The Collections: Guide to the Collections: Bibles
The Lilly Library possesses an excellent collection of printed versions of the Bible from the Gutenberg New Testament to important editions of the twentieth century. Early Bibles include the first New Testament printed in Greek (Complutensian Polygot, Alcala, 6 vols., 1514-1517), the first New Testament actually published in Greek, edited by Erasmus (Basel, 1516), and the earliest Luther Bible, the Pentateuch (Wittenberg, 1523)
Holdings of English Bibles begin with the first complete Bible printed in English (Coverdale Bible, Cologne 1535). Other highlights include a first edition of the Rheims-Douai version (3 vols., 1582-1610); a first edition, "he" version, of the King James Bible (London, 1611); and the first printed form of Wycliff's New Testament (London, 1731).
Bibles printed in America in Lilly holdings include the first and second editions of the Eliot Bible in Algonquian, the first Bible printed in America (Cambridge, 1663, 1685); the first, second and third editions of the Sauer Bible in German, the second Bible to be printed in America (Germantown, Pennsylvania 1743, 1763, 1776); and an Aitken Bible, the first English-language Bible to be printed in America, with a commendatory resolution of Congress as a preface (Philadelphia, 1782)
Other concentrations of material of religious interest include works by Martin Luther and his contemporaries; books and manuscripts documenting the spread of Christianity in the European colonies; British religious controversies of the 17th and 18th centuries; and the religious writings and correspondence of Hannah Whitall Smith.
Richest of all the Lilly Library's holdings of religious materials, both in quantity and quality, is the Mendel collection. It consists of fourteen thousand printed pieces fully cataloged, fourteen thousand broadsides arranged archivally, and twenty-eight hundred items listed by short title. The collection is especially strong in materials from Mexico, Argentina, and Peru, but has substantial holdings for almost all of Latin America and the Philippines, including works on the Inquisition, works on religious aspects of Latin American life in the colonial and independence periods, and devotional imprints such as prayers and novenas.
Related exhibition catalogues include:
- The Bernardo Mendel Collection
- V. The First Twenty-Five Years of Printing, 1455-1480 [ online version available ]
- XI. An Exhibition of Books from the Firm of Lathrop C. Harper, Inc., Presented to the Lilly Library by Mrs. Bernardo Mendel
- XLIX. The Bible in the Lilly Library
Above: Albrecht Dürer. The "Four Horsemen." Apocalypsis cum Figuris (Nuremberg, 1498). Photograph © Dave Repp, 1997.