The New Matthew Bible (NMB) is a gentle update of the 1537-1549 Matthew Bible, which was an important Bible of the English Reformation. It contained the Scripture translations of two men, William Tyndale and Myles Coverdale.
The New Matthew Bible is not a new translation, but is the original work with only obsolete spelling, language, and grammar updated. The New Testament has been completed, and the Old Testament is in progress. The editor, Ruth Magnusson Davis, works from an original 1549 rag paper Matthew Bible, a reprint of the 1537 edition.
About the Matthew Bible
William Tyndale and Myles Coverdale lived in an age when it was illegal to translate the Bible into English. Nonetheless, Tyndale translated the New Testament of the Matthew Bible, and about half of the Old. However, he was not able complete his work before he was captured and imprisoned by Roman Catholic authorities. He died a martyr, burned at the stake in 1536. The rest of the Old Testament and the Apocryphal books of the Matthew Bible were contributed by Myles Coverdale, who was a foremost leader among the early Reformers. He translated chiefly from German sources, including Martin Luther.
A third man, John Rogers, collated Tyndale’s and Coverdale’s work to make a complete Bible. He also added notes to explain the meaning of Hebrew idioms, give historical information, and more. He published his Bible in 1537 under the pseudonym “Thomas Matthew” in order to conceal Tyndale’s involvement, because all Tyndale’s work was outlawed in England. From this pseudonym came the name “Matthew Bible,” or “Matthew’s Version.” Then King Henry VIII, unaware of its true authorship, licensed the Matthew Bible for use in the churches.
Not only William Tyndale, but also John Rogers was martyred for his work. After the Roman Catholic monarch Queen Mary ascended the throne in 1553, she removed English Bibles from the churches and pursued the men who had been involved in making them. Rogers was put in prison, and in 1555 was burned at the stake. Thus, both he and William Tyndale sealed their work with their blood.
The Matthew Bible is the only English Bible that was bought with the blood of its authors, and so it may truly be called an apostolic work. With all Rogers’ notes and study aids, it was also the first English study Bible.
The project to update the Matthew Bible
In 2009, editor Ruth Magnusson Davis, a retired lawyer with a degree in languages, founded the New Matthew Bible Project to re-publish the Matthew Bible with minimal updating. William Tyndale once wrote, “words that are not understood, profit not.” The goal of the NMB Project is to make the Matthew Bible understandable for the profit of readers today. In 2016 the New Testament was published as The October Testament. Davis has also written the world’s only history of the Matthew Bible, called The Story of the Matthew Bible, in two parts.
Few are aware that the Matthew Bible formed the base of the Great Bible, and then the Geneva, Bishops’ and King James versions, which were all subsequent revisions. However, people will recognize the familiar language. Davis has guarded the historic language and all the truth, spirit, and teaching of the original work, yet with careful attention to grammar and linguistics to make the meaning clear.