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Early Printed Bibles
Part 7 - Printed Bibles and Bible translations from the 15th and 16th centuries

The Bible has played an important role in the development of European culture. It has served as the foundation for many of the religious, social, and legal institutions that have shaped modern Europe. As one of the earliest texts to be written and published in the vernacular, the Bible has stimulated the development of many European languages, and it has been an important source of inspiration for painters, writers, poets, musicians, and other artists. Because of its strong influence on the arts, the Bible and Bible-related topics have traditionally been important issues for museums, libraries, and other public cultural institutions, as well as for scholars and publishers.
The actual production process, which involved the interaction of translators, publishers, printers, financiers, and artists, reflects the book’s international character. Ever since the invention of the printing press, the process of book production, of which Bible production formed an important part, has been a truly Pan-European activity. In some cases, printer-publishers would base their editions on those of other printer-publishers, occasionally even using the same typographical material. This practice has allowed the identification of clusters of closely related European editions. The titles and biblical text of all editions within one of these clusters are always identical, and some may even share typographical and iconographical material.
This collection of c. 400 published Bibles and Bible translations from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries is a thorough revision of a selection that was published earlier by Fritz Büsser. One important change that appears in the current revision is the inclusion of Biblical books that were issued separately (e.g., Luther’s Der Prophet Jona, from 1526). The new selection also incorporates the results of recent research. Individual sections of this collection have been reviewed by specialists in the field. For example, the section on French Bibles was reviewed by Bettye Chambers, author of the Bibliography of French Bibles (vol. 1 & 2), and the section on Italian Bibles was reviewed by Eduardo Barbieri, author of Le Bibbie italiane del Quattrocento e del Cinquecento. Gwendolyn Verbraak, bibliographer of the Biblia Sacra project ( Universiteit van Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven), reviewed several parts of the collection. The current selection also includes editions in languages that were not represented in Büsser’s earlier work, such as Arabic and Armenian.
Three criteria guided the selection of editions to be included in this collection. The first criterion involved content. Only first editions of each translation and of the fundamental revisions were selected for inclusion. Form was a second criterion; editions with rare woodcuts, rare typographical materials, or similar features were included. Finally, we chose to include rare editions of which very few (in some cases, only one) copies have survived. Our final selection includes Bibles from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, as well as several editions from the early seventeenth century. Because Bibles formed a substantial proportion of the entire volume of printed books, this project provides important insights into book production in Europe during this period.
Because of its international character, European book production was a multilingual and multicultural enterprise. Printers and publishers produced books in various languages for a Pan-European, trans-confessional, and multicultural market. This selection of Bibles constitutes a unique instrument that will provide a clear overview of this important part of European cultural heritage, and it will serve as a useful tool for further study in the history of printing, art, language, linguistics, culture, church, and other historical disciplines.

Prof. dr. August den Hollander, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam / Universiteit van Amsterdam
Early Printed Bibles
Parts 1-6

We need not, in this context, point to the significance which Holy Scripture has had for the history of occidental culture in its broadest sense. The Bible and its interpretation have played a major role in this process. This holds especially for the sixteenth century - the age of the Reformation. The Reformers dethroned the pope and enthroned the Bible. [Cambridge History of the Bible III.1]. Thus they established the Bible as the sole foundation and guideline for faith and life in Protestantism while at the same time forcing Rome to attribute to Scripture the same significance as Tradition held. All this was aided by two circumstances. On the one hand, the discovery of movable type made it technically possible to produce and distribute Holy Scripture in unprecedented quantities. On the other hand, humanism provided the scholarly know-how: the mastery of the Classic languages, Greek, Latin, and Hebrew and of Classical rhetoric as a method for the exposition and translation of the Bible.

The collection
This edition of Bibles and Bible translations from the sixteenth century is quantitatively as comprehensive as possible. It contains all significant editions of Holy Scripture or of the Old Testament and New Testament in the original language, i.e., editions of the Hebrew Bible, the Septuagint, and the Vulgate both in the transmitted versions and in the forms which humanists and reformers revised or published in new editions. Our edition also contains all major translations in the modern languages of Europe. In this connection we considered not only first editions but also later editions which represent noteworthy revisions. Here we included not only those editions which were authorized by ecclesiastical or temporal authorities but also the translations made by dissenters. It goes without saying that polyglots of various kinds were also included.

Qualitative aspect of the project
On the history of printing
In the first place, the Bibles and Bible translations dating from the sixteenth century illustrate a fascinating chapter in the history of printing. Most of the publishers and printers of the time - in France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland, in The Netherlands as well as in England - published Bibles. For this purpose, as a rule they not only spent substantial amounts of money, but also invested a great deal of effort and technical skill. Apart from the fact that the printing itself was a work of art, the Bibles were further enhanced by prominent painters who designed the title page and illustrated the text.

