Polyglot bible

Polyglot Bible. Bible text accompanied by a minimum of two versions in different languages, arranged in juxtaposed or overlapping columns.


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  • 1 History
  • 2 Complutense polyglot Bible
  • 3 Polyglot Antwerp Bible
  • 4 Polyglot Bible of Paris
  • 5 London Polyglot Bible
  • 6 Other polyglot bibles
  • 7 Sources


The first to attempt a work of this nature was Origen (ca. 183/186-ca. 252/254), in his Héxapla. This is followed by the essay by the Italian printer Aldo Manuzio , who in 1497 or 1498 projected a polyglot Bible in Hebrew, Greek and Latin; he even composed a sample page (National Library of Paris), but never did. In 1516 the so-called Giustiniani Psalter appeared in Genoa, in Hebrew, Greek, Arabic, Chaldean and Latin, the first and only volume of the polyglot Bible that the Dominican religious and Bishop of Nebbio Agustin Giustiniani intended to edit and which had no continuity.

Complutense polyglot bible

The first great polyglot Bible in the Complutense polyglot Bible or the Bible of Alcala, in Latin, Greek and Hebrew, one of the most famous books in the world. Sponsored by Cardinal Cisneros, who had precious biblical codices brought to Spain, its preparation began in 1503. Antonio de Nebrija, in the Latin part, collaborated in it; in the Greek, the Cretan Demetrio Ducas, helped by Diego López Estúñiga and Fernando Núñez Pinciano, and in the Hebrew, the converts, Alfonso de Alcalá, Pablo Coronel and Alfonso de Zamora . The work, whose printing began in 1517, consists of six folio volumes.

The first four contain the Old Testament , at the end of volume four (last to be printed) the date 1517 appears , four months before Cardinal Cisneros’ death. The fifth volume, dated 1514 (the first to be printed) contains the entire New Testament , and the sixth, completed in 1515 (the second print), a Hebrew-Latin vocabulary and other complementary treatises. The work was not put on sale until 1520 , once approved by Pope Leo X .

For his composition and printing, Cisneros brought Arnao Guillén de Brocar from Logroño. Six hundred copies were printed, some of them on parchment. The Greek types used in these Bibles are considered the most beautiful that have ever been carved. Complutense polyglot Bible was the first whose carvings are considered the most beautiful in history.

Antwerp Polyglot Bible

The second polyglot Bible in the chronological computation is the polyglot Bible of Antwerp or Regia, in Hebrew, Latin and Greek, partially paid for by Philip II (at the request of Cardinal Granvela), directed and corrected by Benito Arias Montano (by order of the king) , assisted in these tasks by Andrés Maes, Francisco Lucas de Brujas, Guido and Nicolás Lefévre de la Bodeire, Francisco and Nicolás Guido Ravlenghien and the Jesuit Johann Willem. Printing, which began in July 1568, was completed in May of 1572 in the workshops of Christophe Plantin in Antwerp. Throwing 1213 copies, of which 13 on parchment.

It consists of eight volumes, of which the first four contain in the Old Testament; the New Testament is in the fifth volume, the sixth contains a Hebrew grammar, another Chaldean, another Syriac, a Syriac-Calkadic and another Greek dictionary, a Thesaurus by Pagnino and a vocabulary entitled Peculium syrorum; the seventh volume contains Biblical dissertations, collections of variants, philological notes, etc., the eighth comprises the Latin version of the books of the Hebrew Bible and the Greek text of the New Testament.

Arias Montano had difficulties in getting Pius V to approve his work; When this pope died, his successor Gregorio XIII approved it , despite which León de Castro, professor at the University of Salamanca, denounced the work of Arias montano to the Spanish inquisition. The inquisition studied the work and approved it, despite finding certain faults in them, qualified as insufficient to condemn them.

Benito Arias Montano was charged with carrying it out by order of King Felipe II.

Polyglot Bible of Paris

The project of this Bible is due to Cardinal Du Perron and the king’s librarian, Jaime de Thuo, who intended to reissue the polyglot Bible of Antwerp with the help of two Maronites, for which they obtained royal privilege in 1615. Killed in 1617 and 1618. respectively, both characters, the idea was approved, however, by the general assembly of the French clergy ( 1619 ).

Finally, it was taken up by Guido Michel Le Jay, attorney for the parliament, who commissioned Juan Morin, Felipe de Aquino, Gabriel Sionita and Juan Hesronita. The texts were in Hebrew, Samaritan, Chaldean, Greek and Syriac, Latin, and Arabic. The print was entrusted to Antoine Vitré; It started in March 1628, it could not be finished until 1655: the first four volumes were printed in 1629; the sixth, in 1632; the fifth in 1630 and 1633; the eighth, in 1635; the seventh, in 1642; finally the ninth, in 1655, because of a dispute with Gabriel Sionita, locked up in the castle of Vincennes in 1640 for refusing to deliver some oriental manuscripts.

For various reasons, the edition of this bible supposed the ruin of Le Jay. In 1666 Dutch books made a fraudulent edition of the Paris Polyglot Bible with the title Alexandrina Heptaglota, but the hoax was discovered.

London polyglot bible

Due to the failure of the Paris Polyglot Bible , the Englishman , Brian Walton, who later became Anglican Bishop of Chester, decided to face the realization of another polyglot (also known as the Sacred Polyglot Bible) that would save the inconveniences of the Parisian. He obtained the intellectual aid of Edmund Castle, Samuel Clark, Thomas Hyde, and Alexander Hnish, who printed a polyglot in Hebrew, Latin, Greek, Aramaic, Syriac, Samaritan, Ethiopic, Arabic, and Persian.

The work, in six volumes, was printed at Thomas Roycroft’s London printing press. The first volume appeared in September 1654; the second, in 1655; the sixth and last, in 1657. In 1669 Edmund Castle’s Lexicon heptagloton was added to the work. In 1663 it was included in the Index of Prohibited Books. Due to the experiences of previous polyglots, such as that of Alcalá, Antwerp and Paris, Londoners are considered the most complete of works of their kind.

Other polyglot bibles

Although less important, other polyglot bibles have been printed, sometimes incomplete, that are interesting to know. For example, in addition to the aforementioned Gustiniani Psalter, the Jews of Constantinople printed the Pentateuch in several languages ​​in 1546 and 1547 (the second in Vulgar Greek and Spanish). John Draconites started a Pentapla Bible (in Hebrew, Chaldean, Greek, Latin, and German) with texts on line-by-line posts.

In 1587 the sacra hebraice, graece et latine (also known as the Stable Bible and the P. de Bertram Bible) was published in Heidelberg in two volumes with the Old Testament, reissued in 1599 and 1616. The polyglot Bible of Hamburg, published by Jaime Lucius in 1596; The Leipzig Polyglot Bible, published by Reiniccius in 1713 (New Testament) and 1750 – 1751 (Old Testament); Bagster’s Polyglot Bible, printed in London in 1831 by the publisher whose name it bears; the polyglot Bible of Stier and Theile, in four volumes (1846-1855); the Levante polyglot Bible, published in London in 1876; Vigouroux’s polyglot Bible, eight volumes printed in Paris in 1900 – 1919.


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