The Library's collection of about 2,800 editions of the Bible in seventy-two languages, offers a representative selection of Bibles published in Germany and throughout Europe. In the manuscript category there are several beautifully illuminated Bibles, such as the Library's oldest occidental manuscript, the ninth-century Codex Boernerianus; Greek and Latin Bibles from the tenth to the fifteenth centuries; and German "historical" Bibles from the fifteenth century.
The sixty-three Bible incunabula in the Library, showing examples printed on vellum, include French and English examples, although they are mostly from German and Italian workshops, with texts in Latin, Italian, and German.
Sixteenth-century Bibles are represented in all languages. Of particular importance are Luther's German translation of the New Testament (1522) and his later German translation of the entire Bible (1534). Typical of the editions from German presses are richly illustrated Bibles, especially seventeenth- to eighteenth-century Baroque examples. A substantial number of nineteenth-century Bibles are editions of the New Testament for Christian missions in African, American, and Asian languages.
A bible printed by Nikolaus Jenson, 1479
Venice's early reputation as a printing center was largely due to the works of Nikolaus Jenson, who, from 1470 to 1480, printed ninety-eight known works, primarily ancient classics, legal, and theological literature. His Antiqua type, based on Roman inscriptions, is considered the perfect embodiment of humanistic ideals.
This 1479 Bible, printed on vellum, is an outstanding incunabulum, with illuminated initials, and precious miniatures such as that showing scenes from Genesis: the Creation of Man, the Fall, and the Expulsion form Paradise
Biblia (The Bible) Venice: Nikolaus Jenson, 1479 Vellum (43)
Luther's German translation of the Bible, 1534
This Bible is considered one of Martin Luther's (1483-1546) greatest linguistic accomplishments. He first translated the New Testament in 1522 and the Old Testament in 1534. Luther revised and completed the Bible in 1534 with the assistance of the Wittenberg scholars Philipp Melanchthon, Justus Jonas, and Caspar Cruciger. It was sold at the Leipzig Fair for two guilders, eight groschen for an unbound copy -- comparable to half the salary of a schoolmaster. The Bible is richly illustrated with decorative initials and 117 woodcuts from the workshop of Lucas Cranach.
Biblia deutsch. Übersetzt von Martin Luther (The Bible in German. Translated by Martin Luther) Wittenberg, 1534, frontispiece and title page Paper (48)
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