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Bishop's Bible - 1568 Facsimile


  • Queen Elizabeth I and the Anglican Church reluctantly tolerated the distribution of The Geneva Bible, which contained the very controversial marginal notes of the reformers and their emphasis on the sovereignty of Christ over the church and kingdom and their sovereignty over the king.

    The  Great Bible of 1539 was not only outdated, it was more obviously incorrect and obsolete in its Vulgate renderings of the Old Testament.  It was in sore need of revision or replacement.

    The proposal was first introduced during Henry VIII's reign, but a genuine effort was not realized unit the third year of Elizabeth I's reign. Under the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Matthew Parker and a number of Bishops were chosen to begin the revision of the Great Bible. It was competed in 1568. 

    The large pulpit folio was intended for the Bishops, the cathedrals and the churches. Although authority was given for the people to read it, by design it already limited its appeal and accessibility. The readability would be drastically improved with the revision is 1702, but the favorability of the now prevalent and popular people's Bible (the Geneva 1560) and its quatro, octavo and folio sizes far outweighed the Bishops and all other English Bibles.

    This large folio is best known for the woodcuts, the illustrations, the massive text and quite legible type. The limited response and questionable reception of the Bishops Bible led to less than 20 editions, the last is 1602.

    An interesting side note concerns the New Testament which saw an extensive revision and reproduction as a separate edition and as an inclusion to the Fulkes confutation of the Rheimish Testament 1538-1539. There were actually more of both New Testaments produced in this critical work than in any other republication. The Rheims New Testament of the Roman Church was only reprinted four times (1600, 1621, 1633, 1749) between 1582-1750; the Old Testament only once (1635). The comparative study brought a sharp awareness to the critical text changes, but also a familiarity to words which would actually compliment the original intent, therefore many readings from the Vulgate or Rheimish New Testament were used by the King James translators.

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