On the history of language
Second, the Bibles and Bible translations provide an absolutely unique source for the study of the history of language. They inform us not only about the mastery of the Classical languages at the time, but also about the stage and level of development of the modern languages in European countries at the beginning of the modern era. The translations give us comprehensive material in the still inconclusive debate concerning the many possible principles and methods of translation. Above all, they testify to the superb achievement of individual editors and translators (e.g. Erasmus, Luther) or entire teams (Complutensian Polyglot, Zurich Bible).

On the linguistic aspects
Of greater fundamental significance still is the linguistic aspect of the Bible translations. As can be seen from the well-known case of Luther's Bible, translations contributed in a major way - through their extensive vocabulary and the manifold forms of expression - to the formation of most European languages. This is beyond dispute for Germany, England, Scandinavia, and Eastern Europe. To a lesser extent it applies to Roman languages as well.

On confessional diversity
Finally, Bibles and Bible translations of the sixteenth century reflect the confessional diversity which was to shape Europe in wake of the Reformation. Our collection contains pre- and post Reformation Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican, Orthodox (and heterodox!) Bibles. Their confessional orientation is usually indicated in appropriate prefaces, admonitions, but can also be demonstrated on the basis of specific textual indications. Our edition of Bibles and Bible translations from the sixteenth century is a unique collection, because no library anywhere in the world possesses the resources to collect Bibles in this number and quality.

Prof. Dr. Fritz Büsser

Various Authors & Editors

Early Slavic texts
The Izbornik XIII ...

This collection is also included in the Early Slavic Texts collection.

Edited by William R. Veder

Early Slavic texts
The Scaliger Paterikon

This collection is also included in the Early Slavic Texts collection.

Various Authors & Editors

Early Western Books, 1500-1599
The Ottoman empire and the Mediterranean

Titles from the collection of the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. A majority of the titles concern the history of the Eastern Mediterranean and relations between the European Christians and the Ottoman Turks, including a number of works inspired by the naval Battle of Lepanto in 1571. Other topics include the East Indies and China, South America, a Japanese embassy to Rome and the history of several Italian cities. Also includes treatises and grammars by humanist scholars, such as Guillaume Postel.
Early Printed Korans: Koran Printing in the West, 1537-1857
Installment 1

This collection is also included in the Early Western Korans collection.
Early Printed Korans: Koran Printing in the West, 1537-1857
Installment 2

This collection is also included in the Early Western Korans collection.

Edited by Paul P. Raasveld

Emblem Books with Songs and Music

Singable texts
So relatively little researched has emblem literature been that new subgenres can still be identified. This is shown by the collection of emblem books with songs and music. In this group of emblem books the poets have made part of their emblems singable, or have added a singable text to their emblems. By doing so, combinations of text, a picture and music were made, which were meant to be looked at, read and sung. This unusual literature requires an active reader, who participates in contemplating the picture, in reading the poetry, and in singing the song or playing the composition.

The phenomenon of emblems with songs and music is partly rooted in a meditational tradition, whereas some of the books are merely meant as a pleasurable pastime. The majority were written for private meditation or to stimulate mystical experience.

On the basis of the material, a series of all known emblem books with songs and music from the Low Countries has been collected by Dr. Raasveld. The publication of the material, which has been largely unknown until now, enables literary scholars, art historians and musicologists to investigate this new corpus of emblem books with songs and music, for example, to focus on the changing relationships between text, pictures and music. This collection also demonstrates the importance of emblem literature for musicological research into the role of music in private meditation, the reception of music in literary contexts and the history of music in Western Europe.

Dr. Paul P. Raasveld

Various Authors & Editors

Periodical titles concerning not only literature and linguistics but also drama, folklore and the fine arts. The majority of the titles were published in France; those published in other Western countries are in some way related to French philology.

Edited by James H. Spohrer

Die Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft
Printed works, manuscripts and images from the German baroque

Discovery and experiment
The German Baroque period, viewed through letters and science, is marked by a flowering of intellectual activity within a dazzling array of new scholarly fields. It is particularly interesting for students of German cultural history as it is the period in which the German language, after a long period of neglect, once again became the medium for scholarly and literary communication of the highest calibre. The Baroque was deeply imbued with the spirit of discovery and experimentation, and it gave rise to the creation of new styles of literary craftsmanship. This culminated in the classical forms of German lyric, drama, narrative and epic in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The Baroque period can, with considerable justification, be regarded as the cradle of modern German literary culture.

