The Matthews Bible 1537, (1549) and Psalm 12:6-7


John Rodgers, a staunch disciple, and friend of William Tyndale edited the Matthew’s Bible under the pseudonym of Thomas Matthew in the hope that his work would not be immediately recognized as that of Tyndale.[1] Tyndale’s martyrdom cut short his translation of the Old Testament completing the Pentateuch and Joshua through 2 Chronicles.[2] For the remainder of the Old Testament, including the Psalms, Rogers relied upon Coverdale. In Psalm 12 :6-7 Rodgers translated, “The words of the Lord are pure words, even as the silver, which from the earth is tried and purified vii times in the fire. Keep them therefore (O Lord) and preserve us from this generation for ever.”[3]

Following Coverdale, Rogers again makes a clear connection in his translation between the pure words being the antecedent to “them keep” by omitting any intervening words between the noun and verb. Rodgers also continued the divided rendering of “keep them,” the words, and “keep us,” the people, indicative of the principle that God’s covenantal promises with Israel and the Church assure the safety, care, and salvation of both. By this translation The Matthew’s Bible contributes to the argument that Psalm 12:6-7 speaks to the providential preservation of God’s word. John Rodgers was the first to be martyred at Smithfield in 1555 under the reign of Mary I of England who sought to restore Roman Catholic rule. It was said of Rodgers that in his death, “He broke the ice valiantly.”

Rest assured; this is never going to happen to an advocate of the historical critical method. The historical critical method has far more in common with those that martyred Rodgers than with Rodgers who gave his life for the Scripture in English including, for example, a central controlling committee, elite arbitrators of the text, and scholarly usurpation of canonical authority.


[1] Olga S. Opfell, The King James Bible Translators (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1982), 18-19.

[2] See Gustavus S. Paine, The Learned Men (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1959); Robert McCrumm, William Cran, Robert MacNeil, The Story of English (New York: Viking Penguin Inc, 1986); Ira Maurice Price, The Ancestry of Our English Bible (Philadelphia: The Sunday School Times Co., 1923); Brian H. Edwards, “Tyndale’s Betrayal and Death,” Christian History, 6 (1988).

[3] The Bible Which all the Holy Scripture translated into English by Thomas Matthew, 1537 (Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilm).

Published by Dr. Peter Van Kleeck, Sr.

Dr. Peter William Van Kleeck, Sr. : B.A., Grand Rapids Baptist College, 1986; M.A.R., Westminster Theological Seminary, 1990; Th.M., Calvin Theological Seminary, 1998; D. Min, Bob Jones University, 2013. Dr. Van Kleeck was formerly the Director of the Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, Grand Rapids, MI, (1990-1994) lecturing, researching and writing in the defense of the Masoretic Hebrew text, Greek Received Text and King James Bible. His published works include, "Fundamentalism’s Folly?: A Bible Version Debate Case Study" (Grand Rapids: Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, 1998); “We have seen the future and we are not in it,” Trinity Review, (Mar. 99); “Andrew Willet (1562-1621: Reformed Interpretation of Scripture,” The Banner of Truth, (Mar. 99); "A Primer for the Public Preaching of the Song of Songs" (Outskirts Press, 2015). Dr. Van Kleeck is the pastor of the Providence Baptist Church in Manassas, VA where he has ministered for the past twenty-one years. He is married to his wife of 43 years, Annette, and has three married sons, one daughter and eighteen grandchildren.

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