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Cromwell's Soldiers' Pocket Bible

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Title: Cromwell's Soldiers' Pocket Bible  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Oliver Cromwell, English Civil War
Collection: 1643 Books, 17Th-Century Christian Texts, Early Printed Bibles, History of Christianity in the United Kingdom, Religion in the Military
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Cromwell's Soldiers' Pocket Bible

Cover: 1643 Souldier's Pocket Bible
Christian Soldier's Penny Bible (1693); a version of Souldier's Pocket Bible (1643)

Cromwell's Soldiers' Pocket Bible (aka The Soldier's Pocket Bible, Cromwell's Soldier's Bible [1] ) was a pamphlet version of the Christian Bible that was carried by the soldiers of Oliver Cromwell's Commonwealth army during the First English Civil War.[2]


  • Description 1
  • Purpose 2
  • Legacy 3
  • References 4
  • Bibliography 5


The Soldier's Pocket Bible was first issued in 1643 to Cromwell's army and was put in general use among his soldiers.[3][4][5] It has been of historical record that Cromwell's soldiers were provided with a small pocket Bible.[6][7][8] Cambridgeport, Massachusetts, discovered a copy of The Soldier's Pocket Bible in 1854; he realized that the Bible which Cromwell's soldiers were known to carry was not the complete Christian Bible of 66 books, but a condensed pamphlet version.[6][9] It was an octavo booklet (136 × 78mm, 5½ × 3″).[10] In comparison, it was about the size and thickness of an international travel passport used in the 20th century.[10]

The Soldier's Pocket Bible had just 16 pages that contained some 150 verse quotations from the Geneva Bible,[10][11] all related to war.[6] These verses were from the Old Testament (except four).[12] Verses intended to inspire the morale of Cromwell's soldiers included the following:

  • Deuteronomy 20.4 (Geneva Bible) – For the Lord your God goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, and to save you.
  • Exodus 14.14 (Geneva Bible) – The Lord shall fight for you. [13]

The 150 war-related verses were organized in sixteen sections.[10] Cromwell helped select some of the verses used[14] and supervised the editing of the Soldiers Pocket Bible by Edmund Calamy.[4][6]

Section headers for the verses included the following:

A Soldier must not do wickedly
A Soldier must be valiant for God's cause
A Soldier must love his enemies as they are his enemies, and hate them as they are God's enemies
A Soldier must consider that sometimes God's people have the worst in battle as well as God's enemies.[15]

This condensed Soldier's Pocket Bible was usually buttoned on the inside waistcoat, placed near the heart, and under the soldier's outer coat.[6] The placement did not hinder the movements of the soldier.[10] English Puritan church leader Richard Baxter relates a story that the life of one of Cromwell's soldiers was saved by his carrying a copy of the Soldier's Pocket Bible near his heart; a bullet fired at him became lodged in the pamphlet instead of his heart. [14]


Cromwell's military success was largely due to the training of his soldiers.[16] However The Soldier's Pocket Bible was used for religious inspiration and to help influence good morals and rigid discipline.[4] Before Cromwell's soldiers went into battle, they would pray and sing religious songs from the Book of Psalms.[17] According to Cromwell, his soldiers never lost a battle after The Soldier's Pocket Bible was issued to them in 1643.[17][18]


Two copies exist of the 1643 edition of The Soldier's Pocket Bible. The London copy was presented by


  1. ^ Bevan 2003, p. 417.
  2. ^ Bremer 2006, p. 548.
  3. ^ Bratt 2012, p. 25.
  4. ^ a b c
  5. ^ Bruce 2002, p. 92.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Congressional 1898, p. 1022.
  7. ^ Adler, Casanowicz & Smithsonian Institution 1898, p. 1022.
  8. ^ Fry 1862, p. 18.
  9. ^ a b Bates 2009, p. 123.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Daniell 2003, p. 471.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Daniell 2003, p. 472.
  13. ^ a b Kim 2011, p. 82.
  14. ^ a b c Waylen 1880, p. 300.
  15. ^ Firth 1902, p. 331.
  16. ^ Young 1917, p. 735.
  17. ^ a b
  18. ^
  19. ^ Stock 1895, p. 3.
  20. ^ a b c Massachusetts Historical Society 1869, p. 459.
  21. ^ Stock 1895, p. 4.
  22. ^ a b Beal 2011, p. 114.
  23. ^ Fry 1862, p. iii.
  24. ^ Historical Magazine 1861, p. 319.
  25. ^
  26. ^ Price 2004, p. 91.


Cromwell's Soldier's Pocket Bible was the first of the shortened, concise Bible versions that became popular for distribution to troops by military authorities and for use by individuals for personal guidance and inspiration.[13]

In 1861 Riverside Press reprinted one hundred copies of the 1643 text in facsimile for Livermore.[20][24] At the time of the American Civil War, the American Tract Society printed The Soldier's Pocket Bible in large numbers to serve as a religious manual for the Northern troops.[20] About fifty thousand copies of The Soldier's Pocket Bible were reprinted for the troops at that time.[9][10][22][25][26]

[23] of the Bible rather than the Geneva Bible text used for the 1643 edition.King James Version except for changes to some of the "Headers" and minor alterations in the text. The latter reflect the Cromwell's Soldiers' Pocket Bible This version is similar to [6] The British Museum has the only 1693 copy known to exist.[22][21] The work was reissued in 1693 under the title "The Christian Soldier's Penny Bible."[20][14][6]

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