Where to Find Copies of the Old English Bibles

by Rick Norris

Many believers may have seen Jewell Smith's impressive collection of old manuscripts and Bibles. Because they are so rare and valuable, there is usually a sign when this collection is on display asking people not to touch them. Thus, this supposed evidence for the KJV-only view cannot actually be read and examined by most believers. For the majority of believers like myself who cannot afford to buy the few rare and very expensive original copies of the old English Bibles, how can we examine the facts for ourselves?

Several of the early English Bibles have been reprinted thru the years. A few of them are still available in print. Many large college libraries, especially the libraries of religious schools or Bible colleges, may have a copy of some of these reprinted editions of the early English Bibles. A modern spelling edition of Tyndale's can even be found in some public libraries. Many of the various original editions of the early English Bibles were put on microfilm. Some large theological libraries may have them available in this form.

Because of all the old English Bibles before the 1560 Geneva Bible did not have verse divisions and because they have different spelling, some may find them hard to read and hard to compare. Perhaps the easier way to examine and compare the early English Bibles is by looking for one of the special reprints of them that have several of them side by side and that have added the verse numbers. The 1840's ENGLISH HEXAPLA had six of the early English New Testaments: 1380's Wycliffe's, 1534 Tyndale's, 1539 Great or Cranmer's, 1557 Whittingham's or Geneva N.T., 1582 Catholic Rheims, and 1611 KJV. The 1960's NEW TESTAMENT OCTAPLA edited by Luther Weigle also has six of the early English New Testaments plus two later ones: 1535 Tyndale's, 1540 Great, 1560 Geneva, 1568 Bishops', 1582 Rheims, 1611 KJV, plus the 1901 ASV and 1960 RSV. Look for one of them in large libraries. A photocopied edition of THE ENGLISH HEXAPLA is now available from Still Waters Revival Books of Canada.

A facsimile reprint of the 1599 edition of the Geneva Bible was available from Great Christian Books, CBD Book Distributors, and perhaps could be ordered by local bookstores. The modern spelling editions of Tyndale's New Testament and Tyndale's Old Testament edited by David Daniell and published by Yale University Press had been available if they are not sold out. John Wesley Sawyer, a KJV-only advocate, edited modern spelling editions of Tyndale's 1526 N. T., Matthew's 1537 N. T., and Whittingham's 1557 N.T. that may still be available.

An 1800's reprint edition by Samuel Bagster of the Coverdale's Bible may be found in some libraries. The 1975 facsimile reprint of Coverdale's Bible is in some libraries. There was also a facsimile reprint of the 1560 edition of the Geneva Bible published in 1969 by the University of Wisconsin Press. The four volume 1982 reprint edition of Wycliffe's Bible edited by Josiah Forshall and Frederic Madden can be found in some libraries. Joseph Bosworth's THE GOSPELS with the Gothic, Anglo-Saxon, Wycliffe's, and Tyndale's gospels compared side by side may be in some libraries. Hardy Wallis edited an edition of Tyndale's N. T. that was published in 1938 by At the University Press.

This information should give those believers who are interested in checking the facts for themselves a starting place for looking for the old English Bibles.