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The Bible in English

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The Bible in English



One of the most important results of Henry’s reformation of the English Church was the production of Bibles translated into the vernacular. What earlier would have been a crime—possessing a Bible in English—became a requirement for all churches in the realm. Henry’s influence as Head of the Church of England can be seen in the images and iconography on the title pages of these early English bibles. Unlike medieval royalty, who received the symbols of royal power such as the orb and scepter from the clergy, the king is no longer separate from the church but has become an integral part of it. His developing power is exemplified by the location of his image on the title page: in the 1535 Coverdale Bible Henry’s image is at the foot of the title page; four years later, Henry sits almost at the top, immediately under a very small image of the risen Christ.



Bible. English. Great Bible. London, 1539

Henry's influence and writings as the Head of the Church of England were not without controversy. Pictured at right is the Index of Prohibited Books (1559), a list of books forbidden to Roman Catholics as dangerous to faith or morals. In it, the works of “Henricus viij Anglus” are listed among the Auctores quorum libri & scripta omnia prohibenturauthors all of whose books and writings are prohibited. Others afforded similar treatment include Coverdale, Cranmer, Erasmus, Luther, and Tyndale. The ban on all of Henry’s books also included Assertio Septem Sacramentorumor the Defense of the Seven Sacramentsfor which the pope had named him “Defender of the Faith.” Years later, the Inquisition tried to censor Shakespeare’s Henry VIII for making statements which the Church thought offensive.

 

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Index librorum prohibitorum. Genoa, 1559





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