Inside take on a Folger, Bodleian, and Ransom Center exhibition on the creation and afterlife of the King James Bible on the 400th anniversary of its publication.

Posts tagged “Historic Bibles

Bibles Through the Ages: Special Items from Eastern Mennonite University

Each library hosting the Manifold Greatness traveling exhibition offers a unique set of resource for its viewers.  At Eastern Mennonite University, the Hartzler Library has had on view a number of Bibles from its Menno Simons Historical Library, a special collection of Anabaptist/Mennonite materials. Manifold Greatness was on view at EMU from January 26 through February 21, 2013.We’ve selected some unique items from the Menno Simons Historical Library to share in this post. Please scroll down to see these remarkable, historic Bibles.

Oldest King James Bible in the Menno Simons Historical Library collection, and its title page. Lancaster, PA, 1793. Menno Simons Historical  Library. Image courtesy of Eastern Mennonite University.

Oldest King James Bible in the Menno Simons Historical Library collection, and its title page. Lancaster, PA, 1793. Menno Simons Historical Library. Image courtesy of Eastern Mennonite University.

Also on display is this New Testament from 1527 with the text in Greek, Latin which was translated by Erasmus and the Latin Vulgate.

Title page of En Novvm Testa. Basel, 1527. Menno Simons Historical Library. Image courtesy of Eastern Mennonite University.

Title page of En Novvm Testa. Basel, 1527. Menno Simons Historical Library. Image courtesy of Eastern Mennonite University.

The collection has a number of German Bibles since many Anabaptist groups who settled in the Eastern United States spoke German.

German Bible published by Froschauer. Zurich, 1549. Menno Simons Historical Library. Image courtesy of Eastern Mennonite University.

German Bible published by Froschauer. Zurich, 1549. Menno Simons Historical Library. Image courtesy of Eastern Mennonite University.

The collection also includes a copy of an 1853 Chinese New Testament.

Chinese New Testament and title page.  For the Am. & For. Bible Society, 1853. Menno Simons Historical Library.

Chinese New Testament and title page. For the Am. & For. Bible Society, 1853. Menno Simons Historical Library.

One newer item we made available was a facsimile St. John’s Bible, a handwritten and hand-illuminated Bible commissioned in 1998.  The uniqueness of each location is seen in their resources and programing.  We are happy to share these works with our community, and with the readers of the Manifold Greatness blog.

From the Gospel of Mark, chapter 3.  Collegeville, MN, 2005.  Hartzler Library, Eastern Mennonite University. Image courtesy of Eastern Mennonite University.

From the Gospel of Mark, chapter 3. Collegeville, MN, 2005. Hartzler Library, Eastern Mennonite University. Image courtesy of Eastern Mennonite University.

Jennifer Ulrich is a Technical Service librarian at Eastern Mennonite University.


Before the KJB: The Coverdale Bible

A passage from the book of Job in the Coverdale Bible, 1535. Image courtesy of the University of Dayton.

A passage from the book of Job in the Coverdale Bible, 1535. Image courtesy of the University of Dayton.

After opening our local Manifold Greatness exhibition on August 24, we were contacted by a local collector, Stuart Rose, who offered to lend to us his first edition Coverdale Bible.  The Coverdale Bible was printed in 1535 and is the first complete English Bible ever printed, as well as the first full Bible in modern English.

We removed the 1838 reprint edition that we had planned to show for the exhibition, featured in our case of early translations of the Bible, and replaced it with the real thing. The following information is from the Sotheby’s catalog listing for this particular book.

BIBLIA: The Bible, that is, the holy Scripture of the Olde and New Testament. 1535. First Edition in English of the Complete Bible, 307 x 197 mm. Handsome 19th century morroco gilt by Francis Bedford. The Earl of Crawford-John William Pease-Lord Wardington Copy.

Such copies of the Coverdale Bible have appeared for sale in the past 50 years are invariably incomplete. This copy is in fact one of the most complete copies offered during this time period — lacking only one leaf of text proper (the other lacking leaves being prelims).

The Coverdale Bible is much rarer than the first printing of the 1611 King James Bible and is known to be 3 or 4 times rarer than the First Folio of Shakespeare. University of Dayton Libraries is excited to present this rare and magnificent book. Special thanks to Mr. Stuart Rose for sharing this  early translation with Manifold Greatness visitors.

 Katy Kelly is communications and outreach librarian at University of Dayton Libraries and project director for the University of Dayton Manifold Greatness exhibit.


The Sauer Bible

"Biblia, Das ist: Die Heilige Schrift Alten und Neuen Testaments, Nach der Deutschen Übersetzung D. Martin Luther". Courtesy Rochester Institute of Technology.

Whenever a librarian or curator begins working at a new library, he or she is given the overwhelming, though gratifying, challenge of getting to know the collection. When I was in library school, my advisor John Ellison gave me sound advice that when I start any new job to spend time afterhours and during breaks just browsing the stacks until I felt comfortable in my new surroundings. I’ve since made this a habit.

When I first arrived at RIT’s Cary Graphic Arts Collection last September, a great many books called to me from the shelves, but one book in particular really beckoned.  Here’s what I saw:

“Biblia, Das ist: Die Heilige Schrift Alten und Neuen Testaments, Nach der Deutschen Übersetzung D. Martin Luther”. Courtesy Rochester Institute of Technology.

 I happen to love books that are missing their binding material.  Though they can be a challenge to handle, they are great examples to use when teaching bookbinding and the anatomy of books.  From a distance, the book looked early to me, perhaps sixteenth-century.  When I opened it, however, I quickly realized it was a later German Bible.  Its title page was missing (a common ailment in early Bibles), so I moved forward to the beginning of the New Testament, which often has its own title page. 

Two things jumped off the New Testament title page: “Saur” and “1743.” 

“Biblia, Das ist: Die Heilige Schrift Alten und Neuen Testaments, Nach der Deutschen Übersetzung D. Martin Luther”. Courtesy Rochester Institute of Technology.

 How exciting!  This book was a copy of the first edition of “The Sauer Bible.” In an earlier post,  Hannibal Hamlin mentioned John Eliot’s missionary Bible translated into the Native American language Massachusett and Robert Aitken’s “Revolutionary” Bible produced during the American Revolutionary War.”

Printed in 1663 and 1782, respectively, these were the first and third Bibles printed in the United States.  Both appeared in the Folger’s Manifold Greatness exhibition. The Sauer Bible could have as well.  Historically, it rests between Eliot’s Massachusett Bible and Aitken’s “Revolutionary” Bible, as the second Bible printed in the United States and the first Bible printed in America in a European language.

The Sauer Bible takes its name from Christoph Sauer, a German immigrant and printer in Germantown, PA who in 1743 sought to publish a Luther Bible in German for the waves of immigrants that were making their homes in Pennsylvania.

When in the fall of 2013, the Cary Collection attempts its own Bible exhibition, this copy of the Sauer Bible will certainly be featured as an important artifact in the history of the Bible in America.  For more on this topic, I would recommend Hannibal Hamlin’s essay “The King James Bible in America” from the Manifold Greatness exhibition catalog.

Steven Galbraith, Curator of the Cary Graphic Arts Collection at Rochester Institute of Technology, is co-curator of the Manifold Greatness exhibition at the Folger Shakespeare Library.


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