Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Becke, Edmund

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BECKE, EDMUND (fl. 1550), theological writer, was ordained deacon by Bishop Ridley in 1551 (Strype's Memorials, ii. pt. i. 313). In 1549 he supervised an edition of the Bible, 'truly and purely translated into English and nowe lately with greate industry and diligence recognized.' The volume was printed by John Day and William Seres, and was preceded by a long dedicatory address to 'the most puisant and mighty prince Edwarde the Sixt,' signed by his 'most humble and obedient subiect Edmund Becke.' An autograph copy of the address is among the Ashmolean MSS. at Oxford. Becke there speaks of the book as 'the frutes of myne industry,' but it appears to be merely a re- print of T. Matthew's (i.e. John Rogers') 'Bible,' published in 1537, with trifling variations in the text and notes. It contains Tindal's preface to the New Testament. Becke's chief original contribution consists of 'a perfect supputation of the yeares and tyme from Adam unto Christ, proued by the Scriptures after the colleccyon of dyuers Authours.' In 1551 Becke published two more Bibles, one printed by John Day, 'faythfully set forth according to ye coppy of Thomas Matthewes translacion [really Taverner's Bible of 1539] wherevnto are added certaine learned prologes and annotacions for the better understanding of many hard places threwout the whole Byble.' The dedicatory address and the various prologues which occur in Becke's earlier edition of the Bible are again inserted. The other Bible followed the Matthew revision, and was printed by N. Hyll. Becke's other works included: 1. 'Two Dyalogues wrytten in Latin by the famous clerke D. Erasmus of Roterodame, one called Polyphemus or the Gospeller, the other dysposing of thynges and names; translated into Englyshe by Edmond Becke. And prynted at Canterbury in Saynt Paules paryshe by John Mychell.' 2. 'A Brefe Confutacion of this most detestable and Anabaptistrial opinion that Christ dyd not take hys flesh of the blessed Vyrgyn Mary nor any corporal substance of her body. For the maintenaunce whereof Jhone Bucher, otherwise called Jhon of Kent, most obstinately suffered and was burned in Smythfyelde, the ii. day of May Anno Domini M.D.L.' (London, John Day, 1550, 4to.) The first tract is described by Becke as 'the fyrste frutes of this my symple translacyon,' and as undertaken at the request of 'a nere cosyn of myne' for 'such as are not lerned in the Latin tongue.' It is undated; its publication at Canterbury suggests some ecclesiastical connection between Becke and that town. The second tract is a popular rhyming pamphlet, written to point the moral of the martyrdom of the anabaptist Joan Bocher [q.v.], which is fully described by Stow. The tract has been reprinted by Mr. J. P. Collier in the second volume of his 'Illustrations of Early English Popular Literature ' (1864).

[Lewis's History of the English Translation of the Bible, prefixed to his edition of Wiclif's New Testament (1731), pp. 44, 47; Tanner's Bibliotheca Britannico-Hibernica; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

S. L. L.