British Library to pay pounds 1m for only complete copy of first English Bible

THE British Library is to pay pounds 1m for this copy of William Tyndale's 1526 translation of the New Testament into English, writes David Lister. Dr Brian Lang, chief executive of the British Library, said yesterday he could not think of 'any printed book in the English language that has more significance than this'.

Tyndale, who was burned at the stake as a heretic on 6 October 1536, was the first to translate and print any part of the Bible in English. Of the original issue of 3,000 copies printed at Worms in Germany in 1526, only two remain - this complete one and one at St Paul's Cathedral, with 71 leaves missing.

The Tyndale Bible has been at Bristol Baptist College since 1784. The college will not say what other offers it received, but the vice chairman of the college, the Rev Roger Hayden, said: 'This is a national, cultural and religious treasure. We didn't want it to end up in a Texan vault.'

Dr Lang said it would eventually be displayed in London at the new library in Euston, and before then at an exhibition in October at the British Museum in Bloomsbury to mark the 500th anniversary of Tyndale's birth.

(Photograph omitted)

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