(Doway [Douai]: Printed by Laurence Kellam, 1609-10). 225 x 180 mm. (8 7/8 x 6 3/8"). Text complete, but final 13 leaves of tables and errata in facsimile. Two volumes. FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC OLD TESTAMENT.
Fine replica black morocco, attractively gilt in 17th century style, cover with design of quatrefoils formed of floral sprig and drawer-handle tools, the background studded with small floral and star tools, all enclosed by a frame of gilt rules and decorative rolls, raised bands, spines gilt in compartments with flower centerpiece and scrolling cornerpieces, gilt titling. In sturdy black cloth slipcases. Woodcut title page borders, headpieces, tailpieces, and initials. Title page of volume II with ink ownership inscription of Thos. Gibbon [or Gibson] Esqr. Darlow & Moule 231; Herbert 300; STC 2207. Title pages and first few leaves of each volume somewhat soiled, first and last quires in volume II with repairs to edges (no loss to text), first volume with intermittent staining, touching text but obscuring just one word one on page, a touch of browning to page edges, but a very good copy, generally clean and fresh with nothing approaching a fatal defect, in an unworn binding.
This is the first English version of the Catholic Old Testament, appearing more than two decades after the 1582 New Testament was published. The translation of the Old Testament had apparently been finished by the same persons who had produced the Rheims New Testament--Gregory Martin, William (afterwards Cardinal) Allen, and Richard Bristow--but, according to the preface of the 1582 New Testament, it sat unpublished "for lacke of good [financial] meanes to publish the whole in such sort as a worke of so great charge and importance requireth." This lack is explained in the preface to the 1609-10 Old Testament as due to "one general cause, [the Catholics'] poore estate in banishment." Darlow & Moule points out that the Rheims version of the Old Testament translation did undergo some revisions between the 1580s and the publication date of 1609-10, in order to conform to the authorised recension of the Vulgate published in 1592 under the authority of Clement VIII, a translation with which Cardinal Allen (1532-94) had assisted. The annotations in the 1609-10 version of the Old Testament are decidedly less controversial than in the 1582 New Testament. According to the DNB biography of translator Gregory Martin (ca. 1542-82), "The appearance of a Catholic Bible in English undermined traditional protestant criticism that the Roman church kept scripture out of the hands of the laity. Instead protestant theologians such as Thomas Cartwright, William Whitaker, and William Fulke attacked the credentials of the translators and denounced their work as filled with error. Despite such criticism, revised versions of Martin's translation remained extremely popular throughout the English-speaking world for nearly four hundred years." (CLP1801)
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PJP Catalog: NY20BF.011