Freedom to Read Week 2021

Highlighting material from the Special Collections

Freedom to Read Week is February 21-27 this year. It is an annual event that encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom.

One book that has a long history of being censored or banned might surprise some people, and that is the Bible. One example of is William Tyndale’s translation of the New Testament into English. From the Freedom to Read website:

“Thousands of copies …were printed in Germany and smuggled into England, where they were publicly burned in 1526 on the orders of London’s Roman Catholic bishop. Church authorities in England insisted that the Bible would be available only in Latin and that only they would be able to read and interpret it. In 1536, as a result of a plot masterminded by the English, Tyndale was arrested in Belgium, tried for heresy, and strangled and burned at the stake near Brussels. A few of his translations were burned with him. Today, only three original copies of Tyndale’s New Testament survive.”

We do not have one of the original copies of Tyndale’s translation in our collection, but we do have a version which contains a New Testament translation that is an edit of Tyndale’s original English translation. This version is known as the “Matthew Bible” as it was published under the name “Thomas Matthew,” a pseudonym for John Rogers. It is believed Rogers brought together Tyndale’s translations with those of Miles Cloverdale, publishing both Old and New Testament together. Joining Tyndale and his books, Roger’s was also sentence to death by burning, though not specifically for his role in the publishing of the English bible, but for heresy in relation to his anti-Catholic preaching. (Brittanica)

The Byble whych is all the holy Scripture in whych are contayned the Olde and Newe Testament / truelye and purely translated into Englishe by Thomas Matthewe, 1537 and now imprinted in the yeare of Oure Lorde 1549 BS 150 1549


Matthew Bible

Matthew Bible

Share this story