Dutch Authorized Version

In 1618, after long discussions on matters of principle, procedure and practical implementation, the National Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church decided on a new translation of the Bible. Marginal notes were to be added, for instance to interpret obscure passages, but observations of a dogmatic nature were forbidden. The decision caused immediate consternation among booksellers, who made an appeal to the States General not to proceed too fast, as more than 80,000 bibles were still unsold, and after publication of the new translation they would remain on the shelves forever. Their alarm was rather premature, for it would be October 1635 before the translation was completely finished, checked and approved. Earlier, arrangements had been made for the actual printing, which had started in the spring of 1635 with the parts that had already been approved. Printing took place in Leiden under the supervision of the translators, who also corrected the proofs. The Amsterdam printer Paulus Aertsz van Ravesteyn was commissioned as printer and he established a printing office in Leiden to facilitate matters. Sales were to be processed by the official printer of the States General, Machtelt Aelbrechts, widow of Hillebrant Jacobsz van Wouw. In the summer of 1637 the Bible was published, a thick folio volume, usually bound in two volumes. The reduced photograph on the opposite page provides some idea of the result: text, marginalia, and at the beginning of each Bible book a summary and an illuminated initial, often containing the picture of a biblical figure whose name begins with the letter in question (in this case David). The actual type area is 20 x 33.5 cm.

The Koninklijke Bibliotheek has two copies. The photograph shown here is taken from the copy that was bound at the end of the nineteenth century in a new, quasi-old binding, gold-tooled with an unidentified coat of arms. A series of some two hundred large engravings has been bound together with the text, entitled: ‘Figures de la Bible. A La Haye, chez Pierre de Hondt, 1728’.

Biblia, dat is: De gantsche H. Schrifture, vervattende alle de Canonijcke Boecken des Ouden en des Nieuwen Testaments. Tot Leyden, gedruckt bij Paulus Aertsz van Ravensteyn, [1637]. 2º. 2112 A 1-2, vol. 1, fol. 27v

Biblia, dat is: De gantsche H. Schrifture, vervattende alle de Canonijcke Boecken des Ouden en des Nieuwen Testaments. Tot Leyden, gedruckt bij Paulus Aertsz van Ravensteyn, [1637]. 2º. 2112 A 1-2, vol. 1, fol. 27v

Literature

C.C. de Bruin. De Statenbijbel en zijn voorgangers. Leiden 1937
H. de la Fontaine Verwey, 'De Nederlandse drukkers en de bijbel', in: H. de la Fontaine Verwey. Uit de wereld van het boek II. Drukkers, liefhebbers en piraten in de zeventiende eeuw. Amsterdam 1976, p.77-102.