henry VII, Thomas Cromwell commanded the priesthood to "provide one book of the bible of the largest volume in English, and the same set up in some convenient place within the said church that ye have care of, whereas your parishioners may most commodiously resort to the same and read it."
On the very bottom of the first page was written: "this bible is for church use". The size alone made it a Great Bible. Because it was open to the public, it was often chained to the pulpit. It was first printed in 1539 and to this day it remains one of the most beautifully printed English Bibles. Cromwell asked his friend, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, to order Miles Coverdale a new translation, which would be a new edition of the Great Bible. Coverdale started immediately with the aid of Matthew's Bible. In 1539 in Paris, they began printing the new edition, but it was soon obstructed by the French inquisition. Instead of burning the confiscated pages the French decided to sell them. Tomas Cromwell managed to buy them off and transport them to England, where the work was continued with help of Grafton and Whitchurch.
BIBLE PAGES SAVED
The first edition of 2500 copies was ready in 1539. All of them were sold within the next couple of weeks. The second edition was finished in 1540, including an introduction advising daily read of the Holy Scripture, written by Thomas Cranmer. Because of the introduction, the second edition is often referred to as Cranmer's Bible. The public exposition at the church pulpit awakened a new desire in the people of owning their own, personal copy of God's Word. It was the start of a spree of new editions and translations. Henry VII authorized the printing of the Bible but after his death and accession of Mary I of England to the throne, Thomas Cranmer was judged and just as John Rogers before him, finished his life in flames.
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