Tyndale’s First Attempt – Cologne Fragment (1525)

It is thought by scholars that William Tyndale’s first attempt at translating and printing the New Testament is contained in what is known as the Cologne Fragment or the Matthew Fragment. There is only one copy known to exist. It is housed in the Grenville Collection at the British Library. All that has survived is 31 leaves/pages containing Tyndale’s Prologue, a woodcut of St Matthew, and chapters 1-22 of Matthew’s Gospel. It is said to have been printed in Cologne, Germany.


It is an impressive few pages.

Below is the transcript of page 1 in modern English spelling:


I have here translated (brethren and sisters most dear and tenderly beloved in Christ) the new Testament for your spiritual edifying, consolation and solace: Exhorting instantly and beseeching those that are better seen in the tongues than I, and that have higher gifts of grace to interpret the sense of the Scripture, and meaning of the Spirit, than I, to consider and ponder my labor, and that with the spirit of meekness. And if they perceive in any places that I have not attained the very sense of the tongue, or meaning of the Scripture, or have not given the right English word, that they put to their hands to amend it, remembering that so is their duty to do. For we have not received the gifts of God for ourselves only, or for to hide them; but for to bestow them unto the honoring of God and Christ, and edifying of the congregation, which is the body of Christ.

The causes that moved me to translate, I thought better that others should imagine, than that I should rehearse them. Moreover I supposed it superfluous, for who is so blind to ask why light should be showed to them that walk in darkness, where they cannot but stumble, and where to stumble is the danger of eternal damnation, other so despiteful that he would envy any man (I speak not his brother) so necessary a thing, or so bedlam mad to affirm that good is the natural cause of evil (????), and darkness to proceed out of sight, and that lying should be grounded in truth and verity, and not rather seen contrary, that light destroyeth darkness, and verity reproveth all manner lying.

Please note: Some of my transcription of page 1 of the Cologne Fragment could be wrong in a few places. I have done my best. Feel free to let me know or comment on this post, if you think something isn’t correct.

Thanks for reading!

Kind regards to all who stopped by this small corner of the internet! If you wish, leave a comment or question.


I am truly encouraged by all who visit here. I hope you learned something about William Tyndale and his work and of course, learned more about God’s Word, too.

If you are curious about owning a William Tyndale Bible, check out our small Store. Orders are fulfilled by Christianbook Distributors located in Peabody, Massachusetts, USA.

The British Library paid over one million pounds in 1994 for an original copy of the 1526 New Testament. A facsimile (digital photocopy) of this same New Testament is available in our store — for a very reasonable price.

We have items in the store related to William Tyndale and items related to the King James Bible. Some are very inexpensive.

One example, you can rent via streaming the “Man with a Mission” documentary which features Tyndale scholar, David Daniell. It is very low cost, but quite an interesting video.

For full disclosure, I do earn a small advertising fee, if you purchase something.

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