Chiswick Auctions

Tyndale English Bible could sell for £10,000 at auction

Thu 25 Oct 2018
By Cara Bentley

A rare copy of one of the first English Bibles translated from the original Greek and Hebrew is going up for auction in November.

The 1536 version entitled 'The Newe Testamente Yet Once Agayne Corrected By William Tyndale' will go up for auction at Chiswick Auctions in West London on 28th November as part of their Printed Books & Manuscripts auction and is estimated to go for £8,000-£10,000.

William Tyndale was a scholar, greatly influenced by the work of Luther and Erasmus, part of the Protestant Reformation and most famous for his translation of the complete Bible into English from the Hebrew and Greek. 

He was called by his great opponent Thomas More “the captain of our Englysh heretikes”. 

Rev Dr David Instone-Brewer, Senior Research Fellow at Tyndale House in Cambridge told Premier: "It's great to hear they've found another Tyndale Bible. Not many have survived because Tyndale had to hide in the Netherlands because British authorities didn't want an unauthorised version of the Bible."

Before Tyndale, the Bible was primarily heard and read in Latin by scholars and clergy, meaning very few people could understand it, let alone read it at home on their own.

The 1534 edition outraged the clerical establishment by giving the laity access to the word of God, in print in English for the first time.

Dr Instone-Brewer explained: "When he finished the New testament he printed it as a small pocket-sized book, specially so you can hide it and then smuggled them across the channel in wool sacks. Now that was the drug smuggling of the 16th century, very dangerous and many Bibles didn't make it and if you were found with one you were in trouble."

Because of his work, Tyndale was charged with heresy and burned to death. Crying out as he died “Lord! Open the King of England’s eyes!”. Two years later Henry VIII authorised an English translation known as the ‘Great Bible’, which included much of Tyndale’s own translation.

Dr Instone-Brewer said the historical significance made it incredibly valuable: "There's only a handful left nowadays so I'm surprised to read that the expected price is only £10,000. When the British library bought a copy a few years ago they paid more than a million. Now, I understand this one has it's title page missing but still, this is a bargain! Well, it's an auction so you never know what will happen". 

Although 3,000 copies were made of the first translation, most of these were hunted down and destroyed as it was considered heretical to own one.

This version is is in good condition and only the fourth copy to be on sale since the 1970s.

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