- Last Great Bible Leaves Printed during the King’s Lifetime
- Wonderful Renaissance Engraving
- Large Pulpit Folio Leaf on heavy Cotton Linen Paper
- 15″ x 10 1/2″
- Great Gift Idea
- Perfect for Framing
- Certificate of Authenticity Included
- Good to Very Good Antiquarian Condition
1541 Great Bible Book of Esther Title Page with King Ahasuerus’ Royal Feast Engraving
1 in stock
1 in stock
1541 Great Bible Folio Book of Esther Title Page
Printed in London by Richard Grafton, printer to King Henry the 8th. Folio- 15″ x 10 1/2″ on heavy weight cotton linen paper. 62 lines of Old English Blackletter type to the full page. 7th and final edition of December 1541 being the last printed during the King’s lifetime. The Great Bible is the first authorized Bible of the Church of England and is also known as Cranmer’s Bible after the writer of the prologue, Cromwell’s Bible after the project manager and Grafton’s Bible after the printer. These are among our oldest leaves at nearly 500 years old and printed just 6 years after the very first complete Bible in English- Coverdale’s Bible of 1535. Good to Very Good Condition. Certificate of Authenticity is included. Herbert #63. We have several leaves from the new and old testaments available- if you are looking for a favorite verse or passage, please ask – we probably have it. A great gift idea.
RECTO CONTAINS – Nehemiah 12:44b- 13:27
VERSO CONTAINS Nehemiah 13:28- Esther 1:20
Featuring a wonderful engraving of King Ahasuerus’ Royal Feast
An amazing example of Renaissance art
THE GREAT BIBLE
The first authorized Bible of the Church of England was printed in early 1539. Due to its tremendous heft, the book became known as the Great Bible. To this day, it stands as a milestone of the English Reformation. Aside from the enormous impact of a book containing the scriptures translated into English, the frontispiece that confronted readers upon opening the tome also sent a mighty message – and, indeed, this was an image seen by many. Because, regardless of its material grandeur, it is to be remembered that these Bibles, filled with two columns of Gothic print, often interspersed with a simple woodcut rendering of the accompanying passage, were functional books, printed at the behest of the House of Tudor. They were to be sent to parishes across the nation for the perusal of the parishioners after an order set forth by Thomas, Lord Cromwell, that required a copy to be placed ‘in some convenient place’ in every church in the realm.
In order to furnish England’s parish churches, more than 9,000 copies of the Great Bible were printed between 1538 and 1541, presenting an unmissable propaganda opportunity for Henry the eighth. Ever since the king had divorced England from the See of Rome in 1534 and fashioned himself as Supreme Head of the English Church, the Tudor state had embarked upon a multi-faceted propaganda exercise aimed at transmitting the new order of things to the English populace. This ranged from printed proclamations, pamphlets, sermons and homilies. The Great Bible’s frontispiece continued this process, offering the viewer a visual summation of the Royal Supremacy as it was to be understood by English men and women – literate and non-literate alike. The intended symbolism inherent in the image is multi-layered; on first glance it is sledgehammer-subtle: a magnificent king surrounded by adoring subjects. Yet behind this lies a more muted series of insinuations and exhortations designed to filter into the Tudor parish consciousness via the king’s Great Bible.
Work on the Great Bible began in 1536 when Thomas Cromwell, chief spokesman for King Henry VIII in Parliament, asked his friend Miles Coverdale and printer Richard Grafton, to create a new revision based on the Matthew’s Bible. Coverdale accepted and Cromwell always remained involved in the production of the Great Bible. So while Coverdale worked on the actual revision, Cromwell decided that this Bible would be the most sumptuous book ever printed up to that time. He felt that England had neither enough high-quality paper nor sufficiently skilled printers to undertake such a massive project. So arrangements were made for the new revision to be printed in France. However shortly thereafter a rift began to develop between England and France, and soon France found herself in the middle of an Inquisition by the Roman Catholic Church. To the Catholic Church, the only valid Bible was the Latin Vulgate; it dealt harshly with publishers of other versions or translations. If the newly-printed pages of the Great Bible were found, they would be destroyed and the printers would be imprisoned. There was no way that work could continue in such an environment. So everything was shipped and/or smuggled from France back to England — the presses, the type, the already-printed pages, even the printers themselves. And work just picked up in England right where it left off in France. At last in April, 1539 the Great Bible was finally released.
The Great Bible was impressive right from the start. It had a finely-engraved Title Page in which Christ is pictured blessing Henry VIII, who is handing out copies of the new Bible to Cromwell (representing the State) and Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury (representing the Church). Although this Title Page said that the revision was done by “diverse, excellent, learned men”, the Great Bible was basically a revision done by just Coverdale himself, consulting the works of others, as needed.
The first edition of the Great Bible is sometimes known as “Cromwell’s Bible”, because Thomas Cromwell was the driving force behind the project. A special, personalized copy on vellum was printed especially for him. The copy was enhanced by beautiful colored pictures and skillful calligraphy. Even before the Great Bible was released, the clergy was ordered by a certain date to “ provide one book of the whole Bible in the largest volume, in English, set up in some convenient place within the church that ye have care of; wereat your parishioners may most commodiously resort to the same and read it.” As a result, copies of the Great Bible — chained to the wall to prevent theft — were placed in the Churches of English cities everywhere.
But alas, this time of general Bible reading was short-lived. King Henry was a fickle man, and soon his attitude about this new translation began to change. After 7 printings in just 2 years, the presses were shut down, per orders from the King. And in 1543, with the Great Bible just 4 years old, it was enacted by Parliament that “ no manner of persons, after the first of October, should take upon them to read openly to others in any church or open assembly within any of the King’s dominions, the Bible or any part of the Scripture in English, unless he is so appointed thereunto by the King…on pain of suffering one hundred months imprisonment.”
However, neither King Henry nor his proclamations could last forever. And times would come again when Bible reading would once more flourish in England. Although it had only a brief time in the spotlight, the Great Bible was a powerful influence on both its readers, and on future Bible translations. In fact, the Anglican Church’s Book of Common Prayer still uses the Great Bible’s text for the Book of Psalms. But most importantly, the Great Bible was the first Bible to cause real excitement among common people — most of whom had just learned to read. Reading God’s Word for one’s self in one’s own language was a new and exciting experience for English-speaking people in the 1540’s. Bible knowledge spread throughout the land as more people read, or had read to them, the Scriptures in English. None of Henry’s proclamations ever came close to quenching the desire of his people to read and understand the Holy Writ of God. However, several more years were to pass before the English Bible could again be read freely by all.
A rare opportunity to own a true museum piece!
|Dimensions||20 × 16 × 1 in|