Landmark Books in All Fields
ItemID: #126098
Cost: $38,000.00

Bible, That Is, the Holy Scriptures



BIBLE. The Bible. That is, the Holy Scriptures Conteined in the Olde and Newe Testament. London: Christopher Barkar [sic], 1576. Thick folio (8 by 11 inches), near-contemporary full black morocco expertly rebacked with original spine neatly laid down, gilt centerpieces to covers, raised bands, marbled pastedown endpapers, all edges gilt; pp. [6], 366, 84, [2], 115, [11]; [7], 35, 35-92, [2]. $38,000.

Handsome 1576 folio edition of the important and influential Geneva Bible (or "Breeches" Bible, for its unique rendering of Genesis 3:7), the important translation that shaped Protestant piety for some five decades—only the second folio and second complete edition of the Geneva Bible published in England, published the same year as the first. With double-page woodcut plan of the temple at Jerusalem, double-page woodcut map of the Holy Land, and 31 in-text woodcut illustrations, rubricated in red throughout. A magnificently bound complete copy in nicely refurbished near-contemporary morocco-gilt.

Upon Queen Mary's accession in 1553, "publication of the English Bible ceased in England. Many Protestants who fled to the Continent were attracted to Calvin's Geneva. Among these exiles were eminent English Bible scholars who began work on a new translation" (The Bible: 100 Landmarks 62). First published in 1560, the Geneva Bible—often called the "Breeches Bible" for its unique rendering of Genesis 3:7—was "more scholarly than any previous translation… [It] achieved immediate popularity and exerted an extremely powerful influence… The Geneva Version included prefaces, maps and tables; and for the first time in an English Bible the verses were divided and numbered… It has been more properly called the Elizabethan family Bible, since it was this version which was the first to enter the English home" (PMM 83). "It became the textus receptus for the Puritan element in England. It was read by Shakespeare, Bunyan and the soldiers of the Civil War, and is thus of cardinal importance for its influence on the English language, literature and thought" (Great Books and Book Collectors, 105-8).

"This remarkable volume… became at once the Bible of the English people. It remained so, through 140 editions—editions, not simple reprintings—before 1644… The influence of the Geneva Bible is incalculable. Before the London printings, it was freely in England in large enough numbers to stir Archbishop Parker into initiating his rival Bishops' Bible in 1568. For over 50 years it was sometimes second to that in Anglican pulpits and on Anglican lecterns… The Geneva Bible was, however, the Bible of the English and the Scots at home… What arrived in April 1560, and was rapidly developed, was the first complete study guide to the Bible in English, intended to illuminate at every point… What has often been overlooked is that the Geneva scholars translated the poetic and prophetic books of the Old Testament into English from Hebrew for the first time… Enough has been written perhaps barely to suggest the wonderful richness of Geneva's Old Testament. Britain was truly blessed in the men who made it" (David Daniell, "The Geneva English Bible: The Shocking Truth," 2001).

"The publication of the Geneva Bible in 1560 was a major event in the history of English Bibles. Produced by some of the best scholars of the day, it strongly influenced the King James version which appeared half a century later. Its influence on Shakespeare and his contemporaries is well known; whenever Shakespeare's biblical references can be traced to any one version, it is most often to the Geneva. Even the Catholic Douay-Rheims Bible adopted numerous Geneva readings… Although it is true that the Geneva aroused a great deal of interest when it first appeared, it actually got off to a slow start. The Geneva Bible did not become the most widely-circulated version till after 1576, when for the first time it was allowed to be published in England. In 1560, Queen Elizabeth gave John Bodley (father of the founder of the Bodleian Library) an exclusive patent to publish the Geneva Bible for seven years, but the patent stipulated that the Geneva Bibles he published be in an edition approved by the Bishops of Canterbury and London. Archbishop Parker discouraged publication of the Geneva…[and] no Geneva Bible came off the press in England until Parker died in 1575, and a Geneva New Testament was printed by Thomas Vautroullier and published by Christopher Barker. The first complete Geneva Bible to be published in England did not appear till the following year, 1576… Only after the printing of the Geneva commenced in England, did it outsell all other versions" (Naseeb Shaheen, "Misconceptions About the Geneva Bible," in Studies in Bibliography Vol. 37, (1984), 156-58; emphasis ours).

As Herbert notes, "There are two small folio editions of this date, which, while closely resembling one another, are yet quite distinct." This is the second Christopher Barker folio edition published in 1576, with a different title page (and slightly different title). While the collations and paginations are similar, this second edition includes a double-page plan "The forme of the Temple and citie restored" and a double-page map "The description of the countreis and places mencioned in the Actes [sic]" in the New Testament. (The first edition includes one map, "The Description of the Holy Lande.") Ecclus xv.13 is incorrect, while it appears correctly in the previous edition. Includes Apocrypha. Bound with Sternhold and Hopkins' metrical psalter at rear, published by John Day, with woodcut architectural title page dated 1576. With woodcut initials. Darlow & Moule 107. Herbert 144. STC 2118. Extensive 17th-century ink genealogical annotations on front flyleaf.

Title page rehinged. Small paper repair to outer margin of 5O1, with a very few letters supplied in neat pen facsimile; a few other small tears, not touching letterpress. Only occasional spotting or foxing; text generally quite clean. A beautiful and very early folio Geneva Bible in nicely refurbished early morocco-gilt, in excellent condition and most desirable.

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