A narrative account of the Bible as a book and as an artefact, from the earliest fragments found in the Egyptian desert to the plethora of modern editions and translations. The author seeks to write as an impartial historian and bases his account on documentary evidence, focusing on the manufacture, translation and distribution of Bibles in an extraordinary variety of forms throughout nearly two millennia. The first chapter deals with the achievement of Saint Jerome, whose Latin translation - the Vulgate - first gave the Bible the definitive form it has retained ever since. Chapter Two then looks back to the separate history of the Bible in its original languages of Hebrew and Greek, after which the narrative returns to document the gradual triumph of the Latin Vulgate, the magnificent giant Bibles of the early Middle Ages, the Bible with its monastic commentaries, the crucial development of the portable Bible in the 13th century, and the vogue for splendid Bible picture books. Chapter Seven tells the story of the famous Wycliffite English Bibles, once condemned as heretical and now highly prized.
The invention of printing was a turning point, and a whole chapter is devoted to Gutenberg and the first printed book - the celebrated 42-line Bible. The narrative then leads on to the humanist scholars, Martin Luther and the Reformation, the Lutheran Bible and the Protestant-led wave of translations of the Bible into other modern languages, the development of a book publishing industry, and the extraordinary efforts of missionary societies to translate the Bible into every known language in the world. The last chapter takes the story right back to the beginning, and chronicles the discoveries by modern scholars and archaeologists - principally papyrus fragments from the Egyptian desert and the Dead Sea Scrolls - that have dramatically increased our knowledge of the origins of both Old and New Testaments.
Publisher: Phaidon Press Ltd