Learned societies
A particularly interesting aspect of the Baroque was the emergence of social structures that promoted literacy and the humanistic arts and sciences. Throughout Europe "learned societies" such as the Accademia della Crusca in Florence were founded to bring scholars and writers together as well as to encourage humanistic discourse. In Germany, the Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft, or the Fruit Bearing Society, was formed in 1617, and amongst other things, it set itself the task of propagating German as both a scholarly and literary language. The Fruit Bearing Society was also known as the Palmenorden (Order of the Palms) because its emblem was the then very exotic coconut palm tree, and its motto was “Alles zu nutzen” – everything for a purpose – in keeping with the German conception of the palm tree as the source of countless material goods used in housing, clothing and nourishing the indigenous peoples of the new world that Europe was in the process of discovering. The Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft was Germany's first such learned society, and was one of its most important in terms of the role it played in encouraging the use of written German.

M. Bircher
The great Baroque scholar Martin Bircher spent thirty years collecting books, manuscripts, engravings and other art objects relative to the Fruit Bearing Society. His remarkable collection concerning the membership and publications of the Fruit Bearing Society includes over 685 printed books, 335 manuscripts, 300 copperplate engravings, and 21 maps and other similar graphic materials. These items cover a wide range of subjects, in keeping with the interests of the Society's membership, and include law, art, religion, theology, history, near Eastern philology, geography, music, hagiography, and mathematics. The manuscript materials, in particular, offer a rich variety of official documents and correspondence by and about the members of the Fruit Bearing Society, and the graphic materials provide a unique source of primary information from this period.

Eminent authors
Representative of the kind of rare and valuable printed works in the collection is Justus Georg Schottelius' Ausführliche Arbeit Von der Teutschen HaubtSprache, published in 1664. Conceived as a vehicle for the propagation of "correct" German and as a tool for linguistic unification of the German-speaking lands, there is no more significant publication in the annals of the Society. Schottelius, known as " Der Suchende" or "The Seeker" to his Fruit Bearing brothers, attempted to create an exemplary vocabulary of German based on the works of contemporary authors, and in the process has created more than just a dictionary of the language, but rather as Martin Bircher writes, eine kleine barocke Literaturgeschichte. Curt Faber du Faur was of the opinion that this work makes him "if not the father, then the grandfather of Germanic philology”. Similarly the collection is rich in other rare volumes and first editions by many eminent German Baroque literary authors such asMartin Opitz, Andreas Gryphius, Georg Philipp Harsdoerffer, Johann Philipp Moscherosch, Friedrich von Logau, and Philipp von Zesen.

Autograph documents
The autograph documents in the collection offer another exciting dimension to students and scholars of the period. They range from the official records of the Society to private correspondence between, to and from Society members. Those concerning Prince Ludwig I of Anhalt-Köthen are reasonably representative of the collection’s scope and breadth Martin Bircher collected 26 distinct items in connection with Ludwig, which vividly detail the political turmoil surrounding the confessional disputes raging in Germany at that time. Among them are a letter from Wallenstein to Ludwig in response to the latter's entreaties that Wallenstein's army spare the principality of Köthen, in which Ludwig writes of "the deplorable condition of this miserable country" and of the fields, which "lay unsown, bare and deserted, the cattle and victuals eaten up, the landscape ruined, credit wiped out and all the country’s property gone." Wallenstein's letter to Ludwig is reassuring and indeed bestows upon the prince a generous travel pass, which allows him to pursue a badly-needed cure at the baths in Wildungen. Other important letters to Ludwig include those from Maria Eleonore, Queen of Sweden, widow of Gustavus Adolphus, and from the Emperor Ferdinand III dated 23 August 1645, in which he summons his electors to a peace treaty congress to be held in Osnabrück or Münster later that year – the first step on the long path which led to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648.

Pictorial materials
Likewise the iconographic materials in the collection give a vivid sense of the persons, places and artistic themes of the German Baroque. Many portraits of Society members have been included, as well as the “emblems” or coded engravings which depicted their most striking personal characteristics and gave rise to each member’s “cognomen” in the Society, the sobriquet by which he was known to other members. Other valuable kinds of pictorial materials include maps and aerial views of cities, ornately decorated proclamations and decrees, and various sorts of highly inventive tables and graphs which codify the elements of German grammar and word formation.

Valuable addition
The Fruit Bearing Society collection is a valuable addition to any library that supports the study of German and Central European history in the early modern period. The careful and knowledgeable manner in which it has been compiled combined with the scholarly thoroughness of its cataloguing make it a truly unique resource for both students and advanced scholars alike. For researchers, it is a breathtaking collection of primary sources which vividly portray the period and place. Furthermore, it serves as a microcosm of 17th century Germany which stands in stark contrast to the terrible depredations that marred a great part of that period.

James H. Spohrer, University of California, Berkeley