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Rare Bibles: Taverner Bible (1539)

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


In 1539, Richard Taverner, an Oxford and Cambridge educated lawyer as well as a Greek scholar, published his translation of the Bible. This translation was published the same year as the Great Bible; however, scholars are not sure which one appeared first. This translation was also the first to be printed completely in England. Utilizing both the Old Testament of Matthew’s Bible and the New Testament of the Tyndale translation, Taverner’s Bible closely resembles Matthew’s Bible with some new notes by Taverner. Radically, he tried to use idiomatic phrases and words that would have been more familiar to English readers. Taverner was the last to use Luther’s ordering of the Biblical text. This Bible does not contain any woodcuts, and our copy is imperfect and incomplete, as a couple of the books and some chapters are missing.