Near the conglomeration of rail viaducts, tube and mainline train complexes at London Bridge can be found this plaque:
This, presumably, is a reference to Coverdale’s Great Bible, ordered by Henry VIII and supervised by Thomas Cromwell. It borrowed the approved bits and edited the unapproved ones from Tyndale (who had recently been burned for heresy on the Continent), added new translations directly from the Vulgate and published this patchwork edition in 1539, the French having thwarted an attempt to print it in Paris. But the good people of Southwark have the date as 1537. The original quote goes ‘imprinted in Southwarke in Saint Thomas Hospitale by James Nycolson, 1537’, but I cannot find the primary source for this. Was it 1537 or 1539? Please comment if you know something, thanks.
We stroll a few hundred yards and eighty years in time into Southwark Cathedral and contemplate the tomb of Lancelot Andrewes. If you followed the 400 anniversary coverage of the King James Bible a few months ago, his name should ring a bell. You will recall that the Authorised Version – as it is more correctly known – was compiled by committees of scholars based in London, Oxford and Cambridge. It is a wonder, really, that it turned out so well. Andrewes was the leading theologian of his day. He was a member of one of the Westminster groups and considered to be the leader, or general editor, of the project. The work began in 1604 and the book was published in 1611.
Andrewes served variously under Elizabeth I and James I as bishop of Chichester, Ely and Winchester (hence his attachment to Southwark). He died at Winchester Palace in Southwark in 1626 and his fame and influence as an academic theologian have endured down the centuries with much of his writings and many of his sermons being published over the years. He also devised the annual celebration of the king’s safe delivery from the Gunpowder Plot which – much transmogrified – we still mark every 5th November.