The CD-ROM Bible in English

Not only the AV, but all of the major Tudor versions are included in the database. The inclusion of these texts unlocks many hidden treasures in Renaissance literature. No writer before 1611 used the AV and very few writers before 1660 show any great familiarity with it. This means that any work on such writers as Shakespeare, Sidney, Thomas Middleton, John Donne and George Herbert has hitherto been impeded by the lack of even the most rudimentary concordances for the versions which they read and heard read in church. Even the texts of many of these versions have been hard to use, often available only in special collections and on microfilm. Now all are immediately accessible. Any work on the literature of the period 1525-1660 can now be supported by a reference system which will enable scholars to trace and identify specific echoes and allusions, from Sir Thomas Wyatt's use of the new Tyndale translations in the 1530s to Henry Vaughan's unexpected but consistent use of the Geneva Bible in the 1650s.

'The Geneva Bible in particular is of immense importance. Published in the very early years of Elizabeth's reign, vast numbers were printed, to the extent that it was probably the only book owned by nearly every household in England. Its influence ranges from the most famous poets and dramatists to the Digger and Leveller pamphleteers of the civil war period.

'Not only is its text made thoroughly accessible in this database, but its notes are too. Christopher Hill's recent book on the English Bible in the seventeenth century has shown how extraordinary was the impact of these notes upon English Puritanism: the CD-ROM makes it possible, by searching such words as king, prince, obedience, tyrant, to explore the political implications of its commentary. That Shakespeare read and used its notes is also demonstrable. Key in the word blackmoor and the headnote to Jeremiah 13 points to the text Can the black More change his skin? or the leopard his spots? a text which suddenly becomes very relevant to Othello - not suspected by those who only know the AV's Ethiopian. Likewise, the Geneva note to Genesis 30:37 reads Iaakob herein used no deceit: for it was God's commandment, the same argument used by Antonio to respond to Shylock's interpretation of the Jacob story:

This was a venture sir that Jacob serv'd for,
A thing not in his power to bring to pass,
But sway'd and fashion'd by the hand of heaven.

'The inclusion of the two versions of the manuscript medieval version, known as the Wycliffite Bible, opens up important new areas for the exploration of the language and literature of the middle ages. So far little serious critical work has been done on these versions ... The long-argued question of the extent to which, if at all, the Wycliffite Bible influenced later English Bible translations may now begin to be answered'.

So writes Professor Gerald Hammond, who shares the Editorial Board of The Bible in English with Sylvia Adamson of the University of Cambridge. The database contains twelve complete texts of the Bible, seven texts of the New Testament, and two of the Gospels alone.

It includes:

  1. The Gospels in Anglo-Saxon and Northumbrian versions (ed Skeat)
  2. The Early and Later Wycliffite Bibles together with the General Prologue
  3. Tyndale's 1534 New Testament, Pentateuch and Jonah
  4. Coverdale's Bible of 1535
  5. Matthew's Bible rev 1549
  6. The Great Bible of 1540
  7. The Genera Bible, rev edition of 1587
  8. The Bishops' Bible of 1568
  9. The Rheims Douai Bible, 1582-1610
  10. The King James Bible (AV) of 1611
  11. Daniel Mace's New Testament of 1729
  12. Richard Challoner's Bible of 1750-2
  13. John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the NT, 1755
  14. John Worsley's New Testament of 1770
  15. Noah Webster's Bible of 1833
  16. Leicester Ambrose Sawyer's New Testament of 1858
  17. Twentieth Century New Testament in modern English of 1904
  18. New English Bible of 1970
  19. Good News Bible of 1976

The Bible in English is to be published in October 1995, and is available on CD-ROM (ISBN 0-85964-277-1), and on magnetic tape (ISBN 0-85964-278-X) at 995, excluding VAT and delivery, from Chadwyck-Healey Ltd, The Quorum, Barnwell Road, Cambridge CB5 8SW, and in North America from 1101 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314, USA. website

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