Sacrae Scripturae Veteris, Novaéque omnia.

The Aldine Greek Bible—The First Published Edition of the Complete Bible in Greek

[BIBLE IN GREEK]. Sacrae Scripturae Veteris, Novaéque omnia. [Venice: In aedib. Aldi et Andreae soceri, February 1518].

Editio princeps of the complete Bible in Greek, editio princeps of the Septuagint, and second edition of the Greek New Testament (which was first edited by Erasmus and published by Johan Froben in 1516 ). Three parts in one folio volume (12 9/16 x 8 3/8 inches; 319 x 214 mm.). [448] leaves (irregular foliation). Collation: 4 a-z8 &8 aa4 bb-qq8 rr10 ss-tt8 uu6 xx-zz8 &&8 aaa-bbb8 ccc4 ddd-ggg8 hhh10. Complete with blank leaves aa4, dd10, and hhh9. Title in Greek and Latin, text in Greek. Greek and roman type. Double columns, fifty-five lines plus headline. Capital spaces with guide letters. Title printed in red with woodcut Aldine anchor-and-dolphin device. The printer’s device is repeated on the final page printed in black. Woodcut head-pieces and large decorative initials opening each book (fifty-five in all) printed in red; from the Acts of the Apostles onwards the woodcut head-pieces and initials are printed in in black.

Contents: 4 1r title and woodcut printer’s device, 1v blank, 2r Torresanus’s dedicatory letter to Cardinal Antonius Aegidius Canisius of Viterbo, 2v blank, 3r-4r tables of contents of the three parts, 4v blank); a-z8 &8 aa4 (Genesis-Job, aa3v-4 blank), bb-cc8 dd10 (Psalms, dd10 blank); ee-qq8 rr10 ss-tt8 uu6 (ee1r list of books, ee1v letter by Fredericus Asulanus to Daniel Renerius, ee2r-uu6v Song of Solomon-Maccabees); xx-zz8 &&8 aaa-bbb8 ccc4 ddd-ggg8 hhh10 (xx1r list of books, xx1v blank, xx2r letter by Franciscus Asulanus to Erasmus, xx2v lives of the Evangelists, xx3r-hhh7v New Testament, hhh8r register and colophon, hhh8v-10r blank, hhh10v printer’s woodcut device).

Eighteenth-century half dark red pigskin over sprinkled boards. Spine decoratively tooled and lettered in gilt. The edges for the first binding must have been blue—they were scraped slightly by the eighteenth-century binder, but a blue tint still exists. Minor worming to the binding, most noticeable on the upper edge of the rear board, and to the endpapers, heaviest on the rear endpapers and the last five leaves, with one tiny wormhole at the lower outer margin extending back to leaf ddd3 (thirty-five leaves). Minor soiling to title, a few leaves slightly foxed and browned, occasional minor additional foxing. Armorial ink stamp at head of title. A few early ink marginalia. This is a wonderful copy, generally very clean and crisp. Housed in a quarter brown morocco clamshell case lined with felt.

The margins are excellent, almost the original, with deckle edges still occasionally visible. This copy is larger than the Garden copy, which was bound in eighteenth-century calf and measured 12 3/8 x 8 1/8 inches (314 x 207 mm.). The Holford-Newton-Doheny copy, which was bound in nineteenth-century roan, measured 320 x 221 mm.

“It is fitting that the press of the man most responsible for disseminating Greek learning in the West, Aldus Manutius (1449/50–1515), was the first to publish a complete Bible in Greek. The work, which appeared three years after Aldus’s death, also has the distinction of containing the editio princeps of the Greek Septuagint, the third-century B.C.E. translation of the Old Testament into Greek. Although the so-called Complutensian Polyglot—printed a year earlier in 1517—also contains the Septuagint, it was not published until 1522. Aldus had been interested in the Bible text for a long time. As early as 1501, he planned a polyglot Old Testament, which would have included the Septuagint text in Greek, along with a Latin translation and Jerome’s Vulgate text. Unfortunately, this project was left unfinished, despite his prodigious abilities to produce classical and religious texts. In his lifetime, Aldus Manutius published thirty-one editiones principes in Greek and a total of 142 books in all. It has proven impossible to determine who edited the 1518 Aldine Bible. It was certainly planned and perhaps edited, in part, by Aldus himself before his death in 1515. There is some evidence that the Greek scholar Marcus Musurus (ca. 1470–1517), who produced the first editions of Plato and Aristophanes, as well as the standard Greek lexicon of his age, also played a role in this project. (He mentions it in a letter to Jean Grolier from 1515.) And in the preface to the Septuagint Andrea Torresani of Asola (1451–1529), Aldus’s father-in-law and printing partner, seems to take credit for editing that part, claiming to have consulted numerous and various manuscripts as the basis for his text…What is clear is that the Psalms in the 1518 Bible are reprinted from the Greek Psalter printed by Aldus before 1498, and the New Testament presents the edition of Erasmus of 1516 with fewer than twenty variant readings. Not surprisingly, the New Testament portion is dedicated to Erasmus in a prefatory letter by Gian Francesco Torresani, Aldus’s brother-in-law…The Aldine text distinguishes chapters in the Old Testament, but not in the New, and, of course, no verses are delineated. When marked, the chapters are numbered with both Greek letters and arabic numerals. Perhaps because of their great respect for Aldus’s philological excellence, humanists and reformers favored the Aldine text for the Septuagint over that of the Complutensian. For example, it was the 1518 Aldine Old Testament that served as the basis for the Strasbourg edition of 1524–26 by the Lutheran Johannes Lonicerus and for the 1545 Basel printing known as Melanchthon’s Bible because it includes a preface by the reformer. Indeed, copies of the 1518 Aldine edition are very rare today, perhaps owing to its popularity and heavy usage. It should also be noted that the small folio format of this edition makes it easier to use than the Complutensian. The text is mostly in the Greek font developed by Aldus Manutius, with some roman types used for signatures and prefatory material in Latin…Most unusual is the printing in red and black, which is not common in Aldine books. The famous Aldine Dolphin and Anchor device is printed in red on the title page and in black at the end of the book. Each book opens with a large red woodcut initial and a geometric design in the upper border, also in red. The exception comes in the parts of the New Testament following the Gospel of John. There the same type of initials and borders are printed in black. There are no notes in the text, nor any references to the manuscript sources used, as is common in this period when standards for critical editions were still in the process of development” (Valerie R. Hotchkiss, “The First Fifty-Two Years of Greek Printing,” in Formatting the Word of God: The Charles Caldwell Ryrie Collection, An Exhibition at Bridwell Library, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, October 1998 through January 1999, at

Adams B-976. Darlow & Moule 4594. Renouard, Alde, p. 84, no. 8 (“Belle et tres rare edition”). Item #00308

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