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Rare Bibles: Great Bible (1541)

The Styberg Library has a special collection of rare Bibles. This guide features some of the ones that are within the collection.


This edition of the Great Bible, issued in November of 1541, is the fifth edition of the sixth Great Bible. First printed in 1539, during the reign of Henry VIII, the Great Bible was the first authorized version of the English Bible, although there were already two other English translations in circulation. Myles Coverdale, who had already completed his own translation of the Bible, was appointed as the editor for this new translation. The title page depicts Henry VIII handing the Bible to Cranmer and Cromwell, his advisors who had supervised the project, so that they could offer this Bible to the clergy and laity who received it gladly. The second edition, which became the standard text, contains a preface by Cranmer, hence this Bible’s nickname: “Cranmer’s Bible.” After its completion, this was the only legal English translation of the Bible to be used in the Church of England. Five pages of Brougham family (a previous owner) pedigrees and thirteen brilliantly colored coats of arms are inserted into our text.