Early Printed Books in the Ramseyer Collection

In the Ramseyer-Northern Bible Society Museum Collection there are no fewer than 60 books printed before 1700. Besides the Bibles, which make up the bulk of the Collection, there are also many works of a theological character and many which were added to the Collection to show the work of printing at the time of the first appearance of printed Bibles.

In the display cases may be seen examples of the earliest printed books in the Collection, including some by famous printers of the 16th and 17th centuries. In particular, there is a collection of the minor works of Thomas Aquinas, printed in 1490, less than forty years after Gutenberg's development of moveable type, and also a compilation of devotional works by Martin Luther, printed within his lifetime. Many of the Bibles are displayed open, with pages viewable.

Early English Bibles

Two of the English Bibles exhibited here are of interest not only in themselves, but also in the part they played in the production of the King James Bible.

The Great Bible was authorized by Henry VIII and was placed by his command in all churches. But it was the Geneva Bible which was being used by the bulk of the populace, since it was smaller and more readable. But it was also Calvinistic in its comments and footnotes and was therefore unacceptable to the British Crown.

When James I came to the throne, a new Bible which was more accurate, more readable and without any theological commentary was desired. The King James Bible was the result.

[click thumbnail for large view]

Gold cover
Great Bible, 1541  #F83
Hard cover with patterns
Geneva Bible, 1595  #37
Not Pictured:
 Geneva Bible, 1599  #35

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