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New Bibles and Old Reading Habits Around 1522.

The Position of the New Testament Translation of the Devotio Moderna among Dutch Printed Bibles

Suzan Folkerts and Arend Elias Oostindiër


The medieval Northern Dutch New Testament translation, which originated in the context of the Devotio Moderna movement, was used by printers and readers well into the sixteenth century. This contribution demonstrates that studying copies of this translation is of vital importance for understanding Bible production in print in the Low Countries in the transitional period between the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. From the publication of the first Dutch Bible editions in 1477 on, printers let themselves guide by readers’ preferences, which meant reading the Bible according to the liturgical calendar. These long existing reading habits continued to guide printers’ choices after the introduction of new humanist and reform-minded complete Bible translations from 1522 on. In competing to publish these new and complete Dutch Bibles, printers were taking over textual and paratextual elements from existing medieval translations.