The First Printed Dutch Bible: Reassigning the Honour

in Quaerendo
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The first Bible printed in mainstream Dutch has been thought to be the 1526 Van Liesvelt Bible, a folio. However, the first title-page of a well-known four-volume 1525 decimosexto Dutch Old Testament for which no matching New Testament has hitherto been identified claims to introduce a complete Bible. This article demonstrates that a 1525 decimosexto Dutch New Testament of which a single copy survives, in Zurich, is the missing volume. Most notably, it shows that the Old Testament volumes, this New Testament, and a Maccabees supplement for the Old Testament, were printed with the same type, and used a temporary, project-specific pool of decorative letters, with some of the letters belonging to the printing shop which did the printing, and some belonging to the publishing syndicate. The article further shows that one member of the syndicate was the international book merchant and publisher Franz Birckman.

The First Printed Dutch Bible: Reassigning the Honour

in Quaerendo

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References

22

Arblaster entry 59 op. cit. (n. 5) p. 18.

30

Arblaster entry 59 op. cit. (n. 5) p. 118. I am unsure why Arblaster conjectures 1526 rather than 1525 as the date of the Maccabees printing.

35

Poortman op. cit. (n. 11) vol. 1 pp. 90 201.

37

Den Hollander op. cit. (n. 17) pp. 311-13.

44

Le Long op. cit. (n. 10) pp. 556-7.

52

Letter Vives to Erasmus 10 May 1523as translated in The Correspondence of Erasmus 12 vols. (Toronto 1974-2003) trans. R.A.B. Mynors and D.F.S. Thomson annotated by Wallace K. Ferguson vol. 10 (1992) pp. 11-15 esp. p. 13.

74

The date on the title-page is simply 1533but the dedicatory preface addressed to Julius Pflug is dated 1 August 1533. The Set 2 F can be seen on sig. F7v.

90

See Frederick C. Avis‘England’s Use of Antwerp Printers 1500-1540’Gutenberg-Jahrbuch 1973pp. 234-40 esp. p. 239.

92

Den Hollander op. cit. (n. 17) pp. 328-9.

93

De Busser entry 63 op. cit. (n. 5) p. 120.

Figures

  • View in gallery
    The 1525 decimosexto Dutch Bible. Left: The first Old Testament volume title-page (Nederlands Bijbelgenootschap, Haarlem). Right: The fourth Old Testament volume title-page (University Library Ghent).
  • View in gallery
    The title-page of the September 1525 ‘Hans van Ruremund’ octavo Dutch New Testament (University of Amsterdam, Special Collections).
  • View in gallery
    The Maccabees supplement for the 1525 decimosexto Dutch Bible: the first pages of 1 Maccabees (left) and 2 Maccabees (right).
  • View in gallery
    The title-page and the first page of St Matthew’s Gospel in the 1525 decimosexto Dutch New Testament printed by Christoffel van Endoven/Ruremund. In the shield at the base of the title-page border are Christoffel’s rebus and initials (from the sole known copy, Zentralbibliothek, Universität Zürich).
  • View in gallery
    The scarred English Royal Arms panel, as it appears in three of the four Old Testament volumes of the 1525 decimosexto Dutch Bible.
  • View in gallery
    Reconstitution of Nijhoff’s sets of the decorative letters present in either or both the 1525 decimosexto Old Testament volumes (*), less Maccabees; and the 1525 ‘Hans van Ruremund’ octavo New Testament (#). The letters have been scanned from Nijhoff; however, some ancillary details are added. Set 1 M and W are from the same block, with each letter being the other inverted. Set 2 E1 and E2 are the same; however, E2 Top is added, being the slightly different (non-cross-studded) E, not in the sets, which Nijhoff presumably intended to include instead of one of the accidentally duplicated E’s.
  • View in gallery
    The Birckman-Van Endoven printing shop’s ‘acorn E’ in the summative preface to Isaiah in Volume 4 of the 1525 decimosexto Dutch Bible’s Old Testament.
  • View in gallery
    The decorative letters in the 1525 decimosexto Dutch Bible’s New Testament (to scale). The annotation beneath each letter-code tells whether the letter belonged to the Birckman-Van Endoven printing shop, or is in Nijhoff’s sets. (No letter in the volume both belonged to the printing shop and is in Nijhoff’s sets.)
  • View in gallery
    The Birckman-Van Endoven printing shop’s ‘acorn E’ in the 1525 decimosexto Dutch Bible’s New Testament, beginning the eighteenth chapter of the Apocalypse.
  • View in gallery
    The scarred Charles V Imperial Arms panel, as it appears in the first Old Testament volume of the 1525 decimosexto Dutch Bible.